The popular My Hero Academia franchise rolls on with World Heroes Mission, which comes to America in dubbed and subtitled versions. (I screened the dubbed version.) Coming on the heels of last year's Heroes Rising, the plot follows the further adventures of Deku, the young student who dreamed of becoming a full-fledged hero like his peers at a special high school. He gets his chance, as he and the others face a fearsome new villain whose goal is to wipe them all out. Although the film builds on ideas introduced in the TV series and previous theatrical entries, you don't necessarily need to have seen them to follow what happens here.
A terrorist group called Humarise, led by the megalomaniacal Flect Turn, has just unleashed a chemical weapon upon a city. It robs heroes of their “quirks” – the special powers they use to help the general population. Several more bombs are hidden at various spots around the globe, so the students of U.A. High School have to spring into action. At the center of the plot are Deku and his new friend Rody, a delivery boy who ends up in possession of a briefcase that may or may not contain a way to prevent mass calamity. The problem is that, in the process of investigating it, they're accused of a crime they didn't commit, meaning they have to elude their pursuers at the same time.
My Hero Academia: World Heroes Mission has the quality animation people expect from the series. There are several sequences that are really advanced for the format. One is a tracking shot of a character as he goes through a parkour-like sprint. Another takes place across the top of a bridge, and it's absolutely dizzying. Clearly, the animation team has been pushing itself to give audiences new, increasingly sophisticated images. As is typically the case with these anime movies, the finale is a huge splash of random colors and shapes as the characters engage in an epic clash. That's done well, too, conveying the power that the combatants are directing at one another.
One of the things I've responded to during my brief exposure to this series is the creativity it embraces. Flect Turn, for example, has a really unique power that I won't reveal here because the revelation of it marks an important plot point. Still, it's sufficiently clever that I wondered how Deku would ever get past it. Another character has massive hand grenades around his wrists, and there's a running bit involving Rody and his pet bird that pays off in a very satisfying manner. The idea of young people with special powers could come off as a mere X-Men ripoff, except that My Hero Academia constantly strives to envision new ways to present that concept.
Along with an abundance of action, World Heroes Mission also has some wonderful moments of humor, as well as an emotional center that comes out in the third act. The story takes its characters and their lives seriously. Longtime fans of My Hero Academia will certainly take pleasure in seeing this new chapter. Those who are curious about the franchise, or anime in general, can find plenty to enjoy, too. The movie is fun and imaginative, with an energy level that sweeps you up.
out of four
My Hero Academia: World Heroes Mission is rated PG-13 for bloody images, violent material, and some language. The running time is 1 hour and 44 minutes.