Okay, and how does UA avoid being sued into oblivion this time?
What’s the Story?
UA’s Class 1-A have set up their own agency! Wait, what? Ever since the fall of All Might, villains have been on the rise and, in an effort to accelerate the training of the next generation of heroes, Class 1-A have been charged with taking over hero operations on Nabu Island! The resident hero has recently retired and while they’re still looking for a replacement there’s a need for a hero on the island, okay, not really. Nabu Island is a quiet, peaceful little slice of heaven that is virtually crime-free. Most of what the students have to do is recharge batteries and help old ladies get about, it’s an easy job that can’t go wrong in any way whatsoever. I mean it’s not as if four very powerful villains are about to crash a ferry into the island and push each of the students to their absolute limit, right?
And I’m back to talking about My Hero Academia! I know the current season of the anime hasn’t ignited the fanbase as much as previous seasons and there are plenty of legitimate complaints about how the adaptation has been going this time around (personally I’ve stopped watching the series weekly and I’m going to try binge watching the School Festival arc, see if that’s a better viewing experience), but I’m not here to talk about that today. By miracle of miracles I actually managed to catch an anime film while it was in cinemas! (I’m on a roll of late, this and Stampede. Normally I’m stuck waiting for a DVD release). I’ll say this now, if your interest in the franchise has been waning at all with season 4, check out this movie, because it certainly revitalised me! So many good moments, from quiet little scenes to epic brawls and, what’s this? The whole cast gets to share the spotlight?! What kind of magic is this?!!!!
When I talked about the first MHA movie (HERE), I talked about how a lot of movies tied into an ongoing series often feel inconsequential. The first movie got around that with fanservice (the good kind), unfortunately this movie doesn’t quite manage that. Oh there’s plenty of references to things in the series and appearances by major heroes (some who have yet to appear in the anime), as well as the League of Villains, but there’s the definite feeling that what happened in this movie will never be spoken of again. However, that’s only because this movie decides it wants to tackle another problem I often have, particularly with shonen movies (I’m looking at you One Piece). When there’s a large cast a play in a series, shonen movies will often push characters off to the side and focus solely on a couple of central players, which is fair, there’s only so much you can fit into a feature’s run time. Doesn’t stop it being annoying though when some of my favourite characters hardly get anything to do and almost never square off against the lead villain’s lieutenants (again, One Piece, I’m looking at you).
MHA: Heroes Rising doesn’t have this problem though. It manages to tell an effective, well-paced story while at the same time incorporating each and every member of Class 1-A into the action (Okay, the invisible girl does practically nothing, but we can’t have everything can we). I don’t just mean a token demonstration of their powers either, they are neck-deep in the fighting from the get go, teaming up to take on bad guys or deliver solutions to problems. From Sero and Uraraka giving it their all against the lead villain to Tokoyami and Ashido taking on one of the villain’s lieutenants, there was some amazing action and a great showcase of the class as a whole. Also, on a side note, I love Todoroki using the lessons he’s being trying to learn about his fire powers and applying them to his ice powers to take on the other lieutenant. That was epic (though now I think about I don’t think the anime has got to that point of Todoroki’s training. When is this film supposed to be set?).
Of course, somebody needs to be the headline act even if everyone else is getting attention and, for this film, that act is the devastating duo of Midoriya and Bakugo (as all the promotion for this film made very clear). It’s a testament to the character development of Bakugo that, whereas at the beginning of the series I viewed him as little more than a bully, I can now root and cheer for him alongside Deku. Heck, the mere fact that Bakugo is willing to fight alongside Midoriya is proof of how far he’s come. It’s also great to see Midoriya and Bakugo’s differing hero philosophies working alongside one another. Bakugo’s ‘I will win every fight’ works well with Deku’s ‘I will save every person’, which is really what this whole film is about. Enough of the characters we already know though, how do the movie original characters hold up?
They’re okay. Honestly the majority of original characters in this film can be best described as ‘fit for purpose’. The villagers are all nice and sweet and you can see why the kids of Class 1-A have bonded with them and you feel the fear as they all sit huddled in blankets wondering when the villains will attack next. The villains are much the same, their powers aren’t that creative, but they’re an imposing threat for the students to tackle. When the lead villain, Nine, was just walking his way through all of their attacks, taking out the heroes one after the other, I genuinely felt worried. That said their motivations are things that the series has and will tackle itself, and in a bit more depth than this movie can manage. The standouts for me are the two kid characters who I really came to care about as the movie progressed, that smile on Katsuma’s little face at the end was perfect. Midoriya just became someone’s All Might guys and that was heart-warming to see.
Now, unfortunately, I can’t just praise this film. I do have a gripe, let’s talk about the ending. No spoilers here, but let’s just say Deku and Bakugo go super saiyan at the end of this film and I have many, many questions about that. I get it, they’d bigged up the villain too much in their attempts to have a threat worthy of a movie (another problem I’ve been noticing with these shonen films. Don’t scale your movie villains up to impossible heights, it just means the hero has to pull a sudden power up out of their backside and those hardly ever work outside of Dragonball). My real issue, however, is with how poorly explained Midoriya and Bakugo’s power up is. Obviously it’s the middle of an action sequence so you can’t stop the film dead to explain, but even after all that is done there’s still no proper excuse. All Might says something miraculous happened and I guess that’s supposed to be all we needed to know. I still can’t decide if what happened breaks the series’ lore in anyway. It doesn’t help that the reset button gets hammered pretty hard after all is said and done, robbing the actions of any dramatic weight (not that there was any to begin with, we all knew the reset button was going to be hit).
All in all, ending aside, this is a fantastic movie. It gives every member of Class 1-A a significant job to do in the story, there’s plenty of humour and fun little character moments before the villains arrive and the epic action kicks off. Midoriya and Bakugo show that when they work together they are a near-unbeatable team and it really shows how far their characters have come. There are plenty of moments where I felt the danger the heroes were in and, really, I’d like to see more shonen movies handled like this. Just, you know, don’t think too much about that ending.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.