One of the things that often makes My Hero Academia so compelling a read (and watch) is Deku. Fun as it can be to watch Bakugo overreact to everything or get swept in the superhero spectacle of it all, using the once powerless Izuku Midoriya as an anchor point to bounce off other characters in the throes of heroic angst gives the story a strong heart that it can always use to stirring effect. And while he’s clearly got no problems punching or kicking his way out of danger, things truly shine when you’re reminded that Deku’s heart is his real superpower all along, corny as that absolutely sounds.
A few weeks ago in Chapter 335, it seemed like the traitor at UA working for One for All and the League of Villains—which hadn’t become a plot point in the manga for quite awhile—was Hagakure, Class 1-A’s invisible girl. While fans were freaking out, making jokes, or wondering if it could really be that obvious, the actual traitor turned out to be the debatably French boy with a laser belly button, Yuga Aoyama. Rather than his actions stemming from some belief that the Hero Society needs to be upended, Chapters 336 and 337 reveal the actual reasons are considerably more tragic for the young boy who Can Not Stop Twinkling.
In My Hero’s world, being born without a power makes everyone view you as lesser, and that stigmatization is considerably stronger when you’re born into a wealthy family like Yuga was. It’s something that was only briefly touched on in the early moments of the manga through Deku, and if the harassment he got from Bakugo and other kids is any indication, it would’ve been considerably worse for Yuga. But whether it’s out of true love or not wanting to be eventually ostracized from their social circle, the Aoyamas are desperate for their child to get a power.
Having heard rumors of One for All’s ability to bestow powers, the parents happily let the villain do his work on their young son so he wouldn’t be mercilessly teased or bullied growing up. Once Yuga was accepted into UA, One for All decided to collect on his end of the deal and began instructing the kid to start letting information slip, lest he become either an orphan or killed. The manga has never been afraid of portraying how a family’s expectations on a child can utterly wreck them, and through narration, you come to understand that in some way, Yuga blames himself for putting his family in this situation. Backed into a corner and frightened out of his mind, Yuga could only obey the orders given to him, even as he came to love the other 1-A kids through all the life-threatening events they’ve endured together. Yuga’s largely been written as a joke up to this point, but he did try making a legitimate play at being a hero once One for All was behind bars, which makes things all the more heartbreaking when his friends demand answers upon learning of his deception.
Sitting before the grieving 1-A kids and key UA staff, Yuga makes no excuses and is fine wallowing in his self hatred, which has only grown upon learning what Deku has achieved despite being originally Quirkless. But Deku being Deku, he can’t find it in himself to be mad at someone who had no other options. And he verbalizes these thoughts with a passionate speech that reminds Yuga of the good he’s done in the past and the good he can do in a way that harkens back to the day All Might told him he could achieve his own heroic dreams.
As My Hero progresses to whatever the next part of its saga will be, the foundations of Hero Society will need to change so discrimination against the Quirkless doesn’t lead to others being taken advantage of like Yuga. Being a public symbol after the war between Heroes and Villains, Deku is in a key position to make that happen, and Yuga may be needed to shine a light on that concern in a way that’ll be too hard for the world to ignore.
My Hero Academia can be read for free on Shonen Jump.
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