My Hero Academia (Boku No Hero Academia) is a global sensation, and there is no doubt that it has become one of the biggest franchises ever created. Any television series that establishes itself, gains enough momentum to prepare it for the silver-screen, but it can be a tough gig to follow. Trying to extend a branch from the re-occurring theme or season can disrupt narrative flow, which in-turn could de-canonise events from past or future episodes. My Hero Academia tends to always push the envelope and challenges itself to improve with every cascading event. It no doubt will remain as one of the most successful serialised series out of Japan. However, feature length adaptations will always remain a risk in lieu of the original source material; in this case the television series. My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising fixes itself neatly in-between the events of the fourth television series, at the height of its insanely energetic degree of high-impact action, and a pivotal plot-point of the entire run. Studio Bones has done an incredible job in bringing Kōhei Horikoshi’s characters to life, and no doubt has presented some masterful presentation that Japanese animation studios would find hard to replicate. The events that take place within My Hero’s second film adaptation, will most certainly have ramifications felt in future events planned for the series ahead, so before we begin the review I will make note that there are major spoilers ahead for those who are not caught up with the lore of the entire series.
While My Hero’s first feature film, Two Heroes was highly praised by its core fan base with a series right in its peak of gaining major acclaim and heightened popularity, Heroes Rising tends to build towards sequential events that could ultimately lead to the series end-game. It’s rare that we do see any modern-day Anime adaptations reach a fifth or sixth season, but with its amazing action, impalpable animation and revered storytelling there is without a shadow of a doubt that My Hero Academia deserves to carry on as a long running Anime journey. While Two Heroes established the love we share for our class of characters, Heroes Rising cements a climactic chapter that will only lead to cardinal event,s seeing our young group of students expose themselves to their biggest threat. Prompted with various flashbacks during the film, connects the dots to how series events have lead the heroes on their path to Nabu Island.
Operating out of a makeshift agency, Class 1-A inaugurate their own business awaiting the supposed threat that may be set in their sights. I was delighted to see the youngsters take charge of the Island’s security, being sure that all residents were safe. Of course, this all comes with the usual hostility that some characters have among eachother. Most notably, Deku and Bakugo’s relationship. While there may be an underlying kindred affiliation happening, Bakugo’s stoic attitude certainly builds a foundation between the two which Deku admirably shrugs off and accepts. Bakugo’s character building is displayed quite well within Heroes Rising, staging the duo for an intrinsic piece of importance that will no doubt be part of the series later down the line. Besides Midoriya and Bakugo, we are greeted with shining examples of the entire cast and how their part of the plot impacts the entire experience. With All Might retired, the group prove that they all are worthy of being labeled the “Number One Symbol of Peace” as faction, rather than individuals.
With a new film, comes new faces and we’re introduced to two new protagonists. Mahoro and Katsuma Shimano are two trouble making children who are introduced to the group after setting a false alarm on the class of heroes to go on a search and find the young boy (Katsuma). Deku discovers the frizzy haired youngster crying alone, looking completely lost only to have his older sister pop-out from behind him and complain that it took the hero too long to find her younger sibling. Mahoro’s character is shaped from this point as the antagonist of the two, making for a hilarious sub-plot, but an interesting turn-of-events that occurs later in the film. Mahoro’s determination to put our hero’s to the test only leads to more trouble, as we are set to be introduced to our Nine, the film’s major villain. Accompanied by an entourage, Nine’s calm and apathetic demeanor counters his true desire to eliminate anyone without a quirk. Anyone who does not possess a supernatural ability is considered irrelevant, and should be eliminated, while he undergoes experiment to increase his abilities.
Nine considers himself a cut above the rest, withholding the ability to carry multiple quirks in-which he is liable to defeat any and all on-comers that try to stand in his way. Being challenged by a new threat, Class 1-A try their best here to defeat the multi-classed antagonist, but are ultimately outmatched. Nine possesses Weather Manipulation, allowing him to manipulate weather patterns in surrounding areas, and summon massive thunderstorms. He also able to create powerful tornado’s. Nine considers this “the big guns”, and only uses it when necessary due to its volatile nature. Nine’s second quirk, All For One allows him to copy other quirks, and use the ability like his own. Able to store up to eight quirks, Nine holds Cell Activation which allows his body to regenerate and repair at an increased rate. It becomes known that Nine had stolen this quirk from the father of Mahoro and Katsuma. Nine’s appearance suggests that he may be weaker than expected, due to his pale complexion, accompanied by his attired tubes and mask. This plays off his deadpan and dispassionate nature.
While I loved the concept of Nine, I would have loved to have known more about him and his backstory; we’re ultimately flung into his reasoning for existing within our hero’s tale. For one of the biggest threats to exist, I just felt like we should have known a lot more about him. Nine’s character is intriguing, almost like he plays off a certain innocence. He knows very well that he’s far from virtuous, but tries to downplay his lawless acts like they are an act of defiant justice that will help grow humanity. With Deku and Bakugo feeling the presence of Nine’s God-like powers, the duo know the threat they face but do what any hero would, risk their lives to save everyone. The notion of sacrifice here is felt with incredible emotion. I will admit, I got teary watching a certain scene near the end and had me almost scream “No!” in a packed theater. The climax of the entire film pays-off dearly for fans who absolutely love the pacing of the series as whole. It’s what makes My Hero Academia truly a unique adventure, and quite the experience.
I have to commend the voice acting in this film. Johnny Yong Bosch (Persona 4, Devil May Cry 5) shines in his portrayal as Nine, and really delivers one of his best performances to date. Justin Briner and Clifford Chapin prove to be an impressive tag-team bringing their acting chops to another pedigree that sets it above-par from the television series. J. Michael Tatum (Steins;Gate), one of my all time favourites also brings Iida’s charismatic charm along for the ride and shows why his character is essential to this franchise. Trina Nishimura, Brina Palencia, Luci Christian, and Monica Rial bring their respective female cast along for this insanely action-packed animated thrill ride, and deliver outstanding performances. It shows the value of the established series, and how top-tier voice actors within the industry can truly evoke emotion into these fictional characters, and make fans like myself believe in their abilities. Bones steps it up a notch with its fluid animation style, that looks marvelous on the big screen. Its the most vibrant and cinematic the series has been, to date.
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is amazing. I cannot stress how much I loved seeing these characters evolve over its entire run, from aspiring children who dream into young adults that take the responsibility of the world’s safety into their hands. My Hero’s definitive experience truly lies right within this film. In the end, the delivery of its second feature-length film felt validated. It came with what was initially promised; high-impact and intense action, a on-going and developing story that is sure to soon meet its end. Sure, there were some facets that were ultimately left flat, but I believe it was purposely done to steer fans attention back to its seasonal run, and obvious connection in serial continuity. My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is one the best action films you will experience this year. Plus Ultra!
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising
In a world where eighty percent of the population has some kind of super-powered Quirk, Izuku was unlucky enough to be born completely normal. But that won’t stop him from enrolling in a prestigious hero academy.