The following contains minor spoilers for My Hero Academia Season 6, Episode 1, "A Quiet Beginning," now streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation and Hulu.
Favorite characters from Season 6 of My Hero Academia have returned for the long-awaited Paranormal Liberation War. This also applies to the top two professional heroes, Endeavor and Hawks, who play major roles in this extensive expedition. A brief sequence in the Season 6 opener depicts Endeavor assuming Hawks obtained the intelligence for one of the most crucial missions in the series and even expressing concern for his whereabouts and well-being.
Even though their encounters in the MHA anime have been few so far, it is obvious that the young Pro Hero has an impact on the contentious Todoroki patriarch — perhaps even more so than his own children. What aspect of their connection reveals the depth of Enji Todoroki as a parent, mentor, hero, and human being?
Endeavor and Hawks Both Had Rough Pasts - in Different Ways
Endeavor and Hawks form an onscreen team-up after the retirement of the former #1 hero, All Might. As their professional standing elevates, so does the pressure to relieve society of any fears and hopelessness left behind by the absence of their previous symbol of peace. On this front, Hawks, who has won public (and fangirl) support, takes the initiative to get closer to the infamously and ironically-cold Flame Hero to prepare him for his new spotlight.
Enji Todoroki’s introduction as the new #1 Pro Hero comes at a time when he is also re-evaluating his various roles in life. My Hero Academia carefully adapts how the Todoroki family displays a spectrum of processing trauma from parental abuse and neglect. As a patriarch, Endeavor's failure as a father gradually haunts him as his children’s varying resentment starts to affect their own lives -- especially Shoto’s own aspiring career.
As a mentor, Endeavor's initial desire to train Shoto into a hero who can surpass All Might is shattered by Endeavor automatically inheriting that mantle by default. At the same time, Shoto has since broken away from his father’s expectations and only accepts training under Endeavor for himself, slowly accepting him as a hero while waiting to see how he steps up as a father.
Likewise, Enji realizes he must gain the respect of the public in order to quell unrest, all while following in the footsteps of a universally-loved figure whose personality opposes every aspect of Endeavor’s. In order to become an effective hero who is feared by a looming and fast-approaching threat, he must gain the favor of his family, his fellow heroes and the people of Japan. The pressure of satisfying others' needs and his own desires for reform is a huge demand and shift for Endeavor to undergo all at once. This is when Hawks’ involvement in his life becomes not only lucky, but necessary for his character development.
Like many of MHA's main characters, Hawks, aka Keigo Takami, is no exception to having a traumatic past. Born with a unique and powerful Quirk, Hawks was alienated, abused and trained harshly from a young age, bearing a striking similarity to the youngest Todoroki’s upbringing. He lost his childhood and most of his young adult years to his father and the Hero Public Safety Commission.
In times of fear and uncertainty, many children such as Midoriya, Bakugo and even Shoto looked up to All Might to be their drive and motivation. As a child and young adult, Hawks idolized Endeavor for his resilience despite being overshadowed by All Might all those years. When Hawks is put in a new league of expectations alongside Endeavor, he takes the opportunity to extend his insight -- an antithesis to All Might and Deku’s relationship. Although it starts as mostly one-sided interactions, Endeavor and Hawks eventually grow into a mutual understanding and trust.
Endeavor and the Youth in My Hero Academia
The key to Hawks and Endeavor's relationship is their power dynamic. Hawks is the youngest and fastest Pro Hero to rise up the ranks and have his own agency, not to mention he ranks higher in popularity than Endeavor. In this light, Endeavor is forced to quell his ego and stubbornness to accept the aid of a younger, arrogant and more popular hero.
Working on himself as a father and public figure, Hawks serves as practice for Endeavor to shift toward the mass demographics. Through Hawks’ sheer optimism and charisma, Endeavor realizes that in his unique position, Hawks is one of the few people also burdened by the pressures of the public spotlight and private responsibility.
From resentful kids to evil villains to online haters all riding against Endeavor, Hawks is one of the few characters in My Hero Academia who immediately accepts him and his flaws in this new era because of his earnest desire to prevail and make things right. Even when Endeavor’s abusive past is revealed in the "Paranormal Liberation War" arc, Hawks recognizes the reformation lacked by his own abusive father and continues to support his hero idol.
Hawks represents not only an opportunity for change and acceptance but an optimistic push to do better, a reminder that people are not always defined by their past but how they actively move forward. This is, at least, one reaction to the complex character who is Enji ‘Endeavor’ Todoroki. Just like the rest of the Todoroki children, Hawks displays one way to interact with characters and people who embody a gray area in morality.
This is also not to discredit any of the younger sidekicks and interns under Endeavor; Hawks just gets the additional privilege of standing next him on stage. Endeavor’s character development is an entire discussion on its own but looking beyond the gen-z/millennial banter of his relationship with Hawks, there is an emotional depth that goes far beyond My Hero Academia’s usual play at the power of friendship.