Warning! Spoilers ahead for My Hero Academia chapter 362!
A major twist in My Hero Academia could fall into the same cliché trap that One Piece succumbed to when Luffy first reached Gear 5. My Hero Academia steering clear of One Piece‘s mistake would avoid not only pandering to an overused formula but diluting the impact of an important death.
Many Shonen Jump manga series can’t help but incorporate into their battles the tired trope where the hero’s true power awakens when they are backed into a corner by a more powerful villain. A popular offshoot of this particular formula occurs after the hero has almost assuredly been killed, whereby the postmortem awakening somehow revives them from death. The most notorious example of this in recent history transpired during Luffy’s final battle against Kaido in One Piece. Blue Exorcist also did this after Satan cut his son Rin to ribbons in the latest chapter.
Now in chapter 362 of My Hero Academia by mangaka Kohei Horikoshi, Katsuki Bakugo appears to have died for good when battling Tomura Shigaraki aka Shimura. Although fans are split on how exactly it happens, it’s clear that Bakugo’s heart somehow bursts when the hero attempts to emulate Deku’s style of fighting. To help drive the point home that he is in fact dead, the chapter ends with a closeup of Bakugo’s battered, lifeless body.
Although My Hero Academia has recently been shattering clichés in stunning fashion, many readers who are tired of seeing the same formulas repeated again and again can be forgiven for being skeptical that something will ruin this perfect moment. There was even an instance before Shimura ostensibly kills Bakugo when mangaka Horikoshi scared readers with the prospect of another cliché. Horikoshi had set up Bakugo perfectly to awaken or, as All Might would say, go Plus Ultra by having Shimura completely humiliate him in battle and put Bakugo in a position where the hero felt like he couldn’t defeat his opponent the way that he was now. Luckily, Bakugo just continued to fail, creating the exciting impression that Horikoshi would actually completely shatter another trope after suggesting that he would do otherwise. Failing to succumb to this pressure up until that moment also successfully portrayed Bakugo even more as the tragic hero that My Hero Academia had been working so hard to establish for the majority of the series. Tired fans foolishly thought they were in the clear. But then Bakugo supposedly died, and with recent memories of One Piece ostensibly killing off Luffy only to bring him back to life in Gear 5, fans now find themselves once more dreading that Horikoshi might after all deliver the same old song and dance that manga have been playing for decades.
Sometimes villains are just too strong. Sometimes the hero doesn’t have to tap into a new power they didn’t know they had when there are no more options. And sometimes characters should stay dead when they have been killed. But if they do have to come back for whatever reason, they should come back exactly the same as they were before they died. My Hero Academia has a chance to be in the minority here and not pander to a well-known cliché just like everyone else, including One Piece.