In just a few days North American audiences will have the chance to watch the latest film from the hit series that has been garnering more fans than any other anime in recent memory My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising. The second film from the franchise Heroes Rising is an enthralling look at each student in class 1-A with enough room to showcase what really makes these students shine.
The plot of this film revolves around a new enemy by the name of Nine as he gets closer to becoming the most powerful villain anyone has ever seen but the only thing in his way is the ever justice-driven class of UA students who are out performing hero duty in a remote island that has not seen actual danger in quite some time. The movie does an okay job at expanding this island with the time it is allotted by having pretty solid interactions between the heroes and residents including two kids who are wrapped up in this whole mess.
The story then revolves around said two kids, named Katsuma and Mahoro, who are targeted by the mysterious Nine and his crew of super-villains. The kids are introduced via various interactions with Deku and Bakugo throughout the beginning of the film but then are seemingly thrusted into almost every scene due to the severity of their importance to Nine.
This is where I had a bit of a personal gripe as the children were constantly in the way to the point where it’s a bit frustrating. Despite numerous exclamations for them to run away by the heroes attempting to protect them they seem to run into the villains far too often where it felt a bit too cliche. It isn’t until the very end that the anxiety of the idea that the children are finally being captured sets in that the payoff just sort of felt elongated for the sake of the moment.
Compare it to the point in the previous film My Hero Academia: Two Heroes where Melissa is assaulted by one of the villains only for Deku to put the guy into an early grave. The danger of her having no power yet bravely climbing up with the heroes despite the risk made it felt far more powerful where it felt like an even game of tug-o-war between the writers and viewers with the constant idea that you may get tripped up rather than a constant irking reminder that these kids don’t listen and the inevitable payoff will happen despite which confrontation occurs.
The first half of the film focuses more on the island in which Deku and friends are staying at and the small activities and conversations that they have with the villagers while the second half goes all in and does not stop. We drift so often between each group of heroes fighting a different villain that the second half has almost no room to breathe. From a wholesome montage of each hero doing their part in the small community to defending an entire town within a cave while each hero goes beyond Plus Ultra is as exhausting as it sounds with its ups and downs. Despite some of the films shortcomings the film absolutely shines in it’s action sequences.
The action sequences for this film never end and it’s the best possible scenario that could have played out. The danger is at the classes doorstep and it is incredibly fun to just watch the students be themselves. In the previous film several students were hardly used and/or not used at all, in Heroes Rising all hands are on deck for this battle. Everyone gets a piece of the villains and I think that is an incredible win for not only the fans but for the writers by playing to each characters strengths and finding ways to have them dance around the urgency and peril.
This is just a side note but I just like all the characters doing mundane things across the island to help. It finally felt like a genuine progression for each of them from Tsuyu’s water background to Kaminari’s shocking abilities and seeing the town respond hospitably feels like we’re in a completely perfect world for each of them. I wish we could get more thoughtful calm moments like this in the series although I know that it goes against the idea of the anime in the first place. Back to the actual review.
The scenes against Nine are absolutely nuts and goes beyond the boundaries of what My Hero Academia seemingly could never cross and reaches a near Dragon Ball level of absurdity that I cannot make heads or tails on whether or not I like it in the long term. Don’t get me wrong, the face-off is absolutely badass but is it too much too soon for a series with a seemingly long future ahead of it? It feels like we’ve now reached the penultimate ending of the series but in a movie that doesn’t really tie into the actual series it leaves me questioning the relevancy within the actual anime that has been penned and published seasons ahead of where we currently are.
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is a victory lap for Kohei Horikoshi as it goes to show that each and every one of the students from class 1-A are irreplaceable. Each of them getting a moment to shine and show their importance in the film from accomplishing extremely mundane activities to executing heavy duty hero work. The pacing for the film is an absolute roller coaster and left me winded and exhausted several times with the sudden stops and setups that eventually payoff in spectacular fashion.
The final moments of the film will definitely be a highly interesting topic to follow within the fan base as it will most certainly cause a divide between fans who think it’s too much too soon or just enough. Nine on paper is one of the scariest enemies ever introduced but on screen comes off more as a knock off rather than an actual credible threat but his quirks make for some really exciting tension. My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising feels more like 12 episodes of the series rather than a full theatrical project but that doesn’t stop it one bit as it goes beyond the limits of Plus Ultra and will keep fans of the series invested throughout.