How Midoriya and Bakugou’s Dynamic Highlights Character Development At Its Finest
Warning: This article contains huge spoilers for “My Hero Academia”!
When I started My Hero Academia, one of my first thoughts matched those of most everyone: Man, I really wanna punch Bakugou. His relentless attacks on Midoriya, who he nicknamed “Deku”, meaning “useless” in Japanese, as well as his arrogant behavior throughout early episodes to his fellow classmates, created the image that he’s, well, kind of an asshole.
However, as I continued further into the series, it became apparent that his character was beginning to care about his fellow students, superiors, and, as this article will elaborate on, his former childhood best friend, Izuku Midoriya. The two characters began to grow in their own ways, with Midoriya becoming more comfortable and confident in himself as he learns to gain a grip on One for All, while Bakugou learns to accept help from others and improve upon his previous mistakes.
In the first episodes of the series, we learn that Bakugou and Midoriya were originally best friends as kids, seemingly joined at the hip. But when Bakugou discovered his quirk before Midoriya, the blonde boy developed a budding superiority complex over his peers and his closest pal. Their relationship began to dwindle until it reached one of it’s lowest points, when Midoriya offered to help Bakugou up after falling down.
While Midoriya wanted to help him out from the goodness of his heart, seeing as his best friend had tripped and fallen, Bakugou perceived his charisma as criticism, believing Midoriya viewed him as inferior or helpless. After this, Bakugou begins to belittle him, encouraging classroom mockery of his lack of a quirk.
Throughout the following years, Midoriya never develops a quirk, and thus continues to be subjected to Bakugou’s bullying. The harassment, both physical and verbal, doesn’t slow down until middle school, when Midoriya, without a quirk, stuns a monster and helps save Bakugou from imminent danger after he gets trapped in the monster’s grip. Midoriya notes that after this event, Bakugou no longer physically harassed him.
However, this event evoked more than just slight resolution between the duo. All Might, renowned hero and inspiration to Midoriya, remembered the young boy and his bravery, and selected him to pass his extremely powerful quirk down to. After months of training to harness All Might’s power, Midoriya gains entry to UA, one of the most pristine hero academies in Japan, much to Bakugou’s dismay. The animosity between the pair grows stronger as Bakugou feels lied to by Midoriya, believing he purposely hid his quirk from him.
Through the entirety of season one, Bakugou and Midoriya’s relationship remains bitter and spiteful, however, as the story progresses, and Bakugou learns of Midoriya — and All Might’s — secret pertaining to the quirk One for All, their characters begin unravel. While Midoriya grows as a hero and learns more about his power, Bakugou, who’s already extremely familiar with his quirk, learns more about the other roles of being a hero. He grows more patient and shows increasingly more care and compassion, exhibiting a new, softer side to the audience.
What’s most remarkable about this is the juxtaposition between the motive behind Midoriya’s development versus the motive behind Bakugou’s. Midoriya spent the majority of his childhood subject to Bakugou’s mockery, and now that he’s finally received a powerful quirk from he and Bakugou’s childhood role model, it’s his job to learn how to use One for All and grow to become All Might’s successor. Meanwhile, Bakugou has always seen himself as the most powerful student at any of his schools, subjecting students like Midoriya to repetitive harassment in order to reassure himself of his superiority. However, with Midoriya’s growing strength, along with his own dawning realization that there’s much more to being a hero than just having a strong quirk, he learns to become less brash and abrasive and more understanding and sympathetic. While Midoriya learns to be confident and recognize his newfound power, Bakugou works to comprehend that his life full of power and self assurance has robbed him of the ability to accept help from others, leaving him missing many core values a hero needs to have.
Their development shows its results in the latest chapters of the manga, with Bakugou pushing Deku out of the way of a drastic hit and taking the damage himself. Later, in chapter 298, when Bakugou wakes up from an injury and discovers Midoriya remains in a coma, he grows nearly feral trying to reach Midoriya’s hospital room, claiming “If that idiot dies, I’ll kill him.” In his own “Bakugouey” way, he expresses concern for Midoriya’s wellbeing.
Bakugou, throughout the story, has grown to see Midoriya as an equal rival, looking down on him significantly less than he did at the beginning of the series. As they work together in life threatening fights, he’s realized how much his childhood friend has grown from his past, and how much he himself has grown as well.
What makes this Wonder Duo’s dynamic so spectacular is how unforced and realistic it is. They don’t just make up for the sake of making up, but instead recognize each other’s hardships throughout the series’ events and learn to mature as students, teammates, and friends. In the real world, it takes time to recuperate past friendships, especially ones with the years of hostility that Bakugou and Midoriya’s has, and My Hero Academia takes that into consideration and executes it wonderfully.
We can only assume that, as the series progresses, Bakugou and Midoriya will continue to grow closer, hopefully reaching a point similar to where they once stood: One where they don’t forget the past, but instead use their history as a blueprint to what the pair can become.