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the superheavy arc was a mess but still it gave me the best dad broose:
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I know this personally has nothing to do with this blog as I interpret none of the characters, but I still feel like I need to put it out there. I don’t think the Bakugou family are abusive. And if you’ve interpreted them as so, okay! I’m glad. Everything is up to each reader’s interpretation in the end, so you do you. This is my interpretation, though.
So, first and foremost, let me give some context. I’m a southern-east asian, who lives predominantly in an south-eastern environment my whole life. I am no expert on Japanese culture specifically, so I’ll be speaking more broadly in terms of culture. I’ll make sure to reference any and/or all studies, notes, quotes that I will list down - but hopefully this will be short.
To start with, I completely understand how most people could come to the conclusion. When we were introduced to the Bakugou in Chapter 96, I do read the whole affair as more of a slapstick humour (that’s been quite a common trope in the 80′s - 90′s manga) than concerning behaviour. This post was my reaction, in a sense. So it didn’t cross my mind that people took the actions as abusive. Personally, I think that’s what Horikoshi meant too, but I’ll discuss my opinions further.
To recap, we see Bakugou Mitsuki hitting her son three times with her hand while accusing, “It’s your fault [you were kidnapped] to begin with!” or, in its other translation, “We wouldn’t be in this mess if you hadn’t been so weak and gotten caught in the first place!”
Now those, independently, are very vicious actions and statements. You’re right! Mitsuki is completely in the wrong when she hits her child, and she faulted him for the kidnapping. I will never say that she isn’t, but (yes, unfortunately there’s a “but” ) — I still see the affair aligned with, when people claim that their parents chased them around their house with slippers, or when their parents would “smack” them for talking back.
Especially when you view the whole scene in full view: that is, Mitsuki and Masaru being grateful to the school for understanding their son past his abrasive temperament and explosive behaviour. Specifically, she said, “Our Katsuki... He’s rash in everything he does, and most everything comes easy to him. All his life, people’ve made a fuss about him; praising him for every little thing he does. So, I was glad to hear about what you said in the press conference. I was thinking that UA really understands our boy.”
And while people would dismiss this, I still do think it’s important that Mitsuki actually rustles Katsuki’s head after that. Admitting, “We were worried sick. But then you brought him home to us.” Even amidst her harsh expectations in the beginning, where even All Might laid his concern, she actually rectified it by providing verbal confirmation that she cared to understand her child’s behaviour, cared how the school might react to it, cared that he was actually kidnapped and could potentially be harmed, provided physical affection (head rubbing), and later verbal encouragement and good faith (“Please work him hard. Make a good hero out of him”).
I’m not saying it immediately erased what she’s done in the beginning, but it gave a good-enough context to me, as a reader, that the scene was not meant to paint the Bakugou as abusive nor neglectful. A family of explosive and interesting dynamic, certainly, but not vehemently harmful.
But to be more serious, I think people often forget that cultural context exist. The Eastern / Asian community operated more often than not in a “collectivism” society vs. the Western’s “individualism” society. And this, alone, effects a lot of how we behave everyday and view the world.
Individualism stresses individual goals and the rights of the individual person. Collectivism focuses on group goals, what is best for the collective group, and personal relationships.
This article summarises the concept aptly.
If I could, I wouldn’t want to defend the behaviour — but again, allow me to stress that culture plays such a big role, because when Mitsuki, in this case, said “It’s [Katsuki’s] fault”, I do think she honestly said that from a collectivistic point of view. Why? Because that’s how I was mainly raised. As someone who is apart of the community, we are not allowed to cause trouble for others. If a teacher scolded me or punished me for bad grades — which was a practise when I was in grade school — my parents won’t be mad at the teacher for hitting me (usually with a rotan to the hand), they will be mad at me for not performing well.
And no, personally, I don’t view it as abusive. Neither my teachers nor my parents ever punished me for fun. It was always to discipline, and they never do it on the regular, out of malicious intent, for their own selfish pleasure etc. They never made me feel unsafe, or that I was unwelcome, or that I was threatened.
You could almost say it’s the same mentality the Bakugou seemed to adapt. They couldn’t control what the villains have done, and how the world reacted to it; but they can discipline their family to act accordingly, Katsuki included. That is, to save people from any additional trouble [to tend to them specifically] as much as they could because, again, it’s culturally expected of them to behave well as members of a community. Especially when UA was under heavy-fire by the media then for not securing the children properly. Collectivism.
To add, this post personally explains well when it came to the focus of comparing the Bakugou’s with the Todoroki’s in terms of abusive context:
Todoroki as seen from manga was a very good child, all of the Todoroki children were, but their father was still abusive to all of them including their mother even though they acted in line. This is most likely why Todoroki said what he said, his father was legitimately child abuser.
[...] Mitsuki didn’t just slap Bakugou as soon as he popped out of the womb, her parenting strategy wasn’t to hit Bakugou for fun like Todoroki’s father did; she only took these actions when he was acting like a brat.
Which they later affirmed:
Now again just to reaffirm, Bakugou’s parents are not parents of the year. I am not saying to take notes on their parenting skills, I’m only saying that Bakugou’s parents are far far far far from being abusive parents.
Again, I am stressing that, it doesn’t make it right. But the comparison side-by-side does explain the difference of the two contexts and why the Todoroki’s abuse and neglect were told the way it has (that is, we explore the different ways and stages and reactions by all the Todoroki members and how the Japanese society in this fictional world handled this) vs. Bakugou’s journey whose focus was more of a self-reflection and his brutal struggle to atone and be the best hero he could be.
If nothing else, the asian culture and expectation still plays a huge role nevertheless.
Here are some very excellent studies for your perusal, too:
Conversely, traditional Asian families tend to be culturally collectivistic, emphasizing interdependence, conformity, emotional self-control, and humility. This is in stark contrast to the core values of the Western culture (Kurasaki, Okazaki, & Sue, 2002).
These Asian cultural values produce deeply ingrained family values, such as a strong sense of obligation and orientation to the family and respect for and obedience to parents and elders (Chao & Tseng, 2002; Fuligni, 2007).
The sense of collectivism is heavy here. As well as interdependence, emotional self-control, and the importance of giving respect and obedience to parents and elders. Those are all significant expectation and norms that, as a child of asian-descent, we were strictly raised with.
And guess what, those are all traits, from Bakugo Mitsuki’s eyes, that Katsuki was not exhibiting when he was in front of his teachers, thus warranting the discipline she’d shown.
I also appreciate the insight of Mitsuki’s personal interpretation from this meta:
my read is that she says those things to bakugou the way she does because that is how they both communicate. she says it’s bakugou’s fault that he got kidnapped, not because she necessarily thinks so, but because that’s what bakugou is currently dealing with. he thinks it’s his fault that he was kidnapped and all might was destroyed as a result. mitsuki is telling bakugou she understands, and more importantly she’s cluing both the teachers and the audience in on what will be bakugou’s biggest emotional trial going forward.
she may be crass and blunt in her approach, but she’s trying to help her son.
Again, the action to hit anyone regardless the reason doesn’t make it right — but it gives us the cultural (and maybe some communication and family dynamic) context behind her actions versus the assumption that she did what she did because she was inherently abusive and meant harm towards her child which I believe she wasn’t.
Narrative-wise too, Horikoshi-sensei has done an excellent job showcasing how domestic and familial abuse and neglect could affect a family in the Todoroki, and how it still played a part haunting Hawks who suffered from an estranged mother and an abusive father. I don’t think the Bakugou’s are the same; if it had, we would’ve been more privy into seeing Katsuki’s psyche, and his parents would’ve had more role playing into his motivation of wanting to succeed or, rather, not wanting to fail.
That would’ve been a prominent “demon”, I should say, and one I don’t think Horikoshi-sensei, had it been true, would just flimsily write only for it to be left out or unacknowledged.
Which lead me to my next point,
The controversy over “tiger moms” (Chua, 2011) showcases the lack of understanding of Asian American family processes and parenting styles. The premise that Asian American parents are utterly controlling, demanding, emotionally insensitive, and harsh, but that they effectively churn out math and music prodigies, is, quite simply, an exaggeration.
I respect everyone’s interpretations of the character, I do. But to hold just one standard of parenting and family dynamic — and that is usually the standard of the Western’s, and no one else’s — just... seems ignorant and disrespectful to me. To an extent, I feel like it erased how many Asian family members were raised, how we understood the world, how we interacted with one another, just because we couldn’t conform to a standard someone from across the sea has set.
It made me feel, like, “wrong” to exist differently just because I was a product of a different society and different cultural value.
When it was just that: it’s different. Our asian parents are strict, and sometimes they could hold quite a high expectation that it could be unhealthy, and not all of their teaching methods are right. I’m willing to admit that. But to boil down most of our parents’ teachings as abusive, and that they’re out there to harm us, or they smack us a few times growing up when we’re out of line meant that they actively wanted to put us down is... well, I don’t think that’s fair.
In fact, it can be quite disheartening.
Could some of those methods be amended and evaluated? Certainly! But in the end, different family dynamics based on different cultural expectations does exist. It didn’t mean the members living in such a dynamic loved one another any less. I know a lot of Asian families, who are strict in their upbringing — who clapped their siblings by their head when they raised their voice, or parents who threw a slipper when their kid cursed at the other parent etc — but outside of those authoritative teaching, still carries a lot of love and devotion and heart while they’re raising a family.
We’re built different. That’s okay.
Again, if you truly, deep in your heart, interpreted the Bakugou pair as abusive parents, that’s alright!!!!! To each their own, and all that. In the end, it’s just a manga; it’s just characters in a book series, as much as we loved them, and I am only one point of view out of many. At the same time though, all I could ask is for a little mindfulness, and a little care.
Thank you all for giving this a read! I hope we can still write and discuss things together in the future 🙇♀️
it seems I have woken up to a bunch of new followers and a lot of really nice tags on my art! Thank you everybody, this is rare for me and I wanted to say I appreciate it. I will have more art soon!
“You couldn't cope without your devices”
Correct. I couldn't. You're abusive and the world is terrible. My devices have distractions and supportive internet people. Without them, is spend much more time considering suicide.
It's okay to need your phone to survive.