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.
For those who seek best designs, animation, soundtracks: leave. This is only a place for those who seek STRONG and WELL WRITTEN story over EVERYTHING else (definition of story inclusive of character descriptions + developments + interactions + storyboard).
Giving my full dedication to the whole 3 seasons , it makes me realize that one of the best story are not only to be told from Japan, for it can also be found from other countries as well. Comparing to the anime I have been watching lately, it is absolute no easy 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.
Without this series, almost zero chance for me to recognize such magnificent and talented author, Jin Yong, to exist to this day. Thus, a big thanks to the production staff for making an anime version of the Condor Hero series, and also AXN for introducing it on TV. Have no regret watching it. Salute to one of the world's greatest ancient chinese story ever told!
For anyone who does not know, this is anime adaptation of one of Chinese Classic love stories. Even though there is a lot of drama adaptations(by the Chinese), I find the anime appealing in some ways as it gives a simpler design of characters that have been overemphasize through the years.
Nonetheless, this anime is not without flaws.
The title is incorrect: Unless you read the original story, the actual title of it is actually Return of the Condor Heroes/Condor Heroes and Companions for direct Chinese translation. The title that it is currently named by refer to the prequel of this story
Some of the appearances of
characters are incorrect: the main protagonist Little Dragon Maiden(literally how you translate it) is known as a peerless beauty of her time with pale angelic skins and long black hair. I mean I know Japanese animators love to color in women of all different hair colors, but it would be nice to get the lead girl's hair right.....
Over repeated scenes: I guess this is the biggest turn down as the animation is probably run on budget. During the process, if this was to compete with other Japanese animation of its time, it would not do well. However since it is a Chinese classic, the story starting at Season 2 was exclusively Chinese and I believed it was air in Chinese Kids shows
Despite these aspects of it, I really enjoy seeing this story again as at least in the first season of the show, it was faithful to the original story. Yang Guo the lead male is a trouble maker and trickerster(he actually more devious and cunning in the original story) while Little Dragon Maiden other than her martial arts is a sweet innocent girl who just want to settle for a peaceful life with her beloved.
P.S. If anyone has any questions on this story or comments about this bad review, feel free to message me. In terms of romance that I have watched, I usually don't feel this way about it other than Inuyasha.