Anime is a worldwide medium. Rising far beyond it’s miso-soaked roots in Japan, anime and otaku culture have attracted thousands of fans internationally. Old and young, rich and poor, of all genders and body shapes. Diversity doesn’t even begin to describe the community, and with that comes a variety of different tastes and opinions towards the medium. Yet despite all of this, one fact holds true: shounen anime have some dope action sequences.
It’s no secret that anime is home to some of the most action-heavy shows out there. What with epics like Naruto and One Piece out there achieving fame comparable to that of Spider-Man and Batman, it’s no wonder that most people associate anime with fighting. A battle to be won, a home to be saved, a people to reunite: all of these motivations inspire us. We love these fights and these characters because of what they represent: their struggle gives us hope for our struggles.
Shounen is a genre especially known for this. Wearing its’ target audience of pre-teen boys on its’ sleeve, shounen anime tend to feature large-scale conflicts, interpersonal drama, and a large amount of intricately animated fight sequences. The initial clash of Amuro and Char Anable, the first time Goku used the Spirit Bomb, the futile-yet-motivating speech of Mumen Rider: each of these moments serves a purpose: to showcase the inner struggle as displayed by the outer struggle.
This is a theme heavily explored in the third act of My Hero Academia S2. By the final battle between Midoriya and Todoroki, we’ve seen Midoriya grow from a scared do-gooder into a true hero. While he still has a lot to work on, he’s not afraid to give it his all in order to live up to the expectations placed on him. His love for his mentor, All Might, and the inspiration of all of his friends working hard drives him to succeed, despite the struggle. In contrast, Todoroki is a character motivated only by a desire to prove himself to an abusive father. Endeavor raised him to be an antithesis to All Might, at the price of Todoroki’s mother and home life. He refuses to accept his inherited power, choosing only to rely on his icy right side. Still strong, yet holding onto the very ideas he hopes to reject. A faulty foundation for a worldview, and Midoriya knows this.
Where others would take advantage of Todoroki’s weakness, Midoriya questions it. Where others might write Todoroki off as a lost cause, Midoriya steps in to help, even risking his own future. In his eyes, Todoroki’s refusal to use all of his power is less of a personal choice, but a self-imposed limit. By denying himself all of his abilities, Todoroki refused to accept all of himself for who he was. Not the puppet of a domineering father, but an individual with hopes, dreams, and goals. In an arena where everyone was giving their 110% to win, to give any less would be dishonorable, both to those who worked and to himself.
So Midoriya screams.
Forced into a crossroads, Todoroki has to choose. Will he continue in his anger, holding himself back? Or will he accept himself, and be freed? It’s this type of choice that Christ Himself asks those who would call themselves His followers. We all sin, we all have fallen short of the glory of God. No one is pefect, and no one can be perfet. Yet our imperfection doesn’t need to define us any more than Endeavor’s abuse needs to define Todoroki. Once we accept that we’re weak, we open the door for Him to lift us up. Laying down the burdens of the past, finding that “rest for [our] souls” (Matt 11:29), He gives us new strength and courage. His strength becomes our strength, and our potential is unlocked. And like Todoroki, we can stand and say: