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After Being in ONE My Hero Academia Movie, Rody Soul Makes It Onto the Popularity Polls, Which Is Where He Belongs

Good for you, Rody!

Rody Soul

The results of Japan’s Weekly Shonen Jump character popularity polls for My Hero Academia are in. The polls, which are at the point of generating tens of thousands of votes, showcase the top 40 characters of the franchise that year according to fans. Special attention is given to the top 10 via a new illustration that makes you wish we’d get an OVA that puts these kids in a Steampunk AU (or that FANTASY AU we were teased about in the 3rd ending).

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BNHA 10 popular characters

It’s no surprise who the top 3 are (Bakugo, Deku, and Todoroki, which has always been the case), and if you’ve been following these character polls for a while you know that Bakugo is always number one (save for the first year, which went to Deku since he is the protagonist and all). Honestly, with this being the year of MAJOR Katsuki Bakugo growth he was destined to be #1.

I’m sure Deku would be happy for Kacchan.

The cover to volume 29 of My Hero Academia shows Bakugo and Young Deku

The poll is full of characters who have either done something significant in the series lately or who are just plain likable. To my fangirl heart’s delight, newcomer Rody Soul made the list, which is both wonderful and amusing as all hell because he’s a one-shot character from the latest My Hero Academia movie, My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission.

That’s not to say movie characters can’t make the list, it’s just a difficult task when you’re up against characters who fans have been attached to for years. In fact, out of the three My Hero Academia movies we’ve gotten, none of the original characters from those movies have ever made it on the list, let alone the top 10.

There are times in fandom where we get attached to characters who don’t have that much screentime in the grand scheme of things, but they leave such an impression that they manage to be one of the most popular characters in the series (looking at you Matt from Death Note). Rody, when you think about it, had less than 2 hours in a franchise that has 5 seasons, over 300 manga chapters, 2 movies, and video games.

There’s also the fact that he’s a movie-only character, and movie-only characters in anime films based on long-running series don’t always leave the biggest impact. They kinda don’t have to, not when they’re part of a plot that doesn’t have any significant bearing on the series. There are exceptions, but in the case of the My Hero Academia movies, they’re more like bonus content where the main characters get to do things they can’t do in the series.

For instance: Deku and All Might got to physically fight side-by-side in the first My Hero Academia movie (My Hero Academia: Two Heroes). This, of course, is impossible in the series because All Might doesn’t have One For All anymore, but in the movie, the two got the chance to team up. There are moments where that movie’s characters might be mentioned in the series, or there’s some kind of cute callback to a movie moment, but they aren’t vital to understanding the lore of the franchise.

Rody is the same way. You don’t have to watch his movie to understand the series, and we’ll probably never see him again save for a side manga chapter or filler episode (please, give him a random reason to come back), which is why it’s surprising to see him at the #9 spot.

Real talk, though? Rody deserves it. In a movie where I went in looking for that Deku, Bakugo, and Todoroki dynamic – complete with new outfits – the thing that stuck with me the most was Rody.

Besides having a cute character design and being incredibly entertaining on screen, Rody has an extremely relatable story. He’s kinda in the middle of the whole hero and villain dynamic the series has. My Hero Academia is full of characters who are on one side or the other, and we get to see why characters have chosen to walk the paths that are presented to them. Even certain villains have moments where you completely understand why they decided to do what they did.

Rody is somewhere in the middle because he’s just trying to survive the circumstances he’s found himself in. He’s not trying to be a hero and doesn’t even care for them all that much, but that doesn’t mean he’s trying to be a villain, either. He’s basically just trying to make sure he and his siblings are taken care of, putting their health and wellbeing before anything else.

To me, that aligned closely with how I feel a lot of the time when the world is too big to handle. I want to do good, of course, but when things are too much I’m left with trying to figure out how to make sure my loved ones and I are doing okay before I even attempt to go after “the bigger picture.”

That’s all I really have time for, and all I have the mental capacity to handle. That doesn’t mean I want “evil” to win, it just means that I have priorities that, at the end of the day, take precedence above everything else.

Here’s what I said about Rody over at Funimation.

What I like about Rody is that he has every reason to be lukewarm about heroes, but instead of taking that energy and becoming someone who hisses whenever a hero is mentioned, he just continues to do what he can to make it to the next day. He’s accepted that this is how his life is going to be, so he’s just trying to work through it the best way he can.

I feel like this is what a lot of us end up doing when we have moments where we realize that there isn’t going to be a hero coming to save the day. We take a breath and figure it out ourselves—especially if we have others to take care of. Rody’s got younger siblings to look out for, and no one else is gonna help them out.

Rody’s situation isn’t fair and his reaction to that is tragically relatable: you’re probably exhausted, but you just keep moving forward and doing what you can to survive. He can’t afford to wait around to see if someone is going to save him; he doesn’t have the luxury of finding whatever hero society has deemed as being “honest work;” and he’s not out here trying to change the minds of the people around him. Not anymore, at least, because he doesn’t have that kind of time.

When life keeps giving you lemons, you learn how to make some form of lemonade that can sustain you and your loved ones. Him having moments of trying to decide if helping Deku is worth the potential risk to his family are real, especially when no one has shown his family any sort of compassion. And he doesn’t approach that in a “Why should I care about heroes?” kind of way, but an “I have other responsibilities to take care of!” kind of way.

In a time where everything feels so uncertain, seeing a character who wasn’t immediately jumping into the fray one way or the other was refreshing, especially when paired with a character who willingly breaks himself into pieces to try and stop forces that are entirely too overwhelming for a teenage boy.

Congratulations, Rody. I really will miss you when the series moves on from the 3rd movie, but I suppose that’s what fandom is for.

(Image: © K. Horikoshi/Shueisha/Toho Animation, My Hero Academia Project)

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Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)

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