My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising 2020
Despite enjoying the first My Hero Academia movie Two Heroes a couple years ago, I still never got around to watching any of the series. Instead, I’ve been slowly making my way through Hunter X Hunter and Eden on Netflix. I’d still like to catch it at some point in time but who knows when I’ll ever actually get around to it. I was a little bit more familiar with some of the main cast, but there were still plenty of them that I either didn’t recognize or didn’t remember. And while the movie doesn’t waste too much time on exposition, there’s enough there if you’re coming into this movie fresh like me. And this film had a much better flow and a more comprehensible storyline than the previous film so it was an enjoyable ride from start to finish rather than just having a high point at the end.
This movie is mostly focused on a new villain who is able to steal someone’s powers or their quirk as its called in this world. Eventually you learn that his name is Nine partly because he’s only able to steal up to 9 quirks and he seems to have 7 or 8 already so he’s near his limit. Not only that, but his ability to steal quirks was given to him through experimentation and his body isn’t able to handle all the quirks at once so he’s on a quest to find someone with the quirk of cell activation that would allow him to regenerate his body and become unstoppable. He’s also accompanied by three powerful minions and his overall demeanor felt like somewhat of a cross between Sylar from Heroes and Magneto as he keeps talking about creating a new world order run by the most powerful. Meanwhile, the entire class 1-A from UA High School has been assigned to this quiet little island to basically be their hero civil servants. The island was chosen because of how peaceful it was, so clearly it’s going to be attacked by a group of villains that will test the class to their limits.
While the set up is pretty obvious, the road to the set up is very straightforward and interesting. We get to see the class use their heroic quirks to help the quiet little village with their simple problems while becoming part of the community. We’re also introduced to two young children, a young boy who wants to become a hero when he grows up despite having a less-than heroic power, and his slightly older sister who is mistrustful of heroes partly because she doesn’t want her little brother growing up to become one to get himself killed. There’s a bit of boy who cried wolf as the older sister tests the new heroes first by telling them her brother is lost and complaining that it took them over an hour to find him, then she warns of a villain attacking which turns out to be an illusion that she created herself. The boy ultimately ends up being the target of Nine as his power is the cell activation that the villain is looking for after finding their father who had a cell activation quirk, but one that only worked on the wrong blood type.
What really helps this movie is the overall flow of the story. It does a good job of introducing (or re-introducing if you’ve watched the series) the characters in the first act of the story where they are simply being civil servants and helping residents with mundane jobs using their quirks. We’re introduced to the Macguffin children in a natural way and about halfway through we get an exciting fight across the island that utilizes the wide variety of characters in an interesting way while not getting too confusing. And when it comes to the final battle, it’s set up with an intelligent strategy and we see these characters pushing themselves to the absolute limit and beyond. It’s great moments of action that still has the character moments along with the forgivable anime cliche where they say their abilities out loud. It’s forgivable mainly because in a world like this with so many different abilities that do so many different things, having that verbal component helps tell the audience what’s going on visually.
The only thing that does slightly detract from this movie is the main thread that connects it to the series continuity, specifically what appears to be the Thanos-level villain who is never specifically introduced in this film. He just appears in a few small moments including the very end where he completely incinerates the defeated-but-still-alive Nine. On the plus side, with such a large cast of characters, the majority of them get a fair amount of screen time and plenty of moments for their characters to shine. While the main character of Izuku and his One for All quirk is still presented as the most important character even when he’s fighting alongside plenty of other characters. He is clearly the main focus of the story as the aspiring hero who won’t give up at any cost and is willing to sacrifice his own future as a hero to do what he thinks is right to protect those who need protecting. All in all, it’s a great film with dynamic yet coherent action scenes and plenty of well deserved character moments. My only other criticism is that based on the ending, it almost would have made more sense to title this film with the Two Heroes rather than Heroes Rising, and it was a bit of a cop out when the way they backed off of Izumi passing on his quirk to his friend/rival Bakugo. There was also just a slight bit of confusion as to what the main character’s name was, looking back at my review of the previous film, he was often called Midoriya and the now-retired All Might does call him that a couple times, but I somehow caught the name Deku at one point, which seemed like a nickname but could have been his hero name. But unlike most modern heroes they don’t have secret identities, they are 100% who they are at all times and Deku doesn’t seem like a hero name. Still, worth watching whether or not you’re a fan of the series. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.