The following post contains spoilers from My Hero Academia. You have been warned.
I have always been fascinated by the evolution of Tomura Shigaraki as a character. When we were first introduced to him, he was a small time thug and man child who did not seem to present a significant threat. Two hundred chapters later, he became a Thanos-level supervillain. However, every villain has a beginning and Shigaraki’s origin story is quite heartbreaking.
Shigaraki’s real name is Tenko Shimura, grandson of All Might’s mentor and the seventh wielder of One For All, Nana Shimura. During her war with All For One, Nana Shimura’s husband was killed in a villain attack. The profession of a superhero gives a person a long list of enemies and those enemies will always target the superhero’s family as a weakness. To prevent her son, Kotaro Shimura, from sharing his father’s fate, Nana was forced to have her son live with a foster family, far away from the crossfire.
Unfortunately, even though Nana’s intention was to protect her son from her enemies, her actions would have dire consequences. Resentful about being abandoned by his mother, Kotaro was traumatized and he violently banned the mention of superheroes in his household. Whenever his son, Tenko Shimura, mentioned superheroes, Kotaro would abuse him. Throughout his upbringing, Tenko’s mother and maternal grandparents were kind and loving towards him, but they too spiritually weak to protect him from his father’s abuse. Tenko also had a sister named Hana, who supported his dream of becoming a superhero one day.
One day, Hana revealed the truth about their paternal grandmother to Tenko: that she was a great superhero. Hana even said she would start a superhero team with him. However, Kotaro found out his kids sneaked into his office and found out about his mother. To avoid getting abused herself, Hana betrayed Tenko and threw him under the bus. Kotaro was so enraged that he became even more brutal with Tenko than usual and savagely beat his five-year-old son. This beating resulted in the facial scars Shigaraki would have on his mouth and right eye. Tenko was forced to sleep outside with no dinner with only the family dog for company.
While he was consumed by hatred and despair, Tenko’s Decay quirk activated. His first victim was the family dog, who he was petting when his quirk activated. The dog was reduced to a pile of rotten chunks of flesh. Meanwhile, Hana came outside to apologize to Tenko for betraying him. When she saw Tenko with the disintegrated dog, she ran to the house in fear. Desperate for someone to save him, Tenko grabbed his sister, who was promptly disintegrated. Then Tenko’s mother and maternal grandparents came outside when they heard the racket. When Tenko’s hand touched the ground, his Decay rushed towards his mother and maternal grandparents like a tidal wave. Like the dog, Tenko’s mother and maternal grandparents were reduced to piles of rotten chunks of meat.
Finally, Kotaro arrived on the scene and was horrified by what he saw. Tenko begged his father to save him, but Kotaro was so afraid that he armed himself with gardening equipment. Kotaro fell back on his abusive behavior and struck Tenko in the head with the gardening tool, shouting at Tenko to stop. This was the final straw for Tenko. To bring a permanent end to his father’s abuse, Tenko attacked him with pure homicidal glee. He gripped his father’s face and shouted for him to die over and over. As Kotaro was disintegrated, the Shimura household crumbled all around Tenko until nothing was left. The itchy intent to destroy that plagued Tenko his entire life was finally appeased. It is as the Joker said: “All it takes is one bad day for someone to go insane.”
Despite the apparent glee he got from killing his family, Tenko was riddled with so much guilt that he repressed his memories of the event along with most of his power. After slaughtering his family and destroying his home, Tenko wandered aimlessly through the city streets. Bloody and traumatized, Tenko hoped someone would save him. However, no one ever helped him because they thought some superhero would save the day. Sadly, no superhero or civilian saved Tenko, resulting in his hatred towards the superhero society as a whole. Instead of a superhero, the most powerful and most sinister supervillain, All For One, saved Tenko and took him under his wing. Shortly afterwards, Tenko was given the preserved hands of his family, which would put all over his body. To label Tenko as his eventual successor, All For One gave him his surname: Shigaraki. All For One also gave Tenko the new name Tomura, which is based on the Japanese word for “to mourn”. This would symbolize the grief Shigaraki would ultimately bring upon the world.
For most of his life, Shigaraki was still the traumatized five-year-old boy he was when he killed his family. However, during his battle with Re-Destro and the Meta Liberation Army, Shigaraki regained his memories and the rest of his power. With this awakening, Shigaraki no longer felt any guilt or regret for killing his family. He would use the memories of his family’s destruction to further fuel his dark hatred rather than let them hinder him anymore.
Overall, Tomura Shigaraki’s origin story was both dark and sad. His family consisted of a sister who betrayed him, a mother and grandparents that were too weak to protect him, and a father who abused him every time he said the word “hero”. It is as Supreme Leader Snoke from Star Wars said: “Pups who are abused often grow into vicious creatures.” This further adds to Shigaraki’s status as a foil for Izuku Midoriya. While Izuku’s mother supported his dreams of being a superhero, Shigaraki’s family destroyed his dreams of being a superhero. It is ironic because Shigaraki’s father went to extreme lengths to prevent his son from becoming a superhero and now his son never will be a superhero. The Shimura family may have produced a great superhero like Nana Shimura. However, the ultimate legacy of the Shimura family was the creation of the greatest supervillain since All For One.