Familiar pitfalls, but worthwhile nonetheless.
My Hero Academia has made a name for itself within the shonen genre--the young adult focused anime and manga which tend to have lots of action--cementing itself as one of the top shonen manga and anime resonating with both Eastern and Western audiences. So, it’s about time that My Hero would get the feature film treatment. Most of the film takes place in between Seasons 2 and 3 of the anime, while the U.A. students are on Summer Break. While it offers a fun adventure, ultimately it suffers from the same issue as many anime films based on an ongoing shonen property: The characters aren’t allowed to grow, the story is self-contained and never expands on the full narrative of the show, and it all ends up feeling like an expanded filler episode of the show.
My Hero focuses on the hero-in-training Izuku Midoriya, whose dream is to grow up and be just like the hero he idolizes, All Might. However, at a young age, Midoriya discovers he lacks any "quirks," My Hero’s term for superhero powers, and thus his dream is dashed. That is, however, until on a chance encounter with All Might, the hero passes his powers along to Midoriya, and Midoriya is given the opportunity to enroll at the elite hero training high school, U.A. The show then follows him and his classmates as they train their skills to enter into the professional world of heroes.
The film starts strong, showing a flashback to All Might’s past, which, while well known to heroes of My Hero’s Universe, is almost entirely unknown to the audience. Here we see him working side-by-side with the American student and scientist David Shield, as All Might is studying as an exchange student in California. In fact, it’s the same sequence we saw teased at the beginning of Episode 58 of Season 3, when the U.A. teachers catch a special about All Might’s “Young Age Period” on TV.
It’s also worth noting that -- thanks to a translated interview from “Toho Cinema T. Magazine” by twitter user @aitaikimochii -- My Hero creator Kohei Horikoshi has confirmed that this is all canon, stating he always wanted to include a chapter about All Might’s past, but wasn’t sure how to bring it up in the Manga, and this was the perfect opportunity to showcase it.
After this intro, the film returns to the present day immediately after the end of Episode 58, with All Might dragging Midoriya to I-Island, a mobile man-made island where the world’s best scientists develop life-changing products. Unlike mainland Japan, here people are freely allowed to use their quirks in public without any type of license.
Midoriya and All Might meet up with David Shield and his daughter, Melissa, who just like Midoriya was born quirkless. Of course, somehow all of Midoriya’s U.A. classmates make it there as well, and the group enjoys the delights of the island until villains inevitably appear.
It’s during this portion the film falls into a classic trap shonen films tend to have. Because the film is set in between Seasons 2 and 3, as an audience member I already know nothing is allowed to happen. None of the characters will have any true character development throughout the 96 minute run, nothing a character gains will last, and no major story elements can possibly take place. There were certain important items the characters received in the movie that I immediately knew would somehow have to disappear by the end, as they don’t show up in Season 3. Sadly, this ends up making the movie predictable.
What you end up with feels like a 96 minute long filler episode. That’s not to say the film is bad--the story is still by Kohei Horikoshi, and it's written by Yosuke Kuroda, who’s the writer of the anime adaptation. But in some ways it feels more like a generic template for a story than one that's been fleshed out with nuance and details. The show normally charges forward with constant surprises and major character defining moments, but every character in the movie acts exactly as you would expect them to.
Two Heroes is a missed opportunity. It could have been used to showcase All Might’s past, or even some of the other major heroes such as Endeavor or Midnight during their glory days. I would love to have seen what the world looked like when All For One was fully at power, and the kind of crimes the heroes had to stop.
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But these are still fun characters to spend time with. So while I can complain about the lack of character growth, or how meaningless the adventure might feel in the grand scheme of the show, it’s still a chance to spend more time with Midoriya, Bakugo, and the crew--and that’s always a plus. Both David and Melissa Shield are likable new characters whose motivations we can quickly understand and empathize with. In fact, I would love to see them introduced into the show and manga at some point. We also get a few more moments from my boy Denki Kaminari. He’s not the most popular character, but I’ll take what I can get.
All of this culminates in a series of spectacular battles with the finale in particular showcasing a top-notch use of colors and animation techniques to create incredibly fluid action set pieces. While the animation is generally on par with the show, that’s certainly not a bad thing, and all of the battles are an absolute blast to watch.
While My Hero Academia: Two Heroes may not hit "Plus Ultra" levels of excitement, and it never matches the highest moments of the show, if you’re looking for a fun extra dose of My Hero, Two Heroes is certain to satisfy that craving.
|The Good||The Bad|
|Animation and action are on par with the show||No major character moments or important story elements|
|Most of your favorite characters are back||Character writing feels like it was lifted from a template|
|The new characters are likable and well developed||The story is predictable|
|It’s more My Hero||Feels like a long filler episode from the show|