「地獄の轟くん家」 (Jigoku no Todoroki-kun Chi)
“The Hellish Todoroki Family”

I’ve never visited a household that was in the midst of a meltdown. So I can’t relate to the experience Deku or Bakugo had. That said, I absolutely have been in Natsuo’s position of struggling to forgive my father. I’m not going to talk about the episode specifically, rather, I will dive into the sticky situation that has unfolded within the Todoroki family.

I come from one of those fairly typical Asian families. Pop culture has popularised the term ‘Tiger Parent‘. And yup, my father was a tiger parent who never had a moment of weakness, would breathe down my neck and beat me if I ever made mistakes – both relating to wider life and school matters. It freaking sucks. When I was 10, I accidentally shut the car door on my younger sister’s hands. Yes, I was careless and 100% in the wrong. I do not think it justified what ensued which was a beating beyond all beatings I’ve ever had in my life. My father a fully grown man repeatedly punched a ten year old to the floor and kept kicking me extremely hard until I was black and blue with bruises, bleeding from various places and snivelling while begging him to stop and him not stopping until I was well past unconscious. If I’m going to be honest, it has still stuck with me more than a decade down the line.

I eventually outgrew him in secondary school. Kind of hard to hit a boy who’s become way taller and stronger than you. And when it reached this point, my fear faded away and was replaced by an inferno of unresolved anger that raged for 5-6 years. From my father’s perspective, he was right and did it with the good intention of setting me up for success later in life. He refused to admit wrongdoing. He was only doing what he knew – repeating what his mother had done to him back in Asia. And in some ways it’s hard to argue against the methodology when your son ends up going to a top law school in the world (Top 100 to be exact, could have been Top 10 globally if I had scored three marks higher in Mathematics). However, this whole shit emotionally scarred me. Getting beaten is one thing. Getting beaten every day of my life when all these other kids parents loved them and cared for them hurt me to the core. Getting beaten so violently like that one time I shut the car door on my sister’s hand engraved a special kind of hatred in my body and mind. The anger and pain Natsuo and Shoto expressed seriously resonates with me. I can totally understand where they are coming from.

I think it’s key they highlight Endeavour’s remorse. For such a strong and powerful man to be stuck frozen there, unable to retort while clearly carrying acres of guilt helps hammer home just how truly remorseful he feels. That’s it’s bloody genuinely coming from his heart. It reminded me of my father’s remorse and I probably put up this exact same, conflicted expression Natsuo had. I don’t know why it took that specific crisis for my father to step up, what matters is that he did. And better late than never. Which would be the exact message I’d give to Natsuo and Shoto. I completely understand if they’d never forgive Endeavour – I also once firmly believed I would never forgive my father. But I eventually did.

What eventually helped me forgive my father was seeing his love for me in action. Firstly, I recognise he actually changed a lot, the catalyst being our household breaking point – specifically when both my sister and myself were taken out of different classes for breaking down and crying uncontrollably on the same day. That day, a classmate joked to me without intending any harm ‘Your parents don’t love you’ to me. I was left emotionally reeling and ended up sobbing throughout third period Maths until my head of year took me out of class. I think this was the defining point where my father took his head out of his ass so to speak because both of his children had emotional breakdowns during school. He finally admitted he was wrong. It has been a couple of years down the line and I can vouch that he’s come a very long way.

When I was miserable at my university life situation because my degree was a struggle and I felt let down by my primary university social group, he was there to help pick up the pieces gently and prove that he did indeed love me. I will say it felt very jarring, because my father is a man who pretty much never shows any emotion outside of dissatisfaction. If he does care, he likes to demonstrate it through quiet action rather than hugs or verbally. This time, he was very tender and expressed gentle concern – which was completely out of character for him yet appreciated. More recently, he even helped mediate a crisis between myself and my mother in the past two weeks (story for another time). I can definitely say he’s mellowed out with old age and does a bang up job of maintaining the family peace.

Many third person outsiders will say ‘Cut contact with your parents, why subject yourself to a toxic relationship?’. It’s never that simple. To be honest, writing this out, I’m even thinking ‘Why the heck did I even choose to forgive my father?’. Family relationships are complex and you can choose to never see your parents again. Though nothing will ever change the fact that they will always be your parents, and the ones who brought you into this world. And in almost all cases, parents deeply love their children. Even if their intentions can be severely misguided. Every situation is different and every person different too. Mileages may vary. For me, because it feels like my father has made a conscious effort to demonstrate his love, reconcile his ways and change for the better, I felt inclined to forgive him and no longer hold ill will in my heart. I can also see Endeavour’s trying to change his ways too and even if Toya’s death is a lot more unforgivable, I would encourage Shoto and Natsuo to forgive him at their own pace. Life just becomes so much easier once the maddening burden of hatred and misgivings are alleviated.

Anyway, that might have been extremely long but I’ve pretty much gone over everything I wanted to talk about. Thank you very much for your patience in reading through this very personal post, and I hope you all have a lovely week.

19 Comments

  1. ….Wow, what a review…. Almost forgot what the episode was about…I’m sorry for you. There are those stories too, I guess :/ If your kind of education is right or wrong primarily depends on what you want to achieve. It’s so sad for a child if it cant understand its parents because the values differ too much 🙁

    Lia
    1. I sort of understand where he came from as an adult, even if I vastly disagree with the approach. Because of my experiences, I want to bring the best of both cultural worlds together in terms of British and Asian. Instilling that sense of freedom and open affection, while emphasising the importance of education and respect for mentor figures. I do not believe a person needs to beat their child to make them into what they want them to be. It’s ‘easier’ and ‘quicker’. But for me, I absolutely believe one can put in the effort to try and gain an actual understanding so they can charismatically sway their child in particular directions.

  2. Dear Zaiden,

    I write this to you sincerely when I say I understand where you’re coming from.

    My father hasn’t made it easy for me to bond with him. Unfortunately, even though I really want to, I cannot share my story in deep detail the way you did yours because, frankly, I don’t know how to talk about it. I feel like any way I talk about it wouldn’t give it, me, and him justice. I will instead say he is by no means a saint, he made mistakes towards me that he wouldn’t acknowledge, and to make things worse, without mentioning any names or terms, I grew up in a culture where calling out parents for their mistakes (because all humans make mistakes, and I’m certainly no exception) is tantamount to being an infidel.

    I have no doubt he loves and cares for me. I love and care for him too. But the way he went about raising me made fatherhood a future goal of mine, because I want to prove to myself above all else that I can be better than him. Which is sad, because I don’t want that to be the only legacy he leaves behind. I want to find the courage to forgive him someday and just be a normal father-and-son pair.

    My mother has always been there for me through it all. Everything I am now is thanks to her. Bless her heart.

    Zaiden, I feel you. I want you to know that you’re not alone in this. I am writing all of this because your story inspired me to not keep all of this bottled up in me. I want to say thank you, for being brave, and for making me brave too. Also, I’m sorry for being vague about my situation.

    1. There’s nothing to be sorry about! Everyone has their own situation. For me, I feel comfortable telling my story because I’ve forgiven my father and let go of my ill will. My mother was very passive and didn’t get particularly involved. She stood back for the most part. Because a lot of the pain and anger was bottled up, she somehow never realised the severity of the situation. :I do not think she’s a bad person, but she can really lack in observation when it comes to these kind of things.

  3. I like that there’s no right and wrong whether the victim decides to forgive or not. Ultimately they have to decide for themselves what the better option is for them, and it definitely varies on a case-by-case basis. There’s no black and white, which I really like about the whole Todoroki family situation.

    I haven’t watched the episode – but when reading the manga and browsing discussion thread for the chapters in this arc, I remember a number of mad people who would just say he’s trash and doesn’t deserve forgiveness/emotional scars don’t heal etc. And then the other side – the long comments – of people with actual experience that actually seem much more hopeful about the situation, even when their own situation didn’t work out well.

    Neither is really wrong – but I did feel like a number of the short angry messages were from people who pretty much just wanted to stick with the idea that abuse is wrong and should never be forgiven. It made me uncomfortable because while I agree to a good extent, I feel like the most important thing isn’t to focus on the past, but look forward to the future and decide if it’s better for you if you forgive those who hurt you, or better if you remove them entirely from your life. Of course, being stuck in the past and scarred deeply is something very common and it’s perfectly fine if you just want to distant yourself from the source of pain in your own interests. I think it’s impossible to really forgive the actions of a person who hurt you, but forgiving the person is something one can think about and decide over time (if they can find it in their heart to). It’s all about how things go from here.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us Zaiden, and I’m glad things did get better for you. I do hope it works out similarly for many other people, even if it will not for everyone.

    Ultimately I hope the author will finish this story thread in a good way that makes it palatable and not forced redemption, they’ve been doing a pretty good job so far in creating the painful awkward atmosphere plus the different ways of coping each character has.

    ZJ
    1. I think you hit the nail on the head when you describe it as a personal choice. Many third party people get excited to deliver justice onto evil-doers. Evil is Evil. Evil should be punished. And they don’t really put themselves into a person’s shoes to see just how complex the situation can really be.

      Regardless of what Andy on the street might think if the story was recounted to him by a third person, the choice will always be in the hands of the person in question. Every person is different, so you’re not always going to get the same out come either in terms of processing their trauma, handling their trauma or finding forgiveness.

  4. “WE’RE IN TROUBLE WE NEED TO COVER THIS FIRST PART OF THIS MINI STORY BUT IT ONLY TAKES UP TEN MINUTES OF ANIMATION!” “Get a hold of yourself! Just fill up the first 15 minutes with no story progression whatsoever and tons of characters monologuing to themselves about stuff we already know about from seasons earlier!!!!” “MARRY ME!”

    starss
  5. Zaiden, what a brilliant personal review, it tackled the theme on a deeper layer. Thank you for sharing your story.

    I was very much looking forward to this episode. For me, it was one of the turning points.

    1. I felt compelled to share my story because seeing Natsuo’s pained look really felt like I was looking at myself from the past. For me, this arc was a turning point too. And I felt reluctant, hesitant to blog this season knowing what was on the horizon because I knew how much mixed feelings were going to get stirred up for me. But now I have the benefit of hindsight, I’m glad I’m the one here writing about this episode’s post.

  6. I’m usually a passive reader, but just wanted to leave a comment to say thank you for sharing! I love how Horikoshi is writing Endeavor’s character, and with your personal perspective on it, there’s just so much insight and things to learn.

    1. There’s no issue with being a passive reader, and your sentiments are greatly appreciated. I feel like character building is something that Horikoshi won’t go about in a rambunctious or blazen way. However, he adds these subtle layers of characterisation which end up really speaking for themselves when the moment arrives.

  7. I am 100% here for the link between story and personal experience, along with its commentary on the subjects.

    Summary: my dad also abused a bunch, he got out of my life, he’s dead now, I’m content.

    He never got a chance to show off a turning point, if he ever would have had one. I think about that occasionally. Your story took a different route, yet we ended in similar places.

    One can hate, one can forgive, and one can simply accept. As you mentioned, different strokes for different folks, but it does feel lighter to walk without the hate. We should try to sculpt ourselves into our desired visions, and… we’re commenting on a hero anime here.

    What would a hero do?

    I could keep writing for a while, but I’ll end by saying it takes strength to get through tough stuff, and sometimes we can find that strength in others. Big ups for sharing your story, man.

    Dude
    1. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure if it was appropriate to talk so much about me, as opposed to the episode itself. But I rationalised it as being acceptable provided I consistently tied it back to the story and characters.

      I’m glad you also came to a happier place too. My heart aches for you because you never did get closure. But I am happy knowing that you found your way forwards regardless and wish you the best through life.

  8. Glad that things worked out with your dad, though you could have left out some of the details (like the kind of university). 🙂
    I have some (unresolved) family issues of my own so I kinda relate, that’s all I’ll say…

    boingman
  9. …… So, what’s the point of writing a review if you’d rather brag about your own past trauma? Please save that kind of thing for a meeting with a therapist, why don’t you?

    Aiko
    1. If this isn’t what you want to read, you don’t have to. I understood publishing this post that this particular one wouldn’t be for everybody. And that’s fine. Sometimes, as writers, we suddenly develop a prerogative upon viewing an episode and feeling certain emotional reactions. I chose to speak up on my past not because I wanted to brag. There’s nothing to brag about when it comes to anger and pain, believe me. I chose to talk about my past because this episode and the themes of this arc deeply resonate with me.

    2. Oh man, totally agree with you. I was actually about to leave this exact same comment, but right as I was about to hit submit I thought to myself “I wonder what the other people on this post are saying.” Then I saw that the common response from socially well-adjusted people was supportive. It also seemed that they took the time to relate his meaningful personal experience to deeper themes in the series.

      And then I thought “Maybe I should be looking for deeper meaningful themes in the media I watch. Maybe I ought to be finding some meaning in my own life, so I don’t feel compelled to spend my time unloading my emotional insecurity and inability to be vulnerable onto strangers on the internet. And then I thought further: if i go ahead and submit this comment, I’ll not only be missing this opportunity for self-reflection and meaning, but I’ll also look like a big fucking cunt.

      So finally, I deleted the comment.”

      The end.

      PS: great post Zaiden, thank you for sharing your story.

      yoursenpaizoro

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