'My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising' Review: Action & Character Moments Overshadow a Lackluster Ending

My Hero Academia is one of the most popular anime in the world. And with one feature-length film already under its belt, it's no surprise a second movie featuring the heroes of Class 1-A is on the way.

Heroes Rising brings the action and character-centric moments that make the anime and manga so beloved and amp it up in this fun side story that new and existing fans can enjoy.

Of course, it'll benefit you if you're already aware of the story and characters, but Heroes Rising does a solid job of keeping the events of the movie encapsulated to its almost two-hour runtime. It offers enough key moments to give new viewers an idea of who the characters are and how their world operates.

my hero academia heroes rising poster
Funimation

It should be noted that Heroes Rising takes place much further into the story than the anime, so, if you haven't read the manga, then you may feel a bit lost or even spoiled by certain aspects of the plot.

The movie starts with The League of Villains running from the Pro Heroes with some precious cargo. Don't get used to seeing both factions, though, as this is the only part they play in the movie. While that may seem like a detriment, it actually works to the film's benefit. After all, Heroes Rising - just as the title suggests - is about the heroes-in-training of Class 1-A and how they handle situations above their pay grade.

Deku, Bakugo and the rest of the gang are sent to Nabu Island, where there's only 1,000 residents and crime is non-existent. There, they can practice being heroes. What starts out as the class doing mundane tasks, like finding lost cats and helping elderly people go to the hospital, quickly becomes life or death when a new group of villains arrives on shore.

Led by the powerful villain, Nine, the group seeks to make a world where power trumps everything. He's gathered a tribe of villains hoping to make his dream a reality. He has his sights set on a particular child's quirk that will help him realize his goal. This plot point, in itself, becomes problematic, as the villain's execution isn't any more extravagant or improved over what fans already know. This detail may not matter for newcomers, but it might leave true enthusiasts feeling hollow.

For instance, Chimera, Nine's right hand, is seen being discriminated against for his looks, which is why he ultimately joins up with the villain. Similar motivations were leveraged in the manga with Spinner of the League of Villains, so the concept feels like a retread of past ideas.

And Nine doesn't really explain why this quest for power is so important to him either. He just appears, wants to change the world and that's it. Some more depth could have gone a long way to make the narrative of Heroes Rising more authentic.

my hero academia heroes rising nine
Nine is the villain of "My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising" Funimation

With that said, having Nine accompanied by three other villains helps give each student of Class 1-A their own time to shine, especially in the final battle where, in true Shonen Jump fashion, a group of heroes is sent to deal with one villain at a time. Even smaller characters like Mineta and Ashido get sequences designed to really show what they can do.

One of the main reasons why I love My Hero Academia is how its quirks are employed. While there are powerful quirks like super strength and the ability to shoot fire from your hands, it's the outside-the-box thinking paired with some of the unusual powers that make fights fresh and unique. This much is exceptionally well executed in Heroes Rising

While its plot is solid, Rising's fight scenes are some of the most crisp and dynamic in the entire series. The way the villains continue to power up and put the pressure on our heroes really makes you feel as though they won't be able to overcome the threat.

And that final fight is especially worthy of discussion. There's plenty of fan service in this fight, and, while that's all well and good, I couldn't help but feel let down by the aftermath and closing moments of Heroes Rising.

Avoiding spoilers, everything returns to the status quo after a shocking and life-altering decision is made in the final battle. I understand that this film isn't supposed to alter the anime and manga that is still going on but, the ending does take some of the impact from that final fight away, especially if series creator Kohei Horikoshi wants to try it again in the future.

my hero academia heroes rising group shot
Funimation

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is an enjoyable film that's faithful to the source material. Fans of the series will love its character moments and actions, especially if you're a fan of certain minor protagonists.

The fight scenes are some of the most dynamic in the series, so, if you're a connoisseur of animated kickassery, Heroes Rising will likely offer exactly what you're looking for.

While the plot and emphasis on the students without the pro heroes works well, the movie's shallow villains and lackluster ending left a bitter taste.

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising releases in theaters February 26.