Chapter 23 of the now finished third season of anime series Boku no Hero made my heart curl up in a little ball and ask for help. Two of the most interesting and emotionally invested story driven characters duked it out in a battle filled with a lot of emotion and impotence but more importantly, underlying feelings.
Both of these characters could be taken as the main rivals of the series. So when you come up to me saying that the Naruto and Sasuke of My Hero Academia are going to punch each other in an unrestricted brawl away from their teachers because that's how they both feel about it? Then i'm gonna be super down to watching that episode and analyzing the FRICK out of it, So here we go!(2 weeks later xD)
I some way it feels like the series has been hyping this up for the longest time. We all know how much this non healthy rivalry has been growing since chapter one of the series. They've known each other since they were toddlers. They shared likes, tastes and many other things, but the single and most important thing that bounded their fates together was the Admiration of All Might both of them have. But as they grew up and their personalities became more developed, they started to go astray in the way they acted and perceived their own personal admiration of the number one hero.
To begin explaining the setup for the encounter between these characters I have to give you guys a little bit of feedback on the lore of the series, which is intricately tied to how Deku obtained All Might's quirk and got chosen as his successor. You see, there's a particular chapter where Deku confessess to Bakugo that the quirk he misteriously manifested is not his, it was passed down into him. This statement calls to Bakugo's attention, who is intrigued by this fact. As the series goes deeper into the plot and development of the characters, we see Bakugo slowly but steadily affirming his beliefs over Deku. The guy he's always despised somehow got ahold of the same quirk his most beloved hero owns.
After being kidnapped by the League of Villains and later rescued by some of his classmates and All Might, Bakugo witnesses the retirement of his beloved hero, All Might had simply ran out of Hero Juice. This is the last point that makes his theory click, confirming to him that All Might had indeed passed down his power into Deku. To top it all in terms of the internal conflict inside Bakugo, he failed his professional Hero license test while his rival didn't. At a stand where Bakugo could no longer keep his anxiety, self doubt and self esteem controlled, he decided to confront Deku on the night after the Hero License test was held.
Deku on the other hand, knew Bakugo was onto his secret, but he never imagined Bakugo would have already uncovered it, he also didn't imagine what was going inside Bakugo's head as all of these events were unfolding and stacking on top of each other.
You took your power from All Might's, right?
Although you wouldn't care about this confrontation if you didn't know the background of these characters, so let me briefly define who they are, what they represent and how the correlate to each other.
Midoriya Izuku / Deku
To Deku's infortune though, he was born quirkless. This didn't stop him from admirating Heroes in his own way and wanting to become one as well. He had already convinced himself that he would only watch the action from afar, but this suddenly changed when he met All Might and the Hero decided to make him his successor.
Deku represents the selfless side of Being a Hero. To him it's more about saving other people and being a symbol of comfort, justice and peace than being a Hero for personal gain, fame or money, which contrasts a little bit with Bakugo's personality.
Bakugo Katsuki / Kacchan
He represents a distinct admiration in contrast to Deku's but he's still considered one of the good guys in the cast. To him being a Hero is also about being able to save people but he prioritizes way more the being better than others part. It could be said that he also represents that prideful and egoistical side of being a Hero. He wants to be the best no matter what.
While Deku wants to be like All Might, Bakugo wants to surpass him and become something even greater.
But saying that Bakugo is a villain or evil because of the way he acts is not giving him justice. At this point in the series he has been a misunderstood character, but that changed during this confrontation.
Underlying Feelings, Narrative and Growth Behind the Punches
The only thing that could calm Bakugo's soul at that moment was to start throwing punches at the person who he felt was a stepping stone that had been in his path for way too long, but once they start fighting Bakugo realized that this stepping stone of his was matching him to be an equal or even a better one on one fighter than him, which irritated him so much to even reach his breaking point, in which he starts bursting out words and phrases about how he's feeling and why he's feeling like that. Bakugo confessess about how he feels that if he was stronger, he wouldn't have been captured by the Villain League and in turn, All Might wouldn't have had to go the extra mile to rescue him which in turn led to All Might's clash with his archnemesis, All For One and in the end, concluding in his rushed retirement. Bakugo holding these feelings and just confessing them now, baffled Deku, he didn't know Bakugo was carrying that burden since those events occurred and how it had affected him emotionally. This topped only by the fact that Bakugo's role model had chosen the guy he hated the most to be his successor. Bakugo not only felt sad, he also felt impotent and betrayed, believing that somehow his admiration for All Might was wrongly put.
Why did I have to be the one to end All Might!?
Is that what you believed?
As they both traded punches and started destroying the arena in which they were fighting in, Deku started to understand more and more about what Bakugo was harboring inside his box of feelings. He understood how in some way Bakugo believed that he was trying to act superior when in reality, he only pursued and wanted to be with him because he admired Bakugo and thought he was cool, so he only wanted to be like him because he considered that Bakugo was closer to the All Might dreamn than he (himself) was.
I consider this chapter one of the best ones so far because we get some really needed development for Bakugo. We learn that he's not evil nor inclined to be a Villain, he's just following his instinct of wanting to be like All Might, The Number One Hero. But we also learn that Bakugo feels sort of stuck because he now aknowledges that All Might chose another person to put his trust on, so this brings him to an internal crisis where the only possible breakthrough is to confess his feelings to his rival while they fight over their feelings; This also the first time Bakugo opens up and talks about his feelings in an unrestricted manner, something he had never done before till this point in the series. Deku understands that this fight is probably unnecessary but it was the only way he could accept Bakugo's feelings at that moment... And what better way to help a friend than by saving him from his own self.
Even if this fight is unnecessary, I wouldn't be able to turn him down completely.
At the end all I can say is that... I really really liked this episode. Not only because there was a really great animated fightscene which included some of my favorite characters fighting each other just trying to ressolve their issues with brute force, which is always nice to get, but I must admit that the overall feeling of satisfaction is created by the narrative that was going all this time behind the first plane of sight. We could see them punching and kicking each other but oh my god, it's another completely different story when you take in at least what has happened to both of them, All Might and the Hero Society as whole and what their friends have gone through. They're fighting for so much more than to only know who's stronger.
Not only this episode gives us a fantastic development from both sides of the spectrum, we also get a wholesome and satisfying conclusion to it. You see, at the climax of the conflict, the student's role model appears to bring the fighting to an end. All Might admits he didn't pay enough attention to Bakugo because he thought he was already strong enough by his own, while instead, Deku was the one who needed tutoring with his newfound responsibility. All Might also let's Bakugo know about the whole One For All and All For One deal and what implies to be chosen as his succesor.
The episode concludes as All Might is taking both of his prodigy students back to their bedroom. He let's them walk behind his back, knowing that they've now formed a very much healthy rivalry, one where they won't kill each other if given the chance. He also let's them think and reflex about how they're both sides of the same coin and how they need to work together to be able to Save people to beat Villains and Beat Villains to Save People which strikes to each of their own personal goals.
He let's them know that they don't necessarily have to be better than the other. If they work together, they can go beyond what he represented in his prime.
"Now they're healthy Rivals, not like before."
What do think about Bakugo's Growth as a character? Do you still hate him or do you feel a little bit more for him? Are you keeping up with My Hero Academia as well? Did you watch the season finale? Let me know down in the comments! I'll see you guys on the next one! Peace!
Also, All of the images on this post were taken as screenshot of the online version of the 23rd episode of the series, except the thumbnail one which I personally edited. Cheers!