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‘My Hero Academia’: An Apology 6 Seasons in the Making

Tears, everywhere

Katsuki Bakugo apologizing in My Hero Academia season 6

As My Hero Academia‘s sixth season has slipped into its final saga, it’s been tearing my heart out on a weekly basis. The series is pivoting in a decidedly darker direction, which has enveloped even its usually-cheery main character. Everything the series has been cultivating over its six season run has been thrown into a new light. But no one, and I mean no one, has ripped my heart apart and stitched it together more times in season six than Katsuki Bakugo. (A.K.A. Great Explosion Murder God Dynamight, which is the greatest hero name of all time.)

Bakugo has always been a popular character. He has scored in the top three in the manga’s character popularity polls since its beginnings. In recent years, he’s gotten the top spot. I had never been a Bakugo stan, though. I very much love my literally and figuratively parentally-burned best boy, Shoto Todoroki. But Bakugo’s incredible arc has made everyone who once doubted him rethink their stance. And that arc was building up to a huge moment which aired in episode 136 of the anime: an apology.

Katsuki and Izuku: a history

Spoilers for My Hero Academia through season six, episode 136 below!

Bakugo (which is his last name, but it’s how I always refer to him) begins the series as a hot-tempered, belligerent, self-centered bully. Izuku Midoriya, our hopeful and initially Quirkless protagonist, idolizes him as a childhood friend who got a powerful Quirk. But Bakugo’s incredibly mean and dismissive to Izuku. It’s almost painful to watch as Midoriya continually tries to be friends with Bakugo, even after this behavior continues at U.A.

Bakugo begins the story as a sort of prodigy, with Izuku as a prospect-less wannabe. That contributes to Bakugo’s mean-spirited nickname for Izuku: “Deku.” In Japanese, a deku is an armless wooden puppet. It’s an insult used when you think someone is useless. (If you’ve played The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Link begins the game as a “Deku Shrub,” so-called because you can barely do anything.) Izuku later adopts this as his hero name, choosing to embody a positive spin on a sort of slant-homonym of “deku.” (“Dekiru” means “to be able to do.”)

Over time, their relationship begins to shift. Bakugo’s temper, tunnel vision, and unwillingness to work as part of a team actively begins to set him behind his peers. Meanwhile, Izuku’s eagerness to work with others and astute observational nature draw him into the center of his class. Bakugo (and my boy Todoroki) have to re-take their certification tests, while Izuku and company get started on internships.

Bakugo gets upset that his formally Quirkless punching bag is now drawing ahead of him at the one thing he was supposed to be best at. Bakugo pieces together that something’s up with Izuku’s Quirk. Eventually, Izuku and All Might tell him about One For All before anyone else. This is the point where you begin to feel Izuku and Bakugo’s relationship shift. Slowly, Bakugo begins to respect Izuku. They begin to treat each other like peers. And eventually, like (sniff) friends.

The huge pivot point came in the first cour of season six. Bakugo did the same thing for Izuku which Izuku did at the very beginning of this series: threw himself into harm’s way without thinking, in order to save his (sniff, sniff) friend. Bakugo gets stabbed through his body in the process. This action would be unthinkable for Bakugo in the first few seasons. His growth was even more evident in the line he utters during that moment, which he actively reminds Izuku of before his big apology: “Don’t try to win this by yourself.”

An apology six seasons in the making

Bakugo’s character arc reached its climax during episode 136, wherein Class 1-A attempts to stop Izuku’s slip deeper into his Batman phase. This results in fight between “Dark Deku” and 1-A. Even though Izuku is trying not to hurt his former classmates, he essentially says they’re got good enough to stop him. It’s a sign of how far down this unhealthy, “push-away” loner path Izuku has gone.

1-A succeeds in tiring Izuku out to the point where he can no longer run away. But it’s Bakugo who gets him to come back. And he does it with words. Bakugo launches into an earnest, honest apology. The kind of apology he wouldn’t have had deeply reflective and self-aware capacities for mere months prior:

I looked down on you our whole lives … because you were Quirkless. You were obviously way behind me, but I felt like you were way ahead of me, too. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to see you. I didn’t want to accept you. That’s why I bullied you, to get away from you. I tried to feel superior by rejecting you. I was always losing to you. After getting into U.A., not a single thing went the way I wanted. Every day, I was made to feel how strong you were and how weak I was. It’s not something that will work itself out just by saying it out loud, but it’s how I really feel, Izuku.

In order to really stab our hearts, Studio Bones animates this speech by showing Bakugo and Izuku at various stages of their lives. They even get the child actor for Bakugo back.

Bakugo then bows (BOWS!) and says, “I’m sorry for everything.”

Izuku, who has has barely slept or eaten in weeks because he’s been so on-alert, stumbles forward. Bakugo catches him. Izuku apologizes for saying that everyone couldn’t keep up with him—and then finally feels safe enough in Bakugo’s arms to fall asleep.

Tears, everywhere. Goddammit, look at how far this angry, resplendent boy has come! I’m so proud of him! I’m so proud of both of them! This is a gigantic moment. Izuku and Bakugo’s relationship is central to both the series and to characters’ individual growth. This apology is the result of six seasons of events and growth and change. It’s incredible to behold.

So to everyone who’s been stanning Bakugo this whole time: point conceded.

(Featured image: Bones)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a musician, audio person, writer, and nerd. When not talking about One Piece or Zelda (among other anime and games), she's finding surprising ways to play the guitar.