Screener copy was Made Available for this Spoiler Free Review
Sitting down to write this review, looking at my list of notes, I’m still in awe of what I have just witnessed. Logic would dictate you would start at the beginning but before I do this is a message and a warning of sorts to any and all fans of My Hero Academia and Anime fans, in general, go out to cinemas and watch this film! Honestly, the climax to this film is something you will not regret seeing on the big screen. I saw this via a screener copy and I am still gonna hand over my money and see this in cinemas.
Now that the question of should you see this film has been answered let’s talk about why. For those uninitiated, My Hero Academia follows the story of Deku’s journey to becoming a professional hero with his quirk being passed down from the number one Hero. The movie is taking place technically after the events that are currently airing in the Anime’s season 4 but the placing in the timeline is inconsequential; just a little jarring for those watching along at home and then watching the movie.
The film opens with an intense action set piece featuring a high-speed pursuit and getting to see the professional heroes at work. This is more spectacle than substance but serves as a great way to bring audiences into the film and setting up the simple narrative throughline. The story then jumps to the main plot featuring Class 1-A on a beautiful and peaceful island carrying out their Hero duties. Although this portion of the film may seem slow it gives us a great look into how far our characters have grown and how they are all working as a unit to help the islanders in their daily life. It is very much the calm before the storm.
Thankfully this calm is not maintained for long and as soon as our villains arrive all bets are off. These villains definitely earn the monicker acting fast and causing chaos to complete their objective with lethal precision. Seeing how the heroes react to the initial arrival of the villains is one of my favorite parts of the film, seeing everyone fill a roll. The more combat orientated Heroes buy time for the others to save islanders. In today’s hero cinema landscape, the being a hero part is often forgotten in favor of spectacle, thankfully Hero Rising bucks this trend and for the most part, the fighting emphasizes the Heroes struggling to protect innocent lives.
It is during the initial confrontations with the villains Nine, Mummy, Chimera, and Slice that they get to shine s,howing off their incredibly flashy quirks with Mummy’s being the most unique and leading to a fun battle. As the film progresses, the heroes figure out what the villains are there for and this sets up the final act of the film. Rather than just a head-on battle, we see the smarts of our young heroes in the tactics they implement.
Whilst watching the final act unfold it felt like a final boss fight in a video game encompassing multiple stages while the heroes are literally throwing everything they can at it to win. Their determination is on display here but due to there being multiple villains in play, we get to see unique combinations of heroes working together with some of the supporting cast of heroes getting time to shine so that nobody is forgotten here. Which is nice to see.
The culmination of which leads to an all-out mind-melting eyegasm of a final fight. One thing this film dives into is the relationship between Deku and Bakugo and this comes full circle in a very fan-pleasing way. It is mature enough to allow Bakugos character to be less of a loner whilst still being a hot head who commits fully to the hero persona and seeing his reactions to his friends being hurt is just visual storytelling done right. It is tough to say but this movie really does lead to Bakugo outshining Deku for the most; part which is not a bad thing. Whether we should read more into that or if this is just spotlighting a fan-favorite character, only time will tell.
The animation quality throughout is some of the best animation I have seen in a long while and that bar was raised to an extraordinary high with the previous My Hero Academy film, Two Heroes as well as Dragon Ball Super: Broly which came out last year. As the fight rages on it is like the animators were also giving it their all, it really shows. It’s beautiful, stunning and awe-inspiring, at times I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Aside from a potential fandom dividing choice made late in the fight, this is one of the best anime fights visually on screen. There are homages taken from various anime stylings throughout the multiple battles that take place. One, in particular, is no doubt a homage to Goku and Frieza in the tournament of power in a visual sense, both scenes really filled me with chills.
I would be a fool to overlook the continued magnificence of the musical scores throughout My Hero Academia’s run, with this outing no different. The various arrangements of tried and true themes feel fresh and exciting; whilst also giving me a profound sense of nostalgia for the early day optimism of Deku’s journey to becoming a hero. The music accompanies this perfectly between Bakugo and Deku who’s journey’s are so intertwined. The film’s ace up its sleeve led to a subdued and somber moment that had me tearing up this wouldn’t have been possible without the score, visuals, and backstory culminating in this one moment and it is perfect.
My only real problem so to speak is how the film wraps up, a difficult topic to approach in a spoiler-free review but it feels like a lot of the jaw-dropping, heartstring-pulling moments that are masterfully executed and brought me tears is kind of hand waved away at the end. Whether this is to lead into future arcs I am not sure but it feels like a huge chunk of character development was done for the sake of fan-service and is to be forgotten. However, I am ever the optimist and choose to reflect on the journey and how it made me feel it is only a minor complaint and a personal one at that. Your reading of the ending may be completely different from me.
The film is titled Heroes Rising and it is exactly that. We see these students we have come to love over the years continue to rise into the Heroes they are destined to be… This film really hammers home that they are now closer to Heroes than students and I for one cannot wait to see what lies in store for our heroes. The long game is still afoot the league are out there and will Deku ever become the greatest hero, who knows?t
With all that said… go and see this film!