Endeavor is currently the number one pro hero. He is burdened with the responsibilities and expectations of people who admire heroes. In the recent chapters, his character progression has taken quite an abrasive yet positive turn. The readers were exposed to Endeavor as a father and husband which allowed them to understand the character more. It also led to the untangling of selfish, unforgiving, and distressing acts of the ‘Number 1’ which puts forward a necessary question:
Can the horrendous actions of a hero be forgiven?
An Insidious Injustice:
A hero is someone who saves people. Horikoshi added another layer to the concept of heroes to make it more interesting. He made them corrupt with the notions of wealth, fame and reputation. And Endeavor was no different. He imbued him with one of the worst facets of human nature – jealousy. And it bored dire consequences.
Enji Todoroki, the man who was always overshadowed by All Might. People loved and admired the latter one more and him being the second-best was agonizing. So he wanted a successor who would be better than him. The reason he married Rei was to bear a child who would be able to fulfill his dream. And the day came when he finally got that perfect combination; half ice and half fire – Shoto Todoroki.
But what happened to that potential successor whom he completely abandoned?
What about the coercion of his selfish dreams put on a child who didn’t even understand the difference between right and wrong?
There are duties and responsibilities that come with being a hero, father and husband. One’s actions easily become futile if their family doesn’t mean much to them. Admiration and Respect can be juiced out of people but it is love that makes them genuinely appreciate others. Endeavor was selfish and so were his far-fetched dreams. He never realized the consequences of his abusive actions due to the egocentric pride.
The Internal Angst:
It’s the most crucial aspect of everything that made Endeavor commit such grave mistakes. His resentful mentality was the pioneer of it all. The constant urge to surpass All Might made him the second-best hero of the nation. For that, he put his family on the verge of angst and jealousy.
But he wasn’t the only one who held a grudge against someone. Through his reckless and unforgivable actions, the angst got into his family too. Enji abused Rei to such an extent where she had a psychotic breakdown and hurt Shoto in the process. This entire event scarred a sense of resentfulness in the mind of Shoto. Touya got a harsh treatment too; after moulding a child to his desires and dreams, Endeavor abandoned him. This led to his supposed death and Natsuo’s swaying away from his father. It seemed like they were just tools for his prosperity and nothing else.
The whole Todoroki family got caught up in the spiral of hate and resentment. Still, Fuyumi somehow kept the family together. But the day came when chaos broke. Dabi, the kid who was molded according to his father’s wishes came back for revenge. And nothing ever was the same again. What goes around, comes around.
The Act of Redemption [As a Hero]:
Redemption is an act of absolving oneself from their sins. Endeavor as a person was very prideful and fierce. Despite his status as a hero, he lacked many heroic ideals and was in pursuit of an envious dream. After discussing the ‘Symbol of Peace’ with All Might, he came to understand his mistakes. And watching his son Shoto making up for the Hero License Exam also softened him a bit. Finally, he came to realize the error of his ways and we all witnessed it in the Pro Hero Arc.
The catalyst for all his actions up till now was a single person – All Might. The number one hero’s sudden fall and subsequent responsibility of filling his shoes made him realize something. It made him grasp the true meaning of a hero. And that’s why to defeat that high-end Nomu, he went to extreme lengths. Now, he wants to live up to the expectations of people and wants his family’s acknowledgment. However, things don’t usually go our way and the same happened with Endeavor.
When he finally came in front of people and acknowledged his crimes against Dabi and his family the citizens were far from forgiving. They all want him to accept the blames of Dabi’s crimes. They expect him to undo the damage that has been done to the populace.
The Act of Redemption [As a Father and Husband]
Although, the act of redemption doesn’t mean he is being forgiven by his family. They all are willing to see him change for the better. He’s making amends at this point but in his case, the bad will always outweigh the good. But the fact that he’s putting his best efforts to improve as a person can be seen. And his family is slowly and steadily acknowledging that. The traumatic memories won’t just miraculously vanish, Shoto has to endure more. As for Rei, Enji has been regularly visiting her and he’s trying to patch up with Natsuo too.
But that doesn’t mean he was forgiven. There’s a reason why his redemption seems kind of unusual. His absolution rests on the idea that he would strive to be a better father, husband, and hero. The notion of such obviousness and normalcy is what makes his vindication grounded and different. He’s finally doing his job as a pro hero.
An Uplifting Scenario:
After coming to terms with his awful mistakes, Endeavor becomes a fragile character. The reason he is trying his best to be a hero people can trust is related to how he wasn’t able to be a good father and husband. In my opinion, it sets a very good parallel between his past and present self. This distinction also helps us to understand what changes occurred in him. Because he doesn’t know how to be a good father, he’s trying to be a great hero. It’s so inspiring, traumatic, and sad at the same time.
Is it beautiful to watch something so broken to try to mend for his flaws and wrongdoings?
Yes, it is. One thing which Horikoshi does right here is to not show the scene in a black and white manner. The story of the Todoroki family is written on a grey patch which makes it more believable. But, if you look at the story from the ‘forgiveness is about whether someone deserves it or not’ point of view, then you are missing the whole point.
Becoming a Hero:
Enji Todoroki doesn’t seek forgiveness. He knows that his atrocious actions can not be forgiven. That’s the reason why he is trying his best to be the man his family and the people around him want to be. Abuse isn’t some character flaw that is resolved by being nice. However, when a person tries to reflect on their past and atone for their sins, it’s an entirely different scenario. So when Shoto screamed ‘Dad I am watching’, it was a brilliant depiction of him acknowledging Endeavor as a hero. And that’s what Endeavor wants as of now.
From there on, Enji Todoroki and Endeavor were never the same. Twenty-five years of agonizing pain, trauma, and abuse can’t be forgiven so easily. But the fact that he is trying his best to redeem himself in his own eyes is something very heroic on its own.