Season 5, Episode 9 – “Early Bird!”
Katsuki Bakugo has always seemed like he’d make a perfect villain. He rude, violent, short-tempered, and his Quirk is “explosion.” His treatment of others particularly Deku is dismissive and meanspirited. Initially, he wasn’t very complex but as My Hero Academia progresses he’s starting to show that he has more depth. At the beginning of the series, Bakugo was good at everything including grades. The positive response from others causes him to develop a massive ego. Despite his abilities when he gets to U.A. he realizes that he’s not the only talented would-be hero. It undermines his sense of self. Kohei Horikoshi has been playing with our expectations of heroes and villains in My Hero Academia. For example, both Shoto and Bakugo are considered the best students in U.A. and would be expected to win everything. However, they fail to get their hero licenses because of their poor attitudes.
Bakugo also hates any kind of affection (he equates it with pity) and he’s incapable of giving it. He even calls his mother a “hag” and his father a “clown.” Bakugo is capable of “caring” for others or at least he’s willing to protect them. However, he’s not likely to console or sympathize with people. In life and in media we are told that heroes behave in a certain way. As a result, Bakugo gave the impression that he would eventually become a villain. When he was kidnapped by the League of Villains, most of us thought he might turn. Of course, he treats the villains like anyone else and refuses to join them.
Bakugo will lead, just follow
So how do you work with someone like Katsuki Bakugo? You let him lead and just provide support. My Hero Academia Season 5, Episode 9 offers a glimpse into how this would work. Bakugo is still abrasive but as his teammates and later Class 1-B he’s more cooperative. Both teams are heading directly into battle in order to get the advantage. Bakugo says “if they do not make the first move it is over for them . . . they do not have time to take caution, they have to act immediately.” Kyoka Jiro’s (Hearing Hero: Earphone Jack) Quirk, “Earphone Jack” has a variety of uses. Its primary use is to create violent vibrations by changing the sound of her heartbeat. However, she can also use her Quirk to “hear minuscule sounds and vibrations from her surroundings.”
This part of her Quirk is often used against her. Setsuna Tokage’s Quirk, “Lizard Tail Splitter” allows her to split her body into 50 pieces and she effectively uses it to distract Jiro. Class 1-B manages to get the early advantage on Class 1-A. However, Bakugo remains the wild card. Class 1-B’s strategy requires Bakugo to remain selfish enough, resulting in a poorly formed team. To everyone’s surprise, Bakugo and his team have a plan. What’s surprising is not that Bakugo takes the lead, but that he asks for support.
Jiro remembers Bakugo telling them “he will save them” and “they should save him.” Class 1-A forms a “perfect team.” As Shota Aizawa notes, ” Team 4-A for being able to cooperate well enough to reduce battlefield damage and efficiently capture the opposing opponents without any hassle,” and “Bakugo’s willingness to help out his teammates was the key to his team’s victory.” Katsuki Bakugo showing at least some growth has complicated how he’s understood. I think it’s no longer possible to think of him as a potential future villain. He’s a hero. Just not a particularly nice hero.