Funimation // 2007 // 315 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dylan Charles (Retired) // July 11th, 2009
A boy will be the salvation of man
Okay, bear with me here. This is going to be a little bit tricky. It's sometime in the distant future and a race of omnipotent beings called the Tribe of Gold has called forth four other races into space: the Tribe of Hero, the Tribe of Silver, the Tribe of Bronze, and the Tribe of Iron (humans). The Tribe of Gold spouts some vague prophecies and hightails it out of this universe, but not before throwing everything into a tizzy by saying one of these four will take their place. This leads to galactic war, as the four vie for control of the whole deal. Got that? Good, because this is what happens before the series even starts. The first episode begins after an indeterminate period of time has passed and warfare has been ongoing since the Tribe of Gold bailed and some random people are using some psychic lady to find some guy on some planet. This is called starting the story in media res or, in the vulgar tongue, confusing the holy hell out of Dylan.
The backstory is revealed gradually through the openings, which change with each episode, revealing more of what's going on. It wasn't until Episode Five that I felt I really had a grasp on the plot, and by then I felt a little let down. All of this backstory, and all I got was Standard Sci-Fi Plot #4: Unlikely Savior. If I wanted a bizarre story setup wrapped around the hackneyed plot device of some random yahoo holding the power to save all humanity, I'd just rewatch the Matrix series. To be fair, this is only the first half of the series, Heroic Age: The Complete Series, Part One. In the second half, my mind could be completely blown away by numerous plot twists. That means getting through the first thirteen episodes, though.
At the very least, it looks nice. The ship and alien designs are marvels, giving the show a unique flavor that the story doesn't. I stayed interested much longer than the story warranted because of the art, from the designs of the different tribes to the look of the Nodos (super creatures that certain folks can turn into). I especially liked the transformation sequences for the Nodos, which showed the creatures being built from the bones out, with muscles wrapping around the skeleton, followed by the skin and armor.
The set also does the great service of offering both the English and the Japanese audio tracks. I immediately glommed onto the Japanese track, because I really can't stand the rapid patter of English dubbing. It makes the acting sound like it was all done by John Moschitta, the guy who did those Micro-Machines ads. Both tracks sound good and the video is in glorious anamorphic widescreen, looking sharp and clean.
Great visuals can't make up for an average sci-fi plot that's completely buried in gobbledygook, and I'd only recommend Heroic Age for stalwart animation fans who have exhausted most other possibilities. Once again, I'll mention the caveat that this is only the first half of the show.
Heroic Age is guilty of having a plot as complex as Syriana, with even less of a payoff.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 315 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Textless Songs