Sunday, June 17, 2012

Heroic Age Anime Review

Heroic Age
Complete Collection - 4 discs
630 mins. - 26 episodes
$59.98 (2010)
$59.98 (2010) Blu-Ray
$29.98 (2011) S.A.V.E.
$34.98 (2011) S.A.V.E. Blu-Ray
$59.98 (2009) Part 1
$59.98 (2009) Part 2
ISBN 704400086830
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Toshimasa Suzuki
Studio - Xebec

Synopsis: In the universe there once existed an omniscient, all-powerful and benevolent race of beings called the Golden Tribe.  Their abilities included the creation of new stars and planets.  They called out to all the tribes of the universe with three tribes answering their call:
  • Silver Tribe - a humanoid race with great psychic powers allowing them to traverse the cosmos and communicate instantaneously across vast distances.  They suppressed all emotions and tapped into a group mind to gain logical consensus on political issues.  The Golden Tribe became mentors for the Silver Tribe and helped them achieve greater potential
  • Bronze Tribe - an insectoid race with vast numbers and the ability to create massive space-faring colonies
  • Heroic Tribe - the most powerful race in the universe in terms of raw power.  Incredibly destructive when pushed into the state of 'frenzy'.  The Golden Tribe had to restrain the Heroic Tribe after their powers left unchecked caused massive devastation to the universe.  The five remaining members of the Heroic Tribe were bonded to members of the other tribes as penance
The Golden Tribe observe events in the universe
Eventually the Golden Tribe left the universe after passing on their knowledge to the Silver Tribe and entrusting them with supervision over the Bronze Tribe.  The Heroic Tribe no longer existed as separate beings, but were bound to mortals of other tribes and called Nodos.  Five Nodos exist with four bound to the Silver Tribe through a contract calling for specific 'labors' to be performed before the contract is fulfilled.
The fifth Nodos is prophesied to be granted to the Iron Tribe also known as humanity.  The Silver Tribe has targeted the Iron Tribe for annihilation due to their penchant for chaotic warfare.  Earth has been conquered by the Bronze Tribe and humanity scattered across the universe.  Their last chance at survival is to find the fifth Nodos.
The four Nodos contracted to the Silver Tribe - Yuty,
Karkinos, Lekty, and Mehitak
The Argonaut is the most advanced ship in the Iron Tribe's fleet and led by Captain Mobeedo.  He protects and follows Princess Dhianeila who possesses psychic powers including astral projection, telepathy, and pathfinding.  She locates Age, the fifth Nodos, on a desolate planet where he grew up alone and he joins the Argonaut's crew in order to complete the twelve labors of his contract.  Age is child-like, pure of heart, and well-meaning.
Dhianeila encounters Age for the first time on his
home planet of Oron where he was raised in isolation
Each Nodos possesses enhanced capabilities including strength, endurance, resistance to harm, and can endure the vacuum of space.  They can transform into a powerful member of the Heroic Tribe:
  • Age/Bellcross - capable of incredible power and possibly the strongest of the remaining Heroic Tribe members.  Generates massive shockwaves of power and primary uses physical assaults.  Main power is existence (i.e. resistance to reality or probability altering attacks).  Age is the only Nodos not under contract to the Silver Tribe and the greatest danger to them in the universe
  • Karkinos/Lernaea - main offensive weapon is a corrosive gas cloud emitted from the body.  Can transform into a hydra form on land.  Main power is life as Lernaea can resurrect Karkinos upon death.  Karkinos takes his duty seriously, but is rational and wishes to protect those he cares for above all else
  • Mehitak/Artemia - highly destructive with vast energy projection capabilities, but a pacifist at heart and reluctant to hurt others.  Views his contract as a torturous bargain to keep his people alive while inflicting pain on others tribes.  Main power is light/energy
  • Lekty/Erymanthos - teleportation and the ability to manipulate time by travelling to each splinter of probability in the timestream in order to gain the desired outcome.  Shows compassion and does not march into battle lightly.  Main power is time
  • Yuty/Kervius - only Nodos actually of the Silver Tribe and leader of the group of Nodos.  Can deflect energy weapons and summon vast massive vortexes of reality swallowing power with unlimited destructive potential.  Main power is nothingness/annihilation
Bellcross confers with Dhianeila's astral projection
after a brutal space battle
The Iron Tribe with Age at their vanguard must launch a final war to win humanity's survival.  They face impossible odds as well as internal political conflict.  Can they discover the final secrets of the Golden Tribe? The Silver Tribe hates them for being the apparently chosen successors of the Golden Tribe (major abandonment issues).  The four Nodos feel caught in the middle and confined by their contracted labors.  Dhianeila's older brothers, Meleagros and Atalantes, attempt a power grab for control over human society and rush headlong into battle without proper strategy.  Will all be lost or can the brave crew of the Argonaut led by Princess Dhianeila persevere?
Captain Mobeedo discusses strategy with the lovely Captain Nilval
Pros: Excellent animation combining state-of-the-art CG with hand drawn characters, great opening theme song, solid character types, nice homage to Greek mythology and Twelve Labors of Heracles, cool character/mecha/Heroic Tribe designs, little bit of fan-service thrown in
Age encounters the first of the other Nodos in Karkinos - they
transform and Bellcross faces off against Lernaea
Cons: Slow pacing makes it somewhat boring, unsatisfying conflict resolution/ending - far too positive, Dhianeila's brothers are really annoying, had some battle scene recycles throughout the series, Bee no Bee was a little AI drone hanging around Captain Mobeedo - totally lame ripoff of Haro from Mobile Suit Gundam, whole main cannon firing thing on the Argonaut was goofy with Bee no Bee and Mobeedo
The Iron Tribe's space fleet engages the enemy around
Jupiter in an attempt to regain control of Earth
Mike Tells It Straight: Loosely based on the Twelve Labors of Heracles and the time of the Heroic Age in Greek mythology, this show was a solid sci-fi space opera with epic space battles and romances.  I really enjoyed the complexity of the story elements, idea of the tribes/labors, and the animation was slick as hell.  Great character designs and backgrounds with cool mecha/ships/monsters.  Something was missing however and I felt the story just didn't hit its full potential.
Dhianeila projects her astral form in front of the Argonaut
and pathfinds a course to follow Age
The element missing was tragedy which is one of the biggest themes in Greek mythology.  Despite all the complex personal relationships set up in the plot none of them were resolved in (what I consider) a realistic manner.  I wish Yoshiyuki Tomino (creator/director of the original Mobile Suit Gundam) could have gotten his hands on this show and set it straight.
Rom Ror, commander of the Silver Tribe's Nodos, gets
his hands dirty in the final conflict
I felt like the plot crawled along at a DBZ pace for most of the show and then we get a milktoast ending.  It seemed like the only deaths were the random space vessels getting ripped up by the Nodos or Bronze Tribe hive drones.  Maybe I'm being harsh, but this show just felt immature and targeted for a younger audience.
Age and Bellcross in frenzied condition
Not enough blood and pain for the subject matter - the pending annihilation of the human race.  Just a bunch of pretty people flying around in space and ugly monsters bashing each other for episode after episode.  Don't get me wrong - it's a high-gloss show and worth a watch, but I just didn't feel satisfied at the end.  Maybe I'm conditioned to expect more cast members to die in a war story.

TO BUY and Recommendations: