by Nick Creamer,

My Hero Academia: Two Heroes


My Hero Academia: Two Heroes BD+DVD
During a break from his rigorous training, young Midoriya is invited by his teacher All Might to I-Expo, a glorious celebration of the latest developments in superhero equipment. On the man-made I-Island, Midoriya is introduced to All Might's old partner Dave, as well as his talented daughter Melissa. But during the celebrations, an unexpected villain attack sends I-Island into lockdown, leaving the professional heroes at the mercy of villains with an entire island's worth of hostages. Can Midoriya and his friends save their teachers, and prove the spirit of heroism is still strong?

It can be difficult for the films attached to long-running shonen properties to feel like a cohesive, much less essential part of their parent franchise. Not only are they generally inventing new stories whole cloth, but without the guiding hand of the original creator, the resulting films can often lack the spirit of the source material, be it through their weaker grasp on the characters, self-contained and ultimately superfluous character arcs, or general inability to match the precise plotting and impactful action of the main franchise. Fortunately, none of those potential pitfalls really hamper the clear appeal of My Hero Academia: Two Heroes. In the realm of tie-in films, this is a terrific exemplar of the art.

A great deal of Two Heroes' strength likely comes down to the fact that original mangaka Kōhei Horikoshi was heavily involved in its production. Even moreso than some of the actual show's original content, Two Heroes captures the tone and worldview of Horikoshi's world, as well as his collaborative, tactically minded approach to combat. The production also shares the same screenwriter and director as the series proper, along with its regular crew at studio BONES; in terms of writing, sound, and visual execution, every element of this production feels distinctly My Hero Academia.

Perhaps because of Horikoshi's direct involvement, Two Heroes is also willing to be bold and exciting in terms of what it reveals about My Hero Academia's universe. Tie-in films will often avoid introducing genuinely meaningful new variables into a story's universe, since whatever they add will never make it back into the main narrative. Not so for Two Heroes, which opens with a giddy flashback to All Might in his American prime, and goes on to introduce his main collaborator, hero gear specialist Professor Dave Shield. Dave and his daughter Melissa feel like natural, almost essential additions to My Hero Academia; giving All Might an adult confidant lets us see new and welcome sides of his personality, while Melissa stands as the franchise's first accomplished, competent Quirkless protagonist. Two Heroes' added characters are so compelling that I actually hope they somehow migrate into the series proper - though this film tells a complete story, these characters feel too valuable to be left behind.

That complete story is a relatively familiar one (in fact, even the most recent Hunter x Hunter tie-in film used roughly the same plot). During a break in training, All Might and Midoriya head to I-Island, an artificial island where humanity's best and brightest all work on crafting superheroic paraphernalia for the next generation. All Might meets up with his old friend Dave, while Midoriya and Melissa run into a scattering of 1-A classmates, all there to enjoy the expo. However, just before Midoriya and his friends can arrive at the formal introductory dinner, I-Island enters lockdown, and we learn that terrorists have taken over the central tower. From there, our heroes have to do their best Die Hard impression, scaling the tower, defeating the villains, and saving the day one more time.

This relatively straightforward template leaves the film free to focus on the things it really cares about - fun interactions between My Hero Academia favorites, sweet fight scenes, and meditations on the franchise's central themes. Two Heroes seems fully aware of the fandom's favoritism in terms of its cast, and is here to please. The unsteady friendship between Bakugo and Kirishima gets plenty of focus, as does Yaoyorozu and Jiro's bond. Not every classmate gets to shine (Tsuyu and Tokoyami felt like the most glaring absences), but given the constraints of a feature film, Two Heroes does an excellent job of embracing My Hero Academia's ensemble appeal.

As for the fights, Two Heroes is littered with standout battles that demonstrate the ferocity and beauty of My Hero Academia at its best. With all of BONES' formidable resources at its disposal, you can look forward to standout cuts from fan favorites like Yutaka Nakamura, whose ability to conceptualize speed and power remain incomparable. There are battles of speed and battles of strength, battles with Todoroki and Bakugo fighting back-to-back, and battles that unite student and master in glorious combat. Probably my only complaint with Two Heroes' fights is the prevalence of unsatisfying CG robots as opponents, but those clashes only make up a small segment of this film's many fights, and the overall balance is stunning.

Finally, Two Heroes' thematic focus makes it feel like an impactful, natural evolution of the show's thoughts. As a former partner of All Might who now sees his inspiration weakening, Dave's thoughts on the Symbol of Peace provide a sober and welcome counterpoint to All Might's general positivity. His fears regarding the future underline a great deal of this story's drama, leading into a resolution that feels like a natural extension of My Hero Academia's perspective on heroism altogether. Framing My Hero Academia's belief in heroism as a force that inspires others in terms of generational inheritance makes Two Heroes feel utterly attuned to its source material, a thoughtful supplement to the manga's argument.

My Hero Academia: Two Heroes is packed in a standard slipcase and bluray case, with the film on both DVD and bluray. There are no physical extras, but the bluray disk includes a video called “The Making of a Hero,” which is essentially an energetically produced series of interviews with Two Heroes' english voice cast. We don't get any real production insights, but as far as voice actor interviews go, Making of a Hero does a nice job of bouncing between interviewees in order to create the sense of a roundtable discussion.

On the whole, Two Heroes feels as essential as a tie-in film possibly could. Embodying all the strengths of its source material, and offering a story that actually fills in some compelling details about Midoriya's world, Two Heroes is a propulsive and visually dazzling ride from start to finish. If you're a My Hero Academia fan, don't miss out on this immensely enjoyable film.

Production Info:
Overall (dub) : A-
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : A-
Animation : A-
Art : B
Music : B+

+ Delivers all the strong action and character of its source material, while offering a story that fills out some details of MHA's world
Overall plot is very familiar, use of CG robots makes for a few less engaging fight scenes

Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Script: Yousuke Kuroda
Music: Yuki Hayashi
Original creator: Kōhei Horikoshi
Original story: Kōhei Horikoshi
Original Character Design: Kōhei Horikoshi
Character Design: Yoshihiko Umakoshi
Art Director: Shigemi Ikeda
Chief Animation Director: Yoshihiko Umakoshi
Sound Director: Masafumi Mima
Director of Photography: Makoto Ikegami
Executive producer:
Yoshihiro Furusawa
Aki Takahashi
Koji Nagai
Kazuki Okamura
Yoshihiro Ozabu
Kazumasa Sanjo

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My Hero Academia THE MOVIE (movie)

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