「轟焦凍：オリジン」 (Todoroki Shouto: Orijin)
“Todoroki Shouto: Origin”
Izuku may have power, but he isn’t a prodigy. He’s a worker. He focuses and he works, even if it requires wading through miles and miles of pain.
Jesus tap-dancing christ.
There ain’t anything new under the sun. And, once I realized what Izuku was aiming for in this battle, I knew who would win. The rule of thumb in tournament arcs is to figure out who will learn more by losing, and they’ll be the ones who lose. Though that’s not entirely correct. The real rule: pick whoever will learn more by winning OR losing. In this, does Izuku learn more by winning, does Izuku learn more by losing, does Shouto learn more by winning, or does Shouto learn more by losing? Pick the one with the most absolute character development, and as long as it jives with the momentum, that’s probably the result. And in this battle, that held true.
But holy hell, that was phenomenal. It’s the best kind of battle between rivals and friends, because even though Izuku lost, he actually won. And the same goes for Shouto.
We learned a lot about quirks this episode. Even ones that seem unlimited like Shouto’s (or Katsuki’s) are physical abilities, and they have limits. Muscle fibers tear, and humans run out of breath. For Shouto, that’s symbolized by his body frosting over—though I’m sure he has absolute limits beyond that. Like Katsuki said, his ability is more like MP. But he can extend it by mixing his powers.
There are two things that made this battle so blasted amazing for me. The first is that, for the first half, I thought Izuku was doing it all for himself. Shouto’s focus was on his father, he thought maybe his damn old man paid Izuku off—he was focused on himself. Izuku, however, was screaming something else. “I am your opponent! Fight me!” All of his actions demanded that Shouto take him seriously, that Shouto focus the full might of his power on fighting him, or else Izuku would beat him, because he wanted it more. Because Izuku was willing to use his full power, to the point of re-breaking his fingers and arms, because it mattered to him. Because he didn’t want to let people down.
But I was wrong, and the realization, as it dawned on me, was oh so sweet. Izuku wasn’t pushing himself so far for himself. He was doing it for Shouto. And in the moment that Shouto smiled, Izuku won. He did not win this battle, but he gave the world a better, stronger hero. Shouto will live happier and save more people because Izuku fought him with his full might on this stage, and the world will be better for it. Izuku gave the world that, and he gave himself an eternal rival, and an eternal friend in the process. That’s the glory of good shounen manga/anime, and of HeroAca in particular. Characters like Izuku and Shouto don’t want to tear others down. They want to build them up, and then beat those stronger people even so. They want everyone to be better, and to still win.
Would that more people were like that. Be like that in your own life, dear reader. Izuku would want that of you.
The other thing that made this episode so amazing was Izuku’s grit. Izuku is a fascinating character, very much in the Naruto mold of being heir to an amazing power, but not having that power be all that defines him. He has to work for it too. Up to this point, Izuku has never really won by sheer power, though he has that too. He wins by grit, and determination, and wading through miles and miles of pain. Izuku isn’t a prodigy, he’s a worker, and while the prodigies primp and preen and assume everything will work out for them, workers like Izuku keep on working. That’s why he was able to bring out the best in Shouto, changing him from a prodigy too mired in his own circumstances to a worker who will do the work, with all his power, to beat people like Izuku. Or give them a damn good fight trying. Seriously, if we could all live our lives more like Izuku—before he gained his quirk, and after—the world would be a better place.
Put the work in. Work, wade through the pain, and do it for others. If you do that, you might not win, but others will be better for it. Which is the other thing that good shounen manga/anime, and good fiction period, do. It teaches us how to live better lives, or, when we’re too mired in our own circumstances, it reminds us.
Godsdamn that was awesome. Plus Ultra!
- The other thing that makes All Might such a great hero is that he’s a role model, and in that Izuku is the perfect heir. His speech of self-actualization, and his saying of “I am here!” being about recognizing himself—compare that to Endeavor’s child abuse and domestic abuse. No contest. Endeavor will never be the number one hero, not only because All Might is better in every way, but because Endeavor is a terrible person. I’d rather live in All Might’s world than Endeavor’s—but either Izuku’s or Shouto’s would be fine too. The future is looking up for Quirky Japan.
My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for exclusive content. At stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: I get it now!; Guardians of the Galaxy, Glee, & Firesign; That’s not supposed to go there . . .; and The Carcer Principle.