The best stories in anime and manga always have a good rivalry at their core, period. I mean, looking back at all the anime I’ve enjoyed over the years, almost all of them have the protagonist being fueled by his rivalry with his best friend, nemesis, or even a possible love interest (And sometimes, a single person embodies all three). This is why when the conversation of rivals comes up in anime, there are few debates as heated as the one involving Deku and Bakugo. Between the two, who is stronger?
Welcome to Character Versus – a segment where we take beloved characters from across the Otakusphere and pit them against each other to see who comes out on top. I mean, we all have characters we stan and they might be powerful. But are they as powerful as someone else’s fave? And no, the answer to ‘Strongest Character In Anime’ isn’t always going to be Goku.
My Hero Academia has cemented itself as Shonen royalty, with a roster of amazing characters and a rivalry so dynamic, that it echoes some of the greatest in anime. I’m talking Naruto VS Sasuke level good here. And while, yes, Deku has proven himself to be every bit the illustrious protagonist, Bakugo is not far behind in power level. But I digress.
There is an entire thesis-level conversation we can have regarding how both individuals have their strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately it all boils down to the basics: The intensity of their abilities and how they choose to utilize them. With Deku being the underdog and Bakugo being naturally gifted in the beginning, how have things shifted in the current arc of the manga? Let’s break it down!
Midoriya Izuku: An Underdog Becoming The Greatest Hero?
When we first meet Deku, he is just plain old Midoriya Izuku with no special ability. But yet, he opens with how the manga is the story of how he became the ‘Greatest Hero Of All Time’.
Now, ‘greatest’ doesn’t mean ‘strongest’. But it’s a hell of an expletive to use. Deku goes on to possess the power of his icon, All Might, who is considered one of the strongest Heroes. But personally, his biggest strength isn’t his quirk, One-For-All, but rather his sheer knowledge regarding Pro Heroes and their powers. It’s how he can navigate different hero skills and types, adapting his quirks to counteract them.
And unlike a lot of Shonen protagonists, he isn’t shown to just be all strong and mighty. It is canon that Deku has a genuine intellect, and his analysis skills are very keen. He works hard to maintain his education alongside his One-For-All training sessions.
At 100% of his power, we have seen Deku lift 12-story buildings, destroy foes with a single punch, become virtually invulnerable to attacks, and more. But the thing is he can’t control any of that, which is his biggest weakness. His power isn’t stable, and with every new quirk, he gets hurt worse and worse.
Bakugou Katsuki: Explosive, Expressive, Excessive?
Bakugo Katsuki always knew he was going to be great. Even when he was just a snot-nosed brat applying for UA Academy and bullying Deku, he felt like he was unstoppable. He was arrogant and proud, but perhaps he had reason to be so.
One might say his personality perfectly mimics his Explosive quirk, with how hot-headed he can get. But beyond that, he is also just an exceptionally gifted student. His perception skills are impressive and he’s a brilliant strategist. Despite his impulsiveness, there is a stone-cold focus about him when it comes to combat and it’s where his offensive skills come out to shine.
Hell, he took on Deku at 5% and came out on top. His control over his quirk is what lands him amongst the top up-and-coming Heroes, as confirmed by Blue Jeanist, a seasoned Pro Hero. I mean, his Howitzer Impact attack is no joke, requiring needle-point accuracy to enact properly.
But the control he has over his powers does not translate well into his actions. His brashness leads him to not work well in a group, and that self-isolation can lead to huge mistakes. His cockiness and impulsiveness are his biggest downfall.
The Winner: It’s Deku With All His Might!
But it’s a close call. Deku has both finessed his Shoot Style quirk and pushed the usage of One-For-All up to 20%. He’s also gained access to almost all of the remaining abilities of his One-For-All predecessors. These powers include Black Whip, Fa Jin, and Danger Sense, which is like a heightened Spidey-Sense. As in Deku can no longer be taken by surprise. He’s grown exponentially in the manga.
This means that while Bakugo had the upper hand in most of their fights before, that is no longer the case anymore. Unless Bakugo is getting a major amp in the story soon, it’s Deku all the way!