My Hero AcademiaMegumi HayashibaraYouko HonnaRyo Yoshizawa
My Hero Academia movie #3: World Heroes Mission
Also known as: Boku no Hero Academia the Movie: World Heroes Mission
Medium: film
Year: 2021
Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Writer: Yousuke Kuroda
Original creator: Kohei Horikoshi
Actor: Aoi Yuki, Ayane Sakura, Daiki Yamashita, Hirofumi Nojima, Junya Enoki, Kaori Yagi, Kazuya Nakai, Kazuyuki Okitsu, Kiyono Yasuno, Koji Okino, Mariya Ise, Megumi Hayashibara, Misato Kawauchi, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Ryo Yoshizawa, Shogo Sakata, Tetsu Inada, Toshiki Masuda, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Youko Honna, Yuichi Nakamura, Yuichiro Umehara, Yuto Uemura, Yuuki Kaji
Keywords: My Hero Academia, anime, superhero
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 104 minutes
Website category: Anime 2021
Review date: 20 January 2023
Boku no Hero Akademia
Wow. That blew me away. I'm not saying that it's a brilliant film that deserves Oscars or anything, but it feels to me like the first time My Hero Academia has made a proper film. It's not just Villains Want A Fight. It has surprises. It has a plot that's going unexpected places. It's discarding the cosy trappings and genre formula that usually make this franchise as predictable as all Shounen Jump series.
The biggest problem with My Hero Academia is of course the fact that it's essentially built on super-fights, but beyond that is its strong authority framework. There are lots and lots of super-students, all protected by an entire super-school's worth of really tough super-teachers and, beyond that, an entire industry of professional superheroes. (Yes, literally. 80% of the world's population in this universe has a superpower, aka. "quirk", so "superhero" is a job title.)
Here, we meet a religious-ish doomsday cult of Nazi-like racial purists who think the human race is about to go extinct. They're called Humarise and they think superheroes are subhuman. If only 20% of the world's population is quirk-free and they keep marrying those filthy caped crusader types, within a few generations there'll be none of us left!
They have a solution for this problem. It's called a Trigger Bomb and it makes your quirk go berserk, with fatal results for you and probably also for anyone within range of your eye beams, super-strength, etc. They detonate one in a populated city at the start of the film. Splat, no city. The superhero community doesn't take this lightly, but unfortunately Humarise isn't dumb enough to leave its Trigger Bombs where anyone can find them. Result: an international crisis. The film's called "World Heroes Mission" because that's what it is. The authorities can't back up Deku at the end because they're too busy trying to find and disarm Trigger Bombs in 25 cities around the world, not to mention dealing with their super-guards.
(Yes, Humarise has superheroes in its ranks. The film's cheating a bit here, but any fight between all the world's superheroes and a bunch of normals would have been very, very one-sided. Besides, it's quite interesting to see the various and often dumb motivations of the superheroes in Humarise. "Don't forget, Beros. The only atonement for those possessed by the devil of sickness is to participate in the salvation of innocent humans.")
Normally, this show's protagonists have a world-beating support system. Humarise strips most of that away... and then additional plot developments strip away everything else. Deku visits the fictional European country of Otheon, which was probably invented because using a real country might have caused offence. Almost everyone we meet there is a criminal and its police are even worse. Before long, Deku's wanted for multiple murder and on the run with someone who does jobs for thieves.
Half of this film is just Deku and his dodgy not-necessarily-a-friend, Rody Soul. They're on the road together, with little or no contact with the outside world. Humarise are hot on their tails. It'll be a surprise when Deku's friends show up at a crucial (and very cool) moment, because you'll almost have forgotten that the rest of the My Hero Academia gang even exists.
But when they do... holy shit, this film's action scenes. The whole thing looks fantastic, in fact. The European setting is gorgeous and you'll be playing "spot the source" to work out which real countries were used for visual reference.
Oh, and Deku uses his web-shooters for a Spider-Man chase.
I was impressed. It's on a level beyond the first two films, although they're fun in their way. It's the first one to stand up fully to even a first viewing if you're an adult, let alone a second or third. You don't have to put yourself in a Simplistic Boys' Adventure frame of mind to enjoy it. It's cool right from the beginning, as soon as you realise that the "Humarise vs. heroes" premise means by definition that the film can't be built around superhero fight scenes. I'm not surprised that the film found a big audience outside the target demographic (young boys), having a strong opening that was three-quarters female at the Japanese box office. The most important thing in it is the cool-but-untrustworthy Rody and his evolving relationship with Deku. (Mind you, at the same time it's also got jokes and awesome action scenes.)
It's worth watching. I'd recommend it to people who don't watch Shounen Jump movies, or indeed aren't particularly into anime or superheroes. I was surprised.