May 5, 2018
Silyon (All reviews)
If you're a bit newer to anime and/or tend to exclusively watch whatever is airing in the present season you may think that in the past all anime that was made was good and there were no rush jobs made seemingly for the sole purpose of being made. Wrong! There's plenty of those and Himiko-den or The Legend of Himiko is one of them.

Seemingly based on a PS1 game Himiko-den has a moderately interesting premise, being an isekai of sorts in a fantasy setting based on feudal Japan featuring the battle between the good forces of Yamatai aided by the power of a holy flame called the Bokka against the invading Kingdom of Kune. Magic and mysticism play a big part in the anime with the holy Bokka guiding our more or less intrepid heroes and the Fountain of Darkness aiding the opposition.
Well all that sounds like something I could get behind. It would not be a hard thing to make an interesting or at least cohesive story with those elements. It should at least be sufficient as a competent time waster. Well, it certainly wasted my time though not in the way I had hoped.
Himiko-den stumbles and fumbles around in every way possible to make a confusing and grating experience that serves well as a guide as to what not to do with your story.

We begin the story with the invasion of Yamatai. The guardian of the Bokka decides that the best place to hide would be with the aforementioned holy flame. Well, it would be a good place to hide if the people of this land didn't all have the innate ability to teleport wherever they pleased by using the power of editing. The main antagonist, someone who looks like he is simultaneously both a member of KISS and the pope wanders into the chambers and kills the people there and throws the guardian's baby named Himiko into the fires of the Bokka. Fast forward a few years and Himiko is in modern-day Japan and 15 years old. Nothing really happens in the modern day before she and her friend Kutani are teleported right back to Yamatai, this time not through editing but through the totally not made-up-on-the-spot powers of the Bokka.

I can't quite get it across through text, and you shouldn't watch this anime yourself, so trust me when I say that the anime both manages to move way too fast and way too slowly at the same time. That small paragraph takes up the majority of the first couple of episodes. Throughout the entire show you get this feeling that nothing really happens, but at the same time the story wooshes by you faster than a jet-powered Formula 1 car.
Either the anime occasionally cuts out character interactions and plot developments or the anime is so boring I very frequently lost and regained consciousness for minutes at a time while watching it. As I said earlier characters teleport from place to place with editing magic, some actions happen in the background with no explanation given afterwards and our band of heroes manages to always pull out a win just because they can rely on the macguffin that is the Bokka's power. It's never properly explained what it can do, at one point it's a shield, then it's a sword, oh now it causes an explosion, oh look it can make you see far away, oh wait now it projects a big image of your face to anyone else who can use the power. I wouldn't really dwell on it too much, but the woeful directing and editing combined with the plot armour the Bokka provides gives the anime a sense that nothing can ever go wrong for our main characters and nothing ever does. Everything works out perfectly all the time forever.
That's not even where it ends. When the anime is not off confusing me with random cuts and missing story it's off confusing me with plot points and conflicts that are brought up and solved almost instantly or conflicts which are brought up, built up, and be solved but which don't matter to the story at all. Things happen in the anime more or less to pad the runtime. There's no rhyme or reason to some of the plot elements brought up and when it does have a side-story that could go somewhere it wastes it by solving it in the worst way possible and leaving you with an empty and frustrated feeling.
In the end, the main story doesn't matter because every conflict will be won with no effort and the side-stories don't matter because they're either vapid or botched.

So I guess that leaves us with at least having relatable and interesting characters or an intriguing world to explore. Well, considering that the anime is called The Legend of Himiko, and the title character does absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing, for the entire run you can guess what the rest of the characters are like. They're all one dimensional and boring. There's this semi-harem going on with some queen candidates for Yamatai, but all the queens are made up of at most two character tropes and the story would be the same if all but one didn't even exist. Himiko and Kutani are basically the same, Himiko is a freightened high school girl and Kutani is a hot headed idiot both of them move through the story as if railroaded to just get to the end.
In short the characters are flat and uninteresting and hardly worth more than a glance just to see the admitedly alright designs.
The world is just a recreation of feudal Japan, but with magic and it's not even all that magical. If not for the flying mountain that serves as a base of operations of the evil guys and the Bokka it would basically just be feudal Japan, but more bland.

When it comes to its artistry The Legend of Himiko looks like it was both drawn and composed for on either a small budget, a tight schedule or both. Character models are inconsistent, faces have a tendency to morph around, sometimes during speech. There's not a lot of movement and what little movement there is is choppy. The soundtrack consists of the same spooky sounding song played over and over and some in-universe lady playing on a flute she keeps dropping on the floor and it sounds exactly what you'd expect a mistreated flute to sound like.
I wanted to find something good to say, at least here, but I can't. The most I can muster is that I guess the OP song is half decent, at least until it doesn't get repetitive.

In conclusion, The Legend of Himiko is an uninspired isekai seemingly made without any energy or budget put behind it. Its bland and uninteresting story is rivaled only by its bland and uninteresting art. It's a relic of anime of days long gone that has been forgotten and for good reason. While I personally think there's worth in remembering the mistakes of the past many do not and would probably be glad to forget The Legend of Himiko which is just one big pile of mistakes.
If you're looking for older anime to watch and happen across this one then I suggest staying away. For some good isekai there's the Vision of Escaflowne and if you're just in the mood for a classic fantasy world Slayers is for you.