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My Hero Academia : Two Heroes (2018)

In a world where 80% of the population has special abilities, superheroes and villains are part of everyday life. With Schools out for summer, aspiring super Deku/Midoriya accompanies his mentor All Might to I Island, the home of a prestigious I-Expo for Heroes. When villains show up and take the whole Island hostage, it's up to Deku and his classmates to step up and save the day.

My Hero Academia: Two Heroes is the first feature-length release spun off from the popular anime series, produced by Studio Bones. It was originally released in Japanese cinemas in August 2018, and takes place between the second and third seasons of the TV series. The English language version was produced by Funimation and released in the UK via Manga Entertainment.

Two Heroes is a movie based on a Shonen Jump property which brings with it certain baggage. Traditionally, these movies were churned out on the cheap, produced concurrently with the ongoing series. Most early Dragon Ball Z or One Piece 'movies' barely clock in at an hour in run time. As a consequence, Jump movies do not have the best in reputations, even among fans.

More recently though, this has begun to change and a more thoughtful approach has been taken. And the quality of the movies has improved exponentially as a result.

My Hero Academia has benefited greatly from the decision to produce regular seasons rather than year-round episodes a la One Piece. It's allowed the production values and quality to remain consistent throughout. This carries on into the movie. which in story terms takes place between the second and third seasons of the show.

Although it feels largely like an extended episode of the series, that's not to say that it doesn't justify its existence as a movie. The change of location allows for a nicely self-contained storyline which puts our characters to the test. All Might is quickly taken out of the equation, so it's up to the young heroes in training (who all happen to also be holidaying on the island) to come to the rescue.

One of the limitations of these films is that they have to avoid anything that rocks the boat narratively. By the end of the film, everything must return to the status quo. This means that they tend to lack tension- but then again, who really expects a series like this to kill off its central characters anyway? Game Of Thrones this is not.

One way creators have found to get around this is to introduce movie-only characters. In this case, we get All Might's old friend David Shield, and his daughter Melissa (who befriends Midoriya and co). They fit in perfectly well with the world of the show but don't leave much of a lasting impression. The same can be said for movie-only villain Wolfram, a masked baddie who exists purely to give our heroes someone to fight.

There's nothing particularly revolutionary or original about the plot- but then there really never needed to be. It exists purely as a reason to bring the cast together in a colourful new location and an excuse for some typically exciting action. And in those terms, it's an unqualified success.  All Might reuniting with old friend David does at least give us an excuse to see The Symbol Of Peace as a young man. It's a rare chance to see him in action in his prime, and it's a hoot.

Bones have ensured that the series always looks excellent and the movie is consistent with that. If there is any upgrade for the big screen, it's barely noticeable.

The film is designed for fans of the series, but that doesn't mean it's entirely impenetrable to newcomers. If the combination of anime tropes and western super-hero mythology appeals then watching the movie is a pretty effective way of dipping a toe in. You'll be able to pick up enough to follow what's going on, but this works well as a standalone action tale.

Most of the major cast get at least a moment in the film, but some fans may feel that their favourite got short-changed. This is very much Deku's story- and newcomer Melissa gets more screen time than most of the regulars.

For anyone fully already aboard the My Hero train though,Two Heroes delivers in spades. It doesn't entirely escape the limitations of a Jump movie but it should more than satisfy fans - at least until the next season arrives.


IN A NUTSHELL: There's no need to fear... Two Heroes is here! And it rocks.

*Review disc supplied by Manga Entertainment*