Image source: 僕のヒーローアカデミア_アニメ公式 on Twitter

It’s time for the characters in My Hero Academia Season 2 to pick their hero code names. But what exactly goes into coming up with a name?

The U.A. High School sports festival has ended. Now the students in class 1-A are preparing for the next big event: hero internship. But before they get some experience in the field, they need to decide their hero code names.

There are a lot of factors that go into creating a name for superheroes like emphasizing their powers, what their personality is, or perhaps some sort of legacy they want to preserve. This is no different in My Hero Academia. And we see how the different characters came up their hero code names in the most recent episode. But, how did the characters choose their hero names, especially when there is a diverse set of personalities?

One of the easiest places to start is actually physical traits or the powers of the characters. This is no more than just applying those characteristics to the name. It’s extremely simple but, at the same time, conveys a lot of information to the viewers. Think about comic book heroes from the United States. Many are literally an animal or noun plus “man;” Batman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, or Superman.

While not on the same level of simplicity, a handful of the character in My Hero Academia went with a similar naming convention. For instance, the female character Momo Yaoyorozu has the power to create any inorganic object so long as she knows its molecular structure. So, she chooses the name “Creatie.” It’s simple enough to remember and it conveys exactly what she can do, create things. In the same vein, the girl Mina Ashido uses her skin tone as her name “Pinky” and Tsuyu Asui used her powers and physical traits for her name “Froppy.” The simplicity of this naming convention is really useful for the audience because we can easily associate the characters with their powers or physical characteristic.

Image source: 僕のヒーローアカデミア_アニメ公式 on Twitter

For as nice and simple as using a physical trait for a hero name is, the legacy names used by some of the characters really added to what we know about them. These legacy names came from idolizing a hero and the even passing of a mantle. We see this with the boy Eijiro Kirishima and his hero name “Red Riot” first. The fact he’s adopting and modifying the name of his hero “Crimson Riot” is amazing and demonstrates he’s not just a class mood maker but is also someone who views his own personal heroes in high regard.

However, it’s Tenya Iida’s hero name that’s fascinating for the legacy names. This is because his older brother is trying to pass the mantle of “Ingenium” onto Tenya. Imagine the pressure that goes into this decision on both ends. Tenya idolizes and respects his brother, but when he finds out his brother is going to retire, it’s a shock to him. And from his brother’s perspective, it must pain him to leave the hero business, but the mantle of “Ingenium” will live on if Tenya chooses to accept it. Thus, the gravity of Tenya’s decision is amazing to watch. Of course, as the series stands now Tenya hasn’t made his choice, but when he does, it will reveal quite a bit about his character.

Image source: TOHO animation チャンネル on YouTube

But, the height of the naming was with our protagonist, Izuku Midoriya. Here we have a character who has dreamed of becoming a hero for as long as he can remember. We even see a flashback to when he had him mother help him choose a hero name—unsurprisingly, all plays on his hero All Might. Yet, when it came down to his final decision, he went with his nickname “Deku.” What’s so interesting about this is threefold: the meaning of his nickname, how he appropriated it, and the juxtaposition to his hero All Might.

Looking at Izuku’s nickname, in Japanese deku means good-for-nothing. In the series, he literally had no powers until All Might passes the torch of the power “One For All” onto him. Meaning, for all intents and purposes Izuku was good-for-nothing in the eyes of his peers for most of his life. But, then to take the original meaning of deku and turn it on its head to mean “someone who doesn’t give up” is amazing. It’s exceptionally fitting for Izuku since we want to see him succeed too. Then add on top of this the juxtaposition to All Might, the person who Izuku received his powers from, and we have a duality in the name we just don’t see in the other characters. Where the name “All Might” insinuates he’s the mightiest of all the heroes, “Deku” reinforces the idea that a hero should never give up no matter how weak they may be.

Watching the characters choose their hero names was supremely interesting since we see three distinct ways the characters came up with them. It also provided a little window into the characters personalities. Going forward, it’ll be fun to see if these hero names change and how they’ll affect the characters’ hero personalities.

My Hero Academia is currently streaming on FUNimation, Crunchyroll, and Hulu.

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