More than being the main female lead in the anime My Hero Academia, Ochaco Uraraka is a unique addition to the ensemble cast of characters and adds a refreshing degree of originality to the archetype of being a typical cute girl in a shonen series. As great as Ochaco is written in the first and second season of My Hero Academia, her character's focus hasn't always been up to par throughout every part of the series.
Though it's apparent that Ochaco is the love interest of the series, romance doesn't become a major focus until Season 3. At this point, Ochaco begins to develop feelings for Izuku, the protagonist, but rather than it being a cute romance to follow in addition to the plot, it becomes a hindrance to Ochaco's growing character. While some Ochaco fans might have been waiting for her character to be refocused and balance her love life with her hero's journey, they may not be happy to get what they want.
Uraraka's Incredible Development Early On
Ochaco is first introduced during the U.A. Entrance Exams. With little known about her at this point, she becomes Izuku's love interest, but it doesn't take long to see she's more than that. With multiple layers to her character, Ochaco far exceeds expectations.
Though she isn't the strongest or most strategic hero-in-training, Ochaco has a bold and caring heart with immense tenacity to face any obstacle to achieve her goals. For the first two seasons of My Hero Academia, Ochaco's story focuses on her development in strength rather than her relationships or emotions. While her most likable qualities are how friendly and caring she is, what makes her such an intriguing character has been her conflicting motivation for heroism and the main obstacle preventing her from success as a professional. With the former, Ochaco surprises viewers and her classmates with the fact that she's aiming to become a hero mostly for the money to pay back her parents for everything they've done for her. This doesn't take away from Ochaco's drive to save others though, as she takes her growth as a hero very seriously. This leads to her character's greatest obstacle; fighting.
Ochaco might appear to be ditzy at times, but she has a great awareness of the reality around her and recognizes what she needs to flourish as a professional hero. As she and her classmates begin working under pro heroes, Ochaco comes to the conclusion that she needs to boost her fighting skills and work under the battle hero Gunhead. Ochaco attains martial arts skills to survive in the field and when the U.A. Sports Festival's tournament portion pits her against Bakugo, Ochaco pulls out all the stops and shows a tenacity initially unexpected from the adorable-looking girl.
Unfortunately, much of her continued growth and engagement came to an abrupt halt when she develops a crush on Izuku in Season 3.
Uraraka Loses Her Edge When She Becomes a Maiden in Love
From the moment she starts to have feelings for Izuku, Ochaco's immensely detailed and multilayered story is reduced to the cliche of the maiden in love. All of her scenes become centered around her feelings for Izuku with many scenes leaving her unable to take any action as she's overwhelmed by crush. Some scenes show her in the field, like during the Shie Hassakai arc, but even then Ochaco is left to stand in the background. Only later on in Season 5 does Ochaco's story of budding romance bring any benefit to her character. This is when she recognizes that Izuku is sporadically losing control of his quirk during a joint training sessions. She rushes in to save him with the help of Hitoshi Shinso. After this point, Ochaco disappears from the limelight until Season 6.
Though there's nothing wrong with any character falling head over heels for someone, it is problematic when that narrative completely takes over their story, thus losing the initial essence of the character. The fact that this is also terribly common for female anime characters in particular makes this change in focus all the more frustrating. That being said, Ochacho's character is set back on track in Season 6 when Ochacho finally appears to adjust to her feelings for Izuku and focus on what's really important.
Uraraka Meets the Challenge of Season 6
In a flashback sequence in season 6, Ochaco is seen helping Izuku train with no awkwardness between them. At this point, it looks as though Ochaco has overcome the overwhelming effects of her crush on Izuku. Season 6 brings her back to her driven and layered character, but the result is bittersweet given the sudden war between heroes and villains.
When the Pro Heroes organize the attack on the villains in Season 6, aspiring heroes-in-training, like Ochaco, are called upon to act as the professional's support. Few students are moved toward the front lines, while the rest are ordered to focus on evacuating and protecting civilians. Ochaco is one of the students set to focus on civilians, alongside Izuku, Bakugo, and several other classmates. Though the heroes' plan was spot on and almost went off with the least amount of collateral damage, they didn't take into account the villain leader Shigaraki Tomura and his insatiable drive towards destruction. With more power than ever, Shigaraki nearly destroys all of Tokyo.
Though Izuku, Bakugo, Shoto, Iida, and the upperclassman Nejire rush to the frontlines to stop Shigaraki. Ochaco remains focused on her set mission to rescue the battered citizens of Tokyo. With the fierce determination that made her such a lovable character in the first place, Ochaco runs through the crumbled city, saving as many lives as she can. Though she finally comes into her own, growing into an inspirational hero, the triumph of Ochaco's heroism doesn't last as the damage done by the villains is so overwhelming it stops even the most veteran Pro Heroes.
Ochaco has gone through many changes throughout the six seasons of MHA. She turned her bubbly character archetype on its head and showed that even the cutest-looking girls can be the fiercest warriors. Though her character growth is put to a brief stop due to the overbearing emphasis on her love life, her character is refocused and rebalanced in season 6 due to the war between heroes and villains. As great as it is to see her in her hero work and at her most tenacious, much of this focus on her character without the romance is due to the catastrophic event caused by Shigaraki. With how great Ochaco's character is early on, it's a shame that it took a catastrophic disaster to refocus her character.