From the very first scene, it’s clear that My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission has set the stakes ridiculously high. A terrorist organization called Humarise has created a chemical weapon that sends people’s quirks into overdrive, and the first city they use it on is completely destroyed: everyone with quirks dead, and only the “chosen” quirkless remain.
Unlike the last two films, My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission 2021 doesn’t waste any time jumping into action as the students of class 1-A and pro heroes are sent around the world to strike Humarise. It’s also pretty clear from the jump that this film’s animation style is slightly different, with a bigger emphasis on exaggerated expressions for characters and action scenes. The animation definitely isn’t worse, per se, but there’s a visible difference.
While the entirety of class 1-A appears at some point, this film really is all about the journey of Deku, Bakugo, and Todoroki, as well as a brand new character named Rody Soul. The trio, along with Endeavor, is sent to the European country of Otheon to fight Humarise, and this takes me to the first thing I really love about World Heroes’ Mission, seeing more of the world.
The country of Otheon is markedly different from the scenery of Japan, with rustic old buildings and rolling hills of countryside. It’s also fantastic to see other areas of the world, like San Francisco, Egypt, and France, along with some fresh faces of the heroes that work there. Take, for example, the utterly ridiculous Pharoah hero from Egypt whose quirk is the fact that he’s 2D.
Seeing heroes around the world fight this new threat really adds a sense of scale and gravitas that the past two films simply didn’t have.
While World Heroes’ Mission kicks off with a bang, the middle of the movie slows down and focuses more on character development, specifically as Deku and a new character named Rody Soul go on the run from the law. Rody is a citizen of Otheon, who lives with his two younger siblings in a trailer park. He and Deku inadvertently get caught up in a scheme hatched by Humarise and find themselves on the run from both the law and the terrorist organization.
Rody himself brings a really interesting facet to My Hero Academia Movies, as he’s a more grounded character that’s spent a large chunk of his life experiencing the dark side of humanity. He initially doesn’t believe in the said “justice” heroes pursue, but he also causes Deku to contemplate what being a hero actually means. The dynamic between the two is a huge highlight of the story, and Rody is probably my favorite original character out of all three films.
What doesn’t fare as well, however, is the film’s villain, Flect Turn. The leader of Humarise spends most of the film orchestrating things from the shadows, and it’s not until the very end that we even find out any of his backstory. How the character’s past ties in with his quirk is interesting, but Flect Turn’s development absolutely feels lacking, especially coming after the great job the previous film did with making its villain, Nine, sympathetic.
What World Heroes’ Mission is big on is action, as you can scarcely go ten minutes without another big combat scene erupting. I don’t consider it a bad thing, though, as it gives the movie a kind of breakneck pace, especially in the second half. This makes absolute sense for the ridiculously high stakes the movie has set up, and this time around the battles are consistently jaw-droppingly animated. There’s a lot of stylization in these fights with unique camera angles and ideas, but it by and large works. Deku, Todoroki, and Bakugo all get their time to shine, with each of the three getting their own penultimate fight. As mentioned earlier, this is a film about that trio specifically, and because of that the rest of Class 1-A don’t get their own time in the spotlight. It’s a bit disappointing, to be sure, but the bombastic fights near the end help make up for it.
World Heroes’ Mission is definitely a different beast from the past two films, one that’s more focused on bombastic battles instead of quiet character moments, even though those are still there to a degree. While there’s something lost by not featuring more of the cast at large, I thoroughly enjoyed the new elements in World Heroes’ Mission, and the film easily makes the My Hero Academia universe feel larger and grander than before. Lack of the usual exposition and explanations of the series’ ideas mean this is a film aimed squarely at fans of the franchise, but it’s a heck of a good time if you are one.