When it comes to anime movies based on existing properties, the characters created specifically for said movie have their work cut out for them. Fans are generally there to see an existing roster have moments they wouldn’t be able to have during their regular adventures (i.e.: Deku and Bakugo sharing that Quirk in My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising), so these new characters aren’t always high on the list of reasons to see the movie.
They also have a shorter amount of time to make us care about them, as series like My Hero Academia have had five seasons of content and hundreds of manga chapters compared to only having a full-length feature film. That being said, after watching My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission, I was surprised that the character I ended up loving the most was Rody Soul.
Even if he only exists in the movie, he left such an impression on me that I’m glad the film spent so much time with him. I came in for “I’m best friends with Katsuki Bakugo” Todoroki, followed by Bakugo denying what he knows is true, and Deku just smiling because Kacchan is gonna Kacchan.
Instead? When the movie ended? I wondered about Rody Soul. What is it about Rody that makes him such a great addition to not just the movie, but to My Hero Academia?
He keeps Deku on his toes
On top of having a really fun personality and cute character design, Rody’s a lot of fun to watch when paired with Deku. This is both in the dialogue they share and the action scenes between them, one of which feels like it came straight out of a Spider-Man film.
The two don’t see eye-to-eye on things, but it’s not as extreme as the other times Deku has run into opposition. Deku’s opposites are generally villains or rivals with very little wiggle room in-between. Sure, characters like Stain, Gentle Criminal, and even Bakugo and Endeavor have made Deku (and the viewer) look at hero society from a different perspective, but Rody feels like an everyman who’s just trying to live his life the best way he can.
It might not be the most honest, but it is the most realistic considering his circumstances.
He’s incredibly relatable
Rody Soul is a fresh take on the “heroes don’t come to save everyone” narrative we’ve gotten before. Characters like Shigaraki, for example, are extreme versions of what happens when a hero isn’t around to save the day. There have been other characters who have expressed disdain toward heroes too, like Kota, but it usually ends with Deku showing them that he, at least, is a hero they can depend on.
What I like about Rody is that he has every reason to be lukewarm about heroes, but instead of taking that energy and becoming someone who hisses whenever a hero is mentioned, he just continues to do what he can to make it to the next day. He’s accepted that this is how his life is going to be, so he’s just trying to work through it the best way he can.
I feel like this is what a lot of us end up doing when we have moments where we realize that there isn’t going to be a hero coming to save the day. We take a breath and figure it out ourselves—especially if we have others to take care of. Rody’s got younger siblings to look out for, and no one else is gonna help them out.
Rody’s situation isn’t fair and his reaction to that is tragically relatable: you’re probably exhausted, but you just keep moving forward and doing what you can to survive. He can’t afford to wait around to see if someone is going to save him; he doesn’t have the luxury of finding whatever hero society has deemed as being “honest work;” and he’s not out here trying to change the minds of the people around him. Not anymore, at least, because he doesn’t have that kind of time.
When life keeps giving you lemons, you learn how to make some form of lemonade that can sustain you and your loved ones. Him having moments of trying to decide if helping Deku is worth the potential risk to his family are real, especially when no one has shown his family any sort of compassion. And he doesn’t approach that in a “Why should I care about heroes?” kind of way, but an “I have other responsibilities to take care of!” kind of way.
He makes good use of the resources he has
What’s great about Rody Soul is that, before we even get to the part about his Quirk, he’s already an extremely valuable ally. Once he realizes the bigger picture of the threat at hand (after being unintentionally dragged into it), he comes through in ways that don’t rely solely on supernatural abilities.
When the movie finally does get to a point where his Quirk comes into play, we find out that it’s not nearly as flashy as what the “Endeavor Internship Trio” can do. And yet, it’s still a crucial ability in the grand scheme of things.
Rody’s a resourceful kind of guy, using everything at his disposal to get the job done. He shows that you don’t have to have a huge, dramatic attack to accomplish what you’re setting out to do. It’s not the first time the series has done this, as Quirks come in all sorts of different varieties, but Rody makes clever use of his abilities in a unique way.
My Hero Academia is full of relatable characters, but it’s rare that it gives us a character who feels so…real. I relate to Deku because I know what it’s like to be told you can’t do something because of things you can’t control. I relate to Bakugo because I know what it’s like to have people assume you have a handle on things when you clearly don’t.
Rody Soul, however, is probably the most relatable character I’ve met in the franchise. He reminds me of how I feel when the world is too overwhelming, which has been quite common these days with everything the world has thrown at me as a Black queer woman trying to live through a pandemic.
Do I want to do something about it? Sure. Can I? I don’t know, maybe?
I’ve tried, as Rody has, but when the hits keep coming, there’s a moment when you step back, reassess the situation, and decide that you have to, at the very least, take care of yourself and the people who are close to you.
That doesn’t mean you won’t give it your all when the time calls for it, it just means you have priorities. Rody does too, and that’s what makes him a hero.