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Anime

My Hero Academia – Manga Chapter 266 Summary and Speculation

**Very blatant spoilers ahead for the entirety of My Hero Academia up to this point!**

Oh, wow. What an arc.

The entire story of My Hero Academia is very involved, with lots of characters and main stories and side stories and sub-stories — it can be a lot to keep up with. But something that I find mangaka/author Kohei Horikoshi focusing on a lot tends to be the concept of right versus wrong, and all the gray areas in between. It’s part of what I love so much about the story.

Horikoshi has been quoted to say that he has a strong attachment to the Todoroki story, which involves an abusive, power-obsessed father who pressures his youngest son to follow in his footsteps. It’s a story that tends to come up often throughout the main arc (if you can really identify one) – just what the heck is going on with the Todorokis?

We know now that Enji Todoroki and Rei Todoroki had an arranged marriage, their powers of ice and fire being equally powerful and well-matched to try creating a super-quirk which eventually they got with Shouto Todoroki. However, he wasn’t the first try, and there were three others–Toya, Natsu, and Fuyumi–who came before him with less success. Back in chapters past (and particularly 249-250 where things really started to pick up again), we learned that Toya was lost to an incident involving not being able to “handle” his powers, likely being pushed too far. Most of the fandom has assumed that Toya was able to harness an impressive fire that burned extremely hot, but something went wrong on the ice side and he couldn’t strike the balance which Shouto is now mastering. At the end of chapter 249, we saw Enji kneel before a shrine and offering food to his first son, Toya, meaning in the family’s eyes, Toya is dead.

However, most of the fandom has also generally accepted that all signs lead to Toya being the chump change petty crime-doer turned supervillain Dabi, whose blue fire has been constantly referenced as incredibly powerful, but only in spurts. As if the burns and staples marking his entire body weren’t enough, we also caught wind of Dabi’s struggle to fight with all his power in the fight with Redestro, where he was called out on holding back while steam ripped its way from the seams holding him together. But, of course, Horikoshi continues to throw in all these little pellets for us fish to jump over each other for and with nothing certain to satisfy our hunger.

Enter: chapter 266.

The villains are being ambushed, and Hawks is to blame. The double-agent who was undercover with the villains but also undercover with the heroes but not really because he was always going to be aligned with the heroes, Hawks gave Endeavor a book with a secret code hidden inside to lead the ambush. As soon as the fight broke out, we very blatantly see Dabi heading in a different direction than all the others.. and now we know it’s because he was looking for Twice.

Jin Bubaigawara (Twice) was revealed last chapter as a key aspect in the ambush. Had it not been for Jin’s trusting nature and desire to be friendly toward Hawks, who was still being treated cautiously within the League of Villains, Hawks never would have gotten the intel he needed to tip off the heroes. In the last chapter, we saw Hawks saying Jin was just “unlucky”, that he could be in better ties with the heroes should he choose to switch sides. It looks nice on paper, sure.. but anyone who’s read the story this far knows what chapter 266 drilled home.

There was never going to be a place for Twice within the heroes. They would always view him as a criminal, a suspect, neither an ally nor a friend – the same way Hawks was seen within the League. This is where things get fuzzy because Horikoshi spends so much time developing and helping us sympathize with the villains, we know that Twice is happiest with his friends in the League. His powers have come to a peak, he’s more secure in his identity, and most of all, he’s accepted. After all that he has been through, the trauma and insecurity and instability, with the League he was free to go hog wild and nobody would bat an eye.

That never means that what the League is doing is okay… but you start to understand that people do things for a reason. These characters have motivations that are deeply rooted within themselves to get to where they’re going – it’s just that the villains think killing people is a reasonable way to get there.

Dabi comes in to protect Twice from Hawks’ assault, claiming he knew from the start that Hawks would never be one of them. Then later, says Hawks’ real name in front of him.

I was thrown for a loop with that one. I’ll be honest, I haven’t cared much for Hawks since he entered the scene. I felt his entrance lackluster, the double-agent thing incredibly underplayed, and his character in general just didn’t appeal to me. But this.

Hawks being the number-two hero and so closely related to Endeavor.. and Dabi knows his real name. What another loose end is growing here?! How long can Horikoshi keep me dangling on a thread just waiting for him to drop the bomb about Dabi’s backstory?!?

Hopefully, this bone being thrown means that we’re getting closer to unlocking a key element of this story. With Endeavor trying to make amends as the Number One Hero and Shigaraki’s backstory having recently been revealed as well, it concerns me that this seemingly side-player is still so mysterious to us.

And to not-so-seamlessly tie into the end of the chapter.. if that scene gets animated, I am surely going to bawl my eyes out. Twice is one of my favorite villains. Even though he is kind of a Deadpool rip-off, he’s no bootleg version. His backstory had me thoroughly engaged, with the incorporation of his quirk so well thought-out that I never thought he would just get offed like that. Of course, nothing is official-official.. perhaps his dialogue is vague enough that he could live on but be quirk less, but still. Having him weak and lying down in the tower, to send a copy of him down to defend his friends and then turn into goop in Toga’s arms after handing back the handkerchief that was supposed to hold him together??

Photo via VIZ media’s Shonen Jump Translation

HELLO????

On one hand, I think it’s a very fitting ending for him. He can’t “make any more copies”, and he doesn’t really have to wonder any more who’s the “real” Jin. It doesn’t matter, and it never really needed to. Twice was Twice, and they all loved him as he was. It’s this intense devotion to each other that makes me wonder how it’ll all be resolved in the end.. but, of course, that’s going to be a long time from now, by the looks of it.

Feel free to share any theories on what we’re going to encounter next in this story that has swept anime fans by storm. I’m gonna need a lot of thinking food for this one.

And if you happened to read this far and aren’t currently subscribed to VIZ media’s exclusive Shonen Jump membership, you really, really should. Supporting the international manga industry is more important than ever right now, and you get access to all current Shonen Jump titles and chapters for only $1.99 a month! It’s a super steal that won’t break the bank and can keep you entertained during the COVID-19 pandemic. So what are you waiting for?! Sign up now!

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