Hero Tales is a really fun action show, that packs a punch when it needs to. The 26 episode series was animated and conceived Studio Flag, along with the help of manga-ka Hiromu Arakawa, most famous for being the creator of the hit series Fullmetal Alchemist. Set in ancient China, we follow the legend of the Seven Stars of the Big Dipper, that shall either bring prosperity or ruin to the country. The positive star, the Alkaid, belongs to our main protagonist Taito, a hot headed youth with impressive fighting abilities. On the other end of the spectrum with the Duhbe, we have General Keiro, a leader in the imperial army of the Ken Empire and wishes to become the new emperor by force. Along the way, either of these star bearers may begin to recruit the other 5 celestial warriors in order to serve their cause and shall determine the fates of the reoccurring legend. Funimation has released the series in two parts and both lead up to an action packed and entertaining time.
One of the big draws of Hero Tales is the setting and period that it takes place in. It’s not very often that an anime series is modeled after Chinese wuxia martial arts fiction and the series does a really fine job at it. The very first episode gets muddled with a lot of exposition and can be very confusing. Don’t let this dissuade one from watching because right afterwards, from the second episode up until the very end, it’s sprinkled evenly with doses of adventure and action. Studio Flag does an incredible job at animating the fight sequences and use the star bearers weapons in some pretty cool ways. One of my favorite aspects of Hero Tales is the handling of the story and the great plot twists that elevate the series dramatically. For the most part, Hero Tales handles the shonen genre tropes very well and can, at first, seem very predictable. By the end of very first set, one of the star bearers, Ryuko learns some things about his past that creates a great amount of tension and some big stakes, that lend for the show to really hit a good stride. With this in place, we enter the second half of the series not really knowing how our characters are going to get their bearings. It’s really refreshing to feel this way and made me love Hero Tales that much more. Once we get to the end of the series, there have been plenty of reveals and wild cards that make for the fight between Taito and General Keiro to be truly epic.
Funimation’s done a fantastic job with this release of Hero Tales and it gives a good example of how the anime days use to be, in terms of content. The limited edition of part 1 comes with a very nice chip board box to contain both sets, as well as these really cool art cards that contain each of the star bearers. What’s also included that was pretty refreshing was a round table discussion that’s included in both sets that make for an awesome extra. The dub is really solid and is just as good the original Japanese language track.
Great characters designs, awesome action sequences and insane plot twists make Hero Tales a real good punch to the face. Funimation gets some kudos for a release like this and should be a real treat for action and martial art fans of anime. Recommended!