Youka is a young 13-year-old boy. One day, his Uncle, Kakusei, has him follow in his steps of martial arts and has him study the art of Zenshinkyou. After being mistreated, Youka runs away Zenshinkyou. He stumbles on a Forbidden Tomb where he finds a beautiful young woman, by the name of Shouryuujo. After a short time, Youka is eventually accepted by Shouryuujo to study the techniques of the Koboha under her, and thus begins their adventure through martial arts and love.
This is a compact review based on all THREE seasons (78 episodes) of the Legend of Condor Hero series.
*Please note that only season 1 was voiced in Japanese but all 3 seasons have been Chinese dubbed.*
Before proceeding with the actual review of this anime, I would like to clarify the name of the story. Based on the original novel written in the late 1950s, this story should be called The Return of the Condor Heroes. But somewhere along the way, the Japanese decided to change the name to Legend of Condor Hero, which to add on to the confusion is the same name as
the prequel story to the story that this anime is based upon. So to sum this up, Legend of Condor Hero (anime) does NOT equal to the actual Legend of Condor Hero, but in fact, the anime is the sequel to the Legend of Condor Hero. For those who can read Kanji, check this out and everything should be clear.
The Legend of Condor Hero is, to many Chinese, the Romeo and Juliet of the West. Not because the story have much in common, but rather it is the reputation that it earned over the last 50 years as a romance story. You can literally go walk to a Chinese and ask them the story of Legend of Condor Hero and 90% of the time they will be able to tell you something about it.
The story revolves around Yang Guo and his lover Xiao Long Nu in their adventure against the dominating Mongolian Empire (~1250 AD) under Genghis Khan's grandson. However, what really captivates viewer to this story is the taboo/forbidden love between the two as one is the master and the other is the apprentice.
While the anime adaptation follows the actual story quite closely, there were some missing characters here and there (for example, Sha Gu played a key role in providing the background story of Yang Guo's deceased father, but she was completely taken out in the anime). However, I was glad that the production crew did a good job with the crucial Battle of Xiangyang as that was the "heart" of the story in the actual novel.
Since I have personally read the entire trilogy -the official Chinese novels- of the Condor series (The Legend of the Condor Heroes, The Return of the Condor Heroes, and The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber), I was expecting a lot from this anime. It failed me in many ways, from the poor animation quality, to the overly repetitive scenes and soundtracks. All in all, it was fairly decent in terms of story retelling, but for an anime in this day and age it certainly can be a whole lot better.
This is one of the most intense love stories out there in anime. You can really feel the immense depth of the love. This together with the abundance of strong female characters in the story makes it one of my favorite anime series. The only minor point is that there is a lot of silly martial art fighting going on.
The OP and ED are addictive.
Hotness: very intense forbidden and pure love.
Bishounen: The main lead is a cutie. He could have been more intelligent and more sensitive though.
This is not a place for those who seek best design, animation, soundtrack. This anime only portrays more on a well written story over everything else (including character developments, interactions, story flow).
After dedicating myself to all 3 seasons , the anime has played a role in showing the realization that best story are not only to be told from Japan, for it can also be found from other countries as well. It is not a simple task to win over this in terms of story plot.
My review of this anime series (all seasons):
Story S1 + S2 10/10
Completely mindblown Jin Yong is a
masterpiece. Story flows consistently well from the start until the end. All main and supporting characters plays an essential role, some sticking to the series until the very end, including the big bird in the opening song. Character grows over each seasons. The naive and childish Yang Gua in S1, evolving into a legendary, matured man in S3. Yang Gua and Xiao Lung Nu love to each other: lovely and pure.
Story S3 8/10
Disappointed with the last few episodes.
Animation and soundtracks S1 6/10
Decent designs, just not up to today's standard. Love both the OP and ED. Japanese dub is average.
Animation and soundtracks S2 + S3 5/10
1)Animation doesn't look like much effort is inserted. Crushing sea water onto ship looks like mountain emerging from the bottom. 2)Repetitive long flashbacks, flashback of Yang Gua rescuing Huang Rong shown twice. 3)Certain scenes repeated broken soundtracks. OP and ED songs changed yet uses S1 OP animation, doesn't fit.
Cantonese dub is otherwise, good. Perfectly fits the character. Made me laugh.
Because of the story.
Overall 10/10 (ignoring animation and sound)
Love it. Lots of meaningful messages to the audiences: grow over mistakes, independent life, knowing when to stop, never stop learning, be helpful, be a good example, forgive and forget, etc.
I give my credits to the author Jin Yong for introducing such an amazing story. Also a big thanks to the production staff for making an anime version of the Condor Hero series. Have no regret watching it. One of the world's greatest ancient chinese story ever told!
The art, sound, and even action sequences were nothing more than mediocre, but the story is where this anime really outshines so many others. It is true that it is a little on the older side, and the animation quality is definitely not the best. Even so, I was so enthralled in the love story between the two main characters that everything else hardly mattered.
Still, I would strongly suggest watching the English Subbed version of this anime. I happened upon the dubbed version, and the voices were a little hard to listen to, so for this, I would say the subbed version may come
across more appealing.
So overall, if your looking for an anime with top notch art and visual effects, this is not the one for you. But if your looking for one of the most beautiful love stories involving a little Kung Fu ;), then this is precisely the anime to watch, and I would recommend it to any anime lovers out there. So go for it!