Kaito IshikawaKenta MiyakeMy Hero AcademiaYuka Terasaki
My Hero Academia movie #2: Heroes Rising
Also known as: Boku no Hero Academia the Movie: Heroes Rising
Medium: film
Year: 2019
Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Writer: Yousuke Kuroda
Original creator: Kohei Horikoshi
Actor: Aoi Yuki, Ayane Sakura, Daiki Yamashita, Eri Kitamura, Junichi Suwabe, Kaito Ishikawa, Kaori Nazuka, Kei Shindou, Kenta Miyake, Kiyotaka Furushima, Kosuke Kuwano, Kosuke Miyoshi, Kousuke Toriumi, Marina Inoue, Masakazu Nishida, Mio Imada, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Ryou Hirohashi, Shunsuke Takeuchi, Tasuku Hatanaka, Tetsu Inada, Tomoyo Kurosawa, Toshiki Masuda, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Yoshio Inoue, Yuichi Nakamura, Yuka Terasaki, Yuuki Kaji
Keywords: My Hero Academia, anime, superhero
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 104 minutes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=20356
Website category: Anime 2019
Review date: 19 January 2023
Boku no Hero Akademia
It's doing something unusual. It's a Shounen Jump anime movie that ties into a TV series, but is set beyond the end of where the TV series had reached at the time of release. There's a reason for this. This film's ending wouldn't work if you thought this was just the latest episode and that the series would continue as usual next week. It needs you to know this might end the series. It's dramatic. It's a far more ambitious than most Shounen Jump movies, including My Hero Academia's previous one. It deserves some SPOILER SPACE.
The plot, by the way, involves the students all being sent to some nowhere island in the middle of nowhere on a work recommendation project. Population: under a thousand. Heroes: none. Result: the students get sent off to do good and get some hero experience, getting cats down from trees and so on. (Also, we note, there will be no teachers or professional heroes in easy reach.)
SPOILER-FREE DISCUSSION
I like the film, but it had been pretty bog-standard until we hit that ending. Charming heroes. Bakugo's hair-trigger aggression being funny. Supervillains. Exciting fights. No matter how well-animated or likeable this show might be, it's ultimately built around heroes fighting villains. That's normal for both superheroes and shounen anime.
It also showcases my main bugbear with this show, although we've seen worse. Once again, the girls tend to be sidelined. In fairness, admittedly, almost everyone contributes to the mega-fight against Nine and some girls are even allowed to be cool (e.g. Asui, Yaoyorozu). Earlier, though, we'd seen the students split into groups along gender lines... and the girls immediately start getting civilians to safety. Fight scenes? No, that's the boys. Furthermore, maddeningly, the only student not to contribute to this film's action scenes is Invisible Girl (Toru Hagakure), yet one of its villains (Mummy) has a superpower that attacks you through your clothes. Hagakure doesn't wear any. She's the perfect hero against that baddie... but the film ignores this and instead gives the glory to Bakugo again.
(Personally, I think that's such an obvious hole in the film that I bet she'd been going to fight Mummy in the original script, but at some point the production team changed their minds. Maybe the scene wasn't quite working, or maybe they just wanted to make Bakugo look cooler.)
I'm nitpicking, though, and this film could even be called above average in My Hero Academia in female representation. It's dutifully giving a token hero moment to almost everyone, after all. Besides, it's good fun. The hero-hating brat is amusing, especially the way she ends up imprinting on the scary thug who'd yelled at her (Bakugo). (That girl needs to improve her taste in men.) Deku and the locals are lovable. The villains are convincingly intimidating and the heroes get some awesome just-in-time entrances. The animators go all-out on the action sequences. It's a good, simple adventure.
I also liked the film's unflashy but true-to-life portrayal of catastrophe relief operations. Japan knows about those.
SPOILER SPACE FOR THE ENDING
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It's the end. It's dramatic and right. It's a satisfying, semi-tragic ending that makes complete sense for Deku...
...and it's a fake. They undo it. Just joking, never mind. Our hero's adventures will continue!
I've seen it argued that this is a good idea, since Bakugo is controversial among some fans and this finale if played for real could have sent them ballistic. I don't know if I agree. I think Bakugo's the show's best character, actually. He's a live wire who changes situations and creates gags, whereas Todoroki (to pick his apparent counterpart) isn't funny at all and instead has damaged family relationships and that father.
I also see Bakugo as a subversion. He's a hot-tempered idiot who can't stop shouting, so it never stops being a surprise that he has more than two brain cells. In fact, he's highly intelligent. While also being an annoying twat.
When's this film set? It was released in December 2019, early in Season 4, but its place in continuity is firmly in Season 5. Fans who know the show in more detail than me have put it after the end of Season 5, but personally I felt that it belonged a bit earlier than that. It makes a bigger deal than I'd expected of Endeavour having taken the number one hero place from All Might, which actually happened at the end of Season 4. For anyone watching Season 5, Endeavour being number one is done and dusted. (Deku also never uses his new web-shooters, although admittedly lots of other students use their power-ups.)
If it hadn't been for that finale, this would have been another formulaic Shounen Jump franchise movie. Fun, amusing, well-animated and enjoyable? Yes to all that, definitely, but still basically Random Villains Show Up For A Fight. The ending, though, is interesting and different from anything you might have expected.