This Single Manga Panel at the End of Todoroki’s Epic Battle Hurt My Heart So Much
Why'd you do this to me, Horikoshi?
Spoilers for My Hero Academia chapter 352
After a three-week hiatus from the manga, My Hero Academia returned to reveal the conclusion of the battle between Shoto Todoroki and Dabi. After Shoto unleashed a brand new move in the last chapter, this chapter had Dabi more fired up than ever to destroy Shoto and everything their father, Endeavor, cared about.
The clash between the brothers has been an intense one, and one that’s been brewing for a while now. That being said, I had no idea how the whole thing would end, but I knew, at the very least, that I didn’t want it to end with Dabi dying. As Shoto says in this chapter, Dabi’s existence is “my family’s crime,” so to me it’d be way too easy to kill him off. Fortunately, at the moment, it looks like Dabi’s still alive, just defeated by Shoto in an ending that’s both epic and emotional.
Shoto Todoroki and being pulled in different directions
Dabi being a Todoroki has been one of the biggest fandom theories of the series, and one that came true in the most fantastic way possible. That being said, this reveal also made things even more complicated for Shoto, who’s already had enough to deal with because of his relationship with Endeavor. As the Todoroki child who’s been deemed as the “perfect” one, Shoto knows firsthand how abusive his father was because he’s experienced it himself. That means he absolutely knows where Dabi’s coming from in his desire to destroy everything Endeavor values. Shoto knows why Dabi wants Endeavor to suffer, and even agrees that their father was wrong in the way he treated him.
But he still has to stop Dabi, because Dabi’s a villain who has murdered innocent people. In my write up for the previous chapter I wrote the following:
What Shoto disagrees with is the fact that Dabi has taken his frustrations out on innocent people. To Shoto, Dabi needed to direct his feelings toward the Todoroki family, not the innocent people he’s killed over the years. This is something that needs to be settled between the Todorokis, there’s no need to pull in other people who have nothing to do with it.
You can be mad, just be mad at the right people.
The tragic reminder encapsulated in a single panel
The entire Todoroki family saga has really shown how much Shoto’s been in the middle of a situation that’s not his fault. While he’s never gone as far as Dabi has, he’s definitely felt those feelings of hatred toward Endeavor and has always struggled with what to do with himself and the power he was born with. So he truly does sympathize with Dabi, who probably understands better than anyone what Shoto’s been through. To have to fight against that person is a lot to deal with.
And this shot of the two brothers as children who have been hurt by Endeavor really hammers that point in. These two boys, who both suffered at the hands of their father, have been fighting each other and it’s extremely tragic. This panel makes you remember how, at one time, Dabi (or rather Toya) wanted nothing more than to please his father, only to be deemed a “failure” because he couldn’t handle his quirk. It makes you remember what Shoto would end up going through.
What this panel really illustrates, to me, is how these two boys never actually got to know each other at all. Toya would end up resenting Shoto, and Shoto was much too young to understand why since he was a baby at the time. By the time he was old enough to get it Toya was already gone, believed to be dead. These two never got to have any kind of childhood together. They’ve barely had any interactions. Where does that leave us?
Well, if Shoto has his way, he’ll be able to finally “mingle” with his older brother. I don’t expect Dabi to ever forgive Endeavor, and Shoto will probably always walk the line between “I respect you as a hero” and “you’re a terrible father,” but I do hope that the two brothers get to, at the very least, talk.
(Featured image: © K. Horikoshi/Shueisha, My Hero Academia The Movie Project)
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