My Hero in “My Hero Academia”

I only started watching “My Hero Academia” maybe two months ago, but anyone whose seen me recently could tell you how obsessed I am over it. I binged the show in two weeks (although it would’ve probably been shorter if it wasn’t for finals), and since then I haven’t missed a single episode. While I love every character on the show’s cast (except Mineta), there’s one character whose arc is especially dear to me: Shouto Todoroki.

Now, initially “My Hero Academia” sets up Shouto as the protagonist, Izuku Midoriya’s rival. While Izuku is still learning how to make sure his quirk doesn’t break all his bones, Shouto’s got so much power and technique at such a young age. Enough that even when he’s up against villains who are much older than he is, they can’t help but be in shock over how much skill and control he has over his quirk.

Although it’s easy to love Shouto as a character because of cool quirk and or how talented he is, it’s his arc that got me.

A big part of Shouto’s character and development stems from his past. One of the biggest parts of Shouto’s character is the fact that he’s the son of the one of the top pro heroes in the story, Endeavor. Endeavor brutally trained Shouto mercilessly throughout his childhood as he considers him his “masterpiece,” due to the fact Shouto has the power of both ice and fire. Endeavor intended one of his children to inherit a hybrid power from his forced marriage with a woman with an ice quirk, as he’s driven to surpass his own rival All Might, by any ways necessary.

In the Sports Festival Arc, Shouto reveals to the Izuku after the first round of the competition why he declared war on him in battle. He reveals his father’s abuse, and that the reasoning behind the scar on his left side was because his mother poured boiling hot water on his face from going insane due to his father’s abuse. Once he took her away, Shouto resented his father for everything he’s done.

As an abuse survivor, watching Shouto’s arc felt like a catharsis. In the first couple episodes, I assumed he was just like any other shounen rival. A talented competitor to the main character that TV Tropes describes as, “While The Hero is carefree and, a Nice Guy, the rival is standoffish and a Jerkass.”

At first, Shouto seemingly embodied these traits. He was standoffish and stoic in the first few episodes, quietly observing his classmates as they were being tested in the Battle Trial Arc, before showing off his ice quirk when it was his turn. His role as the stock shounen rival was determined, but that changed gradually.

In the episode “Shouto Todoroki: Origin,” Shouto’s role as the shounen rival begins to change as Izuku reminds him of his reasons of becoming a hero. Like myself, Shouto’s anger and resentment strays him away from his original intentions to why he became a hero, as he focused entirely becoming the number one hero in order to defy his father.

His actions reminded me of my past. In the scene where Shouto snaps and creates a giant but unnecessary ice wall in his one-on-one battle against Sero, the regret on his face over his own anger-fueled actions reminded me of when I’d lash out at people myself because of how upset I was because of my abuse.

As Shouto goes on to his one-on-one battle with Izuku, he’s reminded of why he decided to become a hero. When Izuku yelled, “It’s yours. Your quirk, not his,” I could remember every person in my life who tried to convince me that my abuse was not a definition of who I was. But instead my life was what I would make of it, regardless of my history.

Indicated by the episode’s title, “Shouto Todoroki: Origin,” it’s the beginning of Shouto’s journey into being the hero he aspired to be in the first place. As Shouto left the arena, his father told him it was the beginning for them as he reached his full potential. Watching Shouto reject his father, without rejecting his inherited powers, telling him he couldn’t forgive him hit me. If he could learn to deal with his trauma, and even what he’d inherited to his advantage, then maybe I could do the same with mine.

As the show continued, Shouto’s development got even better. In more recent Hero Killer Arc, as one of his classmates, Iida, loses track of why he became a hero because of his trauma over his brother’s near-death experience, it’s revealed Shouto confronted him about it. He continuously progresses throughout the series, and it’s a great feeling to be able to be a part of that.

Watching Shouto Todoroki grow as a person, but even more so a hero, has been one of my coping mechanisms since starting “My Hero.” With him, I finally found a character I felt like represented the way I felt with my own trauma. And because of him, I feel lot less alone in overcoming it.