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A second feature-length outing for the popular shonen (teenage boys) anime from Tokyo’s Bones studio, Heroes Rising milks the 21st-century superhero fetish with Japanese bizarro zeal. One of the villains here isn’t just an anthropomorphised wolf – he’s an anthropomorphised wolf with an alligator tail in a trench coat smoking a fat stogie. He’s one of a trio of malefactors who alight on Nabu island in order to steal a unique “Quirk” – a special ability exhibited by 80% of the world’s population in the My Hero Academia universe – from a local boy. Only Class 1-A – the apprentice saviours sent out on superhero work experience to what was supposed to be an evildoing backwater – stand in their way.
Heroes Rising starts out endearingly low-key: less Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters than a manga-haired version of the Prince’s Trust. At first, the greenhorn superheroes are stuck on mundane service provision for the villagers – the excellently Ronseal-named Chargezuma, for example, helps out with rundown car batteries. Unfortunately, this begets an annoying line in small-deeds-count-most pedagogy that sits uneasily with the ballistics frenzy that follows once the villain squad shows up. Badboy pupil Bakugo (voiced by Nobuhiko Okamoto), determined to outdo his nice-guy classmate Midoriya (Daiki Yamashita) and marmalise the invaders, is the film’s chief outlet for this destructive urge.
There’s a degree of strategic interest in the procession of battles, the youngsters trying to counteract lead baddie Nine (Yoshio Inoue), who never moves faster than an inexorable saunter. But all the exertion – fleshed out in visuals that veer from Astro Boy-aping cutesiness to interestingly rough closeups, as if the animation itself is fraying in the heat of battle – pays diminishing dividends. The panoply of powers begin to seem interchangeable, the character arcs dim. As Midoriya screams incessantly about the One for All, another legendary Quirk, My Hero Academia fanboys might be in heaven – but time slows down for everyone else. Not such a useful superpower.
• My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is released in the UK and in the US on 26 February and in Australia on 12 March.
Source: The Guardian
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