My Hero Academia: Endeavor Clarifies He’s Not on a Redemption Arc

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for My Hero Academia Season 5, Episode 18 "The Unforgiven," now streaming on Funimation, Crunchyroll and Hulu.

From his initial introduction during the Sports Festival arc in the series' second season, Endeavor, or Enji Todoroki, has established himself as a very intimidating figure in My Hero Academia. This image was only enhanced when we learned of the past abuse he inflicted on his family, especially concerning his wife, Rei, and youngest child, Shoto. More recent episodes of the anime have additionally explored the lasting effects this has had on his other children, Fuyumi and Natsuo, along with mentions of his eldest son, Toya, who has only appeared briefly through flashbacks.

But over the course of My Hero Academia, a series of events has slowly given Endeavor a change of heart, subsequently placing him on what seems like a redemption arc -- a trope commonly found in shonen. He strives to change his character with the goal of becoming a notable Number One hero and a better father. However, Season 5, Episode 18 clarifies that Endeavor is not on a redemption arc, or more specifically, that he is not looking for forgiveness. Rather, Endeavor seeks atonement.

Endeavor's attempts to make up for the past have been ongoing for a while now, and he's received varying responses. Natsuo despises his father and refuses to let go of those negative feelings. He blames Endeavor completely for what happened to their family and can't conceive that his father's actions are enough to make up for that deep trauma. Fuyumi, meanwhile, admits that she sometimes shares Natsuo's feelings, but her yearning for a proper family encourages her to forge ahead, believing in a better future for them all. Shoto feels indifferent, but in the previous episode of My Hero Academia, Izuku pointed out that Shoto is too kind to hold on to such a strong hatred and that he might be getting ready to forgive his father.

The latest episode concludes the Todoroki family dinner, but not before Natsuo, who stormed out earlier, is captured by a villain looking to be killed by Endeavor. But the fact that it's Natsuo who is in danger causes Endeavor to freeze, leaving Shoto, Katsuki and Izuku to deal with the situation, while Endeavor grapples with the thought of losing Natsuo. Once he is saved, Endeavor pulls him -- and Katsuki -- in for an embrace as the Flame Hero finally realizes what he can do for his family.

Endeavor has been changing his actions to better his relationship with his family in various but small ways. He sends Rei flowers, tries to be someone Shoto can look up to (maybe not as a father figure but as a mentor), and gives into Fuyumi's longing for family by accepting her dinner invitation. When he speaks to Natsuo following his rescue, he does so honestly and fully, admitting that he doesn't want anyone to forgive him for the damage he's caused, he merely wants to atone for his wrongdoings.

Forgiveness does not make up for a person's past actions -- it is a conscious decision to let go of feelings of hatred and resentment. Atonement, on the other hand, is the idea of correcting or making up for the consequences caused by past actions.

By choosing to atone rather than be redeemed, Endeavor's personal growth is solidified in My Hero Academia as he recognizes the true magnitude of the pain he's inflicted. A part of this decision includes separating himself from his family. Endeavor plans on building another house where Rei, Shoto, Natsuo and Fuyumi can live happily, while Endeavor sentences himself to self-exile by staying in their old house. Building a new house takes his family out of the core setting of the past abuse, which likely stands as a constant reminder of bad memories. The idea stems from a recurring dream in which his family are all eating happily at the dinner table... without him.

It's the most selfless and emotionally mature decision Endeavor has made to date, proof not only of his growth but to his commitment to being a better father. It's also important that Endeavor puts some distance between him and his family to allow them to grow independently from him and to draw their own conclusions without his interference. Instead of doing one or two good acts to repair what's been broken quickly and shallowly, these long-term actions are a nuanced way to develop his and their relationship.

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