Katsuki Bakugou/Midoriya Izuku

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Pairing
Pairing: Izuku Midoriya/Katsuki Bakugou
Alternative name(s): BakuDeku, BKDK, KatsuDeku, Dekacchan, Katsuki/Izuku, Kacchan/Deku
Gender category: Slash
Fandom: Boku no Hero Academia
Canonical?: non canon
Prevalence: High
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Katsuki Bakugou/Midoriya Izuku, or Bakudeku, is one of the most popular slash ships in the fandom Boku no Hero Academia. It centers around the main character, Midoriya Izuku and his childhood friend/bully, Bakugou Katsuki, which has caused a bit of disagreement between fans of BNHA.

Canon

Midoriya and Bakugou are childhood best friends. However when Bakugou manifests a particularly strong and powerful quirk, he begins bullying Midoriya for being quirkless and weak. This leads Bakugou to give Midoriya the mocking nickname "Deku," which is a play on the kanji (出久) that make up Midoriya's first name and a common insult in Japanese that's roughly equivalent to the English blockhead.[1] In doing so, Bakugou enforces the societal view that Midoriya cannot succeed in his dream of becoming a Pro Hero because he has no quirk. Midoriya calls Bakugou by his childhood nickname, Kacchan, which can be seen as extremely cutesy and girly.[2]

In the very beginning of canon, despite Bakugou having earlier told him to kill himself, Midoriya risks his life to save Bakugou from a villain attack and receives the One for All quirk from All Might. Because of this, Bakugou believes that Midoriya had lied to him about being quirkless when they begin attending U.A. and becomes angry with him. Midoriya attempts to explain that his Quirk was given to him, but is unable to elaborate beyond that without breaking the confidence of All Might. Bakugou doesn't believe Midoriya, and the lack of a proper explanation leads to him cementing his fear that Midoriya had secretly been looking down on him for their entire lives.

After a climactic fight in which Bakugou reveals these misconceptions and confides his own insecurities about his role in pushing All Might into retirement,[3] the two finally clear the air once and for all, and develop a mutually respectful rivalry.

Fandom

BakuDeku is the most popular ship in the Eastern BnHA fandom, and one of the most popular ships in the Western fandom. According to fandometrics on Tumblr, in 2018 Bakudeku was #16 on the most popular ships list.[4] There are over 9000 works for the pairing on AO3,[5] and it is has become the most tagged BNHA ship on the site, overtaking the similarly popular ships of Tododeku and Kiribaku.[6]

Common Tropes & Fanon

In canon fanfiction, it's common for the stories to include some sort of redemption arc for Bakugou in which he apologizes for his past behavior. This is especially true of early BakuDeku fic, which was written at a time when Midoriya and Bakugou's relationship was far more antagonistic. Now that the two are on better terms, there has been an increasing focus in canon fic on mutual character development and growth.

As far as AU fic go, A/B/O is by far the most common trope for the pairing along with the canon-specific au "no quirks".[5] They are also frequently portrayed as soulmates, with fic often capitalizing on Bakugou and Midoriya's complementary personalities and ideals.[citation needed]

Controversies

The largest controversy in BNHA fandom is over the acceptability of BakuDeku as a ship. Some fans disapprove of shipping Midoriya with his childhood bully and label the ship as "abusive."[7] This controversy is largely related to mixed opinions about Bakugou and his attitude, cultural nuances lost in translation, and fanon misconceptions about the extent of the ship's antagonistic history.[8] It's understandable why viewers/readers would be repulsed by ship—in the first chapter alone, Bakugou tells Midoriya he'll never be able to go to UA and suggests Midoriya throw himself off the school's roof. Worsening matters, Bakugou has yet to explicitly apologize to Midoriya in canon which is a sore point for critics.

Bakugo is learning. He is developing as a character and as a person. Eventually he may even apologize to Midoriya, or maybe the two of them will even become friends, but the fact still stands. He was abusive. Midoriya is not required to forgive him, especially to the point of becoming romantically involved. VICTIMS ARE NEVER REQUIRED TO FORGIVE THEIR ABUSERS, EVEN WHEN THE ABUSER HAS APOLOGIZED OR CHANGED.

In order for the ship to be healthy, Bakugo would have to completely shift his worldview to the point that it no longer pains him to be around Deku. He would also have to apologize to Deku, and Deku would have to forgive him, and both of them would have to mean it. Deku couldnt idolize Bakugo anymore, either, because that idolization would reintroduce the power imbalance.

After all of these things have happened, then and only then will ba/ku/de/ku even be within the possibility of being healthy.[7]

The major problem with the controversy around Bakugou and Midoriya's relationship is that there is a distinct cultural difference between Japan's perception of bullying and Western perception of bullying. In many Eastern cultures, individualism is actively discouraged in favor of blending into the crowd leading to a disconnect between the "me" culture of the West and the "us" culture of Japan.[9] Because of this difference, bullying is considered a personal matter in Japan, and therefore the apparent lack of repercussions in canon is because what Bakugou does to Midoriya isn't necessarily interpreted as bullying in the context of Japanese culture.[10] That isn't to say what he does cannot be interpreted as bullying or that it isn't bullying, merely that the issue of whether or not their relationship is "healthy" for them is purely a Western issue with the canon. Bakugou's aggression is also not a big issue in Japan, because while he seems like a perfect example of toxic masculinity through a Western lens, Japanese perception of masculinity can be quite different[11] as best shown by Kirishima Eijiro's comments on "manliness" which tend to have less to do with actual qualities one might see as "manly" and more to do with being honorable and respectable.

Although the Anti BakuDeku subset of the fandom is relatively small, this vocal minority has lead some shippers to feel wary of people who do not ship BakuDeku, particularly those who ship popular "competitor" ships, such as KiriBaku and TodoDeku. BakuDeku shippers tend to have have no problems with those ships in and of themselves, many being multishippers, but their association with the most vocal Antis is enough to give most people pause. The ship’s overall reputation within fandom is mixed, but appears to be slightly on the negative side. Fans of the ship have frequently been accused of "romanticizing" or excusing Bakugo's years of bullying towards Midoriya, even when they don't ship them together as their relationship currently stands in canon.

WOW nothing like finding out that someone you really liked and looked up to ships b/k/d/k. “It’s just a TV show” omgggggggg shut the fuck up!!!! You really have the fucking nerve to say that to me???? “I don’t ship them in canon” UM????? So you only ship them when their entire backstory/formative experiences/ENTIRE FUCKING PERSONALITIES are changed???? That’s not a ship!!!! If you need to change that to make it okay, then you already know it’s wrong.[12]

This has caused some shippers to get defensive and lash out against critics, souring their reputation in the fandom. This behavior is especially prevalent on Tumblr, where they will comment on critical metas, much to the OP's annoyance.[citation needed]

In August 2018, a blocklist made by and for BakuDeku shippers began circulating on Tumblr. The list consisted of well-known Antis, sorted into four tiers of "Yikes."[13] Reaction to the list was mixed, with some of the users on the list taking it as a source of pride and turning it into a meme.[14] Other fans pointed out that users who had not partaken in any form of harassment were in the top tier, well above known pedophiles and transphobes.[14] Overall, the blocklist has not helped the BakuDeku fandom's reputation.

Fanworks

Fanfiction

Fanart & Fancomics

Zine

Meta

Communities & Resources

References

  1. The True Meaning of “Deku” in Japanese. Accessed 10 Nov 2019.
  2. The Meaning of the Kanji Name: Bakugou Katsuki “My Hero Academia”. Posted 8 April 2018. Accessed 10 Nov 2019.
  3. Deku Vs. Kacchan part 2
  4. 2018’s Top Ships
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bakugou Katsuki/Midoriya Izuku tag on AO3. Accessed 10 Nov 2019.
  6. 僕のヒーローアカデミア | Boku no Hero Academia | My Hero Academia tag on AO3. Accessed 10 Nov 2019.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Tumblr post. Accessed 10 Nov 2019.
  8. Mythbusters: Deku and Kacchan Edition. Posted 27 March 2018. Accessed 10 Nov 2019.
  9. Branding 'me' in a 'we' culture. Posted 25 July 2012. Accessed 10 Nov 2019.
  10. On Being Bullied in Japan. Posted 12 Jun 2013. Accessed 10 Nov 2019.
  11. 草食 “Soushoku:” Men and the Changing Definition of Masculinity in Japan. Posted 16 Feb 2015. Accessed 10 Nov 2019.
  12. Tumblr post. Posted 5 Aug 2019. Accessed 10 Nov 2019.
  13. the list. Posted 21 Sept 2018. Accessed 10 Nov 2019.
  14. 14.0 14.1 the memes. Posted 21 Sept 2018. Accessed 10 Nov 2019.