My Hero Academia: The Problem Protagonist

After 300 chapters, Izuku Midoriya is still one of the weakest characters in My Hero Academia, but not in terms of strength. From the very beginning of the series, the broccoli hair boy was seen as a very heroic figure who fans want to see succeed. However, as the series progressed, Izuku is pointed as being one of the main flaws.

My Hero Academia: The Problem Protagonist

With the end of season 6 of My Hero Academia, Izuku Midoriya returns to UA after revealing that he is being targeted by All For One. Through the story’s ups and downs, one thing that has always shined has been the characters. Talk to anyone who has seen the series and they all have their favorite Hero in the story. From Bakugo with his explosive personality, Todoroki, Endeavor post redemption arc obviously, Hawks, and even All Might himself are fan favorite characters. However, as the series has progressed it has become clear. Izuku Midoriya may have been a great protagonist in the beginning. However, he is not the reason fans of the series have stayed.

To be a protagonist in this world, ya need a quirk.

To be a protagonist in this world, ya need a quirk.

Opening Hook of the Series Superheroes

In My Hero Academia Izuku Midoriya is a hero in training, looking to rise up and become the number one hero. However, with power comes sacrifice, hardships, and failures. Many of these factors make a character interesting. The problem is Izuku Midoriya has had none of these things fully applied. From the very beginning of the series, it is said that one must possess a quirk to become a hero. In fact, having a quirk is such a norm, that to be without one is rare. Also, it makes it impossible to become a pro-hero in the first place. So how does Boku no Hero combat this stereotype?

Deku, utilizing Full-Cowling, advancement of power but not character.

Deku, utilizing Full-Cowling, advancement of power but not character.

By giving Izuku a quirk, this inadvertently proves society right, that to be a hero you need a quirk. What’s more, he doesn’t just get any quirk, but the quirk of the current #1 Hero, All Might, which just so happens to be one of the best quirks for combat. This isn’t where things go downhill, especially as the quirk is unreliable to use in the beginning. What could be an easy win for Izuku suddenly turns into a double edged sword. While Izuku may not have full control over the quirk, he’s still more powerful than most of his other classmates.

This is illustrated further as he proceeds through the story, winning every major fight against a villain. While the two fights he does lose outright are against his classmates Shoto Todoroki and Katsuki Bakugou (second fight), there were no consequences to him losing those fights. It was more important for these two characters to have their character growth than it was for Izuku, the protagonist. Todoroki and Bakugou had their ideals challenged which led to growth, while Izuku was simply a narrative tool for them springboard off of. 

A gauntlet allowing Deku to use his power with no risk, basically given to him.

A gauntlet allowing Deku to use his power with no risk, basically given to him.

The Nice-Guy Protagonists Is Kinda Boring

The character writing for Izuku Midoriya is weak because he lacks nuance. He has the need to save others despite whatever may happen to him, but obviously he can save everyone when he has one of the most powerful quirks. A quirk that has grown even more powerful in the latest chapters of the manga. He’s very kind and considerate, even to Bakugo, who bullied him for the majority of his life, a good trait though very unrelatable. He rarely gets upsets, unless it’s righteous indignation.

It would be remarkably unfair to say that the character of Izuku has had everything handed to him, especially being born quirkless and bullied in his younger years. To the point he still considered his bully his friend, which is an entirely different can of worms to dig into. However, it is difficult to argue against that idea when he is given the quirk of the #1 hero. He goes to the best school in the country for heroes. In the top class, and beating any major villain that crosses his path, that is until the completed Shigaraki appeared. He wins these battles because it is in an effort to save someone. This nice guy just wanted to save people. This isn’t a bad motivation, but fans are left to speculate why he has such a motivation. Especially a motivation that isn’t that particular hard to find in a society of superheroes. 

Horikoshi's inspiration is not very subtle.

Horikoshi’s inspiration is not very subtle.

Final Thoughts

In his quest to control his quirk, what has Izuku lost? Aside from some broken bones that have healed, nothing. Have his ideals on what a hero should be challenged by an antagonist? Tomura Shigaraki is a great antagonist, he is a product of a society that has failed him, and Izuku Midoriya is also a product of society’s bias. The bias that Izuku couldn’t be what he wanted because of how he was born. The difference is Izuku chooses to enforce that society with no bigger goal than wanting to save people, instead of using his position to enact real change. Recently in the Villain Hunt Arc aka ‘Dark Deku Arc’ he’s began questioning why some choose to be villains. However, at this point in the story, it seems a bit late for such a realization for a protagonist to be doing. Many fans have noticed this lacking in character, even this old Reddit post. 

Why I dislike Izuku Midoriya (MHA)
by u/BrunoStalky in CharacterRant

This is made even clearer when Shigaraki’s own grandmother asked Izuku to kill him. Instead wishing to try and save Shigaraki. This is treated like a powerful moment, but only proves the point. Izuku Midoriya has not changed from the first chapter to the latest. He is a kindhearted, steadfast person who will always try to save those in front of him. As many readers loved the story because of how earnest Izuku was in the beginning. However, that character traits have gone stale among other characters that are either more fleshed out or more interesting. Hence many My Hero fans came for Deku but stayed for everyone else in the cast. 

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