What can be said about My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising without spoiling the plot in its entirety? Nothing, so buckle up for a slew of words that detail every single thing I found to be cool in this second film outing for the series I love oh so much. Fair warning, I am just going to write this as it pours out of my head; so, literacy be damned, this is about fun…and cool…and cool fun…and punching things really, really hard…with a film budget.
As is apparently the case, My Hero loves throwing Class 1-A onto islands when it needs a film set piece. I don’t know why. Maybe so they can wreck shop and not impact mainland Japan? You could argue that it’s so Pro Heroes aren’t as readily available, but that only applies to this film, since the first took place on an island that had literally just called a bunch of extra Heroes to it. Regardless, Class 1-A is on an island, helping out the locals as part of their training. With no Pros present, it is up to 1-A to mitigate any problems that arise on this very peaceful, very Villain-free island. Though Villains will obviously strike, it’s still nice seeing a more subdued, day-to-day sort of Hero work. Each member of Class 1-A utilises their Quirks in their own unique way, such as Kaminari helping jump start a tractor, and show that they are capable of helping in way that don’t involve punching. The movie itself notes this, but it does gloss over how nice it is to see that, even as Heroes, the students can have lives. All we ever see them do is train; it’s comforting to know that they’ll still have time to socialise and joke around with their co-workers. Also, Kirishima refers to 1-A’s resident rage storm as “Kacchan of the Bakugos”, and I am glad that exists now. It will never not exist.
In case the posters and promos passed you by, the central figures of this movie are two children who live on Nabu Island: Mahoro and Katsuma. As Katsuma’s older sister, Mahoro designates herself as his protector, and the one who will show him that Heroes are far less cool than he believes them to be. To this end, Mahoro fakes a missing person report and a Villain attack (using her illusion Quirk for the second). Through these encounters, the children (and us) see the extremely different approaches that Midoriya and Bakugo have to their work. Though both are valid in their beliefs, their contrasting attitudes really do compliment each other, something that is noted in the flashback of All Might explaining that together they can become the greatest Heroic force the world has ever known. Midoriya is nice, sometimes too much so, getting pushed around by a young girl who diverted Heroes with false information for her own selfish purposes. Bakugo is not nice, sometimes too much so, violently chasing after said child when her trickery is revealed. Still they need each other. Bakugo pushes Midoriya to be righteously selfish, fighting to protect even those who say they don’t want his help; Midoriya pushes Bakugo to be selectively restrained, harnessing his fury in aid of a greater cause. They really are a solid team.
Which is why the finale of this movie kicks so much ass. Skipping the arrival of the Villains, and some initial encounters which essentially exist to teach us that said Villains are really strong, the last act is where damn near everybody gets a chance to shine. Tokoyami unleashes Dark Sahdow in all its terror Uraraka goes bananas with how much she uses her Quirk, Todoroki inverts Endeavour’s Prominence Burn to freeze a Villain solid, Mineta damn near rips his scalp off, Yaoyorozu almost passes out from how much she creates, Kaminari fries his brain, Ashido melts the roof of a cave, Iida Recipros until his engines burn out, Asui covers a number of things in poison, Kirishima almost gets his skin blasted off, Aoyama can barely stand from the stress he puts his stomach through, Sero tapes up Villains and rescues his allies, Jiro throws down some sound waves, and Shoji takes buckets of damage using his body to shield Mahoro and Katsuma. Even Hagakure, Koda, and Sado doe their part in keeping the inhabitants of Nabu Island protected. It’s quite a different finale from Two Heroes; however, this is still undoubtedly the Midoriya and Bakugo show.
I’m just going to jump ahead to the climax of the film. You though the Double Detroit Smash from the first movie was intense? You ain’t seen nothing. In their darkest hour, after being beaten near-death by Nine (the Villain of the film who wants to destroy society, as every other Villain does), Midoriya makes the only decision he believes will save everyone: transferring One For All to Bakugo. With its full force in his ally and its embers in himself, Midoriya plans to overwhelm Nine with one of the world’s strongest Quirks multiplied by itself. Awesomeness aside, even Bakugo notes that this will be the end of Midoriya’s dream, he will once again be Quirkless. Now, if that doesn’t hit you square in the heart, then you haven’t been watching My Hero. Despite what it means, Midoriya follows through on his plan and what results is one of the most awe inspiring fights in the history of My Hero. With the light of One For All shining through them and electricity sparking around their bodies (the typical green for Midoriya, and a stylish orange for Bakugo), the two proceed punch through Nine’s manifested storm…literally. Combining the moment when we saw All Might change the weather way back when and when Midoriya beat Bakugo in the fake bomb test by punching upwards through and when Midoriya and All Might combined their Smashes, it’s…it’s just awesome.
I haven’t even mentioned the actual fight, where Midoriya and Bakugo unleash ever bit of power they can muster. Bakugo blasts through the air with fury, combining his Quirk with the newfound power of One For All; Midoriya zips around without any regard for his body, intent on using every ember of power he has left. The sight of both Heroes standing there with shattered arms is…I don’t know what it is. It’s awesome, but it’s also terrible. It’s like a weird cycle, where Midoriya has worked so hard to learn how to use One For All to avoid the state he always found himself in, only to be forced back into it by impossible stakes. It also must suck for Bakugo, though hopefully it gave him brief insight into what Midoriya has gone through. Despite these heinous injuries, each Heroes final strike is tremendous. Bakugo practically detonates everything in front of him, whilst Midoriya charges with such intensity that his entire body is lightning; he practically comes to physically embody the visual for Plus Ultra. It’s awesome…have I said that it’s awesome? Because it’s awesome, like, in the original meaning of the word. It really makes you wonder how a series that touts going beyond can keep going beyond…not that it’s let me down so far.
Okay, so Heroes Rising is an anime movie, so none of this will actually impact the canon plot of the manga/anime, but so what? Even if it is never mentioned outside of itself, I saw it. I remember it. It exists. True, they hand waved the ending by having Bakugo forget wielding One For All and having the will of the Quirk decide to stay in Midoriya – even though it would’ve been way cooler to have Bakugo simply transfer it back to Midoriya with a newfound respect for his eternal friend/rival/enemy – but it was still cool. And that’s damn well enough sometimes. Sure I was emotionally invested in the characters, and interested when Horikoshi said that aspects of this film were taken from his originally planned ending – probably Midoriya becoming the greatest Hero by helping to create the greatest Hero, i.e. passing One For All on to Bakugo – but I could show that final fight to anybody and they would know that it was cool. They feel it in their bones. And that’s what I love about My Hero. Though it gives reasons for you to care about every development, it also lets you simply enjoy the spectacle of a Hero and a Villain facing off. And that’s awesome…did I say that already? Because I mean it, well and truly.