fanart by @koooogasya on twitter
I will refrain from making promises I’m unsure I can keep. “I’m sorry I failed you, daddy” whispers a desolated Gabie, weeping over her Endeavor wallpaper.
Speaking of failing daddy, how tragic it was to finally learn the whole picture of Touya’s backstory. An untameable replacement for Shimura Tenko, he was kidnapped and saved by crazy scientists, out of commission for three years before he opened his eyes again. Seriously, the Todoroki subplot is so great it could be a stand-alone story on its own.
In terms of feelings alone, I think the intensity of Touya’s easily surpasses those of Tomura, but their connection to his father and who he is was so strong they were incapable of manipulating him. And as much as I am dying to see Enji and Touya in the same vicinity, theirs is not an interaction to be had in the battlefield.
I love how Hori built it up so Shouto is the one facing his older brother–a decision Endeavor was not at peace with. But right now, it’s Shouto’s duality, not only of quirks, but also his calm yet determined nature, that can prove to be their best shot at neutralizing Touya. And bless Shout too, innocently glad to have been acknowledged by his big brother like “here I thought you were only focusing on dad! But no, you were nice enough to take a close look at me too.” Haha. Yes, Todomochi-kun, your brother was looking closely at you with murderous intent and jealousy, but hey, half empty half full cup kind of thing, you know.
Truthfully though, Touya was never angry at Enji’s brutal treatment of Shouto, Touya was livid because he thought his father had moved on from him and ‘accepted’ his death, and we all know that’s not the case at all. But that’s what Touya was–still is–angry about. What he fears is to be forgotten by his dad, of being defective. Differently from Shouto, training with Enji was a bonding time for Touya, those were the moments when he had Enji’s complete attention on him, he was special and singular before his father’s eyes. Enji was still terrible at parenting, and even more awful at communicating back then (something he’s developed a lot throughout the series in one of the best character arcs I’ve seen–together with Kacchan), and he really shot at his own foot when he thought that avoiding Touya and cutting off their training would be the best solution to protecting his son from his own quirk.
Shouto, on his own end, was a victim of all that was wrong in the Todoroki household, but to Touya, he’s what’s standing between him and their father. And Touya is ready to burn everything, himself included, if it means his father will look at him. If it means leaving a scar so strong in his father’s soul that Enji will never be able to erase Touya from existence. He wants Enji to feel what he felt.
I mentioned this in a previous post: Touya is still too reactive to his own fears to be capable of empathizing for anyone, and it’s through burning that he projects his strength and independence from his own fears. Touya has been trapped, for many years now, in his own fear narrative loop. And you know who can empathize a lot with that? Shouto, who broke free from his shackles and learned to walk together, who through his friendships became able to receive and give support, and found himself moved not by anger, or fear, but by his own values.
This is going to be a great fight–though I still want to see this unhinged manchild meet his daddy again.
Maybe love will tear you apart, literally.
With all that said, we need to talk about
Kevin Toga. And before you roll your eyes at the following statement, hear me out, I do have a point to make and it’s probably not what you’re thinking. Horikoshi does know how to write female characters, Lady Nagant was a great example, but I don’t feel like he gives the girls as much effort as he does with the guys, and that’s something that I can point out in many shounen manga, possibly because male Japanese authors have a harder time to empathize with female characters? I’ve actually watched an interview with Hori where he explicitly says that. And listen, that’s normal feedback that you read from both sides. I also think some female writers don’t put too much effort into writing male characters in shoujo. I’m not saying the stories suck or are ruined because of it, but Himiko’s standing out to me right now because of the splendid work Hori has done with her male counterparts in the League of Villains.
I genuinely don’t see a problem with authors wanting to use female characters to address themes of love and relationships, these are common tropes for females because we are highly interested in those dynamics. But as it stands, this thing about Toga wanting to consume the people she loves, this weird antisocial quirk, is not enough to make an interesting character. I get a feeling that he’s playing at that philosophical notion of the extreme of “love” being a dysfunction, and that this lust (which is not really love) when taken to its extreme ends in consumption–you want to consume the thing, the “thing” becomes an object.
And there is a film from the early 00’s called Perfume: The Story of a Murderer which I think addressed this topic beautifully. It tells the story of a man who was born with an extraordinary olfactory sense yet clearly displays antisocial personality disorder traits and goes on this search of a “perfect” smell whilst killing women and making perfumes out of them. I won’t go into too much detail, but at the end of the film he is able to bottle this extreme lust and an incredible scene plays out. If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it.
But what I mean to say is that there is potential for Himiko’s character and this insatiable lustfulness that she has, that’s not what I find problematic or shallow, it’s the fact that so far there’s nothing really else to her that is a problem for me. If Hori leaves her character like this, she’s going to end up being a flat character–that he spent a lot of time on (that we spent a lot of with with as well). I don’t know if I’m being too harsh, I mean, the man set the standard himself with his other characters! He’s really good at portraying the different facets of humanity–which is why I’m still looking forward and hoping to see if he will do something more with her character as she enters this final battle against Uraraka.
By the way: Frappy, you were right. Compiling manga chapters to review them does result in more in depth analysis. I’m just going to embrace this now since my schedule is so volatile.
Over and out!