I must say, I wasn't expecting a lot out of a show called Heroic Age, but FUNimation's latest actually delivered with half of its first season. After previewing the title at Anime Boston and watching it shortly thereafter, I found that it was an ode to science fiction anime. It did several things right, a few things differently, and overall the good points overcame the bad ones. Sure it wasn't a complete breakout success, but if you were looking for a high energy sci-fi show it seemed to be the ticket.
Produced by XEBEC, Heroic Age was a 26 episode series that debuted in 2007. Directed by Toshimasa Suzuki, Heroic Age takes place quite far into the future. Man has set for the stars and wouldn't you know we're not alone. A long time ago a race known only as the Tribe of Gold reached out into the cosmos to make contact with other species. Other groups such as the Silver, Bronze, and Heroic Tribes answered their call, but humanity did as well. Becoming known as the Tribe of Iron, things haven't turned out very well for mankind. Brought to the edge of annihilation, humanity has been on the run for some time with no real silver lining on a cloud before them. That's when they picked up the boy named Age
Age quickly became their champion and helped to drive back the forces of the Bronze and Silver. Now, on the surface Age is a feral boy with virtually no knowledge of what it means to be a human. I mean, he grew up in a derelict ship with little more than a computer as his friend for crying out loud! Still, Age has the ability to transform into an ancient and powerful being known as Bellcross. This is all thanks to a stone called Nodos in his possession, and wouldn't you know it? Other people and beings have the Nodos at their disposal as well! The show's first season degenerated into watching Age destroy entire fleets of bug-like aliens single handedly from time to time, but ultimately it was the characters that brought the real heart of the show out. Age is quite unique, Princess Dhianeila is interesting, and a slew of other such as Iolaus, Karkinos, and Meleagros definitely brought their own amount of intrigue and weight to the plot. With that in mind, how does the second half of the series stack up?
Well, for starters let's just say that the second part of Heroic Age really features one battle right after another. It's a breakneck pacing that lasts from episode 14 right up through 26, and it nary gives you time to stop and catch your breath. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though, since each of the battles has a purpose and they feel much more conducive to the story as a whole than some of the fights we saw in the first installment. For instance there are numerous confrontations between the wielders of Nodos. Sure we saw some of this in the first installment, but this time around, man oh man do they fight. Actually, at the beginning of this set Age is in such a heated battle that he and Bellcross go insane. A giant being capable of mass destruction is one thing, but imagine him going crazy. Yeah.
Considering the events in this set lead up to the show's finale, I'll try to keep the details to a minimum. I will say that Age wins over the Nodos and eventually they come around to see things from his point of view (or Dhianeila's if you want to be technical). Their various "contracts" with the other Tribes have been fulfilled and they can finally bring about the end to this long drawn out conflict. As you'd imagine everything is at stake. As humanity fights for Earth and to stave off their enemies, others fight to save their planets and annihilate their foes as well. The galactic war can end only one of two ways, and I'll leave it up to you to find out just how it all happens.
I will say that some points of this installment just don't feel quite right. The pacing is all over the map, and despite the fact that some of the action is downright awesome, I would have enjoyed more breaks for plot development. The ending also kind of fizzles a bit and it definitely could have been better in all honesty. That's most likely just my opinion, and in all fairness the show is still pretty entertaining and easily recommended.
Obviously if you haven't seen the first installment, you're not going to be biting on this one. With that in mind it's worth noting that the series as a whole is quite good and hits several right notes. If science fiction anime is your thing and you love tons of action, giant robots, and alien bugs being blown to bits, then consider this show easily recommended! It's not quite as epic as it would have you believe, but it's a good better-than-average show that can be a lot of fun.
Heroic Age is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with some anamorphic enhancement. The show looks pretty darned good on DVD and despite the two year gestation period prior to its release here FUNimation did a fantastic job with the transfer. The colors pop from the screen, there is hardly any grain, and compression isn't a problem at all. Some aliasing appeared here and there, along with some interlacing, but all around the problems with this transfer are pretty scant. XEBEC also did a nice job with the animation and implementing the computer work, so there are no worries with regards to the design of the show either.
With Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 Heroic Age has most all of its bases covered. I found both dubs to be adequate, though FUNimation did a great job assembling the English cast. Only a couple of characters don't quite hit their mark, but otherwise the dub is smooth sailing. This definitely helps because the 5.1 presentation is certainly no slouch in the immersion department. With the sheer amount of action this series contains the show uses the rear channels quite a bit and it maintains a nice presence all around.
Some textless animations and trailers are all you're going to find on this release for bonus features. It's a shame really, but then again with 13 episodes on two discs I suppose there wasn't much room for anything else.
Heroic Age was definitely a good little show and it's one that deserves to be on the list of any sci-fi lover. Some elements can seem a tad cliché, but overall there's enough quality here to overcome it. With this being the second half of the series the pacing is revved up exponentially as the show runs towards its finale. It stumbles a tad, however, I will say that the show remains very true to itself. Consider it recommended.
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