I was pretty surprised that I got to see this. I knew I was going to the city for work but the odds of my intended travel lining up with the week this movie was released were pretty low so I hadn’t even checked where it was airing until I realised that I was in the city at the same time that this was about to be released. Imagine my surprise when not only was it the same week but the local cinema was playing it (even if not a single staff member there seemed to know what the movie was, that it was on, and couldn’t correctly identify the language it was playing in given I was told at least three times when trying to buy a ticket it was in Japanese and then I got the English version). That said, getting to see an anime movie at the cinema is a rare novelty (I’ll be honest, getting to the cinema at all is a novelty for me these days as I’m only in a location with a cinema two or three times a year) so I was pretty excited about going.
And I almost had a private screening. Almost. No surprise. While the cinemas website had the movie listed there wasn’t a single poster or advertisement in the cinema for the movie. The title was listed on the printed schedule with the viewing time but nothing else. No synopsis or description (the only movie on the list lacking additional information). I’m not exactly amazed that not many people were aware of the session. However, right as the lights dimmed and the ads started playing, two groups came in and so six of us got to watch My Hero Academia.
So how was the movie?
I’m going to skip to the punchline and then I’ll explain, but really this was not a good movie. Much like my experience with the Sword Art Online movie which was my really only other anime movie experience, as a fan of My Hero Academia, there were moments I appreciated, but the movie itself is riddled with issues. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Fans of My Hero Academia will definitely get something out of this film and will probably have a great time. However, looking at it as a film it is lacking.
However, if what you are after is seeing your favourite cast of super hero teens in a new location, wearing formal wear, and fighting off villains and robots before seeing a fight where Midoriya and All Might are side by side in the dramatic final punch, this movie is going to deliver. Beautifully. And part of that tells you that the writers know what the target audience is wanting from this show. If a sketched out set up is enough for you to lead into a bomabastic series of fights leading up to an overblown final battle that very much suits the tone of the series, then you will have little to complain about.
That said, it kind of misses a lot of what I liked about the series and as I said, as a film it is kind of wanting. So specifically what were my issues with it? (Keep in mind, I did have fun with this, I just kind of wanted a more balanced film given all the hype.)
My first issue is with the art itself. While the animation is beautiful and fluid, as you would expect from Bones, there are some really lazy scenes where characters who aren’t in the forefront of the scene become really distorted, particularly faces. And while this isn’t the end of the world and there are some very pretty scenes in the movie, it was noticeable. I kind of expected slightly more consistent quality given the build up to this movie and to be honest even main characters suffered at times when they weren’t foregrounded. This was really noticeable during the opening sequence which is a flash back showing All Might at the beginning of his career. While it seemed to get better, or I stopped paying as much attention to it as the film progressed, it wasn’t a great first impression because while the movement was lovely, the characters in particular were not.
However, looking at the story itself, it suffers from its desire to have its cake and eat it too. They set up a story where All Might takes Midoriya away for the Summer and yet they want the entire class to make an appearance in this film. Let’s now waste a lot of time in the first half wandering around and ‘bumping’ into groups of classmates with increasingly contrived reasons to be on the island. Half of them don’t even end up in the final fight at all because while they are on the island they aren’t at the party so we literally just get occasional cuts to them waiting in hotel rooms. Why even bother wasting time with these characters? They aren’t important to this story? Why can’t My Hero Academia ever commit to just cutting the extras when all including them does is destroy the pacing or make you wonder why none of the other students ever really get a moment to shine?
We also then have the villain’s plot which is pretty transparent though I guess none of us were expecting much more from it really. The villains in My Hero Academia haven’t exactly come off as the strongest of points for the narrative so I guess we’ll settle for what we get including the ‘reveal’ that anyone with half a clue saw coming from the moment we met the character.
I did enjoy meeting Melissa Steel. She was a great character and worked well with Midoriya in this film. I really would have liked even less of the usual classmates so that we could have had more time with her as she was quite interesting and you can totally see her being Midoriya’s supporter in the future (rather like Q in James Bond).
And, as overblown as that final fight was, it was still kind of cool. Logically in makes no sense and why the building didn’t fall over is a little beyond me, but still cool. What I don’t buy is Bakugo waiting with the others while Midoriya and All Might go for the final blow, but again, whatever. Just another case of having a character in a scene and not knowing what to do with them.
While we are discussing Bakugo though, he and Todoroki did get a fairly fantastic fight sequence against some villains. Kirishima was there but got taken out pretty early on. Anyway, if you ever wanted to see Bakugo and Todoroki wearing formal wear and fighting back to back, this scene is everything you ever hoped for and I really enjoyed that particular sequence.
The female cast from the class are as usual criminally underused in vague supporting roles and not getting to really get into any of the fights. Uraraka didn’t even get one moment of hand to hand fighting and while her floating ability did once again offer valuable support, we’ve seen how tough this girl can be and her lack of active roles in fights is really starting to be annoying.
Basically, the film is a mixed bag. If you just want a fun movie with the cast you already like, then go for it. If you were hoping this would be some epic film that could stand alone or even convince others of the sheer brilliance that My Hero Academia sometimes has to offer, then it probably is going to fall short of those expectations.
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