Here’s a philosophical question for you all: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object…but also that immovable object has the ability to produce frightening quantities of ice and fire? Action. Action is what happens, my friends. And I’m not talking about that surface level stuff, no, I’m talking about the kind of action that strikes your very core and leaves you shaking long after. I’m talking about that tried and true, learn from your mistakes, make yourself a better person Shonen Jump magic.
With all of the lead up to the grand showdown between Midoriya and Todoroki, this weeks clash was already set up to be a memorable one. With two competitors who simply refused to back down, regardless of the circumstances, there was also no doubt that we would witness two powerhouses of the series show us what they had…but maybe not all they had. Despite his remarkable strength, their was still always a side of Todoroki we never saw: His left. Now, whilst a touch more literal than most uses of that phrase, it is indeed a relevant one that carries with it oh so much drama. As a constant reminder of a father who is terrible in every syllable of the word, Todoroki’s left side brings him inexorable pain. Luckily for him however, this is a Shonen series and the word inexorable means about as much as “short running series” does.
Though his desire to win has never been one of falsehood, Midoriya spends the entirety of this fight attempting to help his opponent. The result of this heroic spirit is…painful. With his own power still a dangerous trump card, Midoriya destroys his own body to simply keep up with Todoroki, more so than we have ever seen before. So if you thought seeing Midoriya’s red, tattered fingers was bad, prepare for the purple and black pillars of pain that follow. It may seem like a simple change of colour, but boy do you feel it. Though the aforementioned red showcased the broken bones of our hero’s various Smash! attempts, it has always evoked for me the feeling of grazes, of torn skin and cuts. The purple however…ouch. Bruising, internal bleeding, pressure, an absolute bevy of new things that really make you feel what Midoriya is going through. Not literally of course, no way in hell I could ever go through that kind of abuse, self-inflicted or otherwise. For that alone I have to respect Midoriya, going through that kind of pain for a kid in his class he only just recently started talking to. Takes a certain kind of person to do that, even in a Hero Course.
On the other side of this prodigious battle, Todoroki also finds himself in pain, reminded of his terrible past…along with the fact that he is slowly freezing himself. Symbolically however, this acute pain and weakness is what helps Todoroki push forward as a character. By denying one half of himself out of spite for his old man, Todoroki is causing an imbalance that threatens to destroy him. As also pointed out by Midoriya, utilising only half of his power is a spit in the face of every other student in the Hero Course. Even Bakugo isn’t self-centred enough to hold back…and he’s Bakugo. Thus, the advent of Todoroki’s fire side is the first time we truly see Todoroki. The first time he is not his father’s son, nor his mother’s avenger, but simply a kid who wants to be a hero. Combined with the reveal of the episode’s title (Shoto Todoroki: Origin), there is no question that this moment is the birth of the hero Todoroki will become. Though his past may be traumatic, it is only a piece of his story and not what will define him.
Personal drama aside, what is perhaps the truest sign of Midoriya’s heroism is that almost nobody knows what he’s doing. From the perspective of the audience, Midoriya and Todoroki are simply fighting to advance in the tournament. Midoriya is destroying himself in the process and Todoroki is eventually forced to use a brand new power. Even Endeavour doesn’t get it. Though, to be fair, he is an egotistical jerk who places his own motives on a pedestal and yet somehow manages to bank his hopes on one of his kids. The confusing jerk. Regardless, the animation of said fight is pretty awesome to behold and its climax calls back to the All Might vs Nomu extravaganza that was the ending of season one. So, if even a shred of doubt remained in your mind that these two characters were not everything their mentors hoped them to be, remember that simple fact. That their clash left professionals reeling and left even each other in awe.
Damn, this series is just too good. With every detail that appeases the plot dissector in me, I am able to simply sit back and smile as this story unfolds. With a Shonen hero who actually learns from his mistakes and a series of opponents and allies who are just as compelling, these character driven arcs are completely satisfying, even if they appear to come out of nowhere. Even last week’s bout between Bakugo and Uraraka carried importance to it and at face value it very well could have been a joke fight. And even then the joke fights have merit, as long as you’re not Sero. So when all is said and done, and I have done most of the saying, I can boil my thoughts down to quite a simple core: This episode was awesome. And though it may not be the most eloquent description, I’ll be damned if it isn’t true in every way.
It’s fine now. Why? Because My Hero Academia is on Crunchyroll