Izuku Midoriya: The Anti-Snowflake

Izuku “Deku” Midoriya

My Hero Academia is one of the best anime currently in progress. It is not a grimdark bloodbath. It is not a trippy experimental piece. It is not a harem. It is an exciting, action-packed series with an optimistic bent that gets better with every episode. You can watch the series for free on Crunchyroll, where it is officially licensed.

However, I’m not here to talk about the series generally; rather, I want to talk about its protagonist, Izuku Midoriya, called “Deku” by most of the characters. What makes Deku interesting is that in spite of how he got his powers, he is the polar opposite of a special snowflake.

Deku begins the series in a very familiar way. In a world where 80% of humanity has powers or “quirks,” he is “quirkless” or without a power, thus making him the target of bullies, foremost among them Katsuki Bakugo, a boy with severe anger issues who can make explosions. He aspires to be a superhero — and  honored job in this new world — but due to his quirkless status, he cannot enter UA Academy, the prestigious hero school. But one day, he is rescued by the number-one hero All Might, and after Deku explains his aspiration, All Might bequeathes his super strength to him — the power known as One For All. Thus, Deku goes on to learn his power and become ever more proficient with it.

Sounds like the usual special snowflake story, right? A bullied boy gets a magic power and shows everyone how special and awesome he is, right?

Wrong, and in the best possible way.

First off, consider Deku’s initial position. As someone quirkless, Deku could have been resentful of people who have quirks, but he’s not; instead, he strives to be a superhero even before this handicap is removed. He actually saves Bakugo from a villain despite Bakugo having bullied him his entire life. When he enters UA Academy, he bears no ill will towards Bakugo, and he isn’t bullied.

But that’s not even the best part. The best part is that despite having this amazing power, Deku is not an unstoppable force. Despite gaining One For All, he struggles mightily with it since it breaks whatever body part he channels it through. The injuries are not an inherent property of the power, either — it comes from the fact that he couldn’t control it. While Deku has many victories, he also loses critical fights and as a result, he constantly has to re-evaluate his approach. Deku’s “upgrade” in power isn’t really an upgrade at all; he simply learns to control it better. Instead of being better than everyone, Deku has to rely on others to help him.

Despite literally being chosen by the number one hero himself, Deku has to struggle for victory and cooperate with the people around him. There’s no room for ego; he knows when he’s beaten, and he learns from it. No one holds his hand, but no one abandons him either, and he ends up commanding a decent amount of respect through his example. He doesn’t whine about how it isn’t fair or try to cut down people more skilled than him; instead, he adapts and overcomes. His “specialness” proves to be more impediment than advantage.

He truly does have the makings of a great hero, and it’s hard to see how one could go wrong with Deku.

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2 Responses to Izuku Midoriya: The Anti-Snowflake

  1. Andy says:

    Despite having a relatively American tilt with the types of superheroes it features, it’s also a very Japanese series because the emphasis is on how the good guys have to TRAIN to be the best. They have to because in a world in which everyone is superpowered, the main thing that separates them is whether they’ve put in the work to maximize their potential.

    • Rawle Nyanzi says:

      You’re correct there — the fact that they have to train is one of the things I like about the series. There’s also a strong emphasis on collective effort; there are no successful lone wolves.

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