When “My Hero Academia: Two Heroes” dropped stateside two years ago—it gave us a glimpse into All Might (Christopher Sabat) American adventure, and was a fun romp that borrowed elements from “Die Hard,” but something was lacking and “My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising” delivers where it’s predecessor did not.
Like the first movie, “Heroes Rising” has the students of class 1-A are on an island—literally and figuratively.
Students are sent to Nabu Island, a peaceful place that has more cats stuck in trees than villains, where they have to gain some meaningful hero experience. Paralelle to this, a new villain is rising, Nine.
Broken out of prison by a powerful group of villains, Nine (Johnny Yong Bosch) looks to reshape the world with his vision and with a quirk similar to All for One’s, he has the power to do so.
When you are talking about an anime film, the stakes are world-ending and the action has to match those stakes—this film does just that by putting the students of class 1-A literally on an island where they have to rely on their skills and the trust they have built amongst each other.
The island setting is nothing new and is too easy of a way for these types of films to have a large scale adventure without it directly affecting the mainline continuity of the anime; however, throughout “Heroes Rising” you genuinely feel this is where our heroes have to leave it all on the line to defeat a group of villains that outclass them in every way.
“Heroes Rising” also does a good job of crafting genuine character moments that reward fans of the anime—Midoriya (Justin Briner) and Bakugo (Clifford Chapin) are front and center, as they should be.
One particularly shinning moment is a scene where Deku explains to a young child with a seemingly obscure quirk, what drives him as a hero. It is one of those moments that crystalizes why this anime is popular the world over, Deku is a character with an unshakeable will and moral compass.
The film plays better if you’ve watched the anime as a lot of the character moments and little winks are inside baseball—that does not mean there is nothing there for those looking to dive right in to the world “My Hero Academia.”
Once the action starts rolling, Nine and his ragtag group of villains push the students to their absolute limit, which in the world of “My Hero Academia” means kick-ass action.
Seeing Todoroki (David Matranga) unleash against Chimera is nuts while the final fight does not disappoint—it does pull a “Superman” by using amnesia as a way to explain why such an epic battle may never be mentioned by Midoriya and Bakugo.
This is where “Heroes Rising” falls short of transcending the anime movie mold. By walking back a critical development in Midoriya and Bakugo’s relationship, it takes a knee, giving fans only 75% of its full power.
“My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising” is a step in the right direction for these films. It takes what worked in the first film and expands on it while adding some punch. Like Midoriya’s journey to being able to fully use his power, the film is not operating at full capacity as it walks back a bold choice made in its final act.