My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia) has become one of the most popular anime and manga series of the last decade. With its engaging characters and exciting superhero action, it has gained fans all over the world. However, a controversial topic among fans is the question of whether the main character, Izuku “Deku” Midoriya, might be gay.
1. Deku x Bakugo is a hugely popular ship among My Hero Academia fans, despite no canon confirmation of a romance between them.
2. Non-canon same-sex shipping is common in shonen anime fandoms, often due to intense chemistry between rival male characters.
3. Female characters historically aren’t written strongly in shonen anime, leaving room for slash fiction ships to thrive instead.
4. Fans have the right to imagine relationships between characters, even if not intended by the original creators.
5. LGBTQ representation is slowly increasing in anime/manga and will likely continue to expand in the future.
The Popularity of Deku x Bakugo
While Deku has shown interest in female characters like Ochaco Uraraka in the anime, many fans prefer to ship him with his rival, Katsuki Bakugo. This rivals-to-lovers troupe is common in action anime, but Bakugo is aggressively opposed to the idea of being paired with Deku.
Bakugo bullied Deku as a child and still maintains a hostile attitude, so their relationship is complicated. Yet some moments highlight an intensity between them that fuels the imagination of fans. Their clashing personalities play into the “opposites attract” appeal of this ship.
A Recurring Shonen Trope
This trend is not new or unique to My Hero Academia. Series like Naruto and Dragon Ball Z also have heavily shipped male rival characters who clash but are close in their own way.
|Naruto x Sasuke
|Dragon Ball Z
|Goku x Vegeta
|Yu Yu Hakusho
|Yusuke x Hiei
Light Yagami and L from Death Note are another classic example of how opposite dynamics between male leads create shipping enthusiasm, even without canonical confirmation.
Female Character Writing in Shonen
Why do these non-canon same-sex ships thrive? Part of it may be how female characters are handled in shonen anime and manga. They are often relegated to support roles, lacking the development to have an equal relationship with the male protagonists.
For example, in Naruto, Sakura Haruno lacks chemistry with Naruto compared to the intensity he shares with Sasuke. My Hero Academia has better female characters, but they interact minimally with Deku compared to Bakugo.
This leaves an opening for male character pairs to fulfill the fan desire for compelling romantic arcs. Rivals who clash but understand each other intuitively are prime targets.
Author Intent Versus Fan Interpretation
It’s important to note the difference between canonical text and fan interpretations. Authors like Kohei Horikoshi (My Hero Academia) and Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto) likely did not intend a homosexual subtext between their male leads.
However, fans are free to interpret relationships however they wish. In many cases, non-canon interpretations are part of the appeal. Fans enjoy imagining “what if” scenarios that satisfy their preferences for characters.
Changing Times and Representation
While mainstream anime and manga authors historically have not depicted openly LGBTQ characters, fans desire more representation as times change.
Series like Yuri!!! on Ice and No.6 do feature canonical gay relationships. So there is hope that more queer representation can develop in shonen anime/manga too.
For now, non-canon shipping satisfies fans looking for diversity. And thanks to the global, digital nature of current fandoms, these ships have big audiences.
Is Midoriya Canonically Gay in My Hero Academia?
No official sources confirm Deku as gay. Horikoshi has not commented directly on the topic. Some key evidence suggests Midoriya’s heterosexuality in the series:
- His stammering awkwardness around feminine classmates like Uraraka and Tsuyu point to heterosexual interest.
- A fantasy sequence depicts Uraraka as his wife with children.
- He fiercely denies any interest when teased about being in love with Bakugo.
Ultimately, Midoriya’s sexuality is never stated outright. Ambiguity leaves the door open for interpretation.
Does Bakugo Have Secret Feelings for Deku?
Bakugo shows no clear indications of reciprocating Deku’s admirers. Quite the opposite – he remains enraged at the idea of being paired with his former bullying victim.
Some cite his obsession with beating Deku as evidence that he harbors secret feelings. However, Bakugo’s goal seems more about proving his own self-worth after being behind Deku in receiving All Might’s quirk.
What Do Critics and Fans Think?
Despite a vocal contingent of shippers, many My Hero Academia fans argue Deku and Bakugo have no convincing subtext. They criticize ships like Deku x Bakugo as projection onto the characters.
Critics also accuse shippers of fetishizing or appropriating gay relationships. Indeed, female fans writing romantic slash fiction for male characters is nothing new.
However, others counter that fans have the right to imagine what they wish from creative works, even if non-canonical. They say shipped couples are not meant to represent real LGBTQ relationships. For some, it’s just enjoyable fantasy independent of author intent.
The Future of LGBTQ Relationships in Anime
While mainstream shonen anime historically plays it safe, inclusion continues to expand in anime/manga. For example, 2020 saw the first canonical transgender character in a big manga series (Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to).
So it’s likely just a matter of time before an influential series introduces openly gay main characters. My Hero Academia itself has made steps with background LGBTQ representation, like tiger hero Tiger from the Wild, Wild Pussycats.
As mentalities evolve, fans hope for more authentic queer characters and relationships in anime/manga canon. Non-canon shipping will surely carry on as well, continuing the tradition of imaginations running wild.
- Deku x Bakugo is a hugely popular ship, though not canonical.
- Intense rival dynamics often lead to non-canon shipping in shonen anime fandoms.
- Female characters historically aren’t written strongly, opening the door for slash ships.
- Fans have the right to imagine relationships, even if not author-intended.
- LGBTQ representation is slowly increasing in anime/manga.
Deku’s sexuality ultimately remains ambiguous rather than definitively homosexual. Fans who view him as gay likely project based on shipping preferences rather than hard evidence. Still, imagination and interpretation are part of what makes fandom so fun for so many. People enjoy speculating about what dynamics might exist between beloved characters. And this engagement keeps viewers invested in the stories and couples, canon or not.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Bakugo gay for Deku?
No evidence suggests Bakugo reciprocates feelings for Deku. He vocally rejects the idea when brought up. His obsession with Deku seems driven by a desire to prove his superiority after feeling behind Deku in skill.
Are any characters in MHA LGBTQ?
No main characters are canonically LGBTQ so far. But some supporting characters are, like Tiger from the Wild, Wild Pussycats rescue team. Overall representation remains limited but growing.
Will Deku end up with Uraraka?
Uraraka is the most likely love interest for Deku based on their interactions so far. Deku has shown clear interest in Ochaco, while she harbors a crush on him. But their future relationship remains unconfirmed.
Is the Deku/Bakugo ship toxic?
Some argue it romanticizes a bully/victim dynamic since Bakugo bullied Deku as children. Others say it’s no different than many iconic rival ships. Ultimately personal opinion determines whether the ship promotes a harmful dynamic.
Do the MHA creators support gay ships?
Horikoshi has avoided directly addressing topics like Deku’s sexuality or non-canon ships. The creators don’t seem to actively support or discourage fan interpretations. They allow fans freedom to view characters as they wish.