This Week in Anime
Will Bakugo Become a Hero or a Villain?

by Nicholas Dupree and Michelle Liu,

My Hero Academia's second season has come to a close, and Bakugo's future seems uncertain as the League of Villains begins to reform. This week in anime, Nick and Micchy predict what might be in store for U.A. High's most fiery student.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.


@Lossthief

@Liuwdere

@ANNJakeH

@vestenet


You can read our weekly coverage of My Hero Academia here!

Nick D
Hey there Micchy, how's the end of Summer treating you?

Micchy
It's AWFUL. I can't believe we have to wait until next season for more of this perfect woman!

WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME ABOUT TOGA

I wanted it to be a surprise! I knew you'd love her, as apparently does everyone in the US fandom.

I would gladly let Himiko Toga drain all my blood. Don't think I'll ever understand anyone who doesn't.

Fun fact: in the latest character poll, she ranked 19th in Japan. But THIRD in the English readers' poll. America Loves Yanderes.

Never underestimate thirst, dude. As much as I'd like to talk about her all day though, there's the rest of the show to consider.

Yes, like the character who topped BOTH popularity polls. The man. The legend. The Prodigal Asshole.

[HOOTS AND HOLLERS] This boy has been takin some real rough blows to the ego lately, huh?

His career at UA has been a pretty big departure from what he expected yeah. Beaten by the biggest loser he's ever known, robbed of the satisfaction of victory despite winning the sports festival, and a week of being lectured by a dude in a denim turtleneck. Not a great first semester.

It's truly unfortunate that his lessons in hair gel apparently didn't stick. Bakugo is a pretty interesting character, though. A huge jackass, but a committed one. In a show full of Good Boys and Girls he's somehow both the best and worst of them all.

I've been talking about how much I love him since the show started, and it's gotten plenty of raised eyebrows to say the least. But I legitimately consider Bakugo the most interesting character in MHA, and his test fight with Deku and All Might is a great example of why.

He and Deku are polar opposites in temperament but more alike than they initially appear, it turns out. Both have taken their inspiration from All Might, albeit in very different directions. It's kinda perfect that their big exam is to fight the guy who led them down this career path in the first place. There's Deku, who sees the All Might that bleeds compassion for everyone around him, and then there's Bakugo, who sees the All Might who never backs down and never gives up.

And it's fascinating how different those lessons have made them in conjunction with their talent (or lack thereof). Deku has the courage to save others, but he also has a selflessness that borders on self-destruction and a timidness that makes him slow to act. Meanwhile, Bakugo is so confident, so determined to prove his own strength, that he charges face first into All Freakin Might just to show he's not afraid. And he gets a mouth full of dirt and blood for his trouble. ="D

But that's what made him such a hero to Deku in the first place! Baby Bakugo stood up to big ol' fourth grade meanies even though he was bound to get ground into dust.


To him, being a hero means standing up against all odds. All Might wouldn't be All Might without sheer power, and that's what Bakugo aspires to be. Unfortunately, this also means Bakugo is prone to equally self-destructive behavior just to stay on top.

Like jumping headfirst into a fight with The Most Powerful Man On The Planet without backup.

And he keeps going even when his protective gear breaks! The boy pushes himself to keep fighting, even when his limbs are wrecked to hell and back. Gee, where have we heard that before?

The parallels between Bakugo and Deku are some of my favorite parts of MHA's characterization to be honest.

They're really great foils to each other. Especially since they fall into such familiar archetypes.

On the surface, they're polar opposite personalities. Deku's a selfless, likable kid who's too timid for his own good. Bakugo's a brash, self-centered bully who wouldn't know when to back down if the opportunity punched him through a wall. But they both have the same dream, and both can show the other what they need to grow and move toward it. Deku is the one who snaps Bakugo out of his temper tantrum to win, because he sees the admirable parts of Bakugo and doesn't want him to lose that over his own wounded ego.


Meanwhile, Bakugo's relentless drive in the face of insurmountable odds is what finally convinces Deku to face All Might head on.

Yeah, for all the less-than-great decisions they make, neither Bakugo nor Deku is all-out wrong in their approach to the exam. Just, y'know, in need of a little compromise.

They're never gonna be friends - and probably SHOULDN'T anyway - but they can learn from each other all the same, and that's hopefully something Bakugo can start doing now that he's at least sort of over his complex with Deku. Though if he doesn't, he wouldn't be the first shounen rival character to turn to The Dark Side.

Don't Do It Bakugo

Which I guess begs the question - do you think Bakugo has it in him to be a hero? a villain?

Hard to say! I can't see him willingly joining any villains for ideological reasons, but he also doesn't seem to give a damn about the "saving people" part of heroism. Whichever side he winds up on, he's gonna be the loose cannon.

I mean, we do have precedent for somebody who's determined, never willing to lose, and was inspired by All Might to follow his path...

The kiddo's gonna run that risk for sure. On the other hand, he could turn out to be a hero like Endeavor. It's important to remember that Stain wasn't really allied with the League of Villains, per se. Though that begs the whole question of what heroes/villains even are in MHA's world.

Yeah, I don't think Bakugo would necessarily become a Villain of his own volition - but if his view of strength doesn't line up with society at large, well...he is determined.

But ultimately, I think Bakugo has more potential for good than is apparent, if only because of how he contrasts with Mr. Smiles here.

Poor Deku thought he'd be going on a pseudo-date with Uraraka only to be asked out by this charmer.

No getting handsy, Shigaraki

Just trying to have a nice day out with his friends and suddenly this visual metaphor for clinical depression shows up

Deku: gonna hang out with my friends today!
Deku @ Deku: do u really wanna go out in a T-shirt that says "T-shirt"

trust me that's not even the tip of MHA's Weird Shirt iceberg

But Shigaraki's part in the season finale is interesting. We've seen bits and pieces of his personality throughout, enough to know that he's basically a violent brat given more authority and importance than he ever should have. And here we see that all crystallize when he suddenly has to start sharing his cause with people who actually have motivations besides just being pissed off and looking for somebody to take it out on. And it's that selfishness that I think sets him apart as the series' real definition of a "villain". He comes away from his talk with Deku not deciding he needs to embody a greater cause, but that he needs to put on the airs of a radical like Stain in order to get the satisfaction he really wants. He doesn't have any grander ideals.

His motivation is his lack of conviction. Violence for violence's sake, so people have to admit it exists. No more complacency or pretending it doesn't happen.

Bakugo, for all his shitty attitude and tendencies to demean or bully others, has something he wants to be. He has an ethos that drives him forward and urges him to change, and that may just be what keeps him from ever being a villain. Or not. We'll see in Season 3~

Stop, I'm already impatient enough waiting for more Himiko as it is. I'm gonna miss these good kids : (

Even Mineta?

Except Mineta. Mineta can kindly drop out of U.A. to make room in class A for literally anyone else in the school. Hell, I'd be okay with Aoyama suddenly revealing he has an identical twin if it ousts the awful grape boy from the show. But that's neither here nor there.

Yeah, I got nothing much to add. I'll write you a 30 page thesis on why Bakugo's secretly good, but grape juice can get flushed. So besides Mineta's untimely death, do you have anything else you want to see in Season 3?

For starters, I want to know what comes after the training arc that you manga-readers have been cruelly teasing.

Also, will Ochaco and Deku ever stop being the cutest awkward dorks around each other

That's a negatory. But for your first question, I do have a hint.

Oh, like MHA hasn't been hinting at that for ages already. Actually who am I kidding, it's gonna break my heart six times over, isn't it?

I won't say anything more~

Now we get to play the waiting game, I guess.

For my part, I just hope Season 3 helps Bakugo improve his aim.


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