Deku Anime – Character Analysis

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Gerard Nifras, Staff Writer

A lad named Izuku Midoriya, nicknamed “Deku”, is the poster boy for the shounen anime series: Boku no Hero Academia, westernized as My Hero Academia. Deku and many other heroes-in-training are natives of Horikoshi’s “West-meets-East” universe. This neologism labels this eccentric universe because a western-ideal invades an eastern country; comic-book superheroes, reminiscent of those from DC and Marvel, invade Japan. Super-powers, dubbed “quirks,” are mostly unique to each person of 80% of Horikoshi’s human population. Deku is part of the unfortunate “quirkless” 20%. Accordingly, Deku comes off as an over-sensitive crybaby, unable to defend himself against his rivals in the first seconds of the show. This turns the audience off from the character at the mercy of Horikoshi’s universe. The first few episodes of season 1 show him cowering in fear in front of his fortuitous  classmates including Bakugou Katsuki, who is gifted with explosive palms. This habit carries on as he transitions into his high school, UA High School. Rest assured, if cowering in fear is all to his character, All Might, his idol and mentor and the epitome of all western comic book heroes, wouldn’t have picked him as the inheritor of his powers. 

By Season 2 onward, Deku shows his true colors (besides his trademark green). In the show’s Tournament Arc, the classes of UA fight head to head using their quirks to impress hiring hero agencies and to showcase their prowess. One match in particular has been hyped by the rivalry between Deku and Todoroki, the “heart-throb” character who controls fire and ice. The viewers would think that Deku would attempt to whimper out given his cowardly nature in season 1. In contrast, Deku eagerly accepted Todorokis’ declaration of war with his goal in mind: Introduce himself as the next All Might.

Besides his perseverance, Deku’s selflessness, a prerequisite for any aspiring superhero, is unparalleled. He would be criticized for letting Todoroki win their duel, but he discovered the roots of Todoroki’s grudge against him: Todoroki’s father wants Todoroki to surpass All Might with his inherited fire quirk, but Todoroki clung to his ice powers in response to being treated as a tool during his childhood. With this in mind, Deku “saves” Todoroki by coaxing him to gradually accept his ember and claim victory with his own power. Similar events show Deku saving his classmates and unknown citizens while sacrificing his arms, one event almost disabling his arms forever. He, of course, knows these risks, which makes the audience frustrated when he acts despite of it. In fact, Deku was willing to give up his quirk to his rival, Bakugou, even if it means abandoning his dream of becoming the greatest hero forever. While teachers and viewers criticize his recklessness, Deku is selfless to the core despite what he loses.

Outside UA high school, Deku is an apparent nerd. Disregarding the negative tropes a nerd gets, being a “nerd,” in All Might’s words, shows Deku’s compassionate side. He initially takes notes of heroes on the sidelines during headlined brawls while mumbling his thinking processes out loud, his most recognizable trait yet. This becomes Deku’s sole advantage as he attempts to defeat Bakugou a second time. He predicts Bakugou’s next explosions and tirades based on trends he noticed during his childhood. While he cannot comically predict someone’s “next line,” Deku is the local tactician for rescue missions and daily classes, turning his nervous habit into a cornerstone to success. 

Another infamous habit among Deku’s fans is the initial tendency to cry waterfalls. Niagara Falls is subpar compared to Deku’s ceaseless geysers. This is a double entendre of his passion and selflessness. Living only with his sensitive mother gives him limited responses to being given food or getting his hero license, radiating his geyser-induced, passionate facade. He even cries as he finds out that Eri, a life he saved, never knew how to smile. 

Eventually, Deku willingly limits his tears, forcing himself not to cry for less fortunate citizens. While this turns people away from his stoic, undaunted nature, Deku tries to hide his fears from innocent people that are more scared than him, converting a flaw to an admirable trait. His classmates have more prominent quirks, backgrounds, and personalities than the main character, common in most anime, but Deku has his moments. While it is understandable to criticize his tears that can replenish the Amazon rainforest, Deku is undeniably a great hero when juxtaposed with the rest of his class. Truly, Izuku Midoriya is an interesting character with a heart of gold regardless of what fans say.