My Hero Academia: Bakugo’s Evolution Is More Subtle Than It Seems

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for My Hero Academia Season 5, Episode 9, "Early Bird!" now streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation and Hulu.

Season 5 of My Hero Academia continues to pit Class 1-A and 1-B students against each other in the Joint Training arc. While the classes seemed to be neck-and-neck for a while with one win each and a tie, Match 4 tipped the scales thanks to Bakugo’s fiery drive and his stellar coordination with his teammates.

Working with others has never been Bakugo’s specialty, so his classmates were in awe at his exemplary progress. His willingness to save his teammates, and to accept their efforts to save him, is a new milestone marking huge strides in Bakugo’s development as a hero. But how much has he really changed? This collaboration could just be a necessary stepping stone to fulfill the goal he’s always had: to become the #1 Pro Hero.

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Bakugo is proving a natural leader in My Hero Academia, quickly directing his 1-A teammates Jiro, Sero, and Sato to catch up with him as he barrels forward on the immediate offense – he wouldn’t have it any other way. More shockingly, he also informs them that he’ll come to save them if they run into trouble and asks them to return the favor. To top it off, he tosses each of his teammates a small bomb filled with nitroglycerin he made with his Quirk. He informs them that they’re not too powerful but could be useful -- as Sero demonstrates by taping one to a piece of Setsuna’s flesh and detonating it as she returns to her body.

As Classes 1-A and 1-B start to clash head-on, Bakugo first proves his commitment to the team by swooping to Jiro’s aid. 1-B student Kamakiri lunges for Jiro, but Bakugo interjects, firing a flurry of blasts at him. The act is so striking that both All Might and Deku react to his heroic shift.

The two One-For-All wielders aren’t the only ones to notice, either. Neito Monoma shouts in disbelief, “Are you saying his personality changed?!” Kirishima, one of Bakugo’s few close friends at U.A., insists his actions reflect his true nature, but also acknowledges that saving Jiro was the first time he’s witnessed Bakugo’s overt heroism, putting himself on the line for someone else.

Episode 9’s Class 1-B match is also the first time Bakugo willingly accepts help from teammates, as Sugar Rush Sato frees him after being welded in place by Awase. Despite his newfound acceptance of teamwork, Bakugo hasn’t had a complete change of heart. As he himself professes, his goals have always been the same. This training exercise is only a means to an end. Surpassing All Might and Deku will always be his primary motivation, no matter how much he learns about the many facets of heroism. His stubborn, brash disposition may seem simplistic, but how he morphs as a talented hero will always make his journey to reach his goal intriguing.

It’s easy to see Bakugo as intense or over-the-top in My Hero Academia, but another descriptor could easily be “overachiever.” He not only refuses to lose, he always pushes for a perfect score with no one captured and no one injured. Match 4 was a sweeping success as they got a perfect 4-0 score in less than five minutes.

Bakugo’s refusal to compromise can add to the difficulty of making collaborative or elaborate plans with others. However, his attitude to run in all guns blazing can still get a boost from teamwork – all it takes is readying reactions to help each other out along the way. The best and most efficient plan isn't necessarily the most complicated one, and Bakugo’s unstoppable force continues to prove he can make his way work wonders.

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