Anime Review: Legend of Legendary Heroes Episode 2

(Originally published on Livejournal on 8/19/10)

Anime Review in a Minute:
Legend of Legendary Heroes Episode 2

Anime Review in a Minute: What this is all about. — I watch the shows you so you don’t HAVE to!

About the Series: Ryner Lute seems to be lazy, listless and unwilling to lift a finger, but he also hides a secret: He alone is a magical wielder of the Alpha Stigma, making him unique in the Roland Empire. His companion, Ferris Eris, is a brash, energetic, and an incredibly skilled swordswoman. When the young, charismatic King Sion Astal rose to the throne of the Roland Empire, he had his work cut out for him, trying to prevent war with the neighboring countries will dealing with corruption and cutthroat internal politics. To help him, the King sends a reluctant Ryner and Ferris on a secret mission to collect ancient magical relics left over from the age of ‘Legendary Heroes’.

ep.2 tl;dr review: Flashback to when Sion first met Ryner and Ferris while in the military academy; War breaks out and Sion is targeted.

In this episode: Turn back the clock a few years, and Sion Astal is a young, confident nobleman at the military academy — someone all of his fellow classmates look up to as a natural leader. When preparing for a practice exercise, he decides to ask Ryner Lute and his best friend Kiefer to join his team. Ryner has gained a reputation for being lazy and shiftless, but Sion has learned his secret: he alone bears the accursed Alpha Stigma. Blackmailing him by threatening to reveal his secret, Sion reveals his dream to become King one day and clean out all the courtly corruption. During their conversation a squad of assassins sent by Sion’s half-brothers attacks, Ryner ducks out and Sion is cornered. Out of nowhere, a young blonde swordswoman arrives and thwarts the attacks. Turns out she is Ferris Eris, part of a noble family of famed swordsmen, sent to protect Sion by her brother. Without warning, war with the neighboring country breaks out, and all the members of the military academy are sent to the front lines. But just as they ship out, Ferris uncovers a plot to assassinate Sion under the guise of a military melee.

My Thoughts: Better. Much, much better. After the first episode, this series was on my short list to drop unless things improved, and it certainly did. First episode seemed all scattershot, disjointed, couldn’t maintain a steady tone (wacky one minute, serious the next). This second episode is focused, everything is clearly understood and explained, we have a better understanding of the characters and their motivations (well, Sion anyway). Like night and day — it’s as if I’m watching an entirely different show.

I am also glad to see that this is not just going to be a series of wacky episodic hijinks, where they go from town to town gathering artifacts one by one — I get the feeling there’s quite a bit more depth to the show than I first thought. Particularly with King Sion, there’s an added layer of courtly intrigue and politicking involved as well. Or, at least I hope — hard to say anything after two episodes, really.

I was also somewhat worried that Ryner was being set up as the tired anime archetype of the wimpy, whiny, angst-filled loser male lead that pervades so much of anime for the past decade (For which I wish I could go back in time and kill off the creators of Neon Genesis Evangelion, damn them). As the anti-hero, his reluctance may be more complicated, though — his weak and powerless front is all an act to hide his secret, making me wonder just how powerful the Alpha Stigma really is.

This show has gone from “Probably going to drop it” back to “Well, this could be interesting”. I could do without all the Thomas Kinkade “Painter of Light” moments, though.

For more info:

Mania Review: http://www.mania.com/legend-legendary-heroes-episode-02_article_124088.html
Wikipedia Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_of_the_Legendary_Heroes
Opening Theme: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xdw90p_the-legend-of-the-legendary-heroes_shortfilms

The Verdict:

Second episodes up for review next: None, that’s it!

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