My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising lead villain ‘Nine’ is mesmerizing on-screen with a populist, yet esoteric commentary about the disenfranchised of society.
This article contains spoilers for My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising.
Early reviews of My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising across the web have mischaracterized ‘Nine’ as a by-the-numbers ‘take over the world’ typecast villain when he is anything but. Recall, Nine’s recruitment message to the wolf-faced man Chimera [Chojuro Kon], about not being treated like a monster anymore. Nine is akin to X-Men’s Magneto telling Mystique that it’s okay for her to be herself. That she doesn’t need to feel ashamed of her blue true self any longer.
Yet, acting out on this message to reform society instead of speaking of it only in cliché terms is supposed to characterize Nine as a villain? A populist message of ‘loving yourself’ and ‘body positivity’ when the subject is neutralized into inaction. Catering to an esoteric, meager radicalized group of villainy when acted upon. At the first half of My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, it’s not yet clear that Nine is inherently evil. However, Nine’s justification for stealing others’ Quirks presents a gray area. Whether a perceived better world exists through Nine’s grander plan or not, he is still robbing innocents of their Quirks. Their very souls in many ways. Shang Tsung, Mortal Kombat-esque.
Nine imagined a world without heroes or villains, no good or bad, moral or immoral. No social stratifications. Still seemingly a populist message of good, right? Well, right around this time in the second-half of the film, Nine begins preaching about a world governed entirely by power. ‘The strong should lord power over the weak’ Essentially, arguing for ‘Survival of the Fittest’ as coined by English philosopher Herbert Spencer.
Separating Nine from Magneto: Medical Affliction
Nine’s ‘All for One’ style Quirk allows him to simultaneously hold multiple Quirks at a price. His body cells are literally destroyed upon over use of his Quirks. Thus, Nine required a Cell Activation Quirk to accomplish his world vision. The first individual he spotted with the Quirk didn’t do the trick, due to a blood mismatch, so he went after his son, Katsuma Shimano, as Quirks are hereditary. The medical affliction is what makes Nine standout uniquely as a character from a Magneto. Nine appears to literally be on borrowed time throughout My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, constantly being on the verge of full collapse. His rush to locate Katsuma Shimano to steal his Quirk as such, is not quite grounded in typical villainy.
Nine preemptively assures Katsuma and his father before him, that he will not take their lives or hurt them… Only take their Quirk. ‘Not to worry.’ The experiments Nine underwent to make his vision possible show he is laser-focused on accomplishing his ideology… Even willing to sacrifice his own health in the process. However, Nine cannot be seen in a virtuous light trying to steal an innocent youngster’s Quirk. Health at stake or not. Especially, since Nine intends to become unstoppable with the Cell Activation Quirk and rule the world… In less than voting at the polls fashion, if you get the drift.
Nine is a complex, double-edged character in this respect. Promising redemption to Chimera for those who called him a monster for his exterior while planning to prey on the innocent himself.
Background of Nabu Island
There’s a bit of ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ influenced narrative early on in My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising. with Mahoro Shimano testing the Heroes’ readiness. All in an effort to show her brother Katsuma that heroes are pulling the wool over his eyes and he shouldn’t want to be one.
Eventually, when Nine’s group actually arrives on Nabu Island in an ambush, Mahoro calls it in… Only for Katsuki ‘Kacchan’ Bakugō to tell her off. Bakugō was not willing to be fooled more than one by Mahoro. However, Izuku ‘Deku’ Midoriya still heads out in a frenzied pace hoping it’s nothing… Instead Deku finds himself facing off against Nine for the first time. Credit to Johnny Yong Bosch for quality voice acting as Nine throughout the film.
Without giving away major spoilers, Nine battles conclusively against Izuku ‘Deku’ Midoriya and Katsuki ‘Kacchan’ Bakugō during the last half of My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising with an epic battle featuring spectacular animation. It’s truly one to remember. A feast for the eyes.
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is out in theaters now.