After watching My Hero Academia Heroes Rising, I sat there pondering what the movie was trying to convey to its audience. In my previous post, I talked about the benefits of watching anime and the importance of active engagement through entertainment. Lost in thought, I desperately tried to find some meaning or message from this movie. I was too overwhelmed with emotions that I couldn’t think straight, and eventually decided to give it a day to let the rollercoaster ride settle its course.

A day has gone by, and the question is, are there any key takeaways from My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising? Senpai thinks there are some worth mentioning.

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of this post, I’d like to warn that this post will contain spoilers from the movie My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising. If you haven’t watched the movie, I recommend you do so because it was an enjoyable experience and the animation at the end is quite a spectacle. I’ll link the trailer if you haven’t watched it already.

For the sake of those with short attention spans, the key ideas that I got from this movie are as follows. I’ll dig deeper into each one, and give you my take on these key ideas/themes as we go along.

What makes someone a hero?

In the movie, Katsuma, who lives with his older sister on Nabu Island, dreams of becoming a hero. The catch is that he believes that his quirk isn’t cut out for a hero’s line of work. This made me question the whole foundation of what it means to be a hero. The goose chase starts below.

The stereotypical hero

Under normal circumstances or through the stereotypical portrayal of heroes, a hero is usually someone who fights evil with the superhuman ability that they have. What makes this question hard to answer in this case is because people with quirks(superpowers) are the new norm which comprises 80% of the population in My Hero Academia. So how can we determine if someone is a hero or not? Is it people with powers, or people without powers?

The answer is neither.

Looking at things from a different perspective, quirks in its essence is just a representation of someone’s innate talent. I’m sure many people will disagree, but I find that with this perspective, there’s a lot to be learned from this anime. Humans aren’t born equal. This monologue is echoed by Midoriya in the very first episode and is his first realization of the world.

All men are not created equal . Bakugo from My Hero Academia Heroes Rising Going Plus Ultra

With this perspective in mind, people are born with different natural talents. These talents also differ in degrees of strength and usefulness in fighting villains and saving people. Are heroes only those with these specific talents?

They are, but it’s more nuanced than that.

In my opinion, I believe that a hero is someone with a choice. The choice is whether to use the quirk(talent) that they have for a good cause, or let it go to waste. Anyone can be a hero, but not in ways that you think. If we look at quirks from a talent standpoint, some people have the talent to fight, but some people have the talent of intellect. What makes them a hero isn’t the number of villains they defeat or the number of people that they save. It’s the choice to make use of your talent for the greater good.

Sidekicks, students from the support course, a quirk that’s useful in building, and the quirkless few can all be heroes. It all boils down to the question of how they utilize their quirks, and for what cause? A noble one or a vile one. The only reason Midoriya couldn’t be a hero at the beginning of the show was that he wanted to be a hero in a stereotypical sense.

To put it simply, anyone can be a hero if they follow the path most inclined to them. Someone who has the talent to be a doctor wouldn’t excel well at being a carpenter. The skillset might be different, but they’re both heroes in their unique way.

Ability is one thing, but it goes hand in hand with our intentions of being a hero.

“Many heroes all show the same quality when they’re younger. They all remember their bodies moving before their minds could think.”

If you haven’t found your talent, that doesn’t mean you don’t have one. Keep experiencing more things in life, and when you feel that calling or that ease towards something you’ll realize that it was there all along.

Katsuma, is more of a hero than most for instinctively trying to protect his sister even though he didn’t have the means to do so.

Now, on to the next big idea of My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising.

No man is an island

A group of students from class 1-A in My Hero Academia Heroes Rising: Going Plus Ultra

Sometimes being called a hero, or having abilities that far surpass other people can make us feel like we’re invincible. For example, we can get caught up with the idea that a hero doesn’t need help from other people when we see All Might in action. This is a huge mistake that we can make.

During the movie, there are multiple scenes where we see teamwork being the key to victory. Sometimes while watching the tv series, I forget the importance of the side characters. I’m glad the movie did a good job showing that having a super-strong quirk doesn’t ensure victory without teamwork. Naruto is one example of a shounen that relies too heavily on their main characters until some of the side characters get called useless. Sorry, Sakura.

Why is teamwork important?

Teamwork is important for a lot of different reasons that I shall not list. The one thing I’d like to touch on is that it’s important because no one can do everything alone. Tying into my previous point, some people are good at fighting like Bakugo and Todoroki, but some people are more suited towards other things like evacuation. In the movie, you can see that everyone was assigned groups, and each group had a specific task. This was essential in trying to defeat Nine and his buddies.

People are stronger when they come together and share a common goal.

The importance of having faith in others

You can become a hero. All Might and Deku My Hero Academia Heroes Rising: Going Plus Ultra

Most anime that I watch share a common principle which centres around the concept of self-belief. When I was younger, I clung to this idea that as long as I believed in myself, everything was going to work out in the end. Just like in Naruto right? Wrong. I love Naruto as much as the next kid, but growing up, I realized that self-belief is as important as having at least one person you respect have complete faith in you.

Why is this?

Purely from personal experience, I once had complete confidence in my abilities until one incident shattered it all to pieces. I was an introvert getting decent grades in school, but this one teacher kept picking on me for no reason. This teacher didn’t plan to stop, and I was in his class for three years. Year after year, he kept chipping away at my confidence until I almost lost all the self-confidence I could muster. I only managed to move forward thanks to my family that believed in me to their bone. Anime also helped a ton.

I’m not trying to turn this into a sob story, but my point being is that having at least one person that you respect have total belief in you is essential for growth as much as self-belief is. Imagine, everyone, telling you that you can’t do something without any basis whatsoever. People bring others down to feel better about themselves. Eventually, their voice will drown yours no matter how strong you think you are. That’s why I admire Naruto, but that’s not how the world works.

Why does it have to be someone we respect or look up to?

That’s because it’s the key to help you regain that self-confidence you lost. If it’s someone you don’t admire, you’ll start questioning that person as well as yourself. We’re so fragile that anyone can put us down easily, but to piece ourselves together we need someone who we perceive as better than us to give us that push out of the abyss.

All Mights complete faith in Deku, and Deku believing in Katsuma that he can be a great hero

This concept is evident in the series as well as in the movie. The class of 1-A all have complete belief in each other’s capabilities, and this is essential for the teamwork I was talking about earlier. One example from the movie brought me to tears because of how relatable it seemed to my personal experience. This scene also closely resembles one that happened in the first season.

You can become a hero. Katsuma and Deku in My Hero Academia Heroes Rising: Going Plus Ultra

Deku, who understands firsthand the importance of having someone believe in him knew what he needed to do to push the boy in the right direction. If you’ve ever doubted yourself before, I’m sure this scene will leave you teary-eyed.

Principles vs goals

Towards the end of the movie, something bizarre yet very thought-provoking happened, which led me to this question. What would be the right choice to make between sacrificing one’s goals or abandoning one’s principles?

Transferring of quirk All For One between Midoriya and Kacchan. My Hero Academia Heroes Rising: Going Plus Ultra after fighting Nine

I can’t say that I’ve discovered the answer to this question, but I still find it worth discussing. During the fight with Nine, Deku realizes that the only way to beat Nine was to have two All For One users fight against him. This would mean transferring All For Own to Bakugo and consequently losing it.

I’m sure this was a controversial moment, and it didn’t sit well with me. Deku would fail to achieve his goal, but it would mean he stayed true to his principle of making sure everyone around him was safe. We also have to acknowledge Bakugo who once said he’d rather lose than seek Deku’s help. In this case, Bakugo is abandoning his principle.

Interesting, isn’t it?

What is the right choice and where do we draw the line?

I guess it depends on the situation and the outcome of the choices made. To be honest, even then I don’t think I’ll know what would be the right thing to do, but I do believe a decision has to be made.

Some people would kill for a good cause even though that goes against their principles. Some choose to keep their sword sheath because it seems like the moral thing to do, but their goals for the greater good will come to nothing.

You decide for yourself.

Nine’s elitist worldview against the meritocracy system

Nine's elitist worldview in My Hero Academia Heroes Rising: Going Plus Ultra

I don’t have much to say about him, but I think his ideology and worldview is worth mentioning. Nine believes that the world should be ruled based on the strength of one’s quirk. The stronger the quirk, the higher you’ll be on the hierarchy. Essentially, this is what I believe is an elitist ideology.

I wish I could know more about his story as to why he would adopt such an ideology. Based on the movie, I’m guessing that society has mistreated him and his friends and labelled them as monsters. The thing that I want to highlight from here is that villains usually aren’t born evil. They’re usually a product of unfortunate circumstances that are not in their control.

Nine’s ideology opposes that of the current system that is being used in My Hero Academia’s world, which is what I believe is a meritocracy. A system which rewards people based on their merit. The more you put in the effort and contribute, the higher the reward. I guess this is where Stain’s ideology comes into place because he believes a true hero is someone who doesn’t get anything in return for what they do.

The thing is elitism is usually a product of a failed meritocracy. In a meritocratic system, someone born with a strong quirk will have more opportunities to contribute to society.

Children that inherit a weak quirk from their parents won’t be able to compete with children blessed with a strong quirk. This causes the disparity between the strong and the weak to multiply giving birth to a society which rewards those that are born privileged instead of basing it on pure effort.

This results in elitism. The irony is that Nine wants to demolish a system that created him with a similar system. How neat.

Going Plus Ultra

Going Plus Ultra of Deku and Bakugo in My Hero Academia Heroes Rising: Going Plus Ultra

This brings me to my final takeaway and the main essence of the movie itself: Going Plus Ultra. To understand this, we must first understand what going plus ultra means.

Plus ultra by definition means further beyond so going plus ultra means to go further beyond.

In every shounen imaginable, this theme of overcoming your limit is evident. You’d think that it would get generic by now, but it doesn’t because the message is still relevant till today. Many people love seeing strong overpowered characters, but I prefer characters that have a strong will to overcome every obstacle in the way no matter how painful it might be.

Why is it still relevant today?

Going further beyond doesn’t just mean becoming stronger to defeat the enemy. It also means to be better than who we were yesterday. This can manifest in different ways like acknowledging the mistakes we made, making up with that distant sibling, or quitting that unhealthy addiction. To not be complacent with who we are today. Life is full of challenges that will appear out of nowhere, but we need to be prepared to go beyond when it comes

The issue is that we need reminders from the world to remind us to overcome our limitations. Sometimes these reminders come from sources of inspiration and motivation. If the people around us can’t provide that for us we should be thankful for animes that do.

I think All Might said it best.

“If you feel yourself hitting up against your limit remember for what cause you clench your fists… remember why you started down this path, and let that memory carry you beyond your limit.”

That’s it

Each individual is different and might take something different home from this movie. Either way, the fact that we’re learning something beneficial is already a bonus. If there’s any lingering questions, or something worth discussing then leave it in the comments.

Next, it’s your turn.