For an anime that only came out two years ago, My Hero Academia has been landing on a lot of fans’ Top 10 lists. Probably because it’s essentially Naruto with Western-style superheroes instead of ninjas and it’s nice to have a continuation of that story that isn’t Boruto. It’s also pure wish-fulfillment: in a world where 80% of people are born with special powers called Quirks, the entire planet has basically become a DC and Marvel-themed wonderland of outlandishly-dressed crime-fighters. And all you have to do to become one is just be born. That’s so easy, even a child could do it!
As a bonus, the chief of police in the MHA-verse, Kenji Tsuragamae, is a guy whose power is being the best boy ever. By which I mean he has the head of a dog. He’s literally McGruff the Crime Dog and he runs the entire Police Force because God exists and loves humanity but only in My Hero Academia. Also, another police officer, Tamakawa, is an actual anthropomorphic cat that wears a collar with a bell on it. If I was living in that world, I’d just start committing crimes in alphabetical order for the off chance of being arrested and questioned by a giant kitty and puppy team. (Hopefully they’d catch me before I got to the M's.) Honestly, who wouldn’t want to live in a universe like that?
Well, you might, for one. Because when you get down to it, the world of My Hero Academia is just a little bit… fascist-y.
In episode 6, there is a super short scene where Deku, who was born Quirkless but later gained superpowers, learns that it’s possible to update his Quirk Registration so that the government knows what his new abilities are. He doesn’t see anything wrong with it; to him, it’s obvious that his powers should be on file somewhere. That’s how much the population of the MHA-verse has been brainwashed. They are willingly giving away some of the most precious liberties a person can have: the right to privacy.
It’s different than in, for example, One Punch Man where hero registration was voluntary. In this world, all children undergo not one but two examinations to determine their exact powers: one when they enter elementary school, and another when they enter middle school. So, right about when they are too young to realize how invasive and messed up all of this is. The extent of their abilities is then recorded and can be accessed by the government at any time and, I’m sorry, but that is basically word for word what the Mutant Registration movement from the X-Men has been fighting for all this time. It’s almost like if Magneto got his wish to create a world where mutants don’t have to live in fear but then decided “well, those guys who said we needed to be controlled kind of had a point.”
It’s true that some people in My Hero Academia do have dangerous powers, like the ability to control fire, so you might want to keep tabs on them. But we don’t force everyone with a canister of gas and a box of matches to register with the police because laws like that would make Orwell spin in his grave so hard, he’d be able to power all the Government Reeducation Centers we’d have all of a sudden. But there are also people whose powers really should be their business--Deku’s mother, for example, has the power of extremely-limited telekinesis. She can sort of move small objects over tiny distances, and the government knows all about it. Same as they do about the guy who can remove his eyes or the kid with a clothespin for a head. What if you had to send a piece of paper to the government that included your picture and a note stating that your power is having, say, areolas the size of Frisbees that glow when you’re sad?
This is a world where a “superpower” can mean having weird shuriken-shaped growths on your head, like the old guy from episode 1, so Mood Mega-Nipples are definitely within the realm of possibility.
You might be thinking that there’s nothing wrong with it, as 80% of the planet is born with Quirks, so the government probably doesn’t need the list for any nefarious purpose. But they still need to know everything about you. But they won’t use it for anything evil. But you need to comply, citizen. Do not resist.
The other thing is that the MHA-verse has only been at peace for a very short time. There probably still are people out there who remember the birth of the very first Quirk, and what followed wasn’t pretty. There was violence and protests against this new breed of humans, and nothing says that it can never go back to how things were because, even now, no one knows where Quirks came from. It almost feels like this is why the government needs to know the extent of everyone’s power, in case there’s another global (r)evolution. Would they use that information to save lives and do some good? Maybe. But then again… *gestures wildly at EVERYTHING, everywhere, every-when*
This is also why it’s problematic that you need a government license to use your powers in public. Technically, doing it by accident or in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone should be OK, but Koichi (aka The Crawler) in the My Hero Academia: Vigilantes spin-off still got a warning from the police for sliding and gliding in public. He wasn’t arrested, but what if the cops who stopped him were having a bad day and wanted to jam someone up? They easily could have taken him in. The safety and liberty of the people should not be dependent on law enforcement’s mood.
Of course, here, there is no tyrannical government forcing their will on the people. Rather, everyone is conditioned, from early childhood, into thinking there is nothing wrong with any of this, which technically makes My Hero Academia less 1984 and more Brave New World. But that isn’t really better, is it? Let us know what YOU think about the world of MHA in the comments!