My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (2020)

My Hero Academia - Heroes Rising.jpgDirector: Kenji Nagasaki
Runtime: 104 Minutes
Rating: 12a
Starring: Daiki Yamashita, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Yūki Kaji, Ayane Sakura, Kaito Ishikawa, Marina Inoue, Toshiki Masuda, Aoi Yūki, Ryō Hirohashi, Tasuku Hatanaka, Kei Shindō, Kenta Miyake, Junichi Suwabe, Tomoyo Kurosawa, Yuka Terasaki, Yoshio Inoue, Mio Imada, Kōsuke Toriumi, Shunsuke Takeuchi

Since its first release in 2014, My Hero Academia has proven to be a popular manga series, becoming adapted into an also popular anime series, before expanding across various mediums. This included a feature film, in the form of 2018's excellent My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, and has proven popular enough to get a second feature film.

Set in a world where most of the human population have superpowers (known in this world as "Quirks"), the series follows Izuku Midoriya (Daiki Yamashita), a boy who dreams of becoming a hero, despite being born without a quirk. The potential within him is seen by All Might (Kenta Miyake), Japan's greatest hero who is searching for a successor. As such, All Might shares his quirk with Midoriya, and helps him to enrol in U.A. High School, a prestigious high school for heroes in training.

As the series once more hits the big screen, the question becomes how accessible it is for both fans and newbies of the franchise, and the answer is very much so. Granted, fans of the series may get tired of seeing flashbacks explaining plot elements which they're long familiar with, and newbies will be given knowledge of important moments best discovered through watching the series first. But as a standalone feature, these work towards crafting a singular story which stands apart so very well.

So comes the question, what is the story of this feature film? As part of a hero training programme, Class 1-A visit Nabu Island, tasked with temporarily performing hero duties for the residents. As the island is pretty much crime-free, their tasks amount to minor deeds, but that changes when the peaceful location is attacked by a villain with a horrific quirk. Midoriya and his friends are all which stands in the way of this villain enacting his plan.

One of the reasons the series stands out is the wide cast of characters, and how wonderfully they each shine in their own right. This feature film is definitely an improvement on its predecessor in that field, as it evenly divides the time among each member of Class 1-A, rather than focusing on a select few, and reducing the rest to cameo appearances. Of course, the story mainly focuses on Midoriya and his volatile childhood friend, Bakugo, but there's no sidelining of their classmates. We get a feel for each ones personality and quirks, giving them a spotlight, and perfectly capturing why fans enjoying returning to see them week after week.

The story itself is a straightforward one, captured in an exciting manner, while being delivered with such visually appealing animation. If there were any issues, it'd be down to a key explanation which ends up feeling like a cop out, and how underwritten the villain feels. A powerful ringleader with a god complex can only get you so far, and it would've been nice to see a bit more of what made him so revered by his followers. Still, these are small issues in a fun feature which wonderfully captures what makes the series so great. Plus Ultra!