MY HERO ACADEMIA: HEROES RISING Directed by Kenji Nagasaki; Written by Yosuke Kuroda; Starring Justin Briner, Clifford Chapin, Johnny Yong Bosch; Rated PG-13 for violence and language. Running time 104 minutes; In limited release on February 26.
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is the second film tie in for the popular anime and manga franchise My Hero Academia. The film takes place farther ahead of where the anime is and falls closer in line to where the manga is currently at and while it helps to liberate the film from some restrictions in term of character’s powers, it does little to add to the narrative. Heroes Rising still has some of the same elements that has helped make the anime a household name such as quality writing, great fight choreography, and an amazingly animated third act fight.
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising takes place in what would be the latter half of the future season 5 or 6 of the anime and has the students of the super hero high school UA Academy participating in a school sponsored project to have the students fill in for the lack of heroes on an island, while the daily going-ons of the village are nothing exciting and the students spend their first few days assisting the islanders with menial tasks, it’s not long before the island is attacked by a new villain named Nine and his trio of companions. Nine, who attacks using multiple stolen quirks, is searching for a young boy named Mahoro on the island looking to steal his quirk to help him initiate a new world order based on power alone.
This review is based on the English dub of the film and the English cast resume their parts with newcomers for the new characters. The stand out performance here belonging to industry veteran Johnny Yong Bosch, who knocks it out of the park as new villain Nine. Bosch displays a bit of range as he goes from quiet and calculating to absolutely mad as his screams fill the sound stage in the final climactic fight. Other newcomers include Lydia Mackay as Slice, Brendan Blaber as Mummy, and Greg Dulcie as Chimera.
The writing in the movie is good and even improves on some aspects such as a reduced amount of main character Deku’s tendency to over explain what is happening or even calling back to events that happen 10 minutes prior, but along with that there is also an expectation for fans to be familiar with the cast as all the students of Class 1-A are on the island as well as cameos by several professional heroes that have and have not been introduced in the anime such as Hawks, who had just started coming into his own in the manga when the film came out in Japan in December of last year. Newcomers to the franchise may find themselves to be a bit lost among the expansive cast of characters. The movie doesn’t feel crowded despite the 20 plus character cast on display and many of the fight scenes showcase many of their powers, or quirks as they’re called in the show, working together to take down bigger and stronger foes.
Heroes Rising also looks great, but not as good as some other anime tie-ins due, this is due to the production being handled by the same production studio, Bones, that does the T.V. show. The movie looks like a high budget episode for most of the non-action scenes and some of the fights in the first act, but the later fights is where the animation team really gets a chance to flex their muscles. The action is clean and easy to read and the over the top brawls in the third act are absolute feats of hype. The final brawl really steals the show with excellent showcases of quirks, power, and pure exaggeration as earth shattering explosions fill the screen and surges of power shake the skies above.
The very nature of an anime tie-in film is the biggest downside to the film and normally the feeling of this is something that doesn’t affect the viewing experience, but here it does. Typically, these types of movies are non-canonical to the manga or anime, as an example, none of the Dragon Ball Z movies were canonical until the release of Dragon Ball Super: Broly, but the issue here is that Horikoshi, author and creator of My Hero Academia, has stated that the films will be. Characters introduced are part of the canon, but considering that the film has to reset characters so they can fit back into the timeline of the manga, the events are largely forgotten or never mentioned again. Nine has a small cameo in a chapter of the manga, teasing his appearance here, but the twist that happens at the end of the film here between Deku and another character is immediately wiped right after the end of the battle. This wipe kills the excitement and energy and greatly affects the stakes of the effects that happened. This is something that also happened in the previous film My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, as Deku’s tool to help him use his quirk, One For All, is immediately destroyed, again, right after the climactic (and also fantastically animated) final fight.
Regardless of the issues of canon, My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is a fun ride for fans of the series, specially for those reading the manga. Even if you haven’t read the manga and are only following the anime, there is something here for you though some of the fine print might be lost on you. The action alone makes this worth watching for anyone who enjoys a good battle anime.