Sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever see another anime like Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It had an outstanding story and a diverse cast of very well developed characters, but what made it stand out was the excruciating attention to detail and the numerous perspectives through which we observe events, whether it be through the main characters, unnamed aristocrats, politicians, average citizens, and even farmers.
Despite appearances, the similarly named Legend of the Legendary Heroes scratches that itch. An adaptation of a light novel, it uses a similar multiple-protagonist approach, and develops plotlines and themes in a similar fashion. Legend of the Legendary Heroes has grand ambition, but does it overcome the problems many light novel anime succumb to?
A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment.
There are two intertwining plotlines in Legendary Heroes. The first follows Ryner Lute and Ferris Eris as they scour the continent for relics belonging to ancient heroes for the king of Rolent, Sion Astal, whose efforts to rid the country of its corruption forms the second plotline. While the two plotlines are separated to a degree, they explore similar themes in different ways.
Ryner’s plot feels like a classic adventure story, with a heavy amount of slapstick comedy. However, under the surface is an examination of how dangerous ancient relics can be. Meanwhile, Sion’s plot is very politically driven, with all the scheming nobles and backstabbing you can hope for. It is the journey of an idealistic king who learns to face reality, and how his ideals stand up against overwhelming corruption.
Both plotlines also examine racism and social stigmas. Sion’s story concerns social castes, bastard children, and traditional discrimination, while Ryner’s story often revolves around the Alpha Stigma and its bearers. The Alpha Stigma is a cursed eye that heavily augments one’s magical prowess, but can cause the bearer to go berserk and destroy his or her surroundings. Understandably, these eyes are feared by just about everyone, and bearers are universally shunned and persecuted (even often by one’s parents).
The plot initially appears to be a silly fantasy romp but swiftly becomes a rather serious medieval drama. A good deal of thought was put into characterization, and the main characters in particular are quite deep and multi-faceted. Ryner alone has many more aspects to his personality than I would’ve pegged him for. At times he may be the butt of a joke, at other times he may be a lazy good-for-nothing, but go below the surface and you discover very deep-rooted fears and character flaws. His personality, and the personality of other characters, are generally believable, thanks to the quality writing.
Legend of the Legendary Heroes is far from perfect. As fascinating as I find the story and the characters, nothing is presented in a very good manner. The pacing is all over the place, and gets especially bad near the end. Plot points that you think would be very major are often introduced suddenly, and are summarily dropped just as rapidly. The mythology is very quickly glossed over, which can cause a great deal of confusion toward the end. To top it all off, the ending is very inconclusive, setting itself up for a second season without resolving anything in particular.
Of note is the show’s comedy. While it can sometimes be pretty amusing, at best the humor serves as time to digest all the plot events. The humor regularly helps to ruin the show’s pacing, with some episodes devoted entirely to comedy for whatever reason. If the show had to have comedy though, I wish it wasn’t primarily of the slapstick variety!
Technically speaking, Legend of the Legendary Heroes is pretty good. While the art doesn’t stand out, the animation is pretty well done. I was surprised at how fierce the fights are, and it certainly goes hand in hand with how brutal the setting can get.
The voice acting is pretty great in either Japanese or English, but I have to admit it took a while for the English voice acting to grow on me. The voices don’t necessarily match each other 100%, but both fit the characters quite well. You can’t go wrong with either, but keep in mind the English voice acting may not click immediately.
Overall, Legend of the Legendary Heroes has a great plot and characters, but it falls short in execution, with a number of frustrating shortcomings. If you can look past the shortcomings, you have a quality show in your hands.
–The multi-layered plot and characters are very well written.
–Animation is pretty great, leading to entertaining (and often pretty violent) encounters.
–Voice acting is great and fitting in either language.
–The pacing is pretty bad.
–Some major plot elements show up without warning and don’t receive any explanations.
–The ending is inconclusive.
–The comedy serves to make the pacing even worse.
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