For citizens of the Ken Empire, justice is a myth. Lord Keiro, the deranged Shogun of the Imperial Army, blazes a trail of terror across the countryside in search of the sacred sword that will make him a god. Standing in his way is Taito, an omnipotent star reborn in human form—a young hero who vows to use his celestial strength to avenge those slaughtered by the villainous Shogun.
Taito's mystical powers steer him toward a violent showdown with Keiro, and if used recklessly, his newfound abilities could shred the very fabric of his being. To master the art of control and become a heroic martial artist, Taito must seek the guidance of others like him: the seven star-born warriors with the strength to shatter a corrupt empire.
I must say, the concept of an anime using a wuxia context really intrigued me. But in the end, it was yes and no everything that I could expect. The very bad news is, it’s about 90% of your typical shounen anime. Such characterizations and development is present, but it’s already stuff you’ve seen before in typical shounen anime. The good news is, it’s in a completely different context and it makes those qualities feel fresher. But what I personally was expecting was a balanced mixed of the qualities of anime and wuxia. Taitou is your typical big hearted and small-brained overly righteous teenage hero with a big appetite, and his sister is your typical damsel in distress. And the rest of the characters have their purpose but felt they were created partially to be each other’s foil. I mean, they have their own individuality, but I feel they were created more out of a reaction from one core character to the next.
But some of the character’s individuality such as Koyo’s and Ryuuko’s bring that balance to the atmosphere. Ryuuko is overly serious and has this kind of mentor role, but I like how his flaws are presented in the show and how he tries to confront them. Koyo may have a care free life, but he knows what’s at stake and is serious about getting the job done. Housei is your typical friendly rival with Taitou, but in the end, they know they must unite. I felt Keirou was quite a unique and excellent villain in his own right. I would get into him, but to give my thoughts and reasons of why he was such a great villain would have to make me reveal spoilers.
Anyway, if this anime has one huge flaw, it’s the pacing. I felt the anime could have been shorter by five to eight episodes. There are episodes where the characters are in an emo-shell like Kenshin near the end of the manga of Rurouni Kenshin and felt in this anime, it could have been done much quicker. I felt there were times they could have taken advantage of the slower moments and also get into the other characters more deeply. Also, I felt it’s pacing also rushed and forced too many things at the end. But I’ll confess it was still a descent ending.
But I say it’s best trait is the unpredictability. The plot twists are kind of forced as well, but I say it does make those twists much more effective.
In case some of you Full Metal Alchemist fans that are watching this, you’ll be able to recognize that the way the eyes, shapes of faces, and angles are drawn, the characters are designed by Araka Hiromu, the artist of that respective anime. Granted they will be recognizable, but I have to say with the character design, I was personally not that impressed. I felt they were too one-dimensional (such as lack of distinction between Housei and Taitou and some other characters) and lacked detail (such as little use of shadowing, lighting, and cross hatching). But I guess what makes it for this flaw are the authentic but a little flashy costume designs, and I think the anime does a great job of capturing the setting of ancient China. I felt it was geographically and architecturally well represented.
Unfortunately, the anime does not have much action presented, and it’s not really action driven. But what I liked was that it did have martial arts action that wasn’t over the top. None of your typical Matrix bullet time or wire fu crap. The hand to hand action at some capacity feels realistic. But I felt the action was very stiff in a Japanese Karate kind of way. I’ll get more into my reasons when I get into the overall commentaryAnd last, despite my praises for the anime of being realistic, it also has action that has typical anime qualities such as using ki manipulation. But I like how the ki manipulation called Sekihou in the anime, has an interesting foundation and concept and only the seven stars can use them. So it brought an interesting twist to the action.
The music and voice acting, is definitely one of this anime’s greatest qualities. The opening theme Winterlong sung by the Beat Crusaders, is sung in English. Granted the English isn’t perfect, but tolerable and actually makes sense. Granted the style is not culturally appropriate to the context, but I felt it’s energy and lyrics brought an appropriate sense of feeling to the intense and light hearted atmosphere this anime has. And High and Mighty Color who sang songs for Gundam SEED Destiny are also present for future themes in the later half and bring the same qualities that Winterlong has. Despite the theme songs not being culturally appropriate as either Japanese or Chinese, the background music however is dead on. It’s what you are to expect in a Wuxia film or when you enter an authentic Chinese buffet restaurant. Nothing really much to complain with music.
The voice acting is also superb. Suzumura Ken’ichi, the voice of Shinn Asuka from Gundam SEED Destiny plays our main lead, Taito. Pretty much take his portrayal of Shinn and put it into a typical shounen hero, and that’s what you get and it works pretty well. The legendary Ginga Banjou, the voice of Giren from Gundam and Souther from Hokuto no Ken plays the main villain, General Keirou. He brings that intimidating charisma to his character. But the winner to me with the seiyuu cast is Koyama Rikiya, the voice of Takamura Mamoru from Hajime no Ippo as Koyo. He brought Takamura’s badassness to Koyo and felt like I was getting prepared for season 2 of Hajime no Ippo. So the voice acting is great.
Granted this anime has all kinds of flaws, but I think a lot of its good qualities make up for them at the right circumstances and brings a minimally decent balance. Even though some people may rightfully disagree with me, but I think the problem is that despite a Chinese setting, I found this anime to be way too Japanese with its action, story telling, and characterization and development. The disagreement of course will be, “but it’s made by Japanese people” which I do understand, but I have felt that there have been some animes that did not take place in Japan, and yet did not have to come across as typical Japanese or shounen. In the end, my impression was that it made the typical shounen story fresh with a different kind of context and twist. I think if this anime took some qualities from Hero, Once Upon a Time in China, Monkey King, and other iconic wuxia classics, I think it could have achieved something bigger. It’s of course not the most perfect anime in the world, but interesting enough to say it's good and worth watching. read more
I've been on a streak of positive reviews recently, so to shake things up and prove I still know how to criticize where criticism is due, here are my thoughts on a show so bland I dropped it TWICE.
'Hero Tales' is as generic as the name would have you believe. Setting a story in medieval China (or a fantasy look-alike) is as common in East Asian media as setting a Western fantasy in medieval Europe. The basic plot isn't any more original, following seven warriors who are each the reincarnation of various warrior deities, with two (conveniently our protagonist and antagonist) being well-known as the most powerful while the other five pick sides. Why are they fighting? THE KARMA OF THE STARS!!! Now, the concept of fate and free will has been with humans as long we've told stories, but it can also be a crutch for the author who can use it as a cheap cop-out. In this case, 'Hero Tales' uses fate and karma as an excuse to drive the plot in the absence of developed character motivations.
The story itself actually isn't bad, but it plays so painfully and unimaginatively close to formula that there's nothing to make it good either. Anything you see here you've seen better elsewhere.
Hiromu Arakawa created one of the most famous manga series of all time with 'Fullmetal Alchemist'. That fame creates a bit of a problem when she tries to reuse the character designs in other works- you'll be playing "Spot the FMA character" while watching this show (and judging by 'The Heroic Legend of Arslan' this is a recurring mistake for her). The quality and aesthetic are nothing impressive either, having decent animation but a very generic and simple palette - lots of bright, flat colors. The series doesn't look bad, but it doesn't look good either (noticing a trend here?)
When not even J. Michael Tatum can't make his character sound very interesting, the show most likely has a writing deficiency. English dub voice actors do fine, but the sound is still pretty generic (nobody is given much that's memorable to say, so there's little opportunity to shine or suck). The soundtrack does nothing special either, the OP and ED are very basic.
The cast wouldn't be unique even if their designs weren't copy-pasted from a stupendously better series. Taitou is the untouched archetype of a Shonen protagonist: loud, violent, not terribly bright, and a big eater. The rest stick extremely close to archetype as well: the not-related-by-blood-so-it-technically-wouldn't-be-consanguinity sister, the goofball best friend, the pirate with a good heart, the bad girl with a good heart, the warlord who wants to take over for kicks and giggles- it's all been done before. The only interesting one is the assassin Shimei, who doesn't care who actually wins so long as he gets to watch a good show- however, he's a relatively minor character. The point where I stopped watching 'Hero Tales' for the second time came when a certain character switched sides and joined the villain- because the villain said he was fighting for peace. No explanation of how his evil deeds would actually bring peace, his just stated that was his goal and this character (who knew his evil deeds full well) simply up and joined him with hardly a moment's hesitation. And that's when I left.
It was good for a while as 'turn your brain off' fun, but with the plot taking its sweet time to get anywhere and the cast not being interesting enough to make up for it, it dropped the show. Then a few months later I took a second stab at it, nothing got better, and when the dumb plot twist I just said 'forget it' and haven't bothered with Hero Tales since. I rarely drop a series because I won't start one unless I think there's a good chance I'll like it. I took a gamble on this one and it failed.
'Hero Tales' doesn't actually stink, but for the same reason there's nothing good to note either: it's utterly generic. You can avoid catastrophic failure by sticking to the archetype, but you'll never be remembered for it one way or the other (people like to crap on "School Days", but they're still talking about it long after they've forgotten other more generic romantic dramas). It's not worth watching for something good, or just to see how bad it can get. Skip this lukewarm series, I doubt it's worth your time.read more
Best Rating: 4.5/10 Worst Rating: 3/10 Average Rating: 3.7/10
*note: pardon me for my language, it's just the way I roll*
don't agree with what I say about this anime? that's your problem....
Review: Hero Tales
Could have been good, but turned out bad. It had potential, but it was wasted unfortunately.
Started off with a good idea/plot.
~but then turned it into something completely stupid with out of proportion power and not much logical understanding or explanation behind the back-story and background of the story.
(Ex. Karma of the stars) (Ex. over exaggerated strength of the bad guy at the end)
Decent fairly well developed characters.
Karma of the stars/ Alkaid concept makes no fucking sense at all. It’s basically saying that this and that are destined to happen but its total B.S. because the people themselves decide what to do, not some fucking stupid destiny karma of the stars garbage.
The anime failed to truly make sense of the forced karma of the stars destiny, never thoroughly explained how they are forced or why…
Main character is forced to put up with his very annoying bitch sister at the beginning and being called “dumb” by everyone for no reason.
Main character keeps getting beat up by stupid side characters all the time.
~the main character should be the one kicking ass, not getting his ass kicked.
Weird psycho ending that is completely blown out of proportion from what is already established. The big bad boss at the end turns into a complete monster. Doesn’t make sense how the main character won at the end since he hasn’t really done anything special that warrants victory, no training, no prophecy, nothing that would make logically be able to explain why he won at the end.
It was a lame, happy and sappy ending which I predicted and just about expected. I saw it coming a mile away. This was one of the worst ways to end it or at least in my opinion.
This is definitely not an anime I recommend watching unless you're really really bored and have absolutely nothing better to do with your time, in which case enjoy. read more
This is one of the best plotted bad animes I have seen.
I started watching the show and continued warching because I enjoyed the story and plot in the beginning, and only continued to watch it to see how it developed. Then I noticed a pattern. The main character is actually weak, none intelligent, and weak willed.
I may see it different from others, but it makes no sense that when the main character in hislose control mode still loses. It tries to seem like he has friends that support him but in reality all they do is verbally attack him with no reasoning or basis.
Then the plot started having too many contradictions. It especialky occured with the karma of the stars. It became confusing the more characters tried to explain it.
Overall my response is it has a great plot but the many characters responses to situations or heartfelt situations that can happen in real life is not realistic and gets annoying to a point. It only needed better writing on the characters interaction with the main character and plot development. read more