Izuku Midoriya, or Deku, of My Hero Academia, is one of the most compelling and relatable Shonen protagonists in the medium to date. His reasoning for wanting to be the best is more nuanced than one might believe. Deku always wanted to be a Pro Hero, but he never had a quirk. Now that he has one, given to him by his all-time idol, All Might, he can achieve his goal of being the number one hero.
Throughout the series so far, Deku has faced many obstacles along the way. One way he has stayed motivated is through his own words of inspiration, which are not just for himself, but for his classmates, too.
Updated by Daniel Kurland on July 28th, 2021: Deku has experienced some of the most substantial character development in MHA, and he also doesn’t hold his tongue, often letting his running feelings be known to whoever is within earshot. This allows Deku to be a constant source of inspirational phrases, whether they’re said in the heat of the moment in battle, or more tender expressions that reflect the hero’s depth.
15 “I need to work harder and harder so I can make this Quirk my own.”
It’s common practice for the breakout anime successes to receive a number of feature films that allow the series to tackle bigger and bolder material. My Hero Academia has a third movie on the way, but the second feature, Heroes Rising, pushes Deku to some deep, contemplative places.
The sheer power of Deku’s One For All Quirk has made it the target to many villains that want to steal it, with Heroes Rising’s Nine representing one of the most persistent examples. This dialogue represents Deku claiming ownership and independence over his ability to prove that he truly deserves it more than anyone else.
14 “Giving help that’s not asked for is what makes a true hero!”
My Hero Academia has featured lots of villains that are intimidating for different reasons, but Stain is such a significant presence because he’s able to inspire villains to rise up in a manner that has very dangerous implications.
Deku shouts the above expression to Tenya Iida during the height of the Hero Killer, Stan, arc. This simple line demonstrates that Deku is able to put aside differences to focus on what’s important, but also the character’s inherent nature to give help even when people aren’t strong enough to ask for it.
13 “I’m not gonna be your worthless punching bag Deku forever…I’m the Deku who always does his best!”
One of My Hero Academia’s most interesting relationships that continues to evolve is the friendly rivalry that exists between Deku and Bakugo. The two have found an understanding between each other, but Bakugo was much more of a bully during their youth.
He’s even responsible for Midoriya’s nickname, “Deku,” which he begins as an insult towards his friend. This quote is significant because it’s the turning point where Deku takes ownership of this trademark nickname, but also his general shift in attitude. Afterwards Midoriya becomes much more confident in who he is and how to turn his deficiencies into his assets.
12 “If my actions can save any of them…then I’ve gotta do something.”
There are many different characteristics that are emblematic of heroes. It’s helpful when incredibly strong individuals step in to help, but there’s a level of security behind certain heroes that know that they’ll win their battle.
Deku is hardly as established in his abilities, but he still exhibits confidence when he talks to All Might about the increasingly powerful villains that are likely on the way. Deku is new into his hero career, but he already understands that any actions, no matter how small, are just as important as the finishing blow.
11 “If you really hate your dad, then I think it’s fine to not be able to forgive him.”
Season five of My Hero Academia brings Deku and Shoto Todoroki considerably closer together. Deku and Bakugo both join Shoto at Endeavor’s Hero Agency, but this also leads to Deku entering Endeavor and Shoto’s personal lives. Deku witnesses how tortured Shoto is over not being able to get over the damage that Endeavor has done to him and his family.
In a very refreshing act of kindness, Deku tells Shoto that he doesn’t owe his father anything, especially forgiveness, and that he can move at his own pace when it comes to this complex issue.
10 “I want to be strong enough so no one will worry about me.”
Since Deku has finally obtained a Quirk, he doesn’t have an excuse for not giving it his all. He says this quote to All Might and Mirio when explaining the reason why he desires to work at Sir Nighteye’s agency.
Deku feels working under All Might’s former sidekick, will be a way to augment his strength.
9 “If I match the pace with everyone else then I’ll never be number one.”
Part of being the best means one must work twice as hard as the next person. Deku believes if he does enough just to get by, he will never be the number one hero.
If he tries to keep pace with all his other classmates, he will never exceed his own expectations. Izuku knows he has come a long way, but he still feels he’s lacking. Sir Nighteye is a great hero, and Izuku feels he can learn a lot from him.
8 “You’re the best. That’s why I want to defeat you!”
Ever since they were children, Midoriya always looked up to Bakugo, who always received praise for his achievements. All that praise went to Bakugo’s head. This is mainly why he became furious when Izuku finally obtained a quirk. Bakugo is fully aware that Izuku is on the same playing field as himself.
As a result, he grows jealous. During their bout, Deku laments he still believes Bakugo is the best, which is why he wants to beat him.
7 “A hero’s job is to risk his life, to make his lip service a reality.”
People often spend their time talking about their idealism. But if they’re not going to execute it, then it’s just lip service. During his fight with Muscular, Deku utters this quote.
The new user of One For All believes if a hero isn’t willing to put his life on the line for an innocent bystander, then any words the hero speaks are hollow.
6 “I was told not to lose when someone laid the groundwork for me.”
After Bakugo defeats Deku in their duel, he tells him he’s not allowed to lose again, since he possesses One For All.
Deku evidently takes this to heart, seeing that he ponders about this after Sir Nighteye asks about his goals. All Might chose Deku for a reason, so he needs to live up to those expectations.
5 “There will always be people beyond our reach that we can’t protect. Which is why we have to save people we can reach.”
The world is a very big place, which means someone that needs to be saved may be out of a Pro Hero’s reach. But that doesn’t mean a hero isn’t able to help the people they’re closest to.
After Bakugo is kidnapped during the Training Camp arc, Midoriya is determined to rescue his childhood friend by any means. He still feels that he can do something, despite the odds.
4 “He just didn’t abandon it in vain, like you did. He was trying to live up to his ideals, I think.”
Although Stain is a villain, Deku still has some respect for him, which is what he explains to Shigaraki. He sees that Stain has ideals and more importantly, he stands by them.
Izuku respects anyone with conviction. Up to that point, he only saw justifiable motives in heroes or regular people. Stain helps Izuku realize that villains are also people and they can have ideals.
3 “I know I’m hurt but if I can still move at all, I can’t stay still. I have to do something.”
When Bakugo gets kidnapped, many of the Class 1-A students want to assist with saving him, especially Deku. But there a few problems with this goal. For starters, since they are heroes in training, they cannot interfere with Pro Hero matters, seeing that it’s illegal.
Secondly, Deku is still severely injured from his fight with Muscular. But regardless of his current situation, he still feels obligated to help his classmate.
2 “…He’s not standing at the top of U.A. because he was born strong. He worked incredibly hard to get to that point.”
After Class 1-A gets brutally defeated by Mirio Togata, Deku realizes he has a long way to go.
Moreover, after Mirio tells Class 1-A that his Permeation Quirk isn’t that powerful and that he made it versatile, Izuku also realizes that just because he encompasses a powerful quirk doesn’t mean he will be the best. There will be other Pro Heroes like Mirio fighting for that top spot, who work just as hard as he does.
1 “If I can’t save the one small girl in front of me, how can I become a hero that saves everyone?”
Since Deku has obtained One For All, he has made many accomplishments throughout his journey, but he still feels as if he’s lacking. Earlier in the Shie Hassaikai arc, Izuku feels as if he let Eri down after he arbitrarily runs into her. He knows she is in danger and he doesn’t do anything.
Overhaul, the main antagonist, is there as well. That was another failure Deku didn’t want to live with. That’s why this quote hits so hard among most fans. Deku says this while he’s in infinite form. But he’s able to make up for lost time, by giving Overhaul the beating of his life.
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