Anime Review: Legend of Legendary Heroes Episodes 4, 5, and 6

(Originally published on Livejournal on 9/22/10)

Anime Review:
Legend of Legendary Heroes Episodes 4, 5, and 6

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.4 tl;dr review: Ryner is locked away for life, and that’s just fine with him; Sion thwarts his busy afternoon nap schedule to send him on a quest.

Episode 4 Synopsis: Ryner Lute is locked away in the depths of a prison, where he settles in for the rest of his life. But knowing his own potential for destruction and his absolute belief in pacifism, that’s just fine with him — it just gives him more time to concentrate on his afternoon naps. With the help of a prison guard, he amasses a large collection of books and spends the next couple of years writing his personal treatise. Sion Astal, meanwhile, has a meeting with the enigmatic Lucile Eris, the head of the family that has served the king for generations. Lucile Eris is effectively a kingmaker, the power behind the scenes that has the ability to bring anyone to power or dispose of them in an instant. Apparently Sion passes the ‘test’, because two years later Ryner is abruptly set free and brought to an audience with King Sion by Ferris Eris. Sion explains he has read Ryner’s treatise and finds it intriguing, and sends Ryner on a quest to put his own plan into action: by gathering all of the relics of the legendary heroes together, with the help of Ferris as his assistant.

ep.5 tl;dr review: Ryner and Ferris spend time goofing off in teh Nelphan Empire; Courtly intrigue and a sudden death puts Sion on edge.

Episode 5 Synopsis: Ryner and Ferris find themselves searching for relics in the Nelphan Empire, where they run across Toale, the disowned grandson of the current ruler. The eldest of the discarded offspring of his father, Toale is beloved by the populace but has no intention of rising to the throne, instead finding satisfaction in caring for his many younger siblings. Back in Roland, Sion is hard at work with his small-but-loyal circle of friends, including the commoner Fiole. But there is a growing faction of anti-royalists who are intent on removing Sion from power, and send a powerful message by murdering Fiole while Sion is attending a ball. Sion, realizing just how tenuous his power is, can only grin and bear it, laughing it off along with his would-be usurpers in public while secretly plotting against them behind the scenes. As if on cue, Miran Frouade arrives to offer his dark services to Sion. Alarm bells go off among all of his staff regarding Miran, but Sion accepts his pledge of loyalty.

ep.6 tl;dr review: Sion visits the Nelphan Empire to expose his opponents; Miran Frouade goes on a murder spree which almost includes Ryner and Ferris.

Episode 6 Synopsis: Sion Astal is pressed to visit the nearby Nelphan Empire to strengthen their relationship. Everyone in Sion’s circle sees this as a trap that could lead to his death and urge him not to go, except for Miran who entreats him to take the trip and expose his enemies, nipping the growing threat in the bud as soon as possible. To all his friend’s horror, Sion agrees to go, with Miran as his sole companion. Sion meets with the elderly leader on friendly terms, but is interrupted by his boorish son and heir, who shows open disdain for Sion. Miran gets to work in the shadows to uncover Sion’s enemies, while Sion himself steps out to visit Ryner and Ferris at Toale’s home for a quick update. That night at the reception ball, Miran uncovers the true forces behind the anti-royalist faction in Roland: certain power-hungry Nelphan nobles, and he quickly disposes of all of them in a quiet, one-man bloodbath. Miran then turns to his next target that he perceives could pose a future threat to Sion: Toale. But when he arrives at the Toale mansion, he encounters Ryner and Ferris. While they battle, Ryner determines that Miran’s awesome power derives from his ring, which is actually a relic that allows him to control shadows. Miran injures Ferris and is nearly able to best them, but Ryner and Ferris manage to pull off a bluff that sends Miran packing…for now. After healing, they continue their quest, while Sion returns back to Roland unscathed thanks to Miran.

My Thoughts: For a show that is supposedly about Ryner and Ferris travelling the world in search of various ancient relics, so far there has been very little development of that actual primary plotline. Instead, the first episodes of this show are more about the intrigue and espionage among the gentry as Sion attempts to assert his control. More on that in a minute.

First we have the fourth episode, which is just a continuation of the flashback prologue that I had assumed was over after the last episode. Of course, looking back I realize there was still a big gap between where the third episode left off and the first episode began, so there was still a chunk of back-story left to tell. Mostly it involves Ryner sitting in a dark prison cell acting like the lazy nit that he is. It certainly does not make for exciting entertainment, to be sure.

Meanwhile, Lucile Eris is busy turning Sion into a king. While not spoken, it is clear that his family is the *real* power behind the throne, while not actually willing to become kings themselves. Sion is merely an autonomous puppet, someone who could be swept aside in the blink of an eye if Lucile so desired. Furthermore, Sion’s grip on power is *extremely* tenuous, he has to walk a very fine line between push and pull to put forth his agenda and to stay alive. When the nobles in his own court murder one of his personal advisers, Sion is forced to laugh along with them that “he was just a stupid commoner” in order to maintain face among the other nobles – he cannot show his true emotions. It’s a very delicate position, and he knows it.

Enter Miran Frouade, the slippery and slithery character who is drawn and portrayed in such a way that we are *supposed* to hate him from the start. We are *supposed* to think that Miran’s really an enemy, and he’s a danger to Sion. Surprise, surprise when Sion accepts him as one of his closest confidants, much to the horror and disapproval of the rest of Sion’s tight-knit coterie. What is it that Sion sees in him that everyone else doesn’t?

At the beginning of the sixth episode when Sion says he will basically be walking directly into the trap set by his enemies, with only Miran at his side, you’re asking yourself, “What the hell is Sion thinking, does he WANT to be killed?” Yes, we are supposed to think of Miran as that double-agent who is insinuating his way into Sion’s confidence Grima Wormtongue-style. But it turns out that Sion may be a better judge of character than anyone else gives him credit for, and Miran does his dirty deeds to keep Sion safe. It’s not so much that Miran is a loyal vassal to Sion, but Sion sees him as a powerful tool (er, asset) that could be used to his advantage.

Still, Miran is a very dangerous wild card, and in his zeal to protect his master he almost ends up getting Ryner and Ferris killed in the process. While all this behind-the-scenes battling between the noble factions has been taking place, Ryner and Ferris are hanging out with the kind and gentle Toale — yet Toale ends up on the enemy list of Miran because he is a potential future ruler of Nelpha. Miran actually comes within an inch of killing them, but Miran strategically retreats at the last moment.

Back to Ryner and Ferris, the interplay between the two of them is supposed to be funny, I suppose, but I find it rather annoying. Without any explanation Ferris has decided that Ryner is a sex fiend and horndog, will not let go of the idea and teases Ryner relentlessly about it. Very annoying. Most of the humor involves Ryner lying around being lazy and shiftless with Ferris beating the pulp out of him. Ha ha. Ferris, 90% of the time, displays about as much emotion as a Vulcan on quaaludes — even when she delivers her dry-as-toast jokes it’s so flat and emotionless you can’t even tell she’s tellin’ a funny. Furthermore, her obsession with dumplings from a certain shop as her motivation for her actions is pretty stupid as well (although in truth it’s really an allegory for Lucile’s not-so-invisible hand in action).

Also let’s not forget the most annoying character in the series (….so far), Ferris’ little sister Eris. The underage terror in a pink frilly dress is a clone of Roppanmatsu 2 from Excel Saga, equally as energetic and bothersome. And why would you make an eight-year-old the go-between contact for them anyway? With any luck, this cute and perky girl will end up dying in a fire somewhere.

The whole dynamic between the duo is built on a foundation that relies on a handful of stupid jokes that are repeated over and over again. Very tiresome. I must say that if all the humor in the series revolves around the whole “Ryner is a sex fiend”/Ferris beating up Ryner/Ryner sitting around like a useless git/Ferris loves her some dumplings set of jokes, I doubt I’ll stick around for this show much longer. Expand the repertoire, please! Not sure if I’ll be watching this show through to the conclusion, but the signs are less than encouraging at this point.

The Verdict:

Oh, I also find the whole fuzzy lighting effects, as if the show was filmed through gauze or a thick layer of vaseline on the camera lens, to be distracting. Why the producers chose this artistic-quality-deteriorating effect is beyond me, it adds nothing to the show.

Up Next: Broken Blade, Kaichou wa Maid-sama, Senkou no Night Raid (conclusion), Ookami-san

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