I had to include the full name because there are so many Momos in anime😄😂
Well, I revamped my Bakugo post again, if you want to check it out– Anime Therapy with Bakugo.
I am still finding my level with how to write these posts, this one would be harder to do in second person form.
Ah well, just like before, this was partly inspired by CeCe’s Therapy at UA series, though she only has one Momo video.
CeCe’s analysis isn’t very extensive, just that Momo is one of the most over-powered characters so she should have more confidence, and that the heroes Momo thinks are stronger than her are “self sacrificial idiots” (which is true, most of the time, except for Todoroki probably).
I will have to expound on it myself, since, actually, I haven’t seen anyone else give the real skinny on what makes Momo an interesting character, especially through the lens of her issues. Though this will be less therapy oriented, and more an analysis of her character that includes her psychology and how it could change, but I don’t know if a therapist would give you this advice, since they are more focused on helping you accept yourself and be the best you you could be, not so much on transformation of who you are, that’s where being a Christian with a message comes in.
And if by chance you are one of the people, or know one, who thinks she’s boring and overrated, allow me the chance to change your mind, let’s go:
Momo has no real personality disorders like most of the boys do. She doesn’t overcompensate, she has no complex, and she isn’t mean or prideful, without being weak. She’s that anime girl we all love, the Classy Queen archetype. The Mom friend. The brainiac with a heart of gold.
So, naturally she’s my favorite, along with Bakugo. But she’s not perfect, and over time I picked out what I believe are her main issues and struggles that never get talked about.
Momo’s lack of confidence is not actually her biggest problem, when it comes to fighting itself. That’s easy to overcome, she just needed to succeed a few times, she’s already pretty well over it. And many might say that concludes her arc. But there’s way more to Momo’s place in the story than just her fighting ability.
Momo has been, from the start, highlighted by the story for her exceptional intelligence, perception, and use of her quirk. She’s the perfect student. A natural leader. She’s essentially, what Bakugo tries to be. To the point where even in season 1, when Bakugo is at his most prideful, he admits he agrees with her assessment of his actions (a little detail most Bakugo haters miss when they say he’s never humble, btw.) Since Bakugo never agrees with anyone, ever, about his actions, that’s noteworthy in of itself. Momo’s analysis is clearly superior if it can’t be argued with.
Yet, Momo often finds herself unsure what to do. It’s like, having all the talent and skill that most heroes dream of at such an early stage makes her even more uncertain how to apply it.
It’s been pointed out that, if she were a villain, the heroes would basically be doomed. Momo couldn’t be beaten if she were evil, she just couldn’t. Not by the students anyway.
And that’s interesting, because misusing her power as a hero is one of Momo’s chief concerns as the show progresses. It’s rather surprising that in the Bakugo rescue arc, it’s Momo who makes up the singular girl on the squad, instead of Uraraka, who’s loyalty to Deku and Iida you might expect to be more of a factor.
Momo’s reason is to keep them in line. She says she doesn’t think they should break the rules and use their quirks, but she “Understands how they feel” and will “Stand by her classmates”. This is an interesting point.
Momo and Iida share a lot of similarities, they are top students who value the rules, and can follow them with ease due to their status and gifting. They both veer more towards order and submitting to authority. You’d expect her to side with Iida on this issue. While she expresses agreement with him, notably her actions indicate more sympathy with the rule breakers. She understands how they feel more than she wants to avoid trouble. When it comes to the point, Momo doesn’t make any move to stop them from taking action.
What intrigues me further is that the MHA movies “Two Heroes” actually revisits this same issue, though I think it’s set before that arc, so you could also say it preludes it. In that movie, there’s a time in an elevator when the students all debate whether they should help or not, and Iida again says they shouldn’t, and Momo begins to agree, but Todoroki ask s “Is it right to just do nothing?” and Momo hesitates and says she’s not sure, “It’s complicated.” (Which, by the way, is one of the ways I ship them, their contrasting views have a lot to teach each other).
In the end, Momo still chooses to help, even to fight once it comes to the point. As, of course, they all do.
I have to love her, but all this wouldn’t have given me insight into her character if I hadn’t had someone else to compare her to, and that person is Bakugo.
At first, they seem nothing alike. But, as I talked about in my Bakugo post, it’s been pointed out by the fandom that he is “crushed by expectations.” That the pressure society puts on him is part of why he is the way he is.
But, look at it more closely. Bakugo is smart, talented, and has a great quirk. His strategy isn’t bad when he actually employs it, and he almost always wins. All that is true of Momo also, though, as girl on a shonen, she doesn’t win as often, but that she beats male characters at all is rather surprising (good for her and Mina, destroying sexism in shonen one small step at a time, right?) It’s not a stretch to say Momo is under the exact same pressures as Bakugo. She is able to please people more– so nartually that it’s too important to her.
The real problem Momo has is not her lack of confidence in her ability, it’s her lack of confidence in herself. She doesn’t believe she knows the right thing to do. She will yield to the judgement of teachers, and other students before she’ll trust her own. It’s brought to light in her episode with Todoroki where she worries that she has not done the “right thing” in the exam, but that could speak for her attitude toward life. Momo is constantly torn between what her heart tells her, and what her head believes because she’s heard it her whole life.
I some ways she stands to be more of a victim of her culture than the boys do. The very fact that she can fit the mold of what makes a perfect hero so well is not a good sign.
To fit any mold completely is to lose any individuality you have to pleasing others. It’s losing your spark that makes you human, not a Barbie Doll of an icon.
It was writing fan fic with Momo in it that made this clear to me. Confronting someone like her with ideas that question the whole foundation of society, you hit a huge wall. Can you picture Momo defying society? Can you picture her doing it, believing it was entirely the right thing to do?
See, not every hero needs to defy society to be considered a hero, but every hero needs to be willing to.
Society is just another word for what the Bible calls “The World” and warns us not to love it, “for the World passes away”. When the Bible warns us not to love the world, it doesn’t mean the world full of people, we’re told God loves the world in John 3:16, The World, in this sense, means all the sins and evils that are brought out by Mass Mentality, or a Mob Mindset, if you will. Peer Pressure, corruption of a whole country, glorifying evil as a whole. That’s the World. The World changes in what it holds up as the alternative to God, but, it never points us back to God. It will never be encouraging true Goodness, because the World doesn’t have any standard of it.
In the words of Switchfoot’s Rise Above It:
“Just because you’re running doesn’t mean that you’re scared, just because it’s law don’t mean that it’s fair. Never let another tell your soul what to fear. Here we go again, give it one more try, don’t believe the system’s on your side. Just another lover turned enemy fight…”
The Hero World, as the name says, is obsessed with Heroes as the alternative to any Divine Direction. Heroes are asked to be more than human. Never to be afraid, never to waver, never to make mistakes. And if they do, instead of it being written off as one person making a mistake, the whole society of heroes is called into question.
Really, it’s just asking for the League of Villains to knock down its scarecrow.
How does Momo fit into this?
Only too well, that’s the issue, as I said. She can be the ideal hero. There’s not one hero in a thousand that’s likely to have all she’s got going for her, on top of her natural talent, she’s kind and has major cash to back up whatever she wants to do. The girl doesn’t even need an agency, she could be her own Agency.
But, Momo is not just some ideal. She’s a kid, with fears and feelings of her own. Which her classmates understand, though it can’t be said many other people do. Aizawa even observes with a tinge of pity that she’s still got the emotional maturity of a 15 year old girl, like that’s somehow a problem. You could call it Pyrrha Nikos syndrome, as Pyrrha was the first character to introduce me to it
But, it’s a bigger problem if Momo becomes unshakable. Someone like her, firmly fixed in the ideals of society, with no filter to measure them though, is dangerous. She becomes a tool of that same society so easily. Much more than Bakugo is ever likely to, she can promote the ideal of perfection in heroes…until she snaps under the weight of it.
Momo’s greatest flaw is her lack of confidence, but curing that simply outwardly by giving her confidence in her hero skills, will actually be more likely to cement the deep issue she has of not following her own morality.
You can’t be a truly good person and spend your whole life doing what others tell you. Read that sentence again.
There’s a quote that’s gone around the feminist circles a lot, but it bears repeating here “Well behaved Women rarely make history.” –Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (You know that originally, it wasn’t “rarely”, it’s “seldom” but that’s another story, sorry, English class is kicking in)
It’s notable that anime preaches conformity, but fills its shows with characters who cannot conform. Whether because they are outcasts, monsters, or idiots. Any reason will do. The one reason you will almost never see is a rational, normal, intelligent person who simply decided the rules were stupid, and chose to rebel. (If you have a counterexample, please comment it below, I’d like to watch it for myself.)
Finally, Momo has one more issue that’s linked to all this, but is more of a microcosm.
Due to her exceptional ability, and her great levels of kindness and compassion, Momo tens to feel it’s her responsibility to fix problems win the class, even between other students.
She’s the Mom character. she wants to take care of everyone. I love her for that. It’s a good thing a lot of the time, goodness knows, it’s hard to care about other people sometimes, having a natural inclination to do that is a gift.
We see it when she encourages Iida in the festival, tells Bakugo and Todoroki to stop fighting in the Jump Fest OVA from season one, and tells the others not to pressure Jiro into playing in public. Momo is always trying to make people feel better.
But it is to the point at times where she feels responsible too much. Sometimes people should be pushed. Kaminari maybe understood better that Jiro really wanted to be valued for her musical talent, and Momo didn’t. Because Momo always wants there to be peace. But, peace is not always an option until issues are resolved.
Momo avoids conflict and confrontation. Because she is a people pleaser herself, and it’s easy for her, she assumes that it’s best for everyone to be that way. To not make waves. She gives way to others, even when it’s not a moral issue, but a matter of preference. She’s almost too giving.
She starts of in the class with this problem not being so developed. She’s willing to criticize and correct. She’s even a little sassy in the USJ incident. But what changes in her is I believe is the result of the trauma of people being hurt so often.
Momo can’t stop it, she can’t be in control and have a plan to keep everyone safe, and she copes with that by worrying even more about them constantly. Momo will treat every small problem like a crisis, even if it’s just someone getting minorly uncomfortable. She will downplay all her own accomplishments because it’s just not enough for her.
Momo might not have had this problem so badly, since she seems to come from a fairly stable background, if not for the UA trauma, but that’s kicked her to be in crisis mode almost all the time. It’s not that difficult to figure out psychologically.
I think it kicked in in the festival, but why did she take losing to Tokayami so hard? Because she felt helpless. When you’ve been in a life or death situation, any failure in training is going to feel like it’s endangering the life of you and people around you.
Even if in the actual crisis she always does something useful, in her mind that’s never good enough, because she couldn’t’ prevent it and handle it all perfectly.
Now that I’ve detailed the reasons behind her problems, what’s the actual therapy?
Believe it or not, this hits home for me too.
I’m not a hero, but I grew up in church, raised to believe there was one right way to behave. I still believe that, but I believe now that you can’t depend on one person to always tell you that. Or one system. There is no man, or man made thing, that will not make you into a villain if you listen to it exclusively. Just as C. S. Lewis pointed, there is nothing in human love that will prevent if from becoming devilish if you let it go unchecked as the Best Love, without moderation.
I don’t personally relate to Momo’s perfectionism. I was tempted to it sometimes as a teenager, but my personality makes it impossible for me to people please, I could never dedicate myself enough to destroying who I am to pull it off, and I’m not easy naturally. But, I do have a sister who’s a lot like Momo in that way. And after listening to her for years, I think I have an idea what it’s like. I also have a mom who’s much more like that.
It won’t be easy for Momo to let go. I think out of all our human failings, letting go of the need to control must be the absolute hardest things for us to do. Even people who embrace a chaotic lifestyle need to feel in content, notice how they usually flip their crap if you suggest any kind of order. To them control is not being controlled.
Other people love order so much it’s like an addiction, those people freak me out, but I imagine I’d freak them out too if they saw my room… yeah…
My sister had to work for a long time on it. She still prefers order more than I do, but she’s become less uptight about some of it. It took a lot of encouragement from us to get her to start loosening up on herself, not hyper scheduling everything, not having a checklist of things to do for every hour of every day.
She wasn’t happy that way, but there was a sort of satisfaction in it, there usually is.
But she’s much happier now, and less anxiety driven.
Another thing she had to do was learn to express if she wasn’t okay. For a long time, she couldn’t even form those words in a coherent way, she was so used to shoving it all aside to make my dad happy, or the rest of us.
I had to rag it out of her a lot of the time. And from what I’ve read, sometimes that’s what you have to do, push and push and push until someone tells you what’s wrong.
Just the thing Momo will never suggest doing, but she might need it done for herself.
I know a lot of people have probably been told that if someone doesn’t want to talk about something, you shouldn’t push them.
There are cases that’s true, but if you notice these warning signs, you might need to actually push them until they snap at you, and get some feeling out
- They never, ever, ever talk about how they feel.
- They always make it about your feelings, so you feel great, but its been years, and you still don’t know anything about what goes on in their heads.
- They constantly apologize if you do anything for them, and never ask you for help unless they’ve run out of every other option, and even then they feel guilty (I can relate to this one, though.)
If they do one or all of these things, you need to make them realize you seriously want to hear about em. They may start with just one, very vague negative feeling, but be understanding about that, and they may start to relax.
It’s important that they now it’s okay to feel that way, at least around you. Sometimes all someone needs is one person who they can be vulnerable with.
About people pleasing:
Again, I’ve never done it. I’ve tried to not offend people, that’s the most I can pull off–and usually I fail at that.
What I notice when other people do it though is that they never show me anger, or criticize me. They agree with whatever I say, and they make my happiness the verdict on how a conversation went, or how their personality is, or if they are succeed in life.
Yes, I definitely see Momo in this.
The only way to fix this is to work long and hard at figuring out what you want out of life. And then, choosing to tell yourself it’s okay to have it.
You won’t feel like that at first, if anything, you’ll feel like a bad person.
It’s then you have to choose to trust the people in your life, and the wisdom of many therapists, philosophers and even theologians that say it’s good for you to have dreams and desires of your own, and it’s good to show how you really feel.
Reach out for a hug sometimes. Other people aren’t mind readers. Try not to change the subject if someone asks how you are. Little steps, built up over time, will do wonders.
The deeper heart issues have to be resolved by feeling yourself different stuff. If you are around people who put you down, you need to look for better friend. It’s true, people who see you as a target will gravitate toward you, it just happens.
Even the best human will take advantage of someone they know will give in, I’ve done it. I try not to as much.
It’s okay to do that in a normal friendship, every so often, that’s just love. it’s not okay if it ‘s only ever you who’s giving something to them. Even if you are comfortable that way, remember, other people need to feel good for being unselfish too, it’s actually doing them a massive favor to make them feel needed. It’s critical to our psyche.
Read books that encourage you to see value in yourself.
In my case and my sister’s. it was getting closer to God, who values all of us enough to die for us. And choosing to believe hat, and t recognizing what our dad taught us was a pack of lies, and bullcrap.
I think the most fun thing you can do to get over this is simply choose to enjoy yourself.
My sister has started taking time purposely to hang out with people she likes, and do things she enjoys. It’s great therapy.
Some of you (I don’t think Momo is this far gone though) may be so damage you don’t even know what you like to do. I’ve been close to that place myself.
Then just experiment. Try stuff that sounds interesting, or at least different, try everything, like the song says. If you gravitate toward something, make it a hobby.
You will probably find friends doing that who will build you up because you enjoy the seam things. That’s the best way to become a real person, enjoying yourself. Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.
Once you build up some confidence, don’t be hard to confront people to. Make boundaries. I would try to do with with the help of people you do trust first, my sister found that useful, even I find it useful, though I don’t need it.
Have good people back you up, especially if you are been abused or bullied, never try to confront that person alone. Have a witness. Record it if necessary. Police evidence might come in handy.
If it’s a decent person who’s just never been stood up to by you before, expect them to be surprised and to have a hard time adjusting to it, they never knew you had likes and dislikes.If they really care, then they will accept it once you explain why you never told them before, and forgive you (because eyes, it was unfair to them, but they’ll understand if they love you).
And that’s what I can tell you for now. That’s all a great place to start.
And I hope to see Momo grow in these areas, but, hey, if not, I’ll just write it that way myself.😉
By the way if you are interested in checking out my fan fictions, here is a link to my MHA story, I have two currently, and they are actually getting a lot of view right now. One’s only been up for 2 months we’re already at 600+ so not bad. Plus I have my own fan art that people made for me included.
Hope you enjoyed this and found it helpful or insightful in some ways, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.
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