**French version coming soon // Version française à venir**
I find that the action genre deserves its spot in popularity within the realm of anime.
The formula used to create the stories in this particular genre never seems to get old. The bright-eyed protagonists go on an adventure to achieve a goal. Of course, the story wouldn’t be entertaining without any struggles or complications. What makes the formula fool-proof is how these stories push the audience to cheer on the protagonist as they triumph over obstacles and their rivals, whilst using their strength, wit and the power of friendship, as well as the little twists each author adds to their stories.
Protagonists found in action anime are all inspiring.
Determination, confidence, positivity and an eagerness for self-improvement are some characteristics of a standard action anime protagonist like the Dragon Ball franchise’s Son Goku. They appeal to us because we recognize these qualities in defining a hero who never gives up on their dreams. Not only that, it would seem that the action anime protagonist also possesses high self-esteem.
According to VeryWellMind.com (https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-self-esteem-2795868), self-esteem is defined as how much a person appreciates and likes themselves. It is a quality that is important in motivating a person to do something. Self-esteem can be shaped by genetics or life experiences.
It makes sense that an action anime hero would have high self-esteem to accomplish grand feats with a strong positive attitude toward themselves and their capabilities.
But not all protagonists in action anime are written the same way.
One character that comes to mind is My Hero Academia’s Katsuki Bakugou.
Created by Kohei Horikoshi, My Hero Academia is a superhero manga where everyone is born with a superpower or a “quirk.” Izuku Midoriya is born without a special power but aspires to become a hero like his idol superhero, All Might. All Might sees potential in Izuku and shares with him his quirk, “All For One” allowing Izuku to possess super human strength and agility. The story follows Izuku’s journey to become a hero.
Katsuki Bakugou used to be friends with Izuku during their childhood before he developed his powerful quirk. He then becomes Izuku’s bully and ultimately, Izuku’s antithesis in the beginning of the series. Katsuki is shown to be a confident character who believes that to become the number one hero and win over any and all challenges, one must be the most powerful – strength-wise.
Acting as a foil to Katsuki’s character, Izuku proves that strength alone is not enough to become the greatest hero and it infuriates Katsuki to know that he lacks certain characteristics that Izuku possesses, making him bitter toward Izuku.
Katsuki can be seen as a character with a horribly written personality or as a person with low self-esteem.
In My Hero Academia’s first season, we assume that Katsuki has a high self-esteem because he’s pretty cocky about being the only person in his junior high school to be able to attend the top superhero high school, U.A.
As stated previously, Katsuki is a bully to Izuku and refers to him by the nickname, “Deku” which can be translated to mean “useless person” or “one who can’t do anything” in Japanese. Katsuki lacks respect and views Izuku as a loser because Izuku never developed a quirk. Not only can his bullying and crass language showcase his brusque personality, but it reflects how Katsuki’s low self-esteem pushes him to protect himself by bringing down Izuku to hide his inadequacies.
This can be seen when Katsuki is taken as a hostage to a villain’s evil plot and Izuku attempts to save him from the villain’s clutches before All Might intervenes and saves the day. Once they’re both saved, Katsuki approaches Izuku, telling him that he didn’t need his help and doesn’t want to be looked down upon for not being able to save himself, despite possessing a powerful quirk. Bakugou downplays Izuku’s selfless act and misinterprets it, thinking that he wasn’t strong enough to defend himself and needed to be saved by someone who he deems weaker than himself.
It’s revealed in the third season of the franchise that Katsuki is confirmed to be narcissistic by his mother because he was highly praised for his quirk. The praise he was granted made him place high expectations on himself and so, if he feels like he is failing or inferior to others, he lashes out in anger instead of self-reflecting on what he could do to improve himself.
Characters with low self-esteem in the action anime genre is important. This characteristic creates a multi-faceted character where they must overcome an internal and/or emotional conflict to become the best versions of themselves. Despite how entertaining it is to watch characters in an action anime head on to battle dangerous foes or tackle physical obstacles, having characters work on changing their perception of themselves and growing as people is equally inspiring. It may take Katsuki a while to do so, but I’ll be rooting for him.