Izuku Midoriya and Tomura Shigaraki have remarkably similar backstories in MHA, but their mentors led them down two significantly different paths.
With Season 6 of My Hero Academia coming this fall, tensions continue to rise as the heroes and villains face off. Season 5 ended with Midoriya and friends preparing for battle against Tomura Shigaraki, the League of Villains, and the new Meta Liberation Army. Major details about Shigaraki’s backstory — and the events leading up to him meeting All For One — were also revealed. Comparing his story to the protagonist, Shigaraki and Midoriya came from similar backgrounds but went down different paths.
As impressionable young children, the help (or lack of) that Shigaraki and Midoriya received played a big part in shaping who they are now. Their mentors’ influence resulted in the two boys going down their respective paths, but a change in who saved them could have reversed their roles in MHA.
Ever since they were kids, both Shigaraki and Midoriya had a strong admiration for heroes. Shigaraki, born Tenko Shimura, is the grandson of Nana Shimura. As a kid, he wanted to become a hero much like his grandmother. However, his hero-hating father shut this dream down. He forbade the talk of anything hero-related in the household and would punish his kids if they broke this rule. Despite his father’s hatred, Tenko still wanted to be a hero, and his mom and older sister continued to encourage him.
Meanwhile, Izuku Midoriya idolized All Might and aspired to be like him. Similarly to Tenko, Midoriya’s mom, Inko, encouraged his dream to be a great hero. Even when the boy’s Quirk never manifested, he remained optimistic about the future. He continued to admire All Might, asking his mom if he could be a great hero like him. Midoriya diligently took notes about every hero and their Quirks, and learned various battle tactics and skills by watching the world around him.
In My Hero Academia‘s Quirk-dominated society, having a dangerous power was just as frowned upon as not having one at all. People ostracized Tenko and viewed him as strange because of his Decay Quirk. After Tenko killed his family due to an inability to control his Quirk, he wandered alone and silently pleaded for help. Everywhere he went, people ignored his presence or assumed that someone else would help instead.
Since Midoriya lacked a Quirk, his peers and teachers looked down on him, and he was often a target of Katsuki Bakugo’s bullying. Bakugo even started calling him “Deku” as an insult. It came from the word dekunobu which, in Japanese, translates to nobody or a worthless person. When Midoriya expressed interest in wanting to attend UA, he was discouraged from doing so due to his lack of Quirk and subsequently lacked the confidence to pursue his goals.
When Midoriya and Shigaraki were at their lowest, someone finally reached out to save them. For Shigaraki, All For One found him alone as an orphan. He took the child in, gave him a new name and raised him. All For One trained Tomura Shigaraki to take over the League of Villains and watched over the boy’s development into his successor.
After seeing potential in Midoriya, All Might chose him to be the successor of One For All. He told Midoriya “You could be a hero” and began training him to take on his Quirk. Throughout Midoriya’s experience at UA, All Might and other teachers, like Shota Aizawa and Gran Torino, helped guide him into being the best hero he could be.
All For One and All Might’s respective influence left different impacts on their successors. How they taught Shigaraki and Midoriya influenced how the two boys viewed the hero world. Shigaraki grew to resent it, as All For One’s teachings fueled his hatred for heroes and desire to kill All Might. The heroes didn’t save Shigaraki from his father’s abuse or help him when he was alone. Therefore, he viewed them as phonies and sought to destroy the hero society as a whole.
Midoriya could have followed the same path as Shigaraki had All Might not reached out to him. The bullying he faced could have caused him to grow hateful and bitter, and he could have resented his peers for underestimating him or telling him his dreams were impossible. Since his idol had saved him, All Might kept the boy from going down a path of villainy. He steered Midoriya down the path of good and encouraged him as his mother did. Shigaraki lost hope and gave up on the world; Midoriya still had faith in his dreams, and All Might reassured him of it.
Tomura Shigaraki and Izuku Midoriya are products of a flawed society in My Hero Academia. They were impressionable boys with dreams who were victimized due to circumstances outside their control. The paths they set out on easily could have been reversed had someone different reached out to them instead.