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Character Comparison: Zuko and Shoto Todoroki

Sobriquet writes articles about fictional characters in order to restore his honor.

Studio Bones’s Shoto Todoroki (left) vs Paramount Global’s Prince Zuko

Studio Bones’s Shoto Todoroki (left) vs Paramount Global’s Prince Zuko

In 2005, Avatar: The Last Airbender aired, introducing us to our favorite fire wielder with daddy issues, Zuko. In 2014, My Hero Academia first appeared in Weekly Shōnen Jump, introducing us to our new favorite fire wielder with daddy issues, Shoto Todoroki.

Zuko is the banished prince of the Fire Nation. He angered his hot-tempered dad, Fire Lord Ozai, and now must restore his honor by capturing the Avatar. Todoroki is the son of the abusive star hero Endeavor. He wishes to become a real hero unlike his father but also struggles with being too much like his father.

The author of MHA, Kohei Horikoshi, has stated that, despite similarities, Todoroki was not inspired by Zuko. Some argue against this statement. Horikoshi is a known fan of western media, and many feel he it is likely he watched Avatar and at least subconsciously formed Todoroki based on the fire prince.

In this article, I will dive in to the likelihood of these theories, and also if that makes either of these characters any worse. (Be warned, there are some minor MHA manga spoilers about the Todoroki family.)

Similarities: Zuko vs. Todoroki

Let’s start with appearance. Both are (most likely) Asian, relatively tall, and share basically the same shaggy hairstyle. (Let’s just forget about Zuko’s ponytail. I think that’s for the best.)

Most notably, each has a burn around his left eye. Todoroki’s scar comes from his mother, driven to violence by her husband. For him, it serves as a constant reminder of the kind of hero he must never be like, someone who is a hero for the wrong reasons, someone like Endeavor, who destroyed his family and his son’s face.

Zuko’s scar comes from his father, a punishment for Zuko’s “insolence”. It reminds Zuko of weakness, at first his own weakness, but later the weaknesses of the Fire Nation as a whole. Both boys got scars thanks to their dads’ hatred. Both boys use those scars as reminders of what they cannot become.

Todoroki eating noodles

Todoroki eating noodles

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Both characters have a similar dynamic in relation to the other characters of the story. Despite being decent people, they are introduced as antagonists, mostly due to the environment they were raised in giving them a bad attitude towards life. Both Zuzu and Icy Hot are redeemed thanks to the kindness of good mentors (Iroh/All Might) and friends (Gaang/Class A). Finally, you can’t talk about similarities without talking about family. Each has an abusive father who costs him a mother and creates a villainous sibling. Ozai ran Ursa out of town and also raised hellish Azula. Endeavor drove Rei to a mental hospital and accidentally created the monster known as Dabi. The similarities certainly are striking.

Zuko (left) and Iroh

Zuko (left) and Iroh

Differences: Zuko vs. Todoroki

Despite being quite similar on the surface, Zuko and Shoto develop very differently as the story progresses. At the beginning of their stories, Zuko aims to please his hateful father, while, on the contrary, Todoroki is trying to reject his harsh daddy and destroy his legacy.

Zuko develops to want to destroy his dad while Todoroki goes on to want to save his. By the end of the story, Zuko is determined to dismantle his destructive family while Todoroki wants to transform his destructive family into heroes. The story of Zuko is a story of the light side of villainy; it’s the story of a good boy made out to be a villain.

The story of Shoto Todoroki is a tale of the dark side of heroism; it’s the story of how the quest to be a beloved hero can corrupt a man and ruin the lives of the people around him.

Endeavor embraces his son

Endeavor embraces his son

Zuko has a girlfriend while Todoroki does not. Todoroki has supportive siblings while Zuko does not. Zuko is a trained swordsman. Todoroki has ice powers. They live in different eras of technology. Though there is comparisons that can be drawn, these two are very different characters.

Zuko draws his sword

Zuko draws his sword

Some say that Todoroki is a rip-off Zuko. Others say Zuko is a boring Todoroki. These people clearly don’t appreciate the thought put into both of these fan-favorite characters and their role in their stories. Sure, there are many similarities, but almost any character in literature can be traced back to another character. At least that’s what my English teacher said.

Zuko and Shoto Todoroki are unique, complex, and badass. Both of these fictional characters are worthy of our respect.

Todoroki’s Zuko Cosplay

Todoroki’s Zuko Cosplay

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