Ever since Kohei Horikoshi’s seminal shonen manga, after which Studio Bones’ unimaginable adaptation of it, hit the world, it feels prefer it’s simply stored powering up, fairly like its forged of rough-and-ready wannabe heroes. Now the sequence’ second crack on the field workplace continues to amp up the size, however in doing so it’d simply break My Hero Academia aside within the course of.
Not like the primary My Hero Academia film, Two Heroes—which was set previously of the anime’s then-current storyline, sandwiched between seasons two and three of the exhibits—Heroes Rising is ready at an undisclosed future level within the sequence’ timeline. What which means is that, intriguingly, it takes place past what both the TV present (presently airing the second half of its fourth season) or Horikoshi’s ongoing Shonen Soar sequence (which itself is a number of story arcs forward of the present) are presently coping with.
This creates a comparatively clean canvas for Heroes Rising to put its spectacle-laden motion over, but it surely additionally creates a captivating premise simply baked into each layer of the movie. For followers, that is basically a sneak peek into the heroes these excessive school-heroes-in-training will sooner or later grow to be. It’s a window into what their relationships are like with one another, how far they are going to go, not simply within the power of their superpowers—or “Quirks” as they’re recognized in My Hero’s world—however who they are going to be as individuals and as members of a staff.
The canvas this potential is painted on is a secluded group on Nabu Island. As a part of an experience-gaining program with their college, U.A. Excessive, Deku (voiced in Japanese by Daiki Yamashita and in Funimation’s English dub of the sequence by Justin Briner), Bakugo (Nobuhiko Okamoto/Clifford Chapin), and their mates in Class 1-A are despatched to the remoted area to assist its group on an company foundation, performing as Heroes for Rent when professionally-licensed heroes are in any other case out of Nabu Island’s attain. Though the island life is peaceable and idyllic—no heroes recurrently hanging out means no villains, both—and much away from the continuing drama stoked by the sinister League of Villains on the Japanese mainland, it is a shonen anime film, so in fact, catastrophe strikes.
A mysterious new gang of villains led by the enigmatic 9 (Yoshio Inoue/Johnny Yong Bosch) invades the island on the hunt for 2 children, brother-and-sister duo Mahoro (Tomoyo Kurosawa/Dani Chambers) and Katsuma (Yuka Terasaki/Maxey Whitehead) Shimano, main Class 1-A headlong right into a battle that nothing of their journey to this point has actually ready them for.
Heroes Rising’s future setting is as surprising as it is beneficial for the overall vibe the movie has. By being able to deftly put aside any of the current plotlines in either the show or the manga, the film has the freedom to deliver a familiar, yet new-feeling, version of this lovable bunch of superpowered teens fans have come to know over the past four seasons (and hundreds of chapters) of the My Hero story. It’s fanservice-y, but in an intriguing way; it’s very cute that the explosively angry loner Bakugo is now in a place where he actually knows his fellow classmates’ names and even treats them like friends, or that the icy, self-doubt-driven Todoroki (Yūki Kaji/David Matranga) hasn’t just tempered the balance between his fire-and-ice-slinging Quirk, but can happily work alongside his friends as part of unit.
The things that haven’t changed about these characters, like Deku’s earnest desire to inspire and help those around him, the relentlessly cheery optimism of Uraraka (Ayane Sakura/Luci Christian), or even the paternal, rule-loving leanings of Class mom-and-dad Iida (Kaito Ishikawa/J. Michael Tatum) and Momo (Marina Inoue/Colleen Clinkenbeard), become all the more endearing, like their truest selves have emerged stronger and more defined than ever. These older and wiser iterations of our heroes-to-be also present an opportunity for when the film gets going and Nine’s gang of villains enters the scene: to deliver beautiful, bonkers superhero action on a scale unlike anything seen in the show so far.
It’s not just because the stakes are raised—Nine represents a threat perhaps close to as (perhaps even just as) dangerous as the sinister All For One did in season three of the show—that the action in Heroes Rising is on another level. It’s because the film revels in using that grand action to show just how much more confident and grown these characters have become at this point in the story as much as it does the sheer spectacle of it all. And it really does get truly spectacular: By the time Heroes Rising hits its climax, the reveals and action on display as Class 1-A squares up against Nine for the final battle are just nonstop kinetic frenzy, layered with some reveals about our heroes that are as brain-poppingly audacious as the action that unfolds around them is eye-searing. It’s My Hero Academia on a level you’ve really, really never seen before, whether you only follow along with the show or are a diehard follower of the manga.
Incredible spectacle aside, what makes Heroes Rising’s action truly shine is that it uses it celebrate just what a cohesive unit Class 1-A has become when working with each other, driving home My Hero Academia’s potent themes about teamwork and the power of co-operation trumping any individual superpower—even the might of Deku’s legendarily inherited One For All abilities. Outside of a character level, what this means is that every individual member of the class—from the big hitters like Deku, Bakugo, Uraraka, and Todoroki, to beloved but mostly background supporting stars like Kaminari (Tasuku Hatanaka/Kyle Phillips), Mina (Eri Kitamura/Caitlin Glass), Shōji (Masakazu Nishida/Ian Sinclair) or Kōda (Takuma Nagatsuka/Greg Ayres)—gets multiple moments to shine, whether it’s alone or as part of the wider group.
Two Heroes, often to its detriment, felt like a story centered primarily around Deku’s relationship with his heroic tutor, All Might (Kenta Miyake/Christopher Sabat), giving him the spotlight at the expense of pushing aside his friends and classmates. Heroes Rising feels like a welcoming course-correction in the opposite direction—still giving Deku a starring role (he is the lead character, after all) but better enmeshing him alongside the rest of his friends. As a whole, they stand together much more strongly than they do as individuals.
But as delightfully promising, and freeing, as this future-set premise is, it’s also Heroes Rising’s greatest weakness, especially when it asks you to contemplate some of its earth-shattering reveals about the franchise’s most important worldbuilding. This freedom to play with its protagonist’s futures and the scale of the threats they’ll face creates a paradox that, even at its wildest, most fan-pleasing moments, threatens to undo the goodwill Heroes Rising brings to the table with its over-the-top action and insight into My Hero’s world. Everything that happens on-screen for the stars in this movie feels extremely important in the moment; a window into the future of the powerful, heroic personas these characters will one day occupy.
But because of its nebulous place within the series’ timeline, or the lingering doubts about just how canonical the events of the film are considered to be with either the TV show or the manga (some elements of Two Heroes and now Heroes Rising have begun to creep into the latter, sowing even more confusion) can make some of its most shocking reveals simultaneously audacious and blunted. Instead of coming out of the theater with their minds blown by what’s just unfolded, hardcore fans of the series might find themselves working each other up into a state of confusion as they try to figure out if what they just saw, as explosive as it was, will actually matter for the series as it moves forward.
My Hero fans will be talking about what Heroes Rising means for the series at large for a good while yet. Depending on where you land about some of its potentially game-changing twists, it could point to hope or disappointment for the franchise’s future. But at least fans should probably be able to agree on one thing about it wherever they sit over its grander reveals: On a primal level, it is still an absolute blast to watch these characters come into their own as heroes and unleash their powers in glorious, bonkers action time and time again.
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising begins screening in a limited capacity in both subtitled and dubbed formats starting today, February 26.
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