With My Hero Academia’s fourth season only a few weeks away, and the return of ‘My Review Academia’ to accompany it, I figured it was the perfect time to go back to the series! Today, I’m going to be analyzing a fan-favorite character. One that started off as one of the most hatable characters in all of anime to one of the most likable and complex.
Everyone’s favorite problem child: Bakugo.
In all things regarding his personality, Bakugo is one thing: an asshole. He’s blunt, arrogant, loud, self-absorbed and ruthless. If this were a show like Naruto, he’d be the protagonist. In almost all ways, he fits the typical Shonen protagonist’s mold.
But I do think that he’s a bit more interesting than that. Allow me to explain why.
The Want: The #1 Hero
In terms of a goal, Bakugo isn’t exactly unique. His goal, just like everyone else in the series, is simple: to be a hero. Just like Deku, he aims to take All Might’s place as the #1. The best hero there is.
This is the simplest, and least interesting, aspect of Bakugo’s character. It’s effective, don’t get me wrong. His desire informs every action Bakugo takes (at least not those that involve hurting Deku), all of which push him closer to his goal.
Or at least he thinks it does.
The Wound and The Lie: No One is Better Than Me
Bakugo’s Wound is a very odd one. By typical Wound standards, it’s hardly a wound at all! In fact, it could be seen as the exact opposite from a certain perspective! But given the context of the story, it makes perfect sense.
Even before he had his Quirk, Bakugo was praised for basically everything. He learned how to read quicker than the other kids, was far more athletic, and he was braver to boot. Then, on top of everything, he developed an incredibly powerful Quirk. Everything pointed to one thing: he was the best. Better than anyone.
Unfortunately for Bakugo, this placed something incredibly heavy on him: expectation. Everyone thought he was the best, even himself. With that expectation came a deep fear: the fear of being wrong. Of letting everyone, mostly himself, down. If he wasn’t the best, then what was the point of all that praise?
This is why he bullied Deku so relentlessly growing up. Deku was the opposite of Bakugo; Quirkless and worthless. Bakugo flung all of his insecurities onto Deku so that he didn’t have to deal with them himself. So long as Deku was a failure, Bakugo was a success.
Until Deku gained a Quirk, got into UA, beat Bakugo’s ass in their first real fight and continued time and time again to prove himself as Bakugo’s better.
When Deku started coming into his own, Bakugo’s inferiority complex became crystal clear. He started to doubt himself, to doubt his abilities. Was his way of doing things wrong? Would Deku, who had been acknowledged and chosen by All Might himself, end up being the top hero instead of him? Despite all the praises he’s been showered in since youth, was Bakugo actually just average? Was his image of a hero, someone who wins no matter how bad the odds, wrong?
Several events in the series build on that fear. Deku managed to force Todoroki to go all-out during the UA Sports Festival, but Half-and-Half didn’t give Bakugo the same treatment. While Bakugo was wasting his internship being groomed, Deku took a huge leap forward and become stronger! If not for Deku’s help, he wouldn’t have passed his final test against All Might. Bakugo considers himself responsible for All Might being taken out of commission forever. While Deku passed the Provisional License exam, Deku passed with flying colors. Time and time again, Bakugo’s philosophy is broken time and time again.
This constant defeat brings Bakugo down into a deep depression. He starts to spiral down a dark path; a heroic one, technically speaking, but one far from his goal. Luckily, he gets exactly what he needs.
The Need: The Reality Check
In order to become the best hero he can be, Bakugo needs two things.
One: he needs to get off his high-horse. He needs to realize that he’s just as human as everyone else. If he doesn’t realize this, then he can never progress as a hero. He’ll be stuck as he is forever.
Second: he needs to know that he’s still half-right. The desire to win is important, but the desire to save is just as important. He needs to take a page from Deku and start to fight not just to win, but to protect people. To truly be the number one hero, Bakugo needs to become more selfless.
This is why it’s so important that Deku and Bakugo manage to become true rivals at the end of the third season. Before, they were a simple bully/victim duo. But after their final fight, both of them realized that they need to learn from one another in order to become truly great heroes. Now, they are true rivals.
And now that they’re rivals, they can finally move on and become stronger.
There are few characters that have changed so drastically in the public eye as Bakugo has. When he was first introduced, he was almost universally hated by the fanbase. But as time went on and his character became clearer and more defined, he quickly shot up to be an undeniable fan favorite!
I am no different! I absolutely love Bakugo! He’s the perfect blend of admirable, hatable and sympathetic! He is a wonderful character! One that My Hero Academia would only be hurt by losing! Just like Deku, he is an integral piece to the puzzle that makes this series work so well!
Even if he is still a little detestable at times. Give him some time, I’m sure he’ll be respectable by the end.