The world of My Hero Academia is one where humanity has reached a higher form of evolution. At some point in time, mutation gradually caused most of humanity to be born with some sort of power, known commonly as a “quirk”. It’s become taboo for someone to be born without one, but that’s where Izuku Midoriya begins his journey. He grows up obsessed with the number one hero known as All Might and strives to be just like him when he is old enough to show his quirk. However, he’s distraught to find that he will never acquire a quirk at all. Instead of training to harness the power that he doesn’t have, he decides to learn everything he possibly can about every quirk and hero known to man. When he’s miraculously saved by his idol All Might, he finds out that All Might’s quirk allows him to pass his power to a worthy successor. He chooses Midoriya, and that’s where our story begins.
I’ve only recently become a fan of the growing craze that is the My Hero Academia due to the continued insistence on behalf of my friend that I watch it or at least read the manga. I have a really bad habit of watching too many shows at once, so recommending something to me usually means I won’t end up actually watching it until much later. Worse still, I wouldn’t really consider myself a huge fan of anime as a genre, – though I do enjoy a select range of its offerings, even to the extent of buying dozens of statues portraying the characters in the shows (I’m looking at you, Dragonball). That being said, here I am a few months later having gone to watch a special showing of the new movie My Hero Academia: Two Heroes and after spending weeks inhaling MHA content- anime and manga alike- I found it hard not to take the time to see a limited-time showing of the film. Like most anime films, it isn’t very long, but that’s usually a good thing as it allows for less time to use “filler”, getting straight into the action. And oh boy, does MHA revel in its action.
The story follows the main character Izuku Midoriya, known as Deku to his friends, on summer vacation with his mentor All Might, taking place right after the most recent season of the anime ends. The two travel to an island that is commonly used as a research facility to develop state-of-the-art technology to assist heroes in the field. All Might is going to reunite with an old friend, and through events that unfold, is forced to rely on his students to help him save the island from a dastardly plan fabricated by various villains. Though predictable in its formula, the narrative of the film had me invested the whole time with its detailed character development and exciting action sequences. MHA is an anime much like Fairy Tail in that it focuses heavily on friendship and mentorship rather than the overwhelming power of one specific character like you might find in Dragonball, and that can be a refreshing change of pace.
Deku and the other students of UA (Yuuei in the Japanese translation, meaning “hero” is the top school for elite potential heroes to hone their quirks and gain their hero licenses) aren’t allowed to fight villains yet, as they aren’t certified to fight in the field unless absolutely necessary, so we haven’t seen All Might and Deku fight together yet. The possibility of student and master fighting side by side is a thrilling one and we finally get to see it in this movie, and it’s safe to say that it lives up to the hype. The relationships that the characters share are strong, and there were many moments that left me teary-eyed and joyful as they showed just how powerful something like hope and trust can be. One of the things that I enjoy most about MHA is that there really isn’t one character that overshadows another. Deku truly needs his friends and classmates to overcome adversity, and even the number one hero All Might must rely on his students and protege, which contrasts well with the idea that humanity still exists in a world full of superhumans.
The animation style is slightly different than the anime, but it’s refreshing and a treat for the eyes. The colors are vibrant, and character shading and designs are well thought out- with even small support characters being given great care and detail (something MHA is very good at). In a story about roughly 80% of the population having flashy superpowers, it’s a delight to see that each and every character is given time to shine, even if their powers aren’t particularly interesting. From using nitroglycerine sweat to create explosions to pulling sticky spheres off of their heads to trap enemies, every power looks equally awesome and serves an important purpose. The only real issue I encountered during the film was that the audio often didn’t quite capture the excitement or weight of what was happening on the screen. However, this could possibly have been solved if I had seen it in IMAX but for fans of solid sound mixing this may rub you the wrong way.
The pacing of the movie also starts out a bit slow, which is pretty usual for anime films, but it’s only really noticeable in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Once the ball started rolling, I wasn’t as irritated with the sluggish start, but it did affect my first impression. This seemed to be an awkward way to introduce side characters and explain why previously known characters were showing up randomly. Ultimately, it was understandable, as many first time MHA fans attended the showings and required some back story.
Despite the first act starting a little slowly, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes morphs into an exciting tale packed full of emotion and action. The film boasts an overwhelming sense of pride and trust between the characters as they work together to overcome seemingly impossible odds, a wonderfully wholesome message for fans to absorb. The visually pleasing animation and thoughtful narrative make for a fun experience for any MHA fans and a good way to satisfy your fix while you wait for the new season to air.