There’s no denying the power and popularity of superheroes today. While Marvel is dominating the superhero market in the US, there’s another superhero juggernaut that has dominated the animation landscape for the past couple of years and is well worth your time. I’m referring to My Hero Academia, the uber-popular manga and anime franchise created by Kohei Horikoshi.

The manga is so popular it is constantly topping the graphic novel sales charts in the US, and the anime has been running for four seasons and it’s easy to become obsessed with it. Even Hollywood has recognized the potential goldmine of My Hero Academia, as they’re threatening with making a highly unnecessary live-action adaptation. Now that the second feature film based on the manga, My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, is about to be released in theaters, you may be wondering if you need to be caught with the series to watch it. To help prepare you for the release of the film, here’s everything you need to know to get ready for My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising.

What Is It?

Imagine a world with superpowers. Not with a few superheroes running around, but a world where 80% of the total population has some sort of power, or “quirk.” These quirks are kind of like mutant abilities in the Marvel universe. They range from flashy and powerful abilities like being able to make your sweat explode, to more physical mutations like permanently looking like solid rock, or even a weird bird-like creature, to smaller quirks like just having a tail (really, he just has a tail). Because quirks have been around for the past several generations, they’ve become as common as different eye colors, but they’ve fundamentally changed everything about society.

Because of the overabundance of superpowered people, the profession of “hero” was created to combat the many villains that use their quirks to commit crimes. These heroes have become the celebrities of the show’s world, with sponsorship deals being common and sought after, and special school courses and license tests becoming common for wannabe-heroes.

My Hero Academia is really like X-Men meets Sky High (which is severely underrated, you know). We follow young Midoriya Izuku, who was born quirkless but has always dreamed of being a hero. After a fateful meeting with Japan’s number 1 hero, All Might, Midoriya inherits All Might’s power, One for All. The series then deals with Midoriya having to harness and control his incredibly powerful quirk, as he and his class deal with the rise of a new villain organization.

Do I Need To Be Up To Date?

It depends on who you ask. The previous movie, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes took place a full season behind where the anime was at the time, so there was no need to know a lot about the show. This time, Heroes Rising takes place just after part one of season 4, so even though the film is technically non-canon to the manga storyline, a lot has happened in the world of the show that may go over the head of newcomers.

For starters, though the series focuses on the everyday school aspect of a superhero-to-be’s career, the first season ended with the introduction of a mysterious group of organized villains. This League of Villains is led by Tomura Shigaraki and wants to kill All Might and destroy him as a symbol of peace.

Even if the anime doesn’t directly connect to the film, it’s important to know what Midoriya and his classmates have just been through their most difficult challenge yet, which has left them deep emotional scars – they faced against a yakuza-type criminal organization and for the first time saw heroes die in combat. So when the characters get a chance to go to a peaceful, vacation-like place, they jump at the opportunity.

Okay, So What Has Happened That Could Play Into The Movie?

In season 3, Shigaraki’s mentor, and All Might’s old archenemy, All For One decided to fight All Might once and for all. The epic fight (really, it truly is epic) results in All Might’s power depleting and him being forced to hang up his cape. This has huge ramifications for My Hero Academia, as villains start feeling emboldened to come out into the light, unafraid of All Might catching them. We’ve seen the repercussions of this in season 4, which has a new villain rise up to rebel against quirk-based society with a nasty plan to take people’s quirks away, which puts extra pressure on other heroes and our high-school protagonists to rise up and fill the void left by All Might.

Equally important is the truth behind Midoriya’s quirk, One For All. Because he was born without a quirk, All Might felt Midoriya had the makings of a true hero, so he decided to pass his own quirk down to the young aspiring hero – the quirk is a transferrable power that stockpiles an enormous amount of raw power which can be passed on from one user to the next, giving the recipient superhuman strength, speed, agility, and durability. Obviously this is supposed to be a secret because society could collapse or at the very least there would be a scandal about the number 1 hero giving his superpowers to a random kid (see Spider-Man: Far From Home for more on why you shouldn’t give a kid tremendous power). There’s only one problem here, Midoriya’s classmate and longtime rival, Bakugo, knows the secret behind One For All. This creates an even bigger riff between the two, as Bakugo also admired All Might as a kid and felt jealous that Midoriya received this incredibly powerful gift. Though season 4 so far hasn’t given these two much time together to discuss things, the movie could play into this new dynamic, as Bakugo now knows Midoriya to be the most powerful person alive, even if he can’t control his power.

Lastly, last season Midoriya and her classmates at U.A. High School go through their Provisional License Exams in order to start doing actual hero work legally. But while the vast majority of the class passes the exam, Bakugo and another kid with a very strong quirk named Todoroki fail the exam. This means that the two best and most powerful students (that can actually control their quirk) in the class can’t legally help if they’re under attack by villains. Kind of like an underaged kid in Harry Potter using magic.

And that’s pretty much it in terms of broad plot points that you may need to know before Heroes Rising gets released in theaters. The manga creator, Kohei Horikoshi has said that this probably will be the last movie for the franchise, and that he uses one of the concepts he originally intended for the manga’s final battle in the movie. So now that you’re prepared, it is time to go beyond. Plus Ultra!

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