Bnha Spoilers Chapter 232-235 ahead:
Shigaraki Tomura’s Past
This is an analysis of what we know as of yet about the boy born as Shimura Tenko.
The Shimura Household-
Shimura Koutarou, son of Shimura Nana (7th OfA holder, and All Might’s mentor) is a successful businessman who owns a two-family home, invites the parents of his in-laws to stay. The joint family consists of- Koutarou, his wife, his in-laws, his (elder) daughter Hana, his son Tenko and their Corgi Mon-chan.
From the start, Shigaraki describes this family as a family of his Father- Koutaro, and not the family of the eldest in the household (the in-laws). It gives us a clear idea of where exactly the authority lies and how much of an influence he holds over its members.
The family is a really well-off one: Two cars, a two-stored suburban condo with a seperate study, a lovely backyard, and they have a pet dog. Shimura Tenko was far from poverty.
Let’s look at the members
Clearly, they love Tenko and Hana a lot, and dote upon their grandkids as grandparents are wont to. But they are ‘adults’ the same as Tenko’s father and Tenko’s mother.
When Tenko keeps craving for approval and validation of his dreams to be a Hero from an adult figure, they their try to distract him into psuedo-satisfaction (with his favourite food) or try to (mildly) guilt-trip the boy so that his dreams and his 'inconvenient’ calls for acceptance remain buried under the 'happy and peaceful’ suburban dream that they seem wary of breaking (and it seems like they are wary of provoking the final authority in the family, Koutarou)
These kind of actions are incredibly commonplace and it happens all the time - this doesn’t make their actions excusable though, only relatable. But from another point of view it implies that the grandparents are meek and might actually be afraid of Koutarou for either of two reasons- his known history of violence or the instability of his character (more on this later).
She is also caring and loving just like her parents- she takes care of Tenko, is incredibly worried about his allergies. rushes after Tenko when The Father pulls him away to punish him, and finally confronts him when he has gone way too far. But Like begets like, environment moulds character. Thus, she too is another meek personality who cannot stand up against the overbearing authority of the patriarch up until the last moment where violence gets involved. She too is undoubtedly aware that Koutarou can indeed get violent and grim- and this makes her the cautious parent, the stopgap, trying to keep the children in line so that the Father doesn’t have to resort to drastic measures. Thus, despite all the love she can shower her son with, she never once supports Tenko’s dream. Again, it’s understandable. It’s cause she knows very intimately what happens to the families of Heroes - she married the man who came from such a family. Instead of supporting Tenko, she asks him if he is sure of it, perhaps trying to seed doubts in his mind, perhaps being sympathetic to his wishes. But rven when Tenko repeats he likes to play Hero and was really happy when his friend compared him with All Might (showing us once more how deeply rooted the currently retired Hero was in Tenko’s childhood)- the mother never really encourages Tenko’s dream.
When Tenko asks if his dad hates him for being possibly quirkless, she says it isn’t so. It’s just that his father knows how hard a Hero’s life is. And that’s that.
You can see that longing for approval in Tenko’s eye and the disappointment that follows when the words he yearns for (You can be a Hero) remain unsaid once more. Up till now, 3 people, 3 adults out of 4 have denied this dream and the last adult, The Father, is vehemently adverse to it.
“Children can be surprisingly self-centered and straight forward”
Let’s take a small break here from the family members- here, we see one of the two monologues that has been repeated in the chapter 'Children can be surprisingly self-centered and straight forward’. Ngl, I thought this was Shigaraki commenting how his friends Mikkun and Tomo-chan repeatedly left him out when they played together. But the sequence of scenes, gives me a different idea.
From what I gather, it is Shigaraki saying that 'Tenko’ as a child, was self-centered and straight-forward. Because right after his conversation with his mother he should have felt dissuaded from continuing with his dream to be a Hero, it has already worried his mother, grandparents and sister, and possibly led him to believe- that his father hated him. However in the very next panel, we see Tenko has gotten into trouble for persisting with that dream and getting into trouble for playing 'Hero’. Shigaraki, as an adult, has begun to condemn that idea in retrospection- going as far as to alienate himself from the past by reffering to his own childhood self with a generalization - 'children’. (There is an alternative reason for this)
Self-centered because Tenko didn’t think of the grief and unease of his family when he continued to dream;
Straight-forward because Tenko doesn’t have the complex rationale of an adult to support his dream. He selfishly wishes to be a Hero, not for anyone else, but only for himself - there is no other reason for it. A child shouldn’t have anymore complicated reasoning for it either.
But Shigaraki clearly considers this his own folly for giving into such emotions at that time.
The second time where this line is repeated when The Father comes up threateningly towards Tenko with the intention of punishing him.
Contrary to the previous use of thia line, here it implies that there is a different subject as the panel moves directly from Hana to Tenko. Which brings up two possibilities -
- The line is meant for Tenko himself again. But it doesn’t seem to fit.
- It is meant for Hana.
Before I explain how it is directed towards Hana, let’s return to the Shimura family
For a few chapters, Hana has been portrayed as Tenko’s only true sympathizer and supporter who takes his side in the world of dream-crippling 'Adults’. Although she is maybe only 2 or 4 years older than Tenko, Hana has the wisdom that becomes the first-born, elder sister- she displays incredible emotional intelligence and understands her family dynamics well, probably from past experience. She knows that their Father would get mad at her if she openly declares her intentions to become a part of the Hero-Sibling duo with her younger brother, so instead she tells him that he wants to become a housewife like her mother - a very tactical answer indeed. I suggest so, because in turn it again subtly hints at how fearsone the Father’s temper can be, which in fact gets so bad at times that Hana does not take any chances of tempting this ire by suggesting any profession other than that of a Hero. Saying 'housewife’ is safe. It keeps her in the clear. From this itself, we can interpret that she values her self-preservation, and is prepared to bend her morality for it
But exactly how far will she go to protect herself? We get that answer very soon-
To evade punishment from the Father, Hana, makes Tenko the scapegoat by suggesting that he was the one who roped her into commiting what was forbidden. It put majority of the blame on Tenko’s poor shoulders. Was it cruel of her? Yes. Dud she want to do it? No. Why would she do something so cruel to him if she didnt want to see Tenko hurt then?
The answer is simple-
Hana probably did not think things your escalate so far. Yeah, she probably imagined her Father would be incredibly pissed and take it out on Tenko, but she didn’t think it would go down the road of physical violence. What she did was not right, absolutely not. But can we really blame her for it? This is a child, we are talking about. By nature children are afraid to enrage authority, and Hana is no different. She was self-centered in what she did. But did she lie? Not really. Her wording might seem to the Father that it was completely Tenko’s idea, but 'he wanted to see it’, is not a lie. It’s straight-forward. Tenko did want to see the photograph once he was told about it.
From what we have ascertained to be the common vein in all the members and how they have each failed Tenko in their own way is the Father. Either they are sympathetic of his past or afraid of his temper- the later being more prevalent and pronounced in it’s effects. Tenko too, at some premature level, understands that all this happens because of his Father’s Authority. Thus comes the second idea which was repeated twice-
“The house that my Father built”/ “This house was the one my Father built”
This line is always mentioned in conjunction to Tenko’s punishments and can be said that Shigaraki considers his Home a Punishment in itself too.
This idea is reinforced with this simple statement.
“It only itches at home”
The implications of this are perhaps more grave. This instance mentioned is by no means Tenko’s first punishment. Tenko has gone through enough of them to have come to anticipate the emotional pain (and on one instance, physical) with every misdemeanour he commits. The cycle goes from his Dream to a Misdeed, to Home, to Punishment to Pain. It’s a water-tight assembly line. No surprise why Tenko would come to think of his Dream as a Source of Pain later on. But at this point in his childhood we see how the flowchart cements the aspect of Home = Punishment.
We know (or at least conjecture) that the dermatitis that affects Shigaraki might be a side effect of his quirk as it has begun at such a young age. With that logic, it isn’t a leap to say that since his quirk’s effects Only at his Home (his source of Pain), it is a Protective Response. Shigaraki’s quirk is Decay. It activates to Decay noxious stimuli - like pain. Like his Home. Another example of his Quirk activating:
He says House. Shigaraki has deliberately used House here, because he doesnt feel any familial warmth from this place anymore, and hasn’t for a while now. Instead what he feels from this 'House’ is pain and denial.
(Please excuse the horrible squiggly lines)
Why does this happen sting occur then?
Instinct. Quirks are physical abilities which heavily relies on instinct - which explains why Bakugou is so flawless in his control, he is 'pure instinct’; or why All Might had very little difficulty is mastering OfA - the answer is Instinct. In Tenko’s case, it is the instinct to Protect Himself. Because right after he throws the ball and looks at his hand, his Father storms in with a brutal intent. That Sting is his Quirk telling him to Protect Himself. It isn’t dog hair, or some indoor allergen that makes him hurt. He hurts because pain is the most powerful noxious stimuli that can incite a protective response.
It has a psychological as well as a physiological effect on Tenko. He hurts because he expects it. It’s his body’s way of telling him that 'If you dont use your quirk now- you’ll hurt even more".
After the Father has hit Tenko. A new emotion takes the position of 'stimulant’ for his quirk and that is
Another thing to notice. Shigaraki never once says “This is the Home my Father built”
In here, Tenko throws a ball for the Dog and immediately after he feels a sting. At first it seems as if it might actually be from the Dog. But it doesn’t make sense. Tenko says that it gets worse only inside the House, not outside it. Yet in this one instance, he feels a particularly violent sting not just outside the house, but also AFTER he as stopped touching the Dog. It isn’t the post-monsoon moisture either which is making him hurt, his narration doesn’t really serve as a clue as to what causes his allergy, it simply lends the vividness with which Shigaraki remembers this important moment in his life.
I am gonna break character here just to scream about this part. (*takes deep breath*)
Not Child. But CHILDREN. PLURAL. FUCKING PLURAL.
NANA SHIMURA HAD MORE THAN ONE CHILD.
Koutarou is not her only child!! She has another child!!! And any fucking guesses who?
Both All Might and Izuku have agreed (indirectly at the very least) that Midoriya Inko has a likeness to Shimura Nana. SHIGARAKI AND IZUKU ARE COUSINS. I REPEAT. THEY. ARE. COUSINS!!
I don’t give a fuck if this doesn’t turn out to be canon. The manga reader can give me documented fucking proof and say it to my goddamn face that Shigaraki and Izuku are not cousins, Dabi is not a Todoroki, Inko didn’t accidentally marry the biggest baddest evil legend of Quirk Era. I am gonna spit at their faces if they dare to feed that horseshit to me after THIS level of FORESHADOWING.
Okay, now to end this shitty long post!!
We are meant to hate Koutarou. We do hate him - he has imposed the absolute law of his will upon an entire family and terrorizes them with his temper. We should hate him. But then we are given a snippet of his past- A boy whose mom was hardly there for him and his sibling(s?), who left them behind to fight some evil guy without choosing her family and ultimately choose her duty as a hero over her family. But despite having this animosity towards his mother, Koutarou wishes that Nana had hated him, instead of loved him so much. He says so because then it woukd have been easier for Koutarou to whole-heartedly hate his mother for leaving them behind. But she truly, selflessly loved him - he understands that and still doesn’t forgive her, because he wanted her to selfishly choose her family above everything else. Her absence has left a hole in his life that he cannot fill with hatred, nor with love - he is caught in this infuriating middle where he laments his short temper against Tenko, but also fears that his own child might be ripped away from his family again because of Tenko’s dream. Heroics has taken the most important things from Koutarou’s life and he doesn’t want to see it happen again- he is prepared to go to any lengths to prevent that from happening. But he acknowledges that violence was a step too far. He blames his mother for his insecurities and fears of losing his family again.
In fact, Koutarou’s desire for a complete family is so immense that he solely bought that two-family house for the exact reason he could invite his in-laws. He even calls them 'Mother’ and 'Father’ directly, as if they were his own. It doesn’t fill that gaping hole in his heart that yearns for Nana, but it’s atleast something.
Koutarou is not a good person. He is not meant to be, he is supposed to be relatable like so many bad guys in the manga - Everyone is a Hero in their own lives, everyone believes what they do is (if not right, then) for the better.
Fear drives Koutarou to extreme actions and cruelty. And I am convinced that whatever Tenko will have to suffer in the future due to his father will also be a byproduct of his immense fear of losing his family.
Does this imply that Tenko hates his Father?
Paradoxically, no. Although Tenko says he Hates everyone it isn’t so for Shigaraki. Shigaraki keeps the 'Father’ hand closest to Himself. Even when Bakugou knocked out the 'Father’ hand, that itself was enough to spike Shigaraki’s temper. He didn’t have any recollection of his family then, but he still held on to it. Shigaraki, much like Koutarou himself, doesn’t hate their parent - but is lodged in an in-between. For Shigaraki he is seeking his Father’s approval even when he is long gone, he is carrying forward his that misinterpretted hatred of Heroes by being a Villain set out to destroy everything. Out of everyone in the Shimura Family, Shigaraki constantly keeps craving the acceptance of one Adult Figure, and whose acceptance would mean the most? Obviously the one who held most Authority, whose opinion matters most. His Father.
Tenki may have decayed his family’s everything but their hands. We know from previous chapters that he might have been handled with other equipment instead of direct skin contact because his family members were afraid of his power. But, instinctively again, Tenko wanted their physical contact so dearly that his quirk ended up decaying everything But their hands.
The Hands were the only things left because Tenko’s power couldn’t bring itself to destroy his last chance of physical contact with his family.