My Hero Academia: The Redemption of Bakugo Proves to be Worth the Wait

Bakugo’s transformation from a bully to a hero was a lengthy process, but his journey towards redemption ultimately made the wait worthwhile.

Although My Hero Academia initially follows the typical shonen trope of an underdog protagonist and a naturally talented rival, the series quickly sets itself apart from other anime. It becomes clear from the beginning that their dynamic is not one of friendly competition, but rather one of brutal bullying.

Bakugo stands out from every other shonen rival due to his unique approach. He didn’t simply want to defeat Deku, but rather, he aimed to humiliate him. As a result, like countless other viewers, I initially disliked Bakugo when I embarked on my My Hero Academia journey.

Despite the lengthy process spanning more than 400 chapters in the manga, it was always evident that Bakugo would undergo significant character development. Now, having completed his redemption arc, I can confidently say that the outcome was truly worthwhile.

Bakugo’s Early Behavior

Bakugo shouting
Kohei Horikoshi/Bones

Considering Bakugo’s character development throughout My Hero Academia, it’s safe to say that he is one of the most well-crafted characters in the series. The show fearlessly portrayed his flaws and struggles, while also building anticipation for his eventual growth.

In the story, Katsuki Bakugo was initially portrayed as the complete opposite of our main character. While Deku lacked any special abilities, Bakugo possessed a power that was deemed too powerful for someone his age. He reveled in the admiration he received from those around him, believing that the world revolved around him and that individuals like Deku, who were considered weak, had no place in it.

Despite already ignoring the Quirkless boy, he couldn’t resist the urge to make it known to Deku and everyone else that he was superior. He went even further by giving Deku a degrading nickname, “Deku,”which translates to “useless person.”This behavior reminded me of the early days of Naruto, where bullying was prevalent. The difference, however, was that unlike Naruto and his peers, Deku and Bakugo used to be close childhood friends until the blond boy chose to end their friendship.

Despite all of these reasons to despise the explosion user, there was even more to dislike about Bakugo. His egotistical and self-centered nature led him to view almost everyone as insignificant extras in his life. He believed himself to be superior to others, and when someone did manage to match his abilities, such as Shoto, he would swiftly dismiss and insult them.

Despite initially seeming like an unlikable character, My Hero Academia’s writing shines as the author skillfully guides him on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance, resulting in a commendable transformation.

The Beginning of Bakugo’s Change of Heart

Deku vs. Bakugo
Kohei Horikoshi/Bones

In my opinion, Bakugo’s transformation began in the second episode. Despite his initial role as a bully, constantly asserting his dominance over his Quirkless classmate, his pride was shattered when he was captured by a villain. The unexpected hero who risked his life to rescue him was the same boy he had always despised.

Despite not being immediately evident, this was the starting point of Bakugo’s character development. This moment stayed with him and plagued him, as he stubbornly refused to acknowledge Deku’s value. However, deep down, he had already come to the realization that the Quirkless boy possessed more than he had initially believed.

Shortly after, he witnessed Deku’s first use of One For All. It was during Class 1-A’s initial throwing exercise, and the green-haired boy astounded everyone, particularly Bakugo, by shattering all previous records. This moment held equal significance for Bakugo and the timid Midoriya, albeit for different motives.

Throughout the course of their journey, Bakugo was constantly confronted with moments that forced him to acknowledge his previous misconceptions about Midoriya. For me, these were the defining moments that truly showcased the true character of the explosive hero. From their intense rescue training to the first attack by the League of Villains on U.A. and even the thrilling sports festival, each of these events played a significant role in Bakugo’s path towards redemption.

However, the turning point for both Bakugo and myself was when he was taken hostage by the League. Similar to us, the villains underestimated the hot-headed teenager’s potential as a hero. Yet, they were proven wrong as this experience greatly transformed his character and forced him to confront his weaknesses once more.

Despite his kidnapping, Bakugo’s character underwent a permanent transformation. The combination of his horror and guilt over All Might’s retirement and his own insecurities, compounded by Deku’s repeated acts of heroism, culminated in a poignant confrontation between the two. This was the first instance in which Bakugo was truly honest with Deku, and perhaps even with himself.

The Long Journey of Bakugo’s Redemption

Bakugo protects Deku from Rivet Stab
Kohei Horikoshi/Bones

Bakugo’s character development, which had been progressing slowly, reached its climax during the later arcs of My Hero Academia. Although he still had a brash demeanor, his true self was finally revealed. Underneath his fiery and hot-headed surface, Bakugo was just a kid who idolized All Might as much as Deku did.

Despite his aggressive nature, Bakugo never wavered in his determination to achieve his ultimate goal: to surpass All Might and become the No. 1 hero. However, through his journey of redemption, he discovered a side of himself that had always been present but hidden – one that didn’t harbor any animosity towards Deku. Instead of hatred, there had always been a deep-seated admiration and underlying insecurity within him.

Despite the difficulty of breaking a habit, Bakugo’s redemption arc feels genuine to me because it was not an easy journey for him. As expected, it involved a lot of screaming and explosions before he was able to reveal his true emotions.

During the Paranormal Liberation War, Bakugo’s courageous act of throwing himself between Deku and Shigaraki’s Rivet Stab to protect his friend was one of the most powerful scenes in the series. The intensity and emotion of the moment left a lasting impact, and I, like Deku, was taken aback by Bakugo’s selfless actions.

During the Dark Hero Arc, Bakugo once again displayed his change of heart. When Deku left U.A. to protect his classmates, Class 1-A went to great lengths to bring him back. However, it was Bakugo’s heartfelt confession of his own insecurities and fear of being left behind that moved me to tears. Additionally, this was the first time he addressed Deku by his real name.

Throughout the course of the story, we were fortunate enough to witness numerous small instances that showcased the growth and development of the explosion-user’s character. However, there were also significant events, such as his temporary demise at the hands of Shigaraki and his miraculous return to life, as well as his epic showdown against All For One.

Despite the challenges he faced in the war, Bakugo’s redemption arc culminated in the epilogue. The injuries he sustained left him with limited use of his arms, and the doctors believed that even with physiotherapy, he may never fully recover. As an aspiring hero whose Quirk relies on his sweat and is channeled through his hands, this meant that he may never regain the ability to use his Quirk.

Despite the heartbreak, it wasn’t Bakugo’s own grim future that brought tears to his eyes. Instead, it was the realization that Deku no longer possessed One For All that caused the short-tempered young man to cry. In this emotional moment, Bakugo confessed to Deku that he hoped they would continue to compete against each other for the rest of their lives.

This particular moment was the culmination of the past 424 chapters. Bakugo’s transformation from a bully to a character who shows empathy towards others’ suffering is what sets him apart as the most relatable and human in the series. His multi-faceted personality has solidified his position alongside iconic characters such as Vegeta and Zuko in my opinion.

The two best characters are being ignored in the Dumpster Battle.

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