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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Diving into more CeCe (or morallygrayismyfavoritecolor) inspired analysis of the show and concept of MHA.
Actually, I have to thank a lot of of UA tik tok people for bringing up excellent points in their satire, and compliment them, it’s not a venue I’d normally look for profundity in.
I could probably have made this into a therapy post of Aizawa, but as it extends to so many more characters, as well as anime in general, I think that’d be limiting. So, let’s go.
We’ve probably all heard, if we live in an English speaking country, the proverb “Honesty is the Best Policy”
I am sure there are variations of it in pretty much every culture too. Here’s a handful of them I found:
“When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth.”
–Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
I like that last one especially. I believe people are born with certain rights, not just life, liberity, and happiness, but also the right to know the truth.
So, I guess I could frame this as a debate between yours truly, and the UA staff (as well as other teachers) about whether the continued practice of lying to students, or at the very least concealing part of the truth, is truly a wise idea.
Even though I will be using fictional examples, thousands of parents, teachers, and leader regularly lie to their kids and followers in real life, and there are even whole books you can find that justify this approach, I believe Machiavelli even talks about it, so nothing I bring up is not going to have its parallel in real life, in fact, I bet some of you reading have been lied to quite a lot by authority figures.
My personal experience is, I’ve been lied to by both my parents, though lying was always strictly punished in our house as one of the most serious offenses, my dad has lied about me, and they both have gone back on promises they claimed to have forgotten or else decided to ignore. It’s not quite the same as UA’s approach, but it is dishonestly of a severe nature.
There, now that I’ve justified writing yet another post about MHA, let’s do this:
Starting with my premise that people are born with the right to the truth, let’s put that up against the premise assumed by UA and every other teacher (the ones on Naruto are full of examples of this) that truth is often too dangerous to be entrusted to students.
Is there any basis for either premise?
I’ll start with the opposition to my point:
There are times when truth is dangerous, it can’t be denied. If we make total honesty at all times our rule, we’ll compromise every war in history, several covert ops, and many brave people who’ve ever protected information under torture or duress.
There’s an Aesop’s fable that comes to mind here, The Fox and the Woodcutter.
“A Fox having been hunted hard, and run a long chase, saw a Countryman at work in a wood, and begged him to help him to some hiding-place. The man said he might go into his cottage, which was close by. He was no sooner in, than the Huntsmen came up. “Have you seen a Fox pass this way?” said they. The Countryman said “No,” but pointed at the same time towards the place where the Fox lay. The Huntsmen did not take the hint, however, and made off again at full speed. The Fox, who had seen all that took place through a chink in the wall, thereupon came out, and was walking away without a word. “Why, how now?” said the man; “haven’t you the manners to thank your host before you go?” “Yes, yes,” said the Fox; “if you had been as honest with your finger as you were with your tongue, I shouldn’t have gone without saying good-bye.
I used to not get this story at all, how is it honest to lie? But later I understood that loyalty is also a kind of honesty, and sometimes must trump telling the truth to someone’s enemy.
There is a philopshy that says that you can forfeit your basc rights by doing evil, so your enemy can forfeit his right to the truth, by being your enemy. Trying to kill someone who has not harmed you, for examople, forfeits yoru right to their honesty.
The Bible does not openly endorse lying in this case, but there are a few times, when David is running away from King Saul, and Rahab is hiding the spies, where lying is sued to protect God’s chosen people, who are alos innocent, and it is not condemned, at least.
I suppose God prefers total honesty, but will not always pusih lying to save someone’s life, which is about theo nly time I think it is accepatbe.
There’s another side to it, I read in “The Hiding Place” that Corrie Ten Boom’s sister told the truth about a jew she was hiding, getting her arrested, but her sister was confident God would honor her honesty, the jew later was rescued and gotten to safety. Corrie is amazed by her sister’s faith, and it’s being justified.
Corrie herself lied while doing underground work, and felt it was all right. God clearly honored her work for His people.
So, my answer is: listen to your own conscience, at times the reason you do something, and whether you have faith in God either to lie or to be honest, is more important.
But in cases where lying is just covering up stuff you’d prefer people not know, but it’s not morally wrong to tell them, you have a very different story.
I might not quibble with UA not disclosing that they suspect a traitor to the students, since if one of the students is the traitor, that could be dangerous to do, and if the students turn on each other, that is also dangerous.
I will give due credit to Aizawa for being honest during the camp attack, since it saved the kids’ lives, and kind of reminds me of what Mrs. Incredible tells her kids in “The Incredibles”.
But what about in regular training when Aizawa uses his signature “rational deception” or “logical ruse” depending on whether you watch sub or dub (not sure why they changed it, actually, what’s the difference?)
Aizawa says he will expel them, or keep them out of camp, etc, if they don’t accomplish certain things. It often seems like he uses “rational deception” as a cover for changing his mind. I guess changing your mind as a teacher must be frowned upon in Japan or something, since I’ve never seen it happen.
The logic behind all this is that the students (or people in general) will perform better if they think the stakes are higher, and so keeping them in a perpetual state of thinking that is the most effective way to train them.
Some people go along with this way of thinking, and will defend it on the gournds that “it’s more realistic that way.”
However, one might ask if that is really true.
Training someone to be in constant fear of failure and dire conseuences does not actually simulate real life very well.
There are some things you can’t mess up in life, surgery, taxes, moral choices, etc. But there are other things like forgetting to lock your car, or tripping, or saying something dumb, that are going to happen, no matter how smart you are.
I’m a pretty intelligent person, and I tried to schedule an interview for during my class time two days ago, so I would know, even I can do dumb crap sometimes.
And most of the time, the absolute worst thing isn’t going to happen, you aren’t going to be disgraced forever for a mistake.
There are people who will make you feel like that, Miranda Priestly from “The Devil Wears Prada” is an example of that kind of person who messes with your head, but a healthy person would know to dismiss that as unfair.
What you are far more likely to get, by constantly putting students in fear of terrible consequences, is people who cannot let stuff go, cannot laugh off any situation to de-stress from it, and cannot be lenient with others who make mistakes. People who will always try hard, but will probably make mistakes because they are so desperate to win that they forego commonsense.
Which is exactly what Class 1-A has become like, ironically.
There are some short term benefits from the methodically that might make it look like a good idea, and I should be fair and talk about those:
So, as Aizawa points out, the class is ready for challenges. They learn not to hesitate, though he admits that’s from being attacked by villains, not from his teaching.
What they learn form the logical ruse stuff is never to take any teaching experience at face value, there will always be a twist.
However, I’d argue they are not anymore prepared for the future by this approach.
How exactly does knowing you could be deceived at any time prepare you to meet expectations? If expectations are never what you are told, does that mean that you know how to meet them? How the heck would you know that?
It’s like, being lied to constantly doesn’t give you the ability to discern the truth. In fact, it might just teach you to mistrust it when you actually hear it (as in the Webtoon I wrote about the other month, Exploring the importance of truth with the Purple Hyacinth).
Also, how do lies prepare you for the real world?
Isn’t it imperative to know the facts? To know what is real out there?
The students clearly have trust issues. They ignore their teachers constantly, and while they get scolded, it doesn’t seem to leave a lasting impression, even on Momo, the most scholarly one. Of course, that is because they never really know what’s going on, or what is true.
What if the hardest thing to believe, in real life, is that there is no twist? No fourth act reversal, no anime backstory trigger to defeat the villain or inspire the hero, what if this is just the way it is.
It hits home for me to think about that.
For years living in abuse (which bears many similarities to the teaching style of anime, even the better ones), I was convinced there was a twist. There was something I could do to make it better, to fix it.
Over time I learned what every anime good person learns, not to step out of line or make waves, just be as invisible as possible.
My father gave up on love a long time ago, as he told me, really. But I didn’t know it wasn’t my fault, I thought if I was a different kind of person, it would be okay. If I was like my sisters.
Turns out the very obstinacy I have been born with and unable to get rid of (I don’t know a way to get rid of obstinacy, really, because to break any habit, you have to be obstinate, kind of an exercise in futility) ended up being the salvation of us all from the situation itself. I carried my point. My dad told me I had won. He thought that would bother me, I just said “okay.”
And then he said “F— you” that’s a direct quote.
That hurt a lot, but I felt less bad than you might think, because somehow, I knew this was how it had to be.
In anime, and Japan, I’m guessing as a whole, they rank students. What this means is that there is no tie for first, there is no equality, it is always a hierarchy. I can’t say for sure there are never exceptions to this, but there have been none on any show I’ve seen except MHA, and that was tie for third place in a sports festival where there was apparently no procedure to break the tie (or it wasn’t implemented because of a family situation).
Ranking sets it up so that someone always has to be at the very bottom, and at the very top, and everyone else can be judged by where they fall in between.
In MHA, Momo is always academically first, though Bakugo is first in physical fitness, while Kaminari is always last academically, and the last in physical stuff wavers from season to season, but we aren’t updated on it.
The thing is, UA is a top school, so for Kaminari to get in at all, he must have done well in at least some subjects academically, following the internal logic of the show. Meaning, he’s probably ahead of many students in other schools. He fails exams, but the kid has a crap ton more on his plate than the average high school student, since he has to to do hero training for hours, cutting into his study time.
Though he’s not the smartest, watching him in training, he’s not an idiot. He can handle most situations just fine.
To top this off, he also has a side effect to his quirk that deadens his intelligence, and it’s uncertain if it affects him long term (if so, he shouldn’t be using it).
I’m not writing a defense of Kaminari here, I’m merely pointing out the factors around him, and he’s at the bottom, but on what scale?
A 6 ft tall person is short compared to a giant, after all. An average person is tall compared to a midget.
The facts are, Kaminari may actually be fine, but the hierarchy will always keep him at the bottom as long as he struggles more with the pressures of hero work.
Also, I might point out that intelligence is not measured by academic achievement. Someone can be quite perceptive who isn’t good at school. You can be a bad student and still a brilliant inventor, or strategist (look it up someone time, people didn’t think Einstein was smart.)
So, you put a kid in an environment of constant comparison where not everyone can always win, and what do you get?
By the way, I don’t support “everyone’s a winner” by any means, if someone isn’t talented enough or hard working enough, than fine, they should do something else.
But I do support the idea that everyone can win at something and has a gift, and when it comes to such an arbitrary thing as “heroes” how can you say academic prowess is a reliable measure of it?
What I mean is, if you expelled someone for failing at their grades, from a hero school, how exactly is that fair? What does that have to do with being a hero. Expelling them for cheating, now, would make sense.
Or expelling them for being a pervert and harassing girls… but, get real, consequences for disrespecting women, on an anime? Or men, for that matter? (Yes, men get sexually harassed on anime too, I’ve seen it, it’s played off as a joke even more often than for women.)
I would almost have to conclude that the whole system of schooling itself is actually the Rational Deception. These expectations and failures that have no bearing on the real world aspects of heroism.
I don’t hate anime, obviously, or expect it to be 100% realistic, but my point is, even on MHA, these things are not left out of canon, and it’s admitted not everything about the school is fair… however, so far, nothing seems to be done to change that, and if I were the parents on this show, I’d be concerned about letting my students live on Campus and be under the school’s exclusive control. But I guess, as an American, I am for less government control over education to begin with.
Of course the attitude of anime is always “try harder”.
See, it’s okay to lie to students, if it makes them “try harder”
It’s okay to terrify them, if it makes them “Try harder”
It’s okay to over work them more than any doctor would approve, against repeated warnings by Recovery Girl, if it’s so they will “try harder”.
And the result?
I mean, let’s look at the Pros.
Aizawa sleeps more than he really should, and seems tired and out of it expect when he gets mad or the kids are in dangers. It seems, either he is depressed, or the effects of the rigorous training for years to keep his body fit enough to be a pro has taken its toll and he can’t function without extra rest.
All Might repeatedly overuses his quirk against everyone else’s advice so that he will stay No#1 Hero, until he uses it all up. he might have kept working for another year or two, had he showed restraint, and been able to protect Deku longer.
Endeavor is never satisfied with his success and feels a constant need to compare himself to All Might and push for the top, even while it destroys his family life. We later get hints Endeavor is not wholly without regret that he did this, but he is still far too obsessed with being the best Hero to really realize his mistake was making that his goal from the beginning.
I suppose the idea I am really up against here is the whole Eastern idea that power and strength will justify any means to get them.
Well, I doubt I can dismantle that in one blog post, I’m sure I will revisit it, but, I can touch on it.
Many people in the West, that is, Europe and America and Canada, may not realize how counter-intuitive our ides of strength are. That, to this day, not everyone has what we consider the “civilized” view that power should not be our main goal in life.
I’ve come to understand that power-hunger is not always just about its thrills, often, it’s because people fear for their family and friends and think power is the best way to protect them. Or they want to prove they can be something. It appeals to people who often feel powerless to change naything.
I’m lucky to live in a country where I can have a voice, though it’s becoming more dangerous to, it’s not illegal yet. There’s still many paths to change I can pursue if I wish. I have always been prepared for the idea that that may change for me, soon enough, and I am resolved not to be intimidated when it does, at least not enough not to keep doing things.
But, I have all the benefit of having been taught growing up that I have a Divine Right to pursue what I believe is Good, regardless of what the rest of the world says. America’s philosophy is that if even the Government is standing in you way, you as an individual have the right to oppose it, from God, even if you have no right under the law of the land. AS our Declaration says the right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” I will never be ashamed to be part of a country with people like that in it, even if I am ashamed of what our media does to make fools out of us.
And that, I realize now more than ever, is not a common mindset. Quite possibly, one someone from the other end of the world may not have even heard before.
America has the true underdog story, we started out as small, ragtatg farmers, and business men, winning a war agisnt trained soldiers. But it wasn’t for power, it was for our rights. Our idealogy is that Right makes Might. Not the other way around.
Which, is, of course, a Christian idealogy too.
I believe that growing up in the protection of a strong force, while you learn what you believe, prepares you for venturing out where you will meet people who will kill you for believing that, or else reject you.
I don’t buy the idea that you can mistreat and traumatize people into been prepared for the real world. It’s more likely to make them unable to accept any goodness in the world that might steel them against its evils.
For the UA kids, and others like them, it makes sens that their greatest source of strength is each other, the people bearing it with them. When all else fails, mankind tends to find solace in brotherhood. Our last comfort against evil oppressors or injustice is that we are not alone in how we feel, and we don’t have to eat it alone.
Anime is wright to say loneliness is the worst suffering, even after mistreatment and trauma, it’s going through it alone that is the worst. But, it can’t be denied that a culture that encouraged mistreatment makes it far harder to not be isolated. It can be difficult to stay alive to the hope.
I remember for years of living at home with few to no friends, and moving every five years, so that I lost friends after I finally made them, or lost at least my proximity to them, I always wished for more. I started to feel, though, that it would never happen. And people moved away form me to, and didn’t keep in touch. It’s been a realization over time for me that I have to choose to keep hoping, the Bible says “Hope does not disappoint”.
Staying open to change is the biggest part of getting it, I think.
I suppose this has nothing to do with UA, or does it?
I mean, you can take the passive attitude that the characters often do, that all this is not going anywhere and they’d better just deal with it… or there’s there more interesting attitude of the fans who make loving critiques of it that, it really could change, it would just take a handful of people, having the guts to do it.
As long as you are inspired not to be passive, its not going to waste.
I will keep defending the importance of truth, as well as justice, however I can.
Until next time–Natasha.
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I was reading Pride and Prejudice, like I do usually twice a year, at least, and I started drawing some comparisons between the Regency Period and Anime.
If that sounds like a stretch, you haven’t been familiar with both materials, I’m sure anyone who was would know exactly where I’m going right now.
It’s funny how your background can influence your perception of something so much. Even just what country you are born in. It’s not a new idea to me, but many people don’t even think of their country as influencing their points of view. They think everyone thinks that way, if they are smart or normal people.
For instance, the odd blend of respect and disrespect in Asian cultures toward teacher figures, I’ve found it to be somewhat true. They allow for a lot of teasing and humor about certain things, but you absolutely never question others without severe punishment. Which can be the same here in the West, just usually over different stuff.
Free thinking is rare anywhere, even America, and I’m well aware of that as a citizen.
The difference is America puts more stress on free thinking being a good thing than many countries do.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on the intricacies of other cultures, I will have to go on what I’ve read and watched and heard form people who’ve been there about it, but even so, there’s some interesting things you could note.
My strange fan fic story
While I’ve been working on my now 3000 page long, year’s wroth of effort, fan fiction, I’ve delved into Japanese culture at a very deep level. People who don’t study anime deeply don’t realize how much you can know about a real place from the fiction it produces. I’ve written before about how Anime kills God (Killing God With the Power of Friendship: an anime conundrum. ), and doesn’t fix the problems it raises in its stories (Anime won’t Fix-it!), there have a been a couple exceptions, very rare, that I’ve seen so far. Usually, it doesn’t extend to the whole anime, just one part in it.
When I wrote my Naruto fan fic (I do plan to publish it, if anyone’s interested, I’ll probably link it to this blog eventually) I constructed a narrative about how the country would receive Christianity, all on my own, without doing research into Japan’s history with Christianity, and I didn’t really plan to make any statement on Japan itself, since I didn’t know about it.
But in my history class, we briwfly covered that very topic, and then my sister filled me in more from a documentary she watched, there’s also a movie called “The Silence” that I’m planning to watch.
My narrative was that if someone like Christian Missionaries came to the Naruto world (i. e. basically Japan), they would be feared and hated, and people would try to kick them out. I based this on the Bible and other accounts of missionary work not any history of Japan, I didn’t know about it, as I said.
But to my shock, I learned that my fictional idea was almost exactly what happened. And I had written the motives and reasoning in much the same way without prior knowledge.
Japan has a lot of missionaries at one point, but when new powers rose up, they felt threatened but Christianity’s freer way of thinking and thought it would encourage people not to follow their new ways, so they kicked them out as a while, and to this day, Japan has a very small christian population. And treats religious items and icons as the enemy in most of its anime.
Coincidence? I can’t believe it.
(That joke wan’t planed, but then I saw it and couldn’t pass it up 🙂
I had taken characters of Naruto and explored their reaction to the ideas, just like I do on this blog with media, and I got the same result. Fear of challenging the status quo, fear of a loss of control… it was scary (for more if my ideas on Naruto, check out this series: Naruto: 5 months of frustration-pt 1.)
I got the idea that Japan must be terrified of God after seeing so much anime, and I got some confirmation from a fellow blogger who lives there that this may be closer to the truth than I thought.
I probably sound like I’m bragging here, but I don’t think I figured it out because I’m just smart, in fact, some might still argue that I’m even right, but I do think fiction tells you an immense amount about its culture.
You have to have an eye for it, I’ve had years of training in critical thinking, writing tropes, and artistic style recognition, I spot this stuff very naturally. But most people could if they studied it.
I will say the most helpful advice about reading or watching the ideology of any art from a different background is this: Look for what isn’t there.
Are there things characters never say that you would expect them to say?
Are there events that never happen that seem like they would happen?
Are there events that do happen, but for unexplained reasons that contradict the set up?
In American media this happens quite often too, but anime is almost unilaterally this way. It’s called “anime logic” by the fans.
I notice it in French stuff too, as I’ve watched quite a bit for French class. And, I also notice it in ASL media.
Some things will never be said.
In French stuff, you will never hear that love is unimportant, I would be very surprised to be given a counter example of it. Tragic love is more popular than here, but love in some form is part of pretty much all their stories. They have a reputation for a reason.
In Deaf media, the opinion that Deaf people should try to become part of the hearing world more is not going to b supported by the media, whatever private opinions the actual members of the culture have. It’s not allowed.
If I watched more I’d probably notice other stuff, I could say French media considers feelings more important than logic in writing, but I haven’t seen enough to be sure.
In British writing, which I have read more of, logic and reality are much more central to any story, even a children’s story. The question of what is real will come up in most stories, and logic is far more likely to guide the hero’s actions than passion. If passion does take over, it will be pointed out as unusual, not seen as the most natural thing. The English always seem half ashamed of being ruled by passion, when they are, though that maybe a development more of the last few centuries. Shakespeare doesn’t have the same feel, though logic and wit are the main attractions of his writing too.
All this to say, I do this with everything, and I’ve also become more acquainted with my own countries stories.
We value freedom, independence, and discovery. All our original stories usually focus on that. Growing up, moving on, and become your own person is one of our favorite themes, both form the start of our nation to present day.
Our disregard for the opinions of authority figures is often seen as disrespect and cheek by other countries.
But after studying their media more myself, I have come to be exceedingly grateful that I was born in America, if I had my personality and was born somewhere else, I’d be miserable, probably. Or I’d never have developed my skills to the point I have (I’m aware that there are free thinkers in other countries, but there’s not such a rich support for it as here).
I’m a Xenophile, but I far prefer American idealism to any other.
America sees no reason to treat royalty, nobility, or gentry with any particular deference, we tend to see everyone as equally valuable int heir rights. One an’s opinion may be right or wrong depending on their character, not their station.
To my Western audience, that no doubt sounded obvious.
But, it really isn’t.
Authority in other cultures
In English books you will find great preference given to the opions of anyone higher ranking, whatever their character is known to be. From morality to clothing to food, they are just assumed to know better.
Like in “Fiddler on The Roof” when Rev Tevya says “If you’re rich they think you really know.”
There’s some reason for this, rich people are generally more educated, and therefore might really know more, but as Pride and Prejudice so eloquently shows, that doesn’t guarantee they understand any better than a common beggar the real problems of life, or how to treat people well.
Anime takes a very similar view to the British though, it tends to show that teachers and leaders may not always know best, but must be followed anyway. That rebellion is justified only when unspeakable atrocities have happened and the world is about to end, and even then, it’s 50-50 whether the system will actually be overthrown.
The idea of contradicting a teacher/leader is almost unheard of, I’ve seen a couple exceptions, but notably, even then you rarely criticize the leader themselves, just say they are mistaken.
Oh, the times I’ve longed to see one of those sick tyrants get punched and told “You are a monster with a god complex!”
Instead it usually boils down to “Our feelings just make us not want to be mindless robots, so sorry, but we’ll take you down, but please don’t take it too hard, you’re probably right, people suck, but we like being alive so...”
I’m all for being alive, but after the villains deliver their indictment against humanity, it feels like a hero needs more than “feelings” to come back with (literally every Fairy Tail arc ever.)
These are the good ones though, far worse anime have a compromise with evil that would be truly disgusting if we believed it was real. Like accepting a demon half, or something :-[
But, since they cannot defeat the monster, they befriend it.
This attitude doesn’t surprise me too much if I think of how Asian countries tend to move from one dictatorship to another, some more subtle, others blatant, and even now the same ideas permeate their culture even if the legal system has relaxed in some.
I doubt many people there would even argue that point with me, if I put it to them in different words. What we call limited thinking is usually called tradition and family ties.
I’m not against tradition of family ties either if they are good, but Americans reserve the right to distinguish between good and bad traditions and family responsibility, while many cultures see no difference in duty, whether you have cruel or kind traditions or family. You show respect either way.
America promotes the idea of earning respect, for leaders as well as peers, while you will not find that idea in most countries, leaders get respect based solely on position.
Someone might wonder, though, if I disagree with this, since the Bible teaches it.
My answer is no, I don’t think you get to disrespect a leader just based on not liking them. But I do think that you should not obey them if they are leading you to folly or evil. And that line just seems to disappear in many countries.
Of course, people are diverse, I can’t make blanket statements without knowing I am ignoring the exceptions. So, yes, exceptions exist, whole groups of them no doubt. I am talking about the ideas generally promoted, not what I think every single inhabitant of a foreign country will act like. I feel I shouldn’t need to state that, but I’ve seen enough comment sections and review to know people will not give me credit of taking that into consideration unless I say I am.
Being american also informed my view on my abusive father. I will probably never forget in this life him screaming at me multiple times “You WILL respect me! I am your farther!”
My life coach laughed about it, like “why would I respect you when you don’t act worthy of it?”
The Bible does not say to respect your parents, it says to Honor them.
Honor is not respect. I realizing. You can honor the position they are in, acknowledge it, and be kinder to them because of it, without respecting who they are.
I don’t respect my dad at all. He is, in my opinion, an almost 60 year old child, but he is still my Dad, and I will honor him as far as I safely can, which is not very far, and not as far as he wants.
The man doesn’t know what respect is himself. To him it means blind obedience, never arguing with him, never questioning his words. Even when I pointed out that he was okay with my questioning other authorities, he said “but I’m your dad, that’s different.” How is it different? I wondered.
I think his idea is that if I loved him, I would not question him. I would just do what he says. I would ignore my better judgment.
But, I think being an american, I found it easier interpret the Bible as promoting independence in this case.
The Bible could make the case either for dependence or independence on rulers, it’s all in how you want to read it, the truth of the matter is, the Real Message is telling us to use wisdom and discretion, and follow God first, than figure out how leaders factor into it. Some of the old saints rebelled or stuck out on their own, others did their best to live in peace with authority. You have to seek God for what to do in your situation.
And I am against any ideology that doesn’t allow for that. My complaint against anime isn’t that it promotes respecting leaders, but that it promotes it against all else. And the alternative is your own judgement based on feelings. Never turning to God and asking, what should I do?
Even though in real life, that is what people fall back on, whatever the media says.
There is no standard of morality in anime, unlike in British stories. The similarity to the British empire lies in this: that the British acknowledge God, but ignore the bible in how they treat the poor, lower class with less respect than the upper class, rich. There are most certainly exceptions, Elizabeth is an example of it, but the general attitudes is of that.
(Actually, it’s funny, anime and Korean media both make rich people out to be quire decent human beings, who don’t really care about money or status, at leas if they are a hot love interest, while American’s tend to write all rich people as spoiled snobs. I find both portrayals equally stereotypical.)
The real crux of moral issues in anime is: who is stronger?
It seems like it’s promoting the underdog, don’t shows like MHA do that?
Not really… I wish they did, but anime can’t commit to that message, no matter what.
Fairy Tail bases power off feelings, and morality is based off feelings.
But the logical point to be made is that, everyone has feelings, the bad guys do too, and there’s might be very strong, so how does the power of feelings, or friendship, fix anything?
Anime won’t go so far as to say evil should win, but the reason for good winning is pretty flimsy. What if some day, a villain has stronger feelings that a hero?
Actually, MHA stands out again as an interesting example here. When the hero killer Stain is cornered by the heroes, the strength of his feelings and convictions freezes all of them, and they cannot resist him. Deku recounts it in an awed, scared tone, recognizing he was so intense they couldn’t make a move. Stain then collapses from injuries, and straining himself, not from any of them.
Here is a startling case of a villain truly having more passion than the heroes and the show rather uncomfortably moves on from the subject, but damage is done. Stain’s influence still affects the villains and heroes to the current point in the story. Gran Torino points out only All Might has a passion strong enough to oppose Stain, it can’t be said that Deku is there yet.
If anything, Bakugo is far closer, but not close enough.
Conviction is dangerous in anime but irresistible, they admit. To many people who want to see change. The heroes are not offering them change. One wonders who the real villains of the story are. The villains do evil, and that’s not excusable, but if they didn’t do evil, if they simply held the same view and rebelled in less reprehensible ways, would it change anything? Or would the heroes still look down on them?
When I watched it, I found Stain intimidating, but I didn’t believe I would have backed down there, and I couldn’t understand why the heroes did. Now I do, they lack conviction. I have conviction. Of something else, I believe in more than Stain.
It’s true I don’t know how I would be if my life was truly in danger, but I would attribute that to cowardice, not that I had no alternative perspective. I hope I would be brave.
MHA is truly interesting more for what it dares to acknowledge than anything else, at times. Like Bakugo’s trauma after being kidnapped.
If stronger feelings determine who wins, might still makes right, it’s just a different kind of might. All Might has all the strong feelings, do you see where this is going?
It’s the same on every shonen, and every shoujo. The persistent, strongly emotional person wins, or the highly intelligent one (Dr. Stone, among other examples).
I don’t take issue with strength, just if that’s the only reason. If the villains were stronger than the heroes, they would win, and there would be no moral reason to resist if everyone else was too weak to do so.
It should be first and foremost about what is right.
The idea can be worked in that right is what makes the MC powerful, but it is not focused on enough to ever be certain that that’s the real point, and the answer to all failures is to try harder, work harder, and do better.
Never just that your outlook and approach is wrong.
I am sure I ticked off several weeaboos if they read this, but I don’t really care…
I think I’ll wrap up this post here for now, do you have any other thoughts about this subject? Feel free to comment and discuss, I always read comments.
Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.
Another fun post for me, let’s talk about shipping wars in MHA.
I have strong opinions about this, but if you’re not a fan, this probably won’t seem very interesting to you (then again, who knows, maybe I’ll surprise you.)
What I think it intriguing about the “Art of Shipping” (yes, I’m sticking with that) is when Fandoms all agree about one basic aspect of the ship, and the MHA one is perhaps the one I’ve found this trend in the most, though the Naruto one has the same thing.
Bascially, if you take out the ship haters, and the people who ship anything just because they want to see people kiss/bang, you are left with a few groups of shippers who have actual reasons for liking the ship (yeah, salt). And to my surprise, those odn’t usulaly come in differeent flavors. We all agree onw hat we like about a ship.
To take the top canon ship for example, Dekuraka (Deku x Uraraka), many people find it boring, but those who don’t all seem to agree that the nice thing about it is the anime staple of pureness and puppy love. But even more, people like Uraraka trying to respect Deku’s life by not complicating it (I personally don’t agree with her philosophy of love, but it’s more anime acceptable.)
I don’t have much more to say about that one, since it’s not the one I find most interesting.
I could list after other simple ones, like “Kamijiro (Kaminari x Jiro), Kirimina, (Kirishima x Mina), Whatever the Froppy x Tokayami one is called, and more.
The ones I see the most fan stuff made for are Kamijiro, Todomomo (Todoroki x Momo), and usrprisingly, Kachako (Bakugo x Uraraka). I’m not gcounitn the homo ships because I don’t support them.
But I suppose I should say a word about it.
My overall issue with yaoi or yuri shippers (BL and GL for non weebs), other than my religion, is that I find the ships extremely boring. It’s all about the homo part, and rarely about anything deeper, so there’s not much for me to get into if I see it.
Kirbaku fans at times try to accomplish something deeper, and Tododeku fans, but it’s usually no deeper than “They like each other despite have difficult personalities, or trauma” and oddly, the Tododeku people focus on that less, despite the more canon basis for it, while the Kiribaku venture there usually only for humor. If there are exceptions, they don’t frequent the forums I’m on.
I find homo ships to be shallow for the most part, and I have not seen enough counterexamples to change my mind on that. So, I will stick to the straight ships for my point.
Todomomo is my favorite, or my first favorite ship before I learned about the other one. I liked the dynamic after the episode “Yaoyerozu rising” where most of us got on board that ship. but I also liked the CD drama (semi-canon stuff) because it did what I’ve actually never seen an anime do, maybe why it was snuck into a CD drama.
Todoroki, in said CD drama, actually opens up to Momo, in a nuanced way, about his feelings about his family, though he immediately becomes embarrassed about it. I’ve read that that’s a cultural no-no in Japan. Momo seems to be unsure what to say for that reason, but then tells him she’s not just “Someone else” (like a random stranger) but she’s his classmate. Meaning that it’s okay to talk to her because they have a solid relationship as fellow students.
For anime, that’s about as bold as it gets, and it’s cute.
More importantly, it’s what’s at the core of this ship. The theme of Todomomo is helping each other deal with your past, and your insecurities. Mostly the fans make cute stuff about them building each other up, inspiring each other, etc. But the more hardcore AU (alternate universe) writers have tried swapping their backstories. And seeing how Todoroki does with Momo as the traumatized one. I prefer it as it is, but I find the more different the AUs are, the more it tells you about what the fans agree about. As I said, it’s the theme.
More about themes in a second.
My other fave is BakuCamie (Bakugo x Camie,) which hasn’t gotten a lot of love since Camie has barely been in the show, but the Manga fans are more into it.
What my sisters and I got hooked by with this ship was the potential for shared difficulties. I didn’t really like it at first, because I thought Camie was supposed to be an airhead, but after I did some digging and my sister gave me the pitch discussing it, I came around.
Bakugo and Camie both have the experience of being targeted by the League of Villain solely, instead of in a group. While Camie cannot remember hers, and Bakugo and probably never forget, their victimization led to some of the same things. More people freaking out about the League, and victim-blaming.
We see Bakugo get victim blamed by the media and heroes. Because he is angry so much, they say, the villains are trying to turn him. (At this point, did anyone even know for sure that was their goal? I don’t remember it being stated in the attack). And while typical in anime, it’s pretty sick to blame a 15 year old kid with anger issues and bad parenting strategies, for being kidnapped by villains who already attacked his school once, and who he kicked the rears of so they might very well be out for revenge or to eliminate a threat.
I actually started loving Bakugo in season 3, and I wan’t the only one. Surprisingly, he doesn’t really get mad at anyone for blaming him, maybe since they don’t do it to his face, or because he blames himself too and his mom doesn’t help(I like her, but I would not want to be her kid).
Camie, on the other hand gets victim-blamed by her own classmate, giving us a peek into the very different Shiketsu dynamic than UA’s very supportive class system (pardon my terrible joke). Shishikura is an ass, and I was glad Bakugo kicked his rear in the exam, but he still gloats and looks down on Camie for her “flighty” or ditsy personality, saying she got kidnapped for that reason.
Now, we are presented with a surprising similarity here, Camie has everything Bakugo lacks. She’s subtle where he’s blunt, friendly where he’s antisocial (or shy), and relaxed where he’s a live wire, she’s got all the people skills to be a fan favorite in the hero world, and in the real world, yet… she and Bakugo are both blamed for their personalities.
What the heack is wrong with these people?
I notice that in anime, often it doesn’t matter what the reason was, if you lost, you are a loser. there is no honor in defeat, even if it was the best you could do. If you are wronged by someone, it’s your fault for not being smart enough or strong enough to evade them.
It doesn’t matter that Camie was drugged, and Bakugo was jumped in the woods by a trained magician,
they should have somehow been able to avoid that if they just weren’t so… them.
Yeah, there’s too many layers of NOPE in that way of thinking for me to even get into without turning this post into a rant, but, it’s very very common for characters in anime to spout that sort of thinking. And it’s very damaging, even in the fictional circumstances.
That being said, the fans have tried to remedy that problem by making Bakucamie about them helping each other heal and gather strength to keep going. Also making each other stronger. Camie smooths Bakugo’s rough edges via humor, making him more friendly, while Bakugo defends Camie from getting attacked by snobs by just being around her. That’s the general feeling…but also, people feel he just gets her, in ways no one else does.
To me it makes sense, Bakugo attracts weird people. Ones who don’t feel like they belong, or are ever strong enough, because just being around him makes you feel stronger. That’s true even for a fan watching the show. We all love Bakugo because he speaks to that crazy side in all of us that we want to be confident about instead of insecure.
See, it’s not about the anger. That’s just the vehicle that makes it funny, also the only way shonen anime know show to do confident characters without making them flat and stoic(prove me wrong), it’s that Bakugo embraces what he thinks, even if it’s not always flawless, and we want to be able to do that.
The reason fans have been drawn to Camie as a shipping partner for him, since her introduction, is because Camie is the same way, only she relied more on humor than anger. But Camie is unashamedly who she is, and blows off Shishikura’s criticism like it goes over her head.
The fans have read into it, however, the suspicion that Camie is not really oblivious, just knows better than to acknowledge priggish slights at her personality, since it only encourages them. We think that her ability to throw shade at Bakugo proves that she is not oblivious, just sly, in a good way.
Actually, Camie is the one who intiatilly suggests the idea that works, jus in the one ar she’s in, and my faoviretie thing about Horikoshi’s wriitng is how he subverts sterotypes. Bakguo is angry, but he’s actually sensitive, Camie is an airhead who’s actuallys mart. It would be in form for him.
I think th emanga has alreayd added to this, but I’ve only watched the show, and manga spoilers woudl be mean anyhow for any fans reading this, so I’ll stikc to fan stuff.
I was surpised, whien I was diggin for more Bakucamie content, to find a theme of deep emotional/ menatl helahty issues. I found a comic about crying that remeind me of a depression uote I saw once:
This isn’t the only fan creation like this, I found one about bulimia, and another where Bakugo was depressed. I thought those were extreme, but I noted that the theme is still they help each other, they lift each up, and the make each other better.
And I found way more serious ones than humorous ones, which surprised me because Camie is meme gold, and I expected more fan made stuff about that.
The themes can surprise you, but, I think that it’s telling when a ship spareks the imagination in almost hte dsme way.
It leads me to ask, why?
I mean, people come form all walks of life, with different goals. How is it we see the same protential. To me it means that ships strike our core needs, and that’s why, I often find shippers understand the characters far better than fans who stick stirctlyt o plot.
In fact, when I’ve watched reviewers who focus on plot, and think ships are a waste of time, I usually end up shocked by their take on the character and show’s tone overall.
To be fair, shippers can also ignore a lot of important red flags in order to ship. I ignored those because it really has nothing to do with my point, but yes, it has it’s drawbacks.
I guess it’s also fair to mention that Bakucamie’ does have a red flag in that, Bakugo can be qutie mean verbally. Though, he’s not suuallymean to Camie, but if you want to get in deep, you could arug he’s not really suited to being ina relatinship period.
I’d answer that, irl, I might agree, or I’d at least proceed with caution, but that fans only have the present to work with when they ship, and Bakugo is already growing out of his meanness, so in a few years, he could be totally fine, and we can look ahead. Realistically that ship can’t happen until they graduate anyway.
Todomomo has no red flags and is probably the purest ship on the freaking show (I don’t think Dekuraka is as pure simply because Deku is too self destructive to be attentive to a girlfriend, as of now, imo, but I don’t object to it.)
It’s interesting to note that as stupid as most of us find shipping wars, shipping is one of the only things fans go to war over. Other then political controversy, and problematic content, shipping is the top positive aspect of a show that people fight over.
And with a vengeance.
Why do we care aso much about it?
Like I said in my I ship it! post, Love, even fictional love, is powerful. And we can’t help but get involved in it. I sometimes are about couple I really hate, just because I can’t gt away from thinking love is important.
Often shipping is the biggest focus a story puts on love. Stories that focus on different types, like Violet Evergarden, tend to not create as much shipping controversy.
But what the critics of shippin fail to realize is how much it upholds the basic need we have for emotional peth in a story.
If we focus only on action, and plot, and drama, it becomes stale. I get bored of superhero shows that don’t include relationships.
And parent-child stuff is often made the problem, rather than a good example in stories. Friend-friend is usually better, but more rare. “My Little Pony” stays fresh to the very end because Love and relationships never feel truly old, even if you’ve seen it a hundred times. When a show is built around it, you keep people reeled in. A more grotesque example would be classic soap operas.
For the average show, though, shipping is the main exploration of love, and relationship dynamic. And while you can’t build a show on it, you cannot really max out the potential of any character driven story without shipping. At least, I’ve always felt dissatisfied by one.
Before I close this post, I’ll return to why I think these two ships in particular are important to look at.
Whether they become official or not is not really the pint, it’s that they took the direction they did.
People are really hungry for healing right now, especially after last year. They are drawn to ships that center around characters helping each other be whole and happy. It gives them hope.
Sometimes, too much. Just go on Webtoon sometime and see how important people find this stuff. They say they live off of it… literally.
You learn a lot, that’s the truth. When you can’t get out an talk to people, fandoms sure are a great (and terrifying) place to learn about them.
Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.
So, Season 4 of MHA finished last week.
I’m not going to review it in detail because I know a lot of people still haven’t seen it, no spoilers here.
I just want to talk about the show’s themes a little bit. I generally prefer to focus on the character’s themselves, but the overall theme MHA has become pretty interesting.
It was my first anime, so the normal kids gets powers against all odds took me off guard. I had not seen Sky High yet, and it didn’t strike me as a Spiderman type of story, so I thought it would be more like the usually Western Underdog film. The Karate Kid type, if you will. Kid goes form useless to boss in a short time under a great mentor.
Which is the story, but with a superpower instead of great training, because if we’re honest, All Might’s training is acceptable at best until season 4, it got a little better there.
The theme of MHA started as “What does it mean to really be a hero?”
In season 1, that meant just acting to save people and being brave, that’s your usual anime fare I now know.
But in season 2 it started to diverge. Post Festival arc, we were introduced to Hero Killer Stain, and the news that many people are unhappy with hero society’s hero worship.
The hero worship of the world of MHA, which is slightly futuristic, but otherwise just like our world, only with superheros instead of pop stars and athletes, is accepted as either an annoyance or a perk by the pro heroes, from EraserHead to Mt Lady to the lesser known ones who aren’t named.
By the villains, it’s called out as disgusting, perverting the true meaning of heroism, though their standards are kind of arbitrary. One, Spinner, says “As soon as a hero accepts payment, they are not a real hero.” Another, Dabi, seems to feel heroes are irresponsible in their personal lives (there’s theories about him.) While Shigaraki just hates All Might, and feels society is lazy and happy because heroes are always pretending everything is okay.
Deku, our protagonist, is typically, unable to answer any of these criticisms with anything other than “try harder”.
But the other heroes, the supporting or secondary MCs actually have some thoughts on these issues.
Todoroki, personally and painfully aware of the lack of personal responsibility in a hero’s home life, is tempted to see the system as flawed. He also questions authority more than any of the other students.
Bakugo, who went from being my least favorite to my top favorite male character in season 3, and onward (power of fan made stuff) calls out the idea that heroes can just be outwardly nice, and emphasizes that grit and determination are the key component between a hero and a weakling with good intentions, even if he does this in a very abrasive way. Bakugo demands that people be real with him, even if it means they are less nice that way, in his own way agreeing with Todoroki’s disgust with fake good PR. (Maybe that’s why they don’t hate each other even though they don’t get along.)
Kirishima declares he won’t even feel like a man, let alone a hero, if he cannot take action himself. While one could argue the situation was beyond him, its notable that Bakugo would not have been rescued without his help, while the show doesn’t exactly say this, it does not wholly condemn the kids, as All Might commends Deku for his plan. Kirishima’s point that not just a hero, but any person, should want to help their friend is a good counter to the idea that only heroes are allowed to be brave in a society where you can be arrested for helping just because you are not a certified professional.
People will defend the idea that only professionals should step in, and it works fine if pros are around and functioning, but the hard truth is in Real Life, emergencies specifically tend to happen where there is no professional help, why else would they be emergencies. Many people’s lives have been saved by common sense, a little First Aid knowledge, or the guts to take a risk that was illogical. That is what heroics are made of. Professionals are just doing a job, an important job, but heroism implies it was unusual for the person to do what they did. Therefore it cannot really be a job, or else, it was an unforeseen element of the job, like risking a new medical procedure, that they would not have been prepared for.
Heroes traditionally are at odds with society, which is why t he problem of MHA’s world is really that society is attempting to control heroes, thereby rendering the term meaningless.
The world defines Heroes as people who save people, but the word has many more connotations than that.
It’s actually a problem not just in anime, but in the surplus of superheros we have now, in the MCU and DCU, there’s just too many. The idea that they are unusual, or different from the regular law, is hard to buy.
IF heroes are like anyone else, just with powers, then, as The Incredibles points out “no one will be (special).”
The point of the Incredibles is not that being exceptional because of DNA is inherently preferable, but that if you are exceptional, you should be able to use those gifts freely without conforming to the norm. That can apply to morality, one line in the movie’s opening newsreel goes “Average citizens, average heroes, quietly and anonymously, trying to make the world a better place.”
How can a hero be average? That’s the real point of the movie. Whether its because they do the right thing even if it gets them in trouble, or because they can break cars or run on water, you can’t expect a hero to be like everyone else, and if you try to make everyone a hero, you take any and all meaning from the word.
Like that stupid saying “Everyone is the hero of their own story.”
IT’s meant to hype people up, like, you can libe our life in a big way.
And you can, most certainly, you may well get to be a hero.
But you are not the hero of your own story, newsflash: Life is not about you. If your life is about you, it’s pretty pathetically small, because that’s just one person.
MHA does not go that far, and it makes a lot of good points, but there’s one question that’s haunting the fans right now (those who are interested in this theme that is.)
Deku is supposed to become the greatest hero, but Heroes, as a whole, are not all that great. They fit a mold. they are fine as people, but when we try to hold them up as examples, even All Might, the ex-number one, has plenty of short-sightedness that makes him a good hero publically, but more of a trying-really-hard private one.
What makes a hero Great?
All Might says it’s both compassion and grit. That’s probably true.
But a third thing that makes the difference between a hero and a soldier is the ability to see things clearly.
We’ve seen many problems with the hero world, and it parallels our world in a lot of ways. We can sacrifice true excellence for just the show of it. True compassion for just outward altruism. We don’t want to know what’s behind it all.
As Todoroki and Momo both mention at one point, being able to judge a situation accurately is key to being a hero, something both Deku and Bakugo, the two halves of the same coin according to the show, lack in compared to those two.
Wisdom is rarely the most popular thing in the culture, but to be a real hero, you have to have it, at least a little. One act of heroism, you might get by on guts and innovation, but to be the Greatest, you have to be able to see solutions to problems.
And you have to have the courage to tell people, even people in authority, that they are doing it wrong.
Not to point fingers, but anime has a serious kissing-up to authority problem, even if the authority is clearly wrong, they can never be called out for it. (I’ve seen a few exceptions, but they were light.)
It’s creeping into American media too, much more than I like.
It used to be a given that a hero had to challenge the system, now the message is to work with it.
Well, if you can, but as CA: Civil War put it “Compromise where you can, and where you can’t…stand your ground, and tell them ‘no, you move.'” (Best part of the film.)
I guess I’m rebel at heart, I heard the line that I shouldn’t question authority too much growing up, and then I realized that that was just an excuse to keep allowing the same crap as before.
Of course, change is scary. It’s risky. What would everyone think?
People say, it doesn’t matter what others think of you. It’s true, in a way. But may I remind you, that you can lose your life in many places for being different, thinking different, or criticizing authority. You can lose your job, your reputation, your friends, and your family.
So, yes, it does matter. But we have a responsibility to dot he right thing regardless of that, and anyone who does not, most certainly can be labeled a coward.
The courage to be a good citizen is nonexistent, usually, but the courage to be a hero, that’s uncommon.
There’s a difference between being Number One, i. e. most popular and most effective (in a way) and the Greatest, which reflects on your true character.
With that, I think this is over for now, until next time–Natasha.
I got the idea from this from a comment conversation I had under my last post. I have been thinking about writing it for a while, so let’s talk tropes.
Although this trope is not exclusive to anime, as I’m sure all of us have seen it in movies and shows, anime uses it a lot.
Correction: anime pretends its going to use it a lot.
All us weaboos know the annoyance of animes that pretend they’ll kill everyone all the time, and then never kill anyone…except that one person you were kind of rooting for to make it. (sniff, Pyrrha.)
Then there’s Death Note where everyone dies.. (I don’t watch it.)
Well, I don’t care if nobody dies, I just hate being lied to and faked out so many times.
Naruto is almost sadistic about killing characters, it will inform you a character died a whole two or three seasons in advance, and then bring in the character later for a side arc, or flashbacks, and show them being cute and lovable and ready to actually be happy…and then they show your them dying, alone…(I’m still salty about The Bubble Guy Utaeka, I think.)
But, sometimes villains die, and they might stay dead, and then you have the redemption arc.
Anime accomplishes the arc part usually with flashbacks, while American media tends to either show you the villains in the beginning of the film and hint at a possible redemption, or maybe drop small hints throughout the movie or show, and then they have the death be a surprise.
Anime rarely makes it a surprise, by the time they’ve actually died you’ve been watching for like, three episodes, or seen half a dozen flashbacks dragging it out.
Anyway, before I get into the meaning of it, I wanted to point out that not every redemption death is for a villain. Sometimes it’s a good character who left the fight, screwed up royally, or never committed to actually helping until that point. They aren’t a villain, sometimes they are a chaotic neutral, if you will, but they choose to sacrifice themselves and end up a hero.
The most infamous example of this in America may be Darth Vader from Star Wars, everyone loves that redemption moment of self sacrifice.
Often in kids media, its common that the character not actually die. In The Little Mermaid, Arial’s father sacrifices himself without dying exactly, (but I always found it much more horrifying to be turned into a worm-thing than just straight-up dying.) Or they will appear to die, but end up being okay.
Anyway, the kinds of characters you’ll see get a redemption death are usually villains who were shown to have a human side, maybe a person they still loved, even more likely if the person is the hero, take Thor and Loki’s back and forth relationship in the Avenger movies; another common one is bad parents who couldn’t seem to get it up until then, but show they love their kids by dying for them (Darth Vader); also the mentors or sage characters who failed to stop the villain make a sacrifice to give the heroes more time to figure it out. That’s even in The Lego Movie.
MHA has used this trope in a slightly different way, equating losing your powers with dying, for a hero, in a way. Thereby adding a weight to their fights that actually has a longer lasting impact on the show itself, not just the characters, because it means they can no longer use that character as a fail safe.
So why is this so common?
The simple answer is that it’s easier to use death to create sympathy for the character and often it just doesn’t seem practical for a villain to survive, they would just go to prison or die anyway, why not let it be a blaze of glory instead?
But mechanics aside, I think there’s a deeper reason this is used so often.
The thing about tropes is, people mock them, but the reason they are so common is because they reflect meanings about real life that people feel to be true. Romantic tropes mirror what happens in real life, Chosen One tropes mirror the feeling of purpose we all want to have, and fallen Hero tropes mirror the knowledge we have of our own human weakness.
The Death=Redemption Trope is no different, it mirrors a feeling human beings have that death is somehow the only thing that can make up for our sins.
The Bible says “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” For thousands of years that meant animal blood, so that people could be pardoned. After Jesus came and died, His blood was enough to cover all men throughout time.
Fiction has felt this truth, whether the authors admit it or not, and that is why villains die so often to redeem themselves. somehow death seems to be the only way to blot out the memory of their evil.
Anime is interesting here, because as I pointed out in my last post, it has many bad guys who end up living. And without fail, those bad guys feel they must atone for their sins.
See, when the death part does not happen, the good guys are faced with the much more complicated problem of still remembering what the bad guys did and having that reminder in front of them. Even if the bad guys are sorry, the good guys may have a hard time seeing past that, sometimes they do not want to. Like Katara with Zuko on Avatar.
If the villain is dead, you can’t punish them anymore anyway. Only rarely will a character obsess over not getting to kill the villain.
Plus, dying for someone is just so hardcore noble, that it can challenge the heroes to think maybe the villain was never as evil as they thought. a lot of shows choose to later reveal that the villain did some good things along the way, often that they even help the heroes by leaving clues as to how to solve future problems.
Naruto did this with Itachi Uchiha…I hated it…
Now that I’ve discussed why this is so common, the better question is, does it work?
IS it good to send this message?
The answer is yes and no.
While death=redemption can be a beautiful way to symbolically show how we need to die to our sin, and how “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (-Jesus) there is one problem I see with it.
The whole point of fiction is to be symbolic. Sometimes when shows try to break down too much if death really equal redemption, then you have to start being more realistic.
The discussion then becomes “Should you have to kill yourself in order to be redeemed? Isn’t there a better way than that?”
Fairy Tail did this over and over again, and nearly always concluded on the side of life. But one time, at the end, they had Irene, the mother of Erza, kill herself because she did not trust herself and wanted to prevent herself from falling to the temptation to use Erza or her friends again.
When this happens it’s similar to Jesus telling us that if our right eye causes us to sin, pluck it out. If you really jsut cannot control yourself, then it’s better to lose an eye.
The bible is not saying self mutilation is a good idea. It’s saying that if we view sin that seriously, then we will put that kind of effort into getting free of it.
But we do not have to die fro our sins.
In the real world, this questions is also prevalent in our legal system. Should we just imprison people? Or should we kill them? Can’t anyone be redeemed? The real thought behind the more merciful system in America is that men can turn their lives around. But some men don’t, so we still need the Death Sentence.
Of course, Christians know that men on the verge of death for their sins have been saved, the thief on the cross is the most famous example. It happens nowadays too, in prisons and hospitals alike. But they still die.
The Bible does not seem overly concerned with whether men die in the body or not, as long as they are alive spiritually. That is, it is pro-life, but holds biological life as second in importance, if you follow God. And if you die immediately after accepting Christ, you are not the loser by any means.
Basically, with God, no one has to die for their sins, but some people still will because men cannot know for certain when there’s a change of heart, but that death is just of the body and not seen as a punishment to the christian anymore.
That said, you could say Death=Redemption really hangs on how well the villain understood why they were changing. You have to feel that, had they lived, they would have kept changing, not that they died out of some unhealthy, spur-of-the -moment, self hatred.
Dying for love is the preferred reason. And the one that reflects the most what Jesus did for us.
Though nonchristians may deny that, I don’t know anyone who hates this trope. It seems to be written into our psyches to see meaning in self-sacrifice. I know a YouTube reviewer who will give a movie a win every time there is a self-sacrifice in it.
Death is a tricky subject in fiction where death can be undone. Or prevented in ways we in the real world can only dream of.
Did they have to die? Does their death truly atone for their sins?
Death is all that can atone for sins, but yet, if they keep on living, can they live free?
Most often the answer is, they have to learn to love, to be a good person, to change.
Christianity ties these two things together by having a way to die before you die, to die to your sinful self, and to live in Christ.
As crazy as that sounds, the proof is in the pudding, more people become good because of Christianity than any other reason I know of. Throughout history, the bad kids, the rebels, the slaveholders, the cruel, the arrogant, have made 180 degree turns because of Christianity. Whole countries have changed over it. They still are.
In closing, there was one time Naruto did something with this idea that I thought was profound. When Gaara, a former murder/demon possessed person tried to learn about love, he later got kidnapped and killed in order to steal his power. He lost the demon (thank goodness)but also his life. But then a woman who had stuck him with the demon to begin with gave her life in order to resurrect him, with a little help from Naruto himself. Gaara is essentially given a new life, someone else’s life, and able to live free from then on. No longer needing to worry about losing control.
Easily one of the best examples I’ve seen, up there with Frozen.
Until next time–Natasha.