Legend of the Legendary HeroesThe countries on the continent of Minaris are plagued by strife and instability. Greedy nobles wage war on neighboring countries with no concern for its effects on the common people. Children are orphaned by war and then raised to become soldiers.

At a military training academy in the country of Roland, Sion Astal meets Ryner Lute. The bastard son of a noble and a commoner, Sion aspires to become king and bring peace to his country, while Ryner just wants to nap. However, Sion knows his secret: Ryner is an Alpha Stigma, a person born with the ability to decipher and use any spell cast in his presence. This makes him a powerful weapon in battle, but it comes at a price. Ryner could lose control and destroy everyone around him—and when a nighttime ambush kills Sion’s followers, he does just that. In the aftermath, Ryner is willingly imprisoned and Sion is left to realize his ambitions alone. Two years later, Sion has taken his rightful place as king and releases Ryner, who has written a thesis on magical objects called Hero Relics. As Sion struggles to bring peace and prosperity to Roland, Ryner embarks on a mission to find the powerful relics, accompanied by Ferris Eris, a swordswoman obsessed with dango (dumplings).

I’ve long wondered whether the series’ redundant name, The Legend of the Legendary Heroes, meant that it was a stupid story, a silly comedy, or the victim of a translation quirk. I now suspect the latter, as the story is neither stupid nor silly, though it does have its share of comedy. Rather, it’s a story of the human condition, one that questions when a person’s crimes turn them from man to monster and contemplates whether causing war and bloodshed can be pardoned if one’s motives are pure. Many of the characters in Legendary Heroes seek the same thing: a peaceful world free from strife. But as they work towards their goal, they are often forced to use the same methods as those who care nothing for peace. This creates a complex story in which bad guys may not be so bad and good guys can cause as much harm as the evil they fight—a story in which villains can be heroes and heroes can be villains. It does not follow a conventional path, and in fact, the last few episodes were so contrary to my expectations that I had to watch the series again to find the clues I had missed.

There were a few aspects of the story that could have used further explanation or clarification. For instance, the importance of certain characters seemed to be overemphasized, even with repeated viewings (e.g. Milk Callaud, the captain of the Taboo-Breaker Squad). The story involves a number of countries and people with unusual names that sound similar, and unless one is paying close attention, it’s easy to get them confused. In addition, I wish the writers had spent more time delving into the “legends of the legendary heroes” and their affect on Ryner’s early life, as well as his relationship with Sion. These parts of the story are only briefly presented towards the end of the series, only to wrap up with a “tomorrow is another day” conclusion. Given its various loose ends, this anime would have benefited from another season to unpack all the details of its rich story.

The voice acting in Legendary Heroes is phenomenal. Having heard Ian Sinclair in Hetalia and Black Butler, I already knew the man had great talent, but this is the first time I’ve heard him in a leading role. As Ryner Lute, Sinclair delivers a character who is filled with pain and love, but is frank and offbeat enough that he doesn’t become maudlin. As the dango-loving Ferris Eris, Luci Christian employs an endearing robotic undertone to convey a character who is strong yet vulnerable with capacious emotions. Eric Vale masters his role as the dignified Sion Astal, as does J. Michael Tatum as the enigmatic Miran Froaude. Finally, Jerry Jewel delivers one of his best performances as the unnerving, deadly, and strangely tender Lucile Eris.

The Legend of the Legendary Heroes is best suited for older tweens, teens, and adults. While it’s not particularly detailed in its portrayal of gore, it does not shy away from severed heads or familiar characters getting sliced in two. Those who enjoy anime series like Fullmetal Alchemist, Scrapped Princess, and Utawarerumono will especially appreciate this selection; it’s a good choice for an anime club and most library collections.

The Legend of the Legendary Heroes: The Complete Series
FUNimation, 2013
Directed by Itsuro Kawasaki
625 minutes, Number of Discs: 8, DVD/Blu-ray Combo Set
Company Age Rating: TV-14
Related to: Legend of the Legendary Heroes by Takaya Kagami

  • Emily Shade

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support!

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