My Hero Academia Sheds Light on Dabi’s Shadowy Backstory

WARNING: The following contains spoilers up to My Hero Academia #291, by Kohei Horikoshi, Caleb Cook and John Hunt, available now in English from Viz Media.

My Hero Academia's action-packed War Arc has at long last reached its climax. Over the past several chapters, Tomura Shigaraki displayed the horrifying power of his unstoppable Decay waves, Gigantomachia went on a rampage that devastated dozens of cities and, for a final dramatic blow to the heroes, Dabi publicly broadcasted his true identity as Toya Todoroki, shaking Japan's faith in the heroes meant to defend them. Even if the heroes can turn the tides of battle at the last moment, it'll still not be enough to make up for the losses they've already suffered.

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Now, in My Hero Academia Chapter 291, further light is shed upon Dabi's shadowy origins. The circumstances behind the mystery of Toya Todoroki's death have finally been revealed – as well as the sheer emotional trauma for the Todoroki family of both his "death" and rebirth as a serial killing villain.

The chapter is told through Endeavor's point-of-view, flashing back to his memories of Toya's childhood. Interwoven with his flashbacks is Dabi's prerecorded speech to the public, broadcast on a hacked news network. All of Japan is watching aside from the heroes in the midst of battle. Dabi's account of events varies from Endeavor's – according to Endeavor, Rei gave birth to Toya's siblings because she wanted her children to be able to encourage each other, while Dabi claims that Endeavor forced her to have more children in order create someone with the perfect Quirk to surpass All Might.

Many fans will be familiar with the basics of the Todoroki family story, which don't change regardless of whether Dabi or Endeavor is the one telling it. Endeavor was obsessed with surpassing All Might as a hero but soon realized that the chasm between him and All Might was too vast for him to surpass himself. Thus, he decided to create a child who could prove greater than All Might and married Rei, whose ice Quirk perfectly neutralized the drawbacks of his own Hellflame Quirk. His first child, Toya, lacked ice powers but possessed a fire Quirk with greater potential than Endeavor's own. Thanks to this, Endeavor placed all his hopes upon Toya, believing he could be the one to surpass All Might ... until Shoto was born.

Dabi recounts how he hated Shoto for having a superior Quirk. He even reveals how he contemplated killing his toddler brother for the insult, seeming to have no empathy for the brother who endured grueling training sessions similar to his own. The catalyst that led up to the day of Toya's seeming demise is still unknown, but that day occurred sometime after Shoto was born.

On that day, Toya was training on Sekoto Peak, where everyone believed he burned to death. His body was never found because of a fire that burned at over 2,000 degrees Celsius, and the authorities were only able to recover a fragment of his lower jawbone. The Todoroki family was convinced this death was due to a training accident, and perhaps it truly was an accident... but it's also possible Toya could have faked his own death.

Upon coming face to face with Dabi, Endeavor stares upon his missing son, shell-shocked. He's unable to fight or think rationally in the situation. All he can keep thinking of is all the years he searched for Toya, not willing to accept his son was indeed dead until he finally gave up. Now his son has returned from the dead like he so desperately dreamed but in the worst way possible.

With all of Japan now knowing a twisted retelling of the Todoroki's already dark family history, things are likely to get worse still for Endeavor, Shoto and the rest of the Todorokis in the weeks to come. Dabi's vengeance will come at a steep cost.

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