Though by its very definition the protagonist of a story is meant to carry our fullest attention, My Hero Academia loves to remind us all that there is so much more to this world than the trials and tribulations of one Izuku Midoriya. Unfortunately however, this weeks lesson came at the revelation that not all is well in the world of heroes and that even the right side of justice can be wrong.
Since the beginning of this season, Todoroki has been leaving far more of an impact than he ever did in season one. Sure he was an immensely powerful student who was recommended for the Hero Course, but he was always just sort of in the background. Heck, half of his body was covered in ice for a while. Not too sure what happened to that particular aesthetic, but I image Horikoshi simply wanted to show the full face of this particularly conflicted individual. And boy is he conflicted. With confirmation that his father is indeed Endeavour, the number two hero in the world (or Japan at least), we are provided a truer glimpse into Todoroki’s sudden push to the focus of Class 1-A. With his toolbag of a father wallowing in the fact that he is always second best to All Might, Todoroki has been spending his life being vicariously lived through. Knowing he can never beat All Might, though looking like the type to never admit it, Endeavour has been training his son to rise to the top of the next generation, to surpass All Might in every way. Which totally sucks…and is just a little bit awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for Todoroki, I truly do, I merely mean that, from a world building perspective, I really appreciate this story angle.
All Might is the Symbol of Peace, the smiling face who vanquishes the forces of evil with a flick of his wrist. More often than not literally. To see that there is another side to this status, that his presence breeds competition in at least some of the heroes is interesting. We’ve seen it exist between Bakugo and Midoriya, between Todoroki and anyone who stands in his way, but to see it from the infallible and impossibly powerful heroes who stand as legend? As much as this series embodies the Golden Age of Heroism, of champions of justice who save the day with nary a glimmer of doubt, it is also one that understands that its characters are human and that no amount of super strength or elemental manipulation can change that fact. Is this approach completely unique in the world of fiction? Heck-to-the-no, but I simply believe it this time, as, rather than a collection of ideals in character form that exist to vary the cast, our heroes interact with each other and change.
Take Midoriya for example. When he first stood up to Bakugo, it was a triumphant moment. A moment where a frail and scared boy shook off the shackles of his bully and carved a mark in the win column with everything he had. But what about Todoroki? He is not a foe to Midoriya in the traditional sense. Sure he declared war on him, but so did everyone else. It’s a competition. However, even after we learn about Todoroki’s dark and troubled heroic backstory, Midoriya still stands his ground. As nice as he is, he simply cannot back down just because his opponent had a rough go of it. Does it suck that Todoroki’s mother, the parent he does like, physically scarred him for life? Absolutely, it’s one of the saddest things I’ve heard My Hero produce thus far. Do we want Todoroki to win and stick it to his father? Of course. Endeavour is terrible and he has a moustache made of fire for no conceivable reason. But we still don’t want Midoriya to fail. It’s this ambiguity that serves as a strength of My Hero, forcing us to question our favouritism and allegiances. As simple as Hero versus Villain is, it is also so much more than that. Midoriya is carrying a mantle, Todoroki is carrying a burden, Bakugo a desire, Uraraka a hope, Kaminari, Yaoyorozu, Tokoyami, Kirishima, even Mineta, every single one of them wants to be the best. It just isn’t as easy as other series whose character roster exists to push the protagonist forward. This one stands alongside him. And they’re all just as fired up.
Speaking of fired up, man do I hate Endeavour. In all of three minutes of screentime, he has proven to be one of this biggest jerks in this whole series. And we’ve seen a guy who tried to kill Tsu. In addition to being World’s Worst Father, he also holds the title of Most Terrible Husband. Having used his wealth and influence to his advantage, he apparently wed a woman (who despised him) solely based on her Quirk. This alone opens up a whole different barrel of evil fish in the world of My Hero that calls a new word into the fray: Ethics. And that’s not something I entirely expected to consider coming into this series, at least not in this regard. I mean, superpowers are awesome, they let people fly and shoot lasers and be all gruff and call people bub, they don’t force a new familial paradigm and see the rise of loveless families…usually. And though this is mostly represented through Todoroki and not a centralised plot detail, the fact that this aspect of society was even contemplated in the creation of My Hero makes me love this series all the more. Though its story is focused, its world feels whole.
Complex societal issues aside, that Shinso guy sure seems intimidating. With a “mysterious” power (that is totally obviously not some form of mind control) that is enough to make Ojiro feel bad for making it to the finals, Midoriya looks to have his work cut out for him. Especially since he immediately slipped up and put himself on the fast track to loss. Also props to Ojiro for standing out this episode and actually making us bother to learn his name. It takes a certain kind of person to deny an opportunity based on conscience alone. Sure he said it was pride, but we got your back Ojiro. You’re a good guy.
It’s fine now. Why? Because My Hero Academia is on Crunchyroll