My Hero Academia returns to the big screen this week. Releasing alongside the show’s fifth season, My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission is the third film in Kōhei Horikoshi’s shonen manga franchise to hit theaters.
Cast and crew all return for this film, which features an original story from series director Kenji Nagasaki and scriptwriter Yōsuke Kuroda (dubbed by Jeremy Kraatz), with animation by studio Bones. And it mostly speaks for itself, World Heroes’ Mission has been out in Japan since August, where the film already grossed $29 million at the box office. Given the many constraints that telling an original story in the continuity of an otherwise faithful adaptation carries, you can probably figure out where all the characters — new and old — will end up by the end of this.
World Heroes’ Mission wants to be considered more alongside its counterparts in the comic-book superhero movie space, than the manga-adapted scene. While My Hero Academia’s popularity is owed in part to its unique identity when contrasted with the CGI filled live-action stuff coming out of Hollywood, the colorful optimism of heroes past does feel just different enough to make an otherwise inconsequential story feel worth the watch. That and the well-choreographed fights that Marvel still can’t seem to figure out.
Squeezing itself between the Endeavor Agency and Paranormal Liberation War Arc, World Heroes’ Mission sweeps class 1-A from their work study into the field when a cultish terrorist organization threatens a global attack on everyone with a quirk. It’s the biggest threat the Quirk Doomsday Theory has sparked yet. The group, Humarize, is led by the large robed and blue-skinned Flect Turn (Robbie Daymond) who seeks to split the class up along with their hero bosses around the world.
Deku, Bakugo, and Todoroki (reprised by Justin Briner, Clifford Chapin, and David Matranga, respectively) take off with Endeavor to the fictional European country of Otheon. Briefly mentioned in season five, Otheon becomes the primary setting for the film. It’s a fictional seaside town in Europe that looks kinda like if 20th century San Francisco with a big red bridge and cable cars was dropped in the French countryside along with favelas that fit into the series’ futuristic architecture.
And it’s there that we meet the other new characters of the film, the epitome of good intentions Rody Soul (Ryan Colty Levy) and his songbird familiar Pino (Cristina Vee). Rody, our deuteragonist, gets tangled up in Deku’s hero-ing when both suddenly find themselves in Humarize’s web. And things go from there the way you’d expect a superhero movie to go. Given all the characters have to end up back on the adaptation’s schedule in season six, the formula works.
When I saw its first 10 minutes at NYCC earlier this month, I was worried that World Heroes’ Mission might get tangled up in some baggage. Using genocide as a premise introduces some thorny issues that My Hero Academia hasn’t tackled too directly before. While superhero anime and related stories have in the past sought to address eugenics in their worlds, like bending in The Legend of Korra and burnish Promare, these usually walk a fraught line that is inevitable when metaphorizing away real-world marginalization. World Heroes’ Mission on the other hand just doesn’t really go there.
And like I’m kinda okay with that? This film carries little of the sort of baggage that I’m accustomed to with superhero stories today. It’s a well-animated romp, with superheroes being the embodiment of capital-G-Good. It’s more My Hero Academia. And it’s out Oct. 29 in the US and Canada.
A fun if inconsequential romp across the world for the heroes of class 1-A.