「火の不始末」 (Hi no Fushimatsu)
“The Wrong Way to Put Out a Fire”
There’s an interesting split in the HeroAca reader/viewership about Endeavor (which I guess isn’t surprising in that they generally can’t agree about anything except they love to complain). It’s not so much about whether he’s a good character (which he is, very) – most are affirmative on that. But as we edged into this point in the manga, there was a lot of “I feel so sorry for him, so broken”, which was then met with a lot of disbelieving rage from those who disagreed. And I’m starting to see that pattern repeat itself with the anime.
As for me, it’s… complicated. I love that Endeavor forces us to consider questions which don’t have easy answers, because most mangaka frankly don’t have the guts to take a major character hardcore down that path. There are so many questions with this loser. Is his current regret genuine? Almost certainly. But if so, is it genuine contrition or just self-pity? That’s less clear. What’s important for me is this – Endeavor’s problems are entirely of his own making, entirely avoidable, and ended up hurting (and worse) a lot of other people. That puts a pretty restrictive cap on just how much sympathy I can really have for him.
These flashbacks were extremely well-done and, unlike the vast majority of shounen flashbacks, appropriately used in context. They certainly changed nothing for me in how I felt about Endeavor, to be honest. He was an extremely lucky guy – he was born with a quirk powerful enough to rise to #2 in Japan. But petty envy ruled his life, and guided every decision. Who he married, how he raised his kids, basically every decision about his family – all of it to surpass All Might, which is about as petty as it gets.
The extent you can say Touya too was responsible for his own fate is debatable, but to me that narrows exponentially when we’re talking about a child. Touya was if anything too smart and self-aware for his own good. It’s normal for boys to want their father’s attention, but Touya had the ability to grasp the underlying dynamics of the situation. Endeavor went through the motions of trying to push Touya away from using his quirk when it became clear his body couldn’t handle it (nature’s cruel revenge for trying to make a designer baby). But it was Endeavor who lit the fire under Touya (just as Touya charged), and Endeavor who made it clear Touya mattered little to him once his potential as a broadside against All Might was gone.
Just as surely, Endeavor was wrong to isolate Shouto from his siblings once his potential became clear, and to obsessively groom him. Endeavor was a cruel, shallow little man – a terrible father, a tyrant to him family, a curse on his wife. Rei’s responsibility in all this is another difficult matter to consider. She was effectively sold off by her family. She tried to make the best of it for her children but she had a breaking point, and Endeavor pushed her past it. I consider her more of a victim that anything, just as I do the children. And how unfair it is for Shouto to have the responsibility for putting everything right dumped on his shoulders.
All that makes the “Hellish Todoroki Family” decision to rally around the bastard now hard to swallow. I choose to believe they’re taking one for the team here – what’s happening outside the hospital may be largely Endeavor’s mess, but it’s the world’s problem now and all hands are needed on deck. Endeavor doesn’t have the luxury of self-pity at this point – the only thing he can do to try to make amends for his sins is to try and prevent any further damage. And his family knows that. As do the #2 and #3 hero, who show up (and eavesdrop) at the hospital to try and sweet talk some sense into Endeavor and prepare him to deal with Dabi.
Hawks is once more key to everything. He sees a lot, he’s smart, and he rose from nothing to get where he is. He’s focused in on the crucial part of Dabi’s video that no one has talked about – “One For All”. Hawks’ instincts told him this was important, and of course they were right. There are enough clues out there now connecting Deku to All Might that once that train of thought leaves the station, it gathers momentum quickly. Deku is in another place, communing with his OFA forebears, but the world he wakes up to is going to look very different from the one he left.
“Endeavor’s problems are entirely of his own making, entirely avoidable, and ended up hurting (and worse) a lot of other people.”
I think you missed the point and the spirit of the episode… From the very start, Midoriya set up Shoto to get to this point.