Recently, I decided to catch up a little on My Hero Academia. I had stopped after Season 2, so I had a few seasons to binge. And as expected, I binged the hell out of them. It really is an amazing anime.
But what stuck with me the most after watching the third and fourth seasons was just how much I appreciate one character in particular – Endeavor.
My Hero Academia S4 Spoilers Ahead.
To be fair, the final two episodes of Season 4 feature him, so I’m sure I’m not alone in really taking a liking to him, especially after what happens here, in the final episode of Season 4. But there are several reasons for why I appreciate his character.
At the top, or is he?
Endeavor is a character that seemingly starts at the top. He’s the number two hero, and inherits the number one position after All Might retires. But is he really at the top? It quickly becomes clear that he doesn’t even believe it himself. He’s number one, but he doesn’t feel like it. Endeavor knows that he cannot fill the hole left behind by All Might. Which is why he asks All Might about this.
“I… have resolved more incidents than anyone else.
Even now, I’ve done more than before…
However, I can hear it…
The sound of something unseen that you built up…
Former number one hero…
What is the Symbol of Peace?
I had already climbed to the number two spot by the time I was 20.
Because I’d climbed there, I understood…
that I couldn’t reach the top.
If all I’d wanted was the title, I could’ve acted friendly like you
and ingratiated myself with everyone.
But I wanted to become stronger than anyone.”
“Endeavor, I understand the situation you’ve been placed in
and what’s being said about you.
There are many who compare you to me.
But you and I are different.
You do not have to copy the Symbol of Peace that I was aiming for.
You should look for a way that suits you without rushing.”
– All Might
This is a pretty important scene that sets us up for what is to come. It establishes the uncertainty within Endeavor, that something has begun to change within him. He’s realized that he can’t fill the hole All Might left behind, not yet at least. And so he’s opened his eyes to search for the solution.
I’d like to think he started to find the answer to his questions too, by watching his son and the other students win the hearts of those unruly children. Either that or through some introspection during that time, because after the test, he says this to his son:
“Shoto… I’m proud of you son.
So I’ll become…
…a hero that you can be proud of, too.
Proud that your father is the number one hero…
…the most powerful man.”
At face value it looks like he hasn’t learned anything, because he ends by mentioning power. But if you pay attention to the scene, it really feels like what he’s trying to say is that he’s going to change. He’s going to become someone that Shoto will be proud of, someone who is worthy of the title “Number One Hero”.
And All Might confirms for us in a narrative right afterwards that “one step at a time, they are moving forward”. Endeavor being included in that. The first step towards enacting change in your life is to acknowledge the need to change, and I believe from these moments that he had done just that.
Heroes cannot stop moving forward.
Now back to final episode of the season. Shortly after appearing at a conference featuring the top 10 heroes, and telling the world to watch him, Endeavor is targeted by a particularly powerful and intelligent Nomu. The Nomu manages to use it’s various Quirks and strength to hurt Endeavor. And once Endeavor goes down, the public immediately gives up on him. He’s not All Might, he’s not the Symbol of Peace.
But in the frenzy, a boy points out that Endeavor is still fighting, risking his life for them, his flames still burning. Giving his everything. In Endeavor’s own words:
“I’ll go beyond, and I won’t go down
until I turn its ugly mug to ash!”
We also get a great quote from Hawks, the number two hero, here.
“You know, I was watching, so I know.
There wasn’t a single person
who was seriously trying to surpass him.
You were the only one.
The only one seriously trying to surpass him.”
People have no faith in Endeavor, but the thing is, he never stopped working hard to achieve his goal. He wanted to become stronger than anyone. What’s interesting is how Endeavor’s narrative says just that. He wanted to become stronger than anyone. Is it possible his goals have shifted?
Well, they have, and he admits it himself soon after.
“Bioengineered human… Nomu!
You, who have been created
to have multiple Quirks…
who are obsessed with strength…
…you… are me…
…from the past…
…or from another future…
Burn up… and be put to rest.”
With this, Endeavor has truly reached a turning point. No longer will he obsess over strength. He won’t become like that Nomu, which represents who Endeavor was, and who he would have become, had he continued on the path he had walked. Instead, that part of him, will be put to rest. Endeavor will no longer hurt those close to him in the mindless pursuit of getting stronger. Instead, he will change, to become the Number One Hero, in his own way.
That’s how I interpret this scene, and I don’t really see any other way to interpret it. This moment was Endeavor’s way of telling the world that he will not fail them. He will push himself beyond his limits, to death itself, for their sakes.
I mean, ultimately, I personally interpret the Symbol of Peace as one thing – reliable.
And Endeavor proved that he was capable of that in this moment, even when everyone watching had given up on him for going down once. As Midoriya’s narrative mentions, heroes cannot stop moving forward. In All Might’s absence, it’s up to them, all of the other heroes, to carry on his will.
Ultimately what I love about Endeavor’s story is how he is a character that is seemingly at the top, that still has a long way to grow. He’s a strong man, but he lacks strong character. His selfish obsession with strength blinded him from many of the attributes needed to become truly strong, like All Might was.
The idea of a character who is essentially at the top, still having a long way to go in terms of development and growth, is really exciting to me. I feel like it isn’t so common to see this sort of situation, as usually in shounen anime physical power grows alongside one’s character. But Endeavor is an exception – he already has the power, but he lacks the character.
I really enjoy how the anime emphasizes that everyone has a journey to make, Endeavor included. He may be Number One Hero by default, but he still has a long way to go to actually fill those shoes.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this is one of the best My Hero Academia episodes period, if not the best. Of course I haven’t taken a look at Season 5 yet, because I’ll binge it when it’s done, but I feel like it’ll be tough to overcome a episode like this one. For a side character to be capable of such an exciting and powerful conclusion to the season is truly impressive in itself.
This really was just an excellent moment, and so I wanted to just highlight it here, partly for myself.
I appreciate Endeavor, his character, and his journey.
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.