Note: This review is based on the dub produced by Funimation.
Movies based on currently-running anime are pretty common. Movies that get a big screen release in the States are considerably less common.
The worldwide phenomenon that is My Hero Academia joins other well-known anime properties such as Dragon Ball, Cowboy Bebop and even Pokémon with the distinction of a theatrical release on U.S. shores. And thanks to some top-notch animation and source faithfulness, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes turns out to be a fun adventure for fans of the series, and of anime in general.
The movie starts off in California, where All Might, in his youth, is squaring off against a couple of casino-robbing villains. This scene is notable because the depiction of All Might strays from creator’s Kohei Horikoshi western-influenced design to more of a traditional anime design. The scene also introduces David Shield (yet another reference to Horikoshi’s love of western comics), a researcher and inventor assisting All Might in his efforts, as the number-one hero is in America as part of an exchange program.
The scene then shifts to the present day, where All Might and his protege and series protagonist Izuku Midoriya are flying to I-Island, a mobile, man-made island where the world’s top scientists research ways to help pro heroes in their crime-fighting efforts. All Might was invited by David’s 17-year-old daughter, Melissa, to take part in the well-known I Expo, as well as surprise her father.
While David and All Might catch up, Melissa takes a starstruck and overwhelmed Izuku on a tour of I-Island. It is here where we find out Izuku is not the only U.A. student visiting the island for the expo. Indeed, all of his classmates have shown up as well, for various reasons, and are here to take part in the expo’s activities, which includes a nighttime reception on the eve of the expo.
However, a group of villains, led by the enigmatic Wolfram, have their sights set on the expo as well. By overriding the Island’s security system, they effectively take everyone hostage, including the pro heroes at the event. It’s up to Class 1-A, with help from Melissa, to restore the security system and rescue everyone.
Two Heroes continues the themes that have been set up in the My Hero Academia manga and anime; carrying on one’s legacy and passing the torch to the younger generation. Obviously, this is shown with All Might and Izuku’s relationship, but we also see it with the Shield family. Melissa, although quirkless like Izuku was, wants to be a top scientist like her father, and shows tremendous courage and determination when called into action. She and Izuku are kindred spirits.
We also see David struggle with the concept of living in a world without the Symbol of Peace. It’s an idea he has to come to terms with, for better or worse.
Like with the anime, Bones is the studio behind Two Heroes‘ animation. It’s another excellent effort by one of anime’s best studios, as the animation, including during the well-choreographed fight scenes, shows off that flair and style we’ve come to known.
The movie also does a good job establishing itself firmly in the world the manga and anime have set up without interfering with it. While the movie takes place between seasons two and three of the anime, it’s an effectively-told side story that fits well within the My Hero Academia universe, including the events going on at that time. For example, Izuku still is struggling with the immense power of One for All, but Melissa’s full gauntlet (seen in various promotional materials for the film) allows him to go all out without the usual side effects.
On that note, the movie does make a good effort to recap major events for those that just might be getting into My Hero Academia. The idea of quirks in society, and Izuku’s inheritance of One for All, are told through flashbacks. Other events in the anime are recapped where appropriate, such as Katsuki Bakugo being invited to I-Island due to his victory in season two’s U.A. Sports Festival. There still may be some points where newcomers are left behind, such as Minoru Mineta’s brief mention of the USJ incident that served as the climax for season one, but overall the movie effectively introduces newcomers to the lore that’s been established.
The movie also does not mess around with the characters traits that have been set up, leading to some believable moments from our characters (even when Bakugo shows some emotion other than extreme rage), and some head-nodding comedy, such as Izuku’s tendency to mutter and geek out. Speaking of comedy, the movie is filled with it, including a not-so-subtle cameo of an iconic character from MHA-distributor Toho.
And while the first half of the movie may be about bringing people up to speed and setting up the conflict, the last half is all about high-stakes action, with the previously-mentioned smooth animation and the fun of seeing various 1-A classmates team up. It all culminates with a first for the My Hero Academia anime; Izuku and All Might fighting side-by-side. Speaking of continuing themes, it just reinforces the idea that Izuku and his long-time idol share a more equal standing rather than the high pedestal Izuku has placed All Might on.
Music is another high point. While we got some original tracks, fans will no doubt cheer the classic tunes playing during pivotal moments in the movie, such as “You Say Run” once Izuku and All Might begin their team-up.
As far as new characters, both David (Ray Chase – Final Fantasy XV) and Melissa (Erica Mendez – Kill la Kill, Hunter x Hunter) are both strong additions to the My Hero Academia cast. Given their work in outfitting superheroes, I hope we see them again in the series’ future. However, Wolfram (Keith Silverstein – Hunter x Hunter, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure) was a largely forgettable villain, even for a movie. Oh well, they can’t all be Broly.
Also, the reveal occurring near the end of the film, involving the series’ primary antagonist, feels a little shoehorned in. But it occurs so far in, it’s forgivable.
Overall, Two Heroes is a fun jaunt through the world of My Hero Academia, with all of the action and animation the series has become well-known for. Although it is only in U.S. theaters for a limited time, fans should definitely check it out while they are able.
Final verdict: 4 out of 5