Deku vs Todoroki, to this day, remains one of the most iconic fights in My Hero Academia. Everyone was keen to watch the already fan favourite Todoroki Shoto against Midoriya Izuku! From its intense pacing to the surprising climax, this sequence kept us on the edge of our seats. While there could be endless discussions on quirk powers and all that, most seem to forget the impact of this fight.
This fight is so much more than two young heroes going at each other. This fight is a testament to My Hero Academia’s emotional complexity. So ignoring the iciness or Deku’s One for All, let’s unravel this fight and understand just how important it is.
(But before that, extra points for Endeavour for the way he screamed Shoto. He mirrors all Todoroki fans whenever he does something.)
Overcoming Parental Trauma
Todoroki Shoto stands out for a few reasons. Not only being the then No. 2 Hero Endeavour’s son, but also for having two toned hair and a nasty scar on his left eye. After his mother who finally had the last straw, she doused Shoto with boiling water. Blaming his father for the state of his mother, who had to go into rehabilation, he swears to never use his left side again.
(He even attempts to cover it in his first costume with a layer of ice. We will here on ignore that it exists).
Consequently, Todoroki discards his fiery quirk. While from one point of view some may think “aw, come on! That’s wasting an insane quirk!”, it makes perfect sense. When hurt by a parent, a child would not want to share anything in common with them. Todoroki’s left side is his father’s giving; and he’s seen just how unfortunate he was to have it. There is loathing in half his body for the other, hence he trains to rely on his right side. This is where Deku’s encouragement comes in.
“It is your power.”
While it is true that yes, its Shoto’s because of Endeavour; it now resides in the body of a resilient young boy. The fire that emits out of Shoto’s is purely his- its on him how he cultivates it. This epiphany is crucial to the story and a big lesson from Deku vs Todoroki.
As All Might says in a flashback on TV, ” Quirks are passed down from parent to child, but what’s really important is not that connection, but your own flesh and blood.” The whole sequence is a tumultuous experience of Shoto going back and forth. These words hold a lot of meaning to a boy like Shoto who’s childhood was far from normal.
Shoto lets go of his inhibitions
This is how we see Shoto use his left side for the first time.
Shoto’s aspiration of being the Number One hero was implanted into his head at a young age. Despite him wanting to succeed is to prove his father wrong now, the cementer was Endeavour himself. Moreover, Shoto’s fear of his left side was psychological, scared that he would one day become his father. After Deku’s words, he understands how important it was for him to face his trauma one more time to finally settle it.
He realises that he was the only one who saw his father in himself. Despite his mother’s outburst, she told him to never be imprisoned by his own blood. As mentioned above, All Might says the same on TV while a young Shoto watches. Acknowledging that he forgot about this, he comes to term with his monsters.
It is he, who needs to stop comparing himself. While there was no certainty that Endeavour would stop, Shoto could attempt to take the words of his mother and All Might and find solace in them. You can see the anguish written in Shoto’s face when Deku tells him that it is not Enji Todoroki’s quirk, but Shoto Todoroki’s.
It is key to understand Shoto’s behaviour. Now rewatching the fight, its hard to imagine current Todoroki and the one in season 2 are the same people. I feel coming to terms with his powers helped him ease into his surroundings better. He slowly shed his mental barrier that would have forced him to believe it was only his scars and issues that define him. We see a more mellowed and open Todoroki here on.
The importance of lifting a future hero up
Occasionally, we forget that these students will be colleagues in the future. The excessive stress on ranking and outperforming each other on the front lines for the maximum rewards is rampant in the hero society. With so many situations where the students go against each other, it seems as if they are each other’s biggest opponents.
Competing with each other should be for the sake of moving forward together. All of them enter with the same aim of becoming a hero but with the insane amount of fights they’re made to believe that rather than the villains, their first hurdle are the friends they make.
Importantly so, these combats in schools are to give students an opportunity to prove themselves for future career prospects. However, there is so much more than that. Going against a friend on the field is to discover your own powers. From decision making to strategising, to going all Plus Ultra, all this can only be taught when you’re actively using your quirk in combats.
Deku vs Todoroki reminds us why students are pitted against each other in the first place.
This is why Deku has my respect. If he wanted, he could’ve finished the now slow Shoto off. Yet, he chose to encourage him even if it resulted in his own defeat. He chides the latter, asking why is he only giving his half when the others are giving their all. While that spurs Shoto on, this is one of Deku’s best moments that show just how good of a character he is.
The crown of “Number One Hero” has crushed many, our protagonists included, who want to reach that goal. However, it is slowly when they realise that they can only achieve it by getting stronger, and by not crippling their own comrades. For the hero society to function (properly), they need a Shoto who can give his all. They need a Deku who would not hesitate. While it came at the cost of his own defeat, Deku allowed a changed Shoto to take the wheel. A Shoto, who would use both his quirks in times of aid and become instrumental to his class’ dynamic.
Deku deserves more credit
I cannot stress enough the importance of what Deku did. He has shown what it truly means to be an actual UA student and an aspiring hero. School can quickly become a toxic place where objective achievements can poison the ties between classmates. Deku puts himself behind and focuses on aiding Shoto to become a better version of himself. Not just for his sake, but for the sake of Japan.
Laugh all you want at Deku, but instances like these only show just how much he bodies the morals that the hero society was lacking. Sure, one could argue that it is imperative to “trample” over your others to prove your worth, but that is where the hero society derailed horribly and gave birth to resentment, both internal and external. This view of becoming a hero, having rankings, having luxury has harmed the society, and it shows with what Hero Killer Stain’s ideology later on.
Deku left Shoto with a lesson that would change him, and for Deku that was all that mattered at that moment. Similarly, he also deserves praise for calling out Shoto for his half-effort. If there is anything we have seen from Deku, it is that he will give his all in any situation. It frustrated him to see how the others injured and exhausted themselves physically and mentally for Shoto to not do the same. Despite losing Deku is the one who taught Shoto a lesson- both objectively and subjectively!
On the other hand, his approach was beautiful. He knows Shoto’s decision is sensitive, but he also wants him to understand that as a hero he has no room to not give it his all. Deku’s honours the actions of his batchmates and he expects Shoto to comply.
It is easy to take My Hero Academia at its face value and not understand its layers. However, time and time again the show proves to you just how well written it is. From Bakugo and Ochaco’s fight to Deku vs Todoroki, each fight only adds to the merit of this series.
Characters with family issues are nothing new in anime, Todoroki is one of the hundreds we have seen grace both mangas and anime. On the outside while this fight may seem to show just how powerful Todoroki is and how Deku loses and breaks his bones, it is so much more than that. After all, there is a reason this episode was called “Todoroki Shoto: Origin.”
We not only understand Shoto better under the span of nineteen minutes, but we see him struggle, cope, and then grow. This can only further prove how important it is to have someone like Deku who has it in him to see his classmates succeed. Now each other’s precious friends, the growth of their dynamic is wonderful!