As I mentioned in my favorite anime of 2019 write-up, My Hero Academia rises above most other action anime by putting as much focus on building up its huge, diverse roster of endearing heroes and despicable villains as it does with delivering spectacular, superpowered brawls. My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising continues that same trend and contains almost everything a full arc of the series would, yet in a much shorter time-frame.
The film focuses on the students of Class 1-A, the core cast in the show, as they practice working as heroes on an island that’s far away from their home and teachers. That means once the villains show up, it’s up to Midoriya and his friends to defend the island’s inhabitants with no back-up.
The lack of professional heroes in the majority of the movie was something I really appreciated. Their absence allowed for extremely high stakes, never letting us think that an unexpected savior would jump in at the last minute, and gave each student time to shine. Some of the up-and-coming heroes spent more time in the spotlight than others, but every single aspiring hero had at least one memorable moment.
We also get to see the progress that these characters have made, both with the use of their powers and as maturing teens. My favorites for the most part were the small ones, like seeing Mineta, someone who used to freak out even at the prospect of any kind of scuffle, instantly jump into a battle, or Uraka using her normally support-focused powers in tandem with other less powerful fighters to hit as hard as most of her stronger classmates.
Then there’s Bakugo, who’s role in this film not only shows how much he’s grown over the series, but really cements him as a worthy rival to Midoriya. He’s easily the best part of the movie because he’s that perfect blend of a constantly-evolving character and powerhouse combatant that drew me to My Hero Academia’s protagonists in the first place.
The action in Heroes Rising matches the character beats as well. Studio Bones’ animation is at outstanding here, making sure we get to see and feel the impact of each strike. The score is also incredible, and gives even more oomph to the moments where you can see how the heroes and villains are pushing themselves to their absolute limit. The final fights in particular are incredible, showcasing multiple wars of attrition between beings of seemingly godlike power.
The only things I can really hold against Heroes Rising are the way the ending is so briskly and neatly tied up – as it isn’t meant to tie into the show, which is a shame – and the villains. They aren’t bad, in fact they could’ve been some of the best seen so far, but the movie doesn’t tell us enough about them to match the intrigue or intimidation factors of My Hero Academia’s other antagonists.
My small gripes aside, My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is a definite must-see for fans of the anime. It has the same character growth, insane action, and overwhelming heart that’s made My Hero Academia so popular these past few years.