My Hero Academia is highly compelling not just because of its superhero-inspired action scenes or its “high school life” elements but also due to its pointed commentary on the nature of society, discrimination and what it really means to be free. Society is based on the minimal use of Quirks and the power and influence of pro heroes, but there will always be those who resist.
In MHA’s, Japanese society is split on how Quirks should or shouldn’t be used and what they even represent. Some people, like Flect Turn, see Quirks as a curse while others, like Destro and his son Re-Destro, view Quirks as the ultimate expression of humanity’s desire to be totally free. Zaheer from The Legend of Korra had similar sentiments.
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When Power & Freedom Return Humanity to Its Natural State
Re-Destro explaining quirks in MHA.
Re-Destro once led the Meta Liberation Army, and now he helps lead the Paranormal Liberation Front alongside the mega-villain Tomura Shigaraki. Both organizations had “liberation” in their name because they aren’t just committing crimes to get rich or have fun — they aim to free humanity from the shackles it created for itself. In Re-Destro’s eyes — and he’s not alone — humanity is suppressing its true nature and its potential with strict societal laws regarding Quirks. Re-Destro and his followers view Quirks as incredible gifts to be used, and those Quirks are the next step in human evolution.
However, according to him, that progress is stifled when society suppresses the use of Quirks aside from pro heroes, and society’s norms and perceptions even demonize people who have the “wrong” Quirks, such as heteromorphs like Spinner. In Re-Destro’s eyes, the solution is to destroy that society and let Quirks, as an expression of humanity’s true nature, be free. Re-Destro even commented that chaos is the state in which humanity can thrive, where anyone can do anything to tap into their potential and express their true selves.
In The Legend of Korra, the villainous Zaheer had similar sentiments about the stifling nature of civilization and monarchs, stating that “the natural order is disorder.” Zaheer is a naturalist anarchist who draws inspiration from natural food chains and free-roaming spirits, all of whom never worry about laws, prisons, the abuse of political power and the like. Too many people suffered under the tight grip of rulers like Earth Kingdom Queen Hou-Ting and the labyrinthine laws of Ba Sing Se, so the people must be freed and all rulers vanquished. The main difference between Zaheer and Re-Destro is that Re-Destro wants to tear down society for the benefit of Quirks, while Zaheer wanted to introduce chaos for absolutely everyone, benders and non-benders alike. In fact, bending barely even factors into Zaheer’s thinking aside from his use of airbending to fight for the Red Lotus’ cause.
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Why Re-Destro & Zaheer Are Flawed Saviors
The Legend Of Korra – Zaheer
On some levels, anime fans might see Zaheer’s and Re-Destro’s point. These anarchist villains aren’t making things up — people really are suffering from Quirk society’s prejudices and limitations, and Earth Kingdom Queen Hou-Ting was definitely a bad ruler in the Earth Kingdom. This is fairly relatable for many viewers, many of whom may dislike working for an overbearing boss or daydream about what they could do if they could run around doing anything they liked without consequences. Deep down, perhaps humanity does wish to return to natural disorder and just go by instinct, but it’s far too late for that now — and there are reasons why humanity created civilization, laws and all, and left the natural world behind.
Re-Destro and Zaheer focus on their respective societies’ worst aspects and develop extreme methods to address them. Surely, something must be done to help those suffering under Hou-Ting or make life better for the heteromorphs like Spinner and Mezo Shoji, but not total anarchy or chaos. Without society, humanity would hugely regress, and all kinds of infrastructure and helpful societal norms would vanish. People would attack and take advantage of one another without consequence, and progress anywhere would become impossible without some semblance of order.
Society’s laws come at a cost, and people must be aware of that, but Zaheer’s and Re-Destro’s worlds would lose much more than they would gain from violent, anarchist uprisings. Besides that, Re-Destro and Zaheer are willing to harm many other people to get what they want, even leaving Tenzin to die or attempting to kill Avatar Korra herself. Surely, there’s a better way to save society’s outcasts and improve their lot in life without tearing down absolutely everything and claiming lives along the way.