It’s the final stretch of the UA sports festival. We’re onto the battle tournament, and unfortunately, Ochako drew tournament favorite Bakugo as her opponent in the first round. Deku wants to help her out, but she denies him the opportunity of giving her any advice. Ochako knows that if she wants to become a better hero, she can’t keep relying on Deku. She has to learn to fight on her own, even if she’s up against someone as powerful as Bakugo. During the fight, the crowd boos Bakugo for seeming as if though he’s just toying with Ochako. Little do they realize though that Ochako is putting up a better fight than Bakugo ever expected.
Impact on the story
This fight sets up Ochako’s overall character arc. It’s pretty clear at this point in the story that Ochako has a bit of a soft spot for Deku, but she’s fighting against it a little bit. Not because she’s trying to deny it or anything, but she realizes how these feelings are inadvertently creating a weakness for her. This is the very nerve that Toga strikes in Ochako when they first meet later on in the series, noting that Ochako is trying to become Deku because she admires him so much. Her denial of Deku before this match is simultaneously her attempt to push him away while inadvertently becoming more like him.
Otherwise, Bakugo further isolates himself from the rest of hero society with his actions during this fight. While he’s just staying true to himself, Bakugo fails to consider just how he looks to others watching this fight. The entire point of the sports festival is for young heroes to show off and hopefully acquire a sponsorship. Bakugo does not care about this. All he wants to do is win. His future does not matter to him. Being number 1 is all that matters, even if it makes him look like a jackass.
Impact on the fandom
Discussions with the portrayal of women in My Hero Academia generally begin with Ochako’s fight against Bakugo. Even though most fans will admit the girl-ogling can be distracting, Hoshikori (MHA author) showed the girls in My Hero Academia could stand toe-to-toe with the boys. It touched on the gender issue far more than anyone was expecting out of the series and actually took a girl vs a boy as a serious match-up rather than as a gag or the girl being woefully outmatched.
Also, this fight strangely endeared Bakugo more to fans than Ochako despite her sheer determined. Even though this fight made Bakugo look like a total bully, in his own way, going all out against Ochako was his way of showing respect to her. It didn’t matter if she was a cute girl. Ochako was giving Bakugo a real fight and he was paying her back in kind. He was the only one during that fight who fully understood her power, and earned his victory against her rather than winning on a technicality.
If nothing else, Ochako’s fight against Bakugo got people excited about future battles in My Hero Academia. Girls have been traditionally sidelined during the major fights in shounen. So it was refreshing to see Ochako taken so seriously against one of the top contenders during the sports festival. My Hero Academia has a long way to go until it finishes. Hopefully, we will have many more great fights from Ochako!