In terms of fantasy anime series, there’s very slim pickings when it comes to a quality show for the ages. The two series that I always find myself going to when I want something from that genre are Record of Lodoss War and Berserk. This has now changed with Funimation’s release of Legend of the Legendary Heroes, a light novel series that presents a well crafted adaptation as well as highlight how good the fantasy genre can be. The show takes place in the Roland Empire, where we follow Ryner Lute, a trainee in Roland’s Magician Army, as he and his classmates are thrown into a war with the neighboring country, Estabul. After slaughtering everyone on the battlefield by unleashing his secret power, the Alpha Stigma, Ryner is thrown into jail. After being there for two years, he is suddenly released to find that his best friend, Sion Astal, a man mixed with noble and commoner blood, has become the new king of Roland. Sion sends Ryner on a mission to apprehend the “Legendary Hero” relics in order to prevent them into falling into the wrong hands.
What made me enamored with Legendary Heroes is its seamless interweaving of plot and elements of fantasy and typical anime elements that make for something entirely fresh. Where there are nobles and kings conspiring a la Game of Thrones, there’s a quirky female swordsman clamoring for dango and calling her partner a sex fiend due to his stubbly beard. Even though these characters are presenting archetypes of anime that have been around forever, they’re never just one dimensional, where we get to see their strengths, flaws and the physical and mental damage they receive being in the midst of war. Ryner Lute is a perfect example of how a protagonist can have major built in flaws that he must overcome, that immediately makes us drawn to him. King Sion is another character that is completely compelling, with him wanting to make a perfect kingdom, while losing bits of his humanity an soul along the way.
Studio Xexcs does an amazing job animating the action and battles in Legend of the Legendary Heroes. While there are mere moments where they use the blood splattering on the screen effect a bit much, the action scenes are very fluid and extremely bloody. While there’s plenty of material to cover with the novels having nine volumes and counting, Legend never falls into the pit falls of info dumps and pointless exposition. Director Itsuro Kawasaki continues the good job at overseeing an adapted work, the others being the Wild Arms: Twilight Venom series and the first season of Sengoku Basara, both successful video game franchises that made for some great anime.
Funimation presents both volumes of Legend of the Legendary Heroes in DVD/Blu-Ray combo packs. The video on the Blu-Ray discs are presented in a 1080p, AVC encoded transfer that is really impressive. There’s plenty of color, with all of the magic spells, extravagant costumes that give the visuals much life in the series and make it a sheer joy to watch. The audio is presented in an English Dolby True HD 5.1 mix and a Japanese Dolby True HD 2.0 mix. Both mixes sound really crisp and have some truly amazing sound fx present in both mixes. The English mix does a very good job at expanding on the Japanese one with its surround mix and contains a solid dub cast. There’s only commentary for a few episodes and some trailers for the extras, but there’s more than enough of the series to keep one entertained.
Legend of the Legendary Heroes is definitely a mouth full to say and is an absurd title in itself. Don’t let this fool you, this show is one of the best fantasy anime to come around in awhile and is certain to satisfy fans of both anime and fantasy. Highly Recommended!