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My Hero Academia: Two Heroes is the first theatrical anime film released, based on the weekly Shonen Jump manga My Hero Academia written by Kohei Horikoshi. The film is written and directed by the duo of Yusuke Kuroda and Kenji Nagasaki respectively, with Horikoshi acting as a consultant. In addition all the original voice cast returned for the film. The film enjoyed a modest and comparatively successful limited run in western cinemas, managing to even break into the top ten of the US box office.
Nagasaki and Kuroda coming back was a massive plus as they are responsible for the three seasons that are currently out being the quality that they are, managing to translate a complex narrative, deep emotional beats, character development, and the bombast of the fight sequences to the anime format. The Midoriya and Tondoroki fight, along with the All Might and All For One fight, being two of the many high points. The fact that Yuki Hayashi returns to compose for the film is a massive bonus as his soundtrack for the show is one of the best in the past few years in my opinion.
With all of the praise that I have for the manga and the anime, and the abilities of the crew that are involved, I felt that one third of this film was fantastic, one third was fine, and one third was painful to watch. Having seen the film, you can tell which areas of the film the focus was really on.
The first act of the film had many instances of forced exposition trying to act as if they were dialogue, forcefully introducing characters one by one, with only the one reaction of surprise being replicated over and over. The humor fell flat so hard that it was almost embarrassing, compounding this with the fact that in this time frame there were multiple moments when it was either a still frame for multiple seconds or a still frame with one the mouth moving. The worst of it was when it was a still frame, the quality of the art work is far below par of what is expected of his team.
Admittedly, animation is an incredibly difficult and strenuous mode of storytelling, the Japanese animation industry even more so. However, in a year where we have the animation masterclass that was Maquia and Mirai, this film felt underwhelming during the first act, and many of the animation issues I listed were problems to be found in the television level, and incredibly rare on the big screen.
The second act saw a noticeable improvement in the technical and narrative quality of the film. There were far less still frames, the dialogue was somewhat sharper, and the overall quality of the animation was a marked improvement and far more consistent with the standard of the show. In fact, the closer we get to the finale, the more the standard of the film improved, slowly justifying as to why it is in cinemas. During this time there was some time devoted to new characters, particularly Melissa and David Shield. However, this is a side story to the anime and so because the chances of them turning up in the show are very rare, I did not care. (However, personally this was more to do with the scheduled release than the quality of the film, which I will address in a moment.)
The finale was fantastic, the dialogue was miles better, and the animation really flexed its muscles to the base standard of the series. The quality, combined with the intense sakuga, was breathtaking to see on the big screen. The third act lived up to what I wanted from, and at this point, expect from this franchise. The only constant throughout was the soundtrack, which is great.
Back to the release schedule. There is a precedent for original characters to appear in an adaptation of a manga. This came out after the third season ended in the west; however, it came out in the summer for Japan, and seeing this film at this point, it felt as if the story had regressed rather than progressed, and as a result, while I was engaged to the Shield family story, I ultimately did not end up caring.
In conclusion, it is a vibrant and wholly enjoyable film with many faults. In addition, it has a lot of heart to it which makes the film easy to take in. Therefore, despite my many criticisms, it is a film that I recommend, especially if you are an existing fan. If you are not yet a fan, I would instead recommend the series, primarily because many of the characters' backstory and development is handled in the series, and so much of the subtle nods would be missed to someone coming fresh.