I’ve made no secret of the fact that I like My Hero Academia a whole lot, so when I was offered the opportunity to see the latest movie in the franchise – My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising – I jumped at the chance. After the tight, well-paced ride that the previous movie, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, provided, I was looking forward to seeing how Heroes Rising would up the ante.
I was not disappointed. Heroes Rising is utterly bonkers in the best way possible, as only My Hero Academia can do.
The story picks up at the latest point in the manga, but don’t worry – aside from a few techniques and gear, there are no large spoilers for anime-only fans. As long as you’re caught up in the anime, you’ll be fine. Class 1A is working with the hero program to set up their own hero agency on a small island far off the coast of Japan. On the one hand, it’s hero work without adult supervision; on the other hand, it’s on a small, sparsely populated island with virtually no crime. Great experience for the students with almost no danger…except that a quirk-stealing villain bent on world domination has discovered that a child resident of the island possesses the last quirk he needs to fulfill his plans, so he and his gang arrive on the island to raise some hell and get that quirk however they can, and we have our main conflict.
The plot is simple, straightforward, and well-executed. Unlike Two Heroes, which focused on integrating the past of the adult heroes with the future potential of the heroes in training, Heroes Rising is all about the students. Every member of Class 1A has a role in this movie, allowing them to show off their talents to the fullest in a high-stakes situation. Whoever your favorite student is, you’ll get to see them come through in spades.
In much the same way that Two Heroes quickly became Die Hard With Superpowers, the latter half of Heroes Rising is essentially Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers With Superpowers, namely the battle of Helm’s Deep. Civilians retreat into an old castle for safety, and our heroes have to fight a battle against seemingly overwhelming odds in an attempt to hold out for help to arrive. While there is no dwarf-tossing, there are plenty of tightly-choreographed combat scenes and emotional highs and lows that will keep an audience enthralled right up until the end.
Unfortunately, the only point at which Heroes Rising stumbles is its resolution. Anime movies based on an ongoing series must return to the status quo at the end, and Heroes Rising is no exception; however, given the stakes and sacrifices in the movie, the plot element that returns the characters to status quo at the end feels handwaved at best. It’s something of a weak end to an otherwise strong movie; that said, it’s not weak enough to ruin what came before it, and sometimes that’s all you can ask of an ending.
The dub voice cast gives an excellent performance, very much up to the standard of My Hero Academia. While our normal cast returns – Justin Briner as Deku, Clifford Chapin as Bakugo, Luci Christian as Uraraka, etc – the standout addition to the cast is Johnny Young Bosch as Nine, the quirk stealing villain who wants to assemble power and start a new world order. Yes, he sounds a lot like All For One on paper, but Bosch gives him a life all his own, making a pure evil villain with purely selfish motivations a fascinating if terrifying watch.
With its incredible action scenes and deep character moments, Heroes Rising is an energetic addition to the My Hero Academia franchise and a must-see for any fan. My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising hits theaters on February 26th; tickets are available now.
— Katie Cullen