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My Hero Academia Season 6
Episode 130

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 130 of
My Hero Academia (TV 6) ?
Community score: 4.3

© Kōhei Horikoshi/Shueisha・My Hero Academia Production Committee

Talking about Endeavor in these reviews is difficult, for a number of reasons. Not only does everything involving the Todoroki family deal with extremely sensitive topics, it's taken years to get a (more or less) full understanding of just what happened. We didn't even know about Toya's “death” until last season! The broad strokes we learned from Shoto in season two have always been clear, but the devil is always in the details. Now, at long last, things are (mostly) out in the open, and seeing this tale of familial misery is as harrowing as you can imagine.

It's one thing to be told that the Todoroki family was slowly torn apart by Endeavor's eugenics-adjacent crusade. It's another entirely to watch that happen, from him essentially buying Rei's hand in marriage to the hellacious death of Toya, capturing all the ways each family member fractured or shattered in the times in between. What makes it all the more difficult to watch is how grounded the drama is. Sure, there's always the fantastical packaging of superheroes at the fringes of the story, but you could strip away the meta-human aspect from so much of this episode and it would still feel powerfully unsettling. Scenes like Endeavor painted in shadow as he bellowed at his wife for failing to make up for his own failures, while the kids cower in the corner and cover their ears, hit like a sledgehammer.

Rei's also a difficult character to talk about, though for far different reasons than Endeavor. She's undeniably hurt her children – either directly with Shoto, or indirectly by reluctantly facilitating Endeavor's quest to breed a successor. The thing is, she knows that better than anyone. The guilt over her own complicity, for bringing kids into a family where they'd be subjected to all this, left her paralyzed when it came time to stop her eldest son's doomed quest for his father's approval. When Toya said she helped light the flame that eventually consumed him, she knew he was right, and that kept her from reaching out when it mattered most. That's not to imply she's just as responsible as Endeavor for any of this, but to recognize the thoughtful and human way Rei has been written. She's as much a victim of the Todoroki household as any of her children, but she's also capable of recognizing the choices she made that contributed to all this pain and trauma they're now wading through – and is resolute in taking responsibility for it.

On the topic of responsibility, there's a somewhat baffling debate in the MHA fandom about whether or not this story partially absolves Endeavor for what happened with Toya. After all, that literal child made the decision to keep destroying himself all on his own, yeah? It's a bizarre reading to me, because I don't know how the story could be more obvious about its own point here. It's right there in the title: “The Wrong Way to Put Out a Fire”. Toya was raised on the idea that the only reason he was born was to surpass All Might in his father's stead, then had that purpose yanked away when his father decided to roll for a kid with better stats. Lip service about just forgetting all that, telling Toya to accept a life without any hope of earning his father's love, was never going to suffice. If Endeavor truly wanted to help his son, he'd have needed to stop all of this insanity, and learn to see his kids as people rather than extensions of his own legacy.

But he didn't. Instead, he doubled down on treating his kids as a series of failed experiments until he finally got Shoto. Actions speak louder than words, and his actions told everyone that soothing his inflamed inferiority was more important than anything else. He might have realized his faults years later, but the damage has long been done and no amount of atonement was ever going to stop the consequences from stabbing him where it hurts. Now they have, and neither the other characters nor the story are going to allow him to escape into despair. Endeavor wanted to be the top hero, wanted a son who would surpass him, and he's gotten both in spades – he doesn't get to curl up in a ball of self-pity now that the burden of those goals is too much to bear.

OK, maybe that's a little harsh of me. The show certainly isn't cutting Endeavor any slack for what he's done, but in MHA's infinite shonen optimism, it chooses not to browbeat him over it and instead focus on the Shoto's heroism in this moment. Shoto has as much right as Dabi to despise their father, in the same way I don't think anyone would have blamed him for never seeing his mother again. Yet here he is, burned by yet another family member but still reaching out a hand to somebody in need. In an episode brimming with heavy, uncomfortable moments, it's the single bright spot that reminds us there's a way out of this pit, and that nobody knows that better than Shoto himself. Not all that long ago, somebody offered him a hand in climbing out, and he wants to keep doing the same for others. Because for him it's not about whether someone deserves help, but that they need it at all.

It's a lot to take in, but in the best kind of way. The high-stakes action of last arc was a blast, but right here and now is where MHA is at its most unique and compelling. It can be difficult to watch at times, but only because of how real and intense these characters' pain comes across. With this chapter of the Todoroki family resolved for now, the darkest moments would seem to be behind us, but I get the feeling we're not out of the woods yet.


My Hero Academia is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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