My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is hitting the US theaters in a couple days. I decided to go back and watch the teams first film, Two Heroes, to review. The problem is that upon rewatching it something else hit me. It should have just been a filler arc in the anime.
This drive came from how standard the whole affair is. The film is a side story set before the start of the third season, on the cusp of summer break the students go to I-Island, an island where all the biggest hero tech is made. Criminals storm the opening event and it’s up to the students of 1-A to save the day and find out what really is happening. It also fleshes out All Might’s history with a side kick he had in America who is now a big tech producer. It’s not that any of this can’t be cinematic. It’s just not present in a cinematic way.
The movie doesn’t look substantially higher quality than the show itself. That could be high praise for how quality the series is, but instead it is a double edge sword. The show looks great, but the movie looks like it was made on the same budget and time. I am sure there are some scenes and moments that would be outside what the show can do, maybe the opening in America, or the ending fight with the villain, but the rest of the film does not have that high quality. It suffers from issues most TV anime have. Not all the faces are well drawn in, and most characters don’t move a whole lot. That’s passable in the series because that is standard. However, when you have high quality works coming out by other studios it doesn’t cut the mustard in the same way. In the end what it feels like I am describing is a filler arc.
That is normal. Most Shonen Jump anime films are just side stories where the characters hang out and we get a shorter narrative about other characters. None of these were ever cannon until the recent Dragon Ball film trilogy of Battle of Gods to Broly. The latest One Piece films also feel more substantial, but with not being caught up it is harder to tell. This is all to say that Two Heroes is in the majority storytelling wise. Animation wise it can vary. Some anime films like the mid release One Piece and early Dragon Ball Z have high quality animation that looks stellar. Others, like the Inu Yasha films are closer to the quality of Two Heroes. In the end however, Two Heroes feels like a filler arc, and I think it should have been one.
This might sound blasphemous. Anime fans hate filler. From the dreaded dozens of episodes stuck on an exploding Namek that is supposed to be destroyed in minutes, or Naruto and company trying to de-mask Kakashi only to find out he has a second mask under his first one. Filler is dull and hated. However that is not always the case. The events in the One Piece anime after the Straw Hats escape Skypeia only to end up in a navy base is beloved. I personally really enjoy the Bleach arc where all the spirits inside their swords break free and they must fight them. Those both felt like an actual mixup of formula, and added to the mythos.
Now, My Hero Academia the anime stood out because of is its seasonal release schedule not requiring filler to be produced. That’s not accurate however. My Hero Academia did have filler. When the students went on their work study and we spend an entire episode with Asui and the seal guy as they fight crab villains is filler. The start of the third season had an episode that acted more as a primer and reintroduction to class 1-A before sending them away to the training camp in the mountains. Then this film is set up by a filler episode that literally stops the plot to tell us another adventure that ends in All Might getting the invitation to I Island. So My Hero Academia is not a stranger to filler.
The film, though a side story, does feel substantial. We learn more about All Might and his history, something Deku needs. We get another one of One For All’s schemes that helps build to the climax between All Might and One for All in season 3. Finally it helps give Deku the idea to protect his arms from the recoil of using All For One. Those things might not be well fleshed out, but could have been expanded if it went four or six episodes over a 90 minute film.
Even with all of that said it could still have ended up as a bog standard story. In other words it would still be below My Hero Academia’s standards.
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