What They Say:
A war between bordering lands Roland and Estabul has begun. At the King of Roland’s command, Ryner Lute, a bearer of a cursed, extremely lethal power called the Alpha Stigma, and his beautiful comrade Ferris set out on a search for the Heroic Relics – artifacts that contain enormous supernatural powers and can be devastating if placed in the wrong hands. War tactics, bloody magical battles, and political intrigue ensue!
Contains episodes 1-13.
The technical portions of this review covers only the Blu-ray discs in this set.
The audio presentation for this series is par for the course from FUNimation in that we get a pair of lossless tracks for it using the Dolby TrueHD codec. The original Japanese track is kept in stereo with its variable bitrate while the English mix is bumped up to 5.1 and gets an obviously higher rate on average. The show has a very good balance of dialogue and action but it’s the action where it stands out the most. The series has a lot of back and forth banter between some characters and lots of intrigue with others and it’s pretty well handled as nothing is ever too soft to hear or too loud from where it should be. When it gets tot he action though, the magic and swordplay come across really well with some very big moments, a good sense of scale and a solid sweep across the forward soundstage as it unfolds. It’s a very engaging mix overall that really showcases the action in a great way.
Originally airing in the second half of 2010, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The set has thirteen episodes to it spread across two volumes with nine on the first and four on the second with just a couple of extras that don’t have much impact with space. The series, animated by Zexcs, has a very rich and appealing design to it as it works through different scenarios. While it keeps to the fantasy setting, it moves between the towns in general, castles and the general countryside. The character designs have a good detailed look to them that’s very evident throughout and the colors are rich and warm. The magic is where it shines the most as it stands out properly and with a distinct look, but the series overall has a fantastic design to it and the transfer captures it beautifully.
With this being a two part release, FUNimation has put together a solid limited edition set with the first half that comes with a heavy chipboard box that holds a single sized Blu-ray case and space for the other one. The box itself is very well designed as it has a rich fantasy style to it with the background but balancing it with the foreground colors that are richer and more vibrant. One side features Ryner and Ferris together with serious looks about them that shows them off well while the other side has the pairing of Marin and Sion together. They definitely are paired up well and the set has a good sense of color about it and goes dark for the spine with a deep fiery red that lets that stand out well too.
Within the box we get the filler box that’s done in a red hue where one side features a partial map of the land while the other has a larger look at the cast. The red filter for it is unusual and reduces its appeal. It also contains inside a single full color “trading card” of Ryner that’s just beautiful with its colors and embossing. The Blu-ray case itself is done similar to the box with the background while doing a similar foreground as well with Ryner and Ferris. This one uses less vibrant colors overall but still looks very appealing and stands out well with the detail and designs. The back cover gives us some of the supporting cast along it with a breakdown along the bottom of the episodes by number and title as well as what types of discs are included in the set. The cover has artwork on the reverse side as well that avoids logos and the like and just showcases different groupings of the supporting cast. No other show related inserts are included.
The menus for this release are decent overall and certainly done in theme with the main part that’s created for it, which is the strip along the bottom that’s on the main menu and doubles as the pop-up menu. That navigation strip has the usual elements we see but is done in a standard fantasy script. The selections themselves are of a good size but some of the submenu stuff is just done with the usual small font that can be a little difficult to read at times. The layout is quick and easy to access and good overall as it sets the mood. The main menu draw in a lot of good clips from the show after it rolls out the logo for a few seconds to make it clear what you’re watching, but the rest of it shows off the action and characters well. Submenus load quickly and everything is easy to move through without any problems.
The extras for this release are pretty decent as we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequence but also a pair of commentary tracks from the English language production team that lets them talk about the show a good bit.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the works by Takaya Kagami, which has amassed nearly forty volumes worth of light novels over the years,some series of which are still ongoing, and a few manga spinoffs as well, the Legend of Legendary Heroes is a twenty-four episode series with a “special” recap episode along the way as well. Fantasy shows are few and far between overall so I do tend to gravitate towards them when they hit. I originally watched this show as it was simulcast and it proved to be one of the most frustrating, uneven and difficult shows I’ve watched of this length in that form. I actually had a fair bit of dread about the home video release because of that simulcast run, but as I’ve discovered over the last few years there are shows that play better in marathon form than weekly. And vice versa as well, though that tends to be more with comedies. And with this set, my opinion of the series has done nearly a 180 compared to the simulcast.
The series is one that goes for both the big, sweeping epic nature that many fantasy series run with while also working through the character stories as well that are intertwined with it. Where the series gets problematic at times, less so in marathon form, is how it deals with flashbacks and shifting around when it wants to tell the tale, especially when several episodes after the first goes back a number of years for awhile, almost giving you a very different story than you expect. The show works through quite a few storylines but primarily with two pairings from which everything else flows from. And those two pairings are pretty well connected to each other as well, though they often spend the majority of the series away from each other operating independently.
On one side of the series, we get to watch Ryner and Ferris scouring the lands across various kingdoms looking for relics from thousands of years ago involving heroes from a legendary past. While their stories are ones of legend, obviously, the weapons they use have been lost to time and these two have been tasked by the king of Roland to find them. Ferris is set to help Ryner in this with an amusing threat to her favorite food shop, but Ryner has a vested interest in doing this to help the king as he believes in what he’s capable of as a good ruler. Ryner isn’t just any guy on a mission though as he’s capable of using magic, but not just any magic. He’s something called an Alpha Stigma which has much more power and the ability to use magic from different kingdoms, or styles. Being an Alpha Stigma is not a positive thing though as they’re called monsters. The two of them have an amusing relationship as they’re not exactly on the same page but they manage to accomplish most of their goals through luck and effort.
On the other side of the equation is Sion, the young king of Roland who wasn’t supposed to take on that position due to his heritage. That path isn’t laid out in this set but we do see what he’s doing as king, trying to change from the cruel past of the world where the kings of the land ruled as a whole separate species almost with the nobles who all considered themselves above everyone else. Sion’s intent on changing the world in the right way, but he’s finding it difficult and being tempted to taking shortcuts when a man named Marin arrives in his castle. Marin wants to help him achieve his goals and offers himself as the darkness that Sion needs in order to accomplish it all. It’s difficult for Sion to accept and he doesn’t quite know all Marin does, which is intense as he is the darkest of dark and eliminates so many people in order to push forward Sion’s goals. But it’s done with a feeling that Marin has far different goals about him and is using Sion for his own purposes.
What ties these two groups together is the time before Sion was king when he and Ryner were in a military academy together and he discovered what Ryner was. They two actually became very good friends during that time but ended up separated and on different paths until reunited and Sion sets Ryner on his path with Ferris. The show works these character angles, including showing the fallout from everyone discovering what Ryner is at that stage, but also deals a lot with the royalty/noble intrigue. It does take some time to come together in that regard, but the marathon form is a huge boon to the show in bringing things together in a clearer way than the weekly form did. The two stories play out very well when running in parallel and it hits numerous areas where it crosses over, often in flashbacks but not always, in order to strengthen the bonds. And each of the storylines in their larger form hold together well here and have plenty of appeal.
While I had liked aspects of the series when I first saw it, I had a hell of a time enjoying it as a whole over that run for so many reasons. But with a bit of distance and watching this set over the course of a single day, I really found this half of the series to be thoroughly engaging and well put together. It works the fantasy storyline in a very good way with the intrigue, politics, action and magic while still making the characters as accessible as they can be in this form since they lead such different lives. This set was something I was really reticent to get into again after that previous experience but I’ve come away from it really appreciating it more and eagerly looking forward to the second half to see if it all holds up just as well if not better.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary Tracks, Clean Opening, Clean Closing.
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: April 17th, 2012
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.