Two Heroes, One Great Anime: A Review of My Hero Academia - The Movie
Like many anime fans today, I love My Hero Academia. Ever since the anime premiered back in 2016, I’ve been hooked on the series that follows young Izuku Midoriya and his super-powered classmates on their journey to become the next generation of heroes. So when I heard that the anime was getting a feature film, and it would be playing in theaters near me, I absolutely jumped at the chance. After seeing it, I think My Hero Academia: Two Heroes may just be one of the best feature films based around an already existing anime. I’m here to tell you why – though fair warning, there may be spoilers ahead.
My Hero Academia: Two Heroes follows Izuku Midoriya and his teacher-mentor- number one hero All Might on a trip out to a place called I-Island, a moving research facility and current home to All Might’s old friend David Shield and his daughter, Melissa. They and most of Izuku’s class as well as a smattering of other Pro Heroes are on I-Island to celebrate David Shield’s latest advancement in the field of Hero Support Items, devices used to enhance Heroes and aid in their fight against crime. Unfortunately for them, villains invade and capture All Might, David Shield and the other Pro Heroes, and turn the island’s advanced security system against its residents. So it’s up to Izuku, his classmates and Melissa Shield to free the heroes and stop the villains. It’s a race to the top of I-Island’s tower to shut off the security system and free everyone from the super-powered terrorists, and it’s a fun ride from start to finish. Think Die Hard, but with superheroes!
Now, before I get into the good, I should say this: My Hero Academia: Two Heroes is not without some flaws. The film does what My Hero Academia is known for - it plays to many shonen anime tropes. Or, in this case, shonen anime film tropes. Insofar that the villains are largely unmemorable (in fact as far as I know, none of them are actually named in the film proper, only in the credits), and the heroes have to split off to take on these one-off villains to show off their skills and how cool they are. Not only that, but there is a twist late in the film that, if you’ve seen as many films as I have, you can see certain plots coming pretty far in advance. That being said, these are the only problems I have with the film, and the first issue is pretty much negated with the first big positive that Two Heroes brings to the table.
One reason My Hero Academia has been getting so noticed in the anime fandom is the high quality of its animation, especially during the fight scenes, and that is on full display in Two Heroes. The movement is so fluid and the choreography is so impressive that whoever the villains are largely doesn’t matter after a while because you’re just so wrapped up in how amazing everything looks and how cool it is to see your favorite characters use their super powers (or Quirks, as they’re called in My Hero Academia) in a life or death struggle. It got to the point where during the final fight scene my eyes were welling up both from the beauty and fluidity of what I was seeing, and in sheer resistance to blinking because I didn’t want to miss a single instant of what was happening. But something can look beautiful and not have anything to it underneath, thankfully, this is most certainly not the case with this film.
Another huge strength of My Hero Academia: Two Heroes is its new characters, David and Melissa Shield (pictured left). Both are fantastic additions to the world of My Hero Academia and help to expand the world at large. From David’s past with All Might, allowing us to see what the Number One Hero was like in his prime, to Melissa and her inventions expanding the idea of what Quirkless people can do in the world full of super-powered folk. Both characters feel like natural additions, aided by the fact that Melissa Shield actually returns in the third season of My Hero Academia, which gives Two Heroes something that many other anime films based on preexisting series don’t have – impact. For as great as Cowboy Bebop: The Movie or Trigun: Badlands Rumble are for giving us another adventure with some of our favorite characters, the events of the movies never impact the main story, making many anime films a fun diversion at best and a waste of time at worst (like a good chunk of the Dragonball Z films). But with Melissa Shield being in the actual series, there is definite reason to see this film for fans who want to get more out of it than just a fun experience.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes is an extremely accessible film, to both longtime fans and newcomers. I saw the movie with my friend Alex, who has yet to watch the series proper but having seen various YouTube clips and hearing me talk about the series in broad strokes was enough for him to completely comprehend everything that happened in the movie. Not only that, but even if I hadn’t told Alex anything about the series, the film does a fine job of bringing its own audience up to speed on the series through several short, well placed flashbacks. None of them ever go on long enough to detract from the film’s pacing, and only serve to give context to the current situation. It really is brilliantly done.
Now, remember when I said there may be spoilers ahead? Well, to talk about the last great things that My Hero Academia: Two Heroes does, I’m going to have to go into some spoilers. So if you’d rather see the movie relatively fresh after reading everything here, then just skip this next paragraph. If not, well, here we go.
Back in the third paragraph, I mentioned that there was a plot twist that I saw coming, and that plot twist was this: David Shield is working with the villains. Now, while that was what I predicted, it wasn’t entirely accurate. David hired the villains to stage a hostage situation that would allow him to steal back a Hero Support Item that David had developed – a Quirk Amplifier – all to help All Might. If you’ve been following the series or if you watch this film, you’ll know that after a battle with the supervillain All For One, All Might’s ability to use his powers has been diminishing thanks to a grievous wound he sustained during that fight. David Shield wanted to steal back his outlawed device to use on All Might, to preserve his ability to be a hero, and the Symbol of Peace. This not only makes the film’s plot way more intriguing, but it makes David Shield a far more interesting, dynamic character. He never wanted to hurt anyone, only bend the law to help his dear old friend. Unfortunately for David, the villains he hired weren’t actors, but actual supervillains. In fact, in another great move, the film’s primary antagonist Wolfram is actually revealed to have been aided by All For One, All Might’s nemesis. All For One’s involvement in this film primes both he and All Might for their monumental battle during My Hero Academia’s mid-season 3 finale, worth noting since this film takes place in between the second and third seasons of the anime.
Overall, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes is a triumph of an anime film, and one that more anime series films should aspire to be like. Just like the series it spawned from, the film is action packed, hilarious, and above all else, relentlessly uplifting. I walked out of the theater with a big smile on my face. I can’t wait to add this film to my collection when it comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray. My Hero Academia: Two Heroes went beyond my expectations, and is worthy of five stars out of five. Say it with me now: Plus Ultra!