Deku: The Origin of a Hero’s Name

The name Deku probably means something to you, whether you know it or not. It might even mean something to you as a reader in other parts of the world. But to most people in Japan. Deku was an established part of the vocabulary since childhood. Thanks to the manga series My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi. In this article, we’ll explore the meaning behind Deku and how it became part of Japanese language. And culture in the first place.


Originally created by Akira Toriyama for a chapter of Dr. Slump, Deku was an anime-only character that made his debut in episode fifteen in 1986. Based on his name and appearance. He has also been known as the Potato Alien due to his large eyes and bulbous nose. However, in Dragon Ball Z he finally received his canonical name and backstory as Prince Deichi. Now, with My Hero Academia almost at its season one conclusion. It seems like an appropriate time to learn more about Deku’s namesake. So without further ado, let’s look into what does Deku mean!

Background information

Deku (pronounced [ˈdɛku] in Japanese) is a name used to refer to plants and seeds that have not yet sprouted or germinated; it is also written as 出芽, meaning to sprout. In Botany, it means to germinate or to bud. But is most commonly known for its usage in names in reference to vegetation. Deku comes from two separate kanji compounds, de (un) and ku (sprout), which together give deku or děku (枝出). It can be traced back even further when written as 黒種, which literally translates to black seedling; again relating specifically to plant growth.

Analysis and interpretation

It is widely believed that Deku was chosen as Todoroki’s name because he had no Quirk, just like Deku. However, there are other possible meanings. In Japanese folklore, De-ku is an ogre that lives in very deep valleys and eats young children. Could Todoroki’s parents have named him De-ku as a way to taunt him? Although it sounds unlikely, we will never know for sure because both Todoroki’s parents are dead by now.


In closing, it can be said that throughout his entire life, Midoriya never really had much of an identity. He was ridiculed for not having a Quirk until he got one and then became rejected because it wasn’t something useful. Despite that, he still tried to be as happy as possible with what little he had. When someone asked him what his Quirk was called, all he could do was point at himself and say Deku. When another person looked at him like they were looking at trash (as is the norm in society), Deku didn’t break down crying or try to kill himself; instead, he smiled and tried to make them feel better despite knowing they would never change their opinion on him.

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