MHA Chapter 351 Reminds Readers That Villains Choose to Be Villains

The following contains spoilers for My Hero Academia Chapter 351 "Two Flashfires" by Kohei Horikoshi, Caleb Cook and John Hunt, available now in English from Viz Media.

The last few chapters of the My Hero Academia manga have gripped fans with attention to the fight between Dabi and Todoroki Shoto. While not as dominating as the 2020 reveal that Dabi is the lost Todoroki sibling, the newly revealed pieces of his backstory give fans a new perspective on the villain. The exact moment that Todoroki Touya became Dabi -- as well as his connection to All for One -- truly made his story wrought with tragedy.

Now that Dabi has had a few chapters to say his piece, it's Shoto's turn. He's not as long-winded and dramatic as his older brother, but what little he does say speaks volumes for both of them. He reminds Dabi and the audience that, while he can understand where he's coming from, Dabi still became a villain because of his own choices.

Dabi's path to villainy is more complicated than MHA fans originally thought it was, especially after Chapter 350. As a child, Touya wanted to be a hero like his father. Even when he was found by All for One, healed by Ujiko and told that the people around him could be his new family, he wanted to go home. Touya was a child with a good heart, but he was unhealthily obsessed with getting his father Endeavor's approval.

Seeing this child who only wanted his father's love become a villain is heartbreaking, especially for those who see pieces of their own family situations in the Todorokis. Even if they don't like Dabi, MHA fans can understand why he's as twisted as he is. But most abused children don't grow up to become criminals wanted for kidnapping, arson and murder. There's no better example of that than Shoto, who came from the exact same situation but is going down a different path.

Dabi and Shoto are two sides of a single coin. On one side, Shoto entered My Hero Academia as a natural talent who limited himself to spite Endeavor. He continued to do this until Deku made him realize his Quirk is his own. Ever since this moment, Shoto has worked to make that statement true and, in the process, work through the trauma his upbringing had caused. He used to think of his fire as a mark of his father but, as he's used it in battle and leisure, there are fewer negative memories related to it. Now in Chapter 351, he has taken Endeavor's most powerful moves and made them work for him.

On the other side, Dabi remains stuck in the past. He's still the angry child praying at his own grave, desperate for attention. He could have done so many things after leaving the facility he spent his coma in. Touya could have seen Shoto being abused and made his presence known, or vanished into the wind and spent what little time he had relishing in freedom. Dabi never had to be born, but Touya chose to become him. He chose to burn down buildings, kill 30 people, and to be a villain.

Without question, Endeavor's treatment of the boy contributed to Dabi's villainous path. However, there comes a point in every person's life where it's up to them to notice their own trauma and choose to do something about it. Either they find ways to cope and work through it like Shoto, or they become consumed by it like Dabi.

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