I can’t say that I’m a huge anime fan, that’s not to say I dislike all anime. Like most lovers of all things nerd related I tried Dragon Ball Z, but after waiting 3 episodes for one guy to charge up an attack only to miss, I decided it wasn’t for me. Occasionally I will dip my toe back in the waters of anime at the behest of a friend with the assurance that “this one is different from all the others”. But with the exception of Naruto/Naruto Shippuden I found the majority of them just aren’t for me. Then one day I was chatting to my brother while he watched an anime about a super human society where kids go to school to become heroes and after ignoring him for the entire episode I was hooked.
I’m telling you this back story (worthy of a hero) because it informs you that this review is coming from someone who loves My Hero Academia for My Hero Academia, not a regular anime fan who’s found a new anime to obsess over, well, I am obsessed but that’s not the point. My point is I love this show because it is a good show not because it is a good anime.(No, YOU have a problem!)
If you are unfamiliar with the premise of the show (shame on you) it’s set in an alternate version of real world Japan, a version where 80% of the world’s population have developed some kind of superhuman ability known as “Quirks”. Naturally this means that a portion of these people become heroes and some become villains and if you want to be a hero you need to go to school and get licensed. Think of it as Marvel meets Harry Potter.(Only way more bad-ass than both!)
The plot of the movie takes place after season 4 of the anime when the stars of the show (Class 1A) have already attained their provisional hero licenses, meaning they can kick ass without fear of reprimand. The Bulk of the movie takes place on Nabu Island, where Class 1A were sent as part of a government led safety exercise, the idea being to see if they could handle the responsibility of hero work without a safety net. But of course villains attack the island and our young heroes must defend it or die trying (God I hope it’s Mineta), but let’s leave it there before we spoil anything.(He really is the worst.)
Now, if you’re sat there wondering if you have to watch all of My Hero Academia to enjoy this movie, fear not. What I love most about this film is that it leaves no one behind; obviously if you’re a fan of the anime/manga then you will appreciate all the subtle nods and knowing references, but if this film is your inaugural experience with the series you won’t feel left behind. This film does a wonderful job of bringing newcomers up to speed but not at the expense of pacing, meaning veterans aren’t going to be bored for 20 minutes while shit they already know gets explained. It’s all done in snippets of conversation between characters and the odd inner monologue.(“This is just like that time in season one when we fought that one guy.”)
It seems like the majority of critics and fans are in agreement when it comes to their opinion of this movie, but a few have criticised the timeline. Some say that it “drains the film’s tension” because we know the story continues because of the manga. While others have said it’s set so far after the anime it feels like fans of the series have missed out, using the fact the characters can do things they previously couldn’t as an example, but I disagree completely.
As for “draining the film’s tension”, bollocks! I was on the edge of my seat the whole final battle! Okay, we know certain characters will definitely survive, but we don’t know how whole they will be mentally or physically. Not to mention the new characters that were introduced were in just as much peril and given the excellent writing I was completely invested in them.
Secondly, when certain characters used previously unknown abilities I didn’t feel like I had missed out, I felt excited. It was like a glimpse into the future, we know they get these abilities, but how? When? At what cost? These are the things that were racing through my mind as the high octane ass kickery was happening on screen.
My final bit of praise is for the animation, while the TV show always looks great the film took it a step further. The characters felt alive on screen as if at any moment they would burst out into the real world, a perfect example of this was in the final fight scene. I can’t really explain without spoiling, but let me say this, I’ve seen some fantastic animation in my 30 odd years on this earth but my God this was something else!
If I had to make one criticism (and I do) it would be that the villains are a little shallow; they lack the depth and complexity of the series’ “League of Villains” or the terrifyingly enigmatic “All for One”. All we really know is that they want to build a society where the strong rule. Okay, why? What drives them? Their goals just seem a little infantile without any context to back them up. But it’s a minor complaint when weighed against everything there is to love about this movie.(“My eyes are red, I was destined to be a villain!”)
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is a fantastic film, it’s compellingly written with an awesome plot that is able to be equal parts fun and emotional with all the action any sane man/woman has any right to hope for. An amazing film that will entice new comers and entertain veteran fans, leaving both parties ready to go PLUS ULTRA!