The Legend of Hei Movie Review: A Charming Mix of Spirited Away and My Hero Academia

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The Legend of Hei is a charming story that brings heart to characters in a changing world. The Legend of Hei is a blend of Spirited Away and My Hero Academia with a guild of spirits looking to coexist with the humans that have grown in population and taken over some areas.

The Legend of Hei is a prequel film to the webtoon series The Legend of Luo Xiaohei by animator MTJJ. He started making the webtoons and putting them online for free, and when his fanbase for Hei grew, he was able to create this masterpiece of a film to find even more fans. It won the Audience Award from the New York International Children’s Film Festival. Even without having seen the web series, you can tell that some of the characters in the film have a history. They have personas that feel like they might have a fandom of their own.

The film starts with the very real problem of people plowing through lush landscapes that are home to the spirits and turning them into bustling cities of human life. The spirits must evolve and live in harmony with the humans. The story follows Hei, the adorable cat spirit that is young and still learning about the world around him. 

Hei is separated from his friends by Infinity, a human that is looking to protect the spirits living in the human world with help from the Guild. When they embark on their journey, Hei is angry, but over time he realizes that he has a lot to learn about himself and his spirit powers. The bond that Hei and Infinity form is one that adds layers of hilarious stabs at one another expense.

The animation blends a beautiful mix of inking and 2-dimensional animation beauty between the old world landscapes and the various spirits’ powers.

With an inky black coat, adorable mewl, and eyes as big as saucers, Xiao Hei is the cutest feline around. But don’t let his good looks fool you. He’s more than just a cat. When he meets up with a motley band of spirit-creatures and human-like beings with superhuman powers, Hei finds that he, too, is a spirit and shapeshifts from cat to kid form. His new friends train and challenge him in the warrior spirit arts, with the pressing goal of saving their beloved forest from developers destroying it in this lushly rendered tale. Evoking Studio Ghibli’s ecological fables, The Legend of Hei is a winsome combination of heart, soul, fantasy, and an extraordinary adventure. Recommended ages 9+


When cat spirit Luo Xiaohei’s home is deforested by humans, he must find a new one. He runs into a group of other spirit creatures who take him under their wing with dreams of reconquering the land they say is rightfully theirs. However, they run into a human known as Wuxian who separates Luo Xiaohei from the other spirits, and the two go on a journey, with the cat spirit learning to control his abilities as well as forming his own thoughts on whether or not he should ally with the spirits or the humans.

The Legend of Hei will be available to own and watch in the US on May 11, 2021.

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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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