I was never a huge fan of the video games. Not because I didn’t like them or because I don’ t just love the stories (I do) but mainly because I didn’t own an xbox when they first came out and I was never a part of the amazing social phenomenon that it’s become. Until a few weeks back I wasn’t aware that the story was so huge and epic, but now that I am I’m defiantly interested in finding out more. Well, I’m still waiting for my xbox to ship from home and I don’t have ready access to a lot of books at the moment, so what then? Well, there’s always Korean pirate DVD stores (yeah me!), you know, the place I bought EVERY episode of Battlestar Gallactica for just over fifty bucks (DVD quality too, HUA!). On my weekly DVD run a copy of Halo Legends caught my eye as I was walking out of the store and I thought to myself ‘hey, what better way to get more into Halo then to watch some anime based on it?’ Anime based on a popular movie or comic has become a staple, from Animatrix, to the Batman anime, to the Hulk VS movies (still need to see those). These little episodic anime’s have served other franchises well in the past.
Unfortunately Halo Legends doesn’t quite live up to the story it was supposed to portray. Sure, there are moments of fun and cleverness, but through the whole thing I was just waiting to be blow away by at least ONE of the stories, and I kept on waiting until the very last episode was finished. I kept looking for a third disk or something. Nothing. That was it. There are good episodes in this little collection, a few decent ones, and a couple really, really bad ones. But nothing great, nothing that stands out and forces you to take notice.
The first two episodes, Origins, is nothing more than a retelling of the storyline behind the Halo universe, which is great for someone like me not totally immersed in the story from the games, but it surprised me how much I actually did know after all. There’s nothing here that I didn’t know from one place or another, nothing about the Forrunners, the Flood, the Covenant War, was new to me. If this is the case for me I can only imagine how boring and tiresome it would be for someone who’s been following Halo since the very first game, though multiple books, games, etc. Unless you’re a total Halo virgin Origins won’t tell you anything knew. Plus the animation in these episodes is… what’s the word? Cheap. That’s the best way I can describe it. It was cheap. Not a lot of movement, not a lot of frames, just a lot of still pictures without the usual amazing background art that makes anime so great.
Following these two episodes is ‘The Duel,’ a story about the past of the Elites home world at the formation of their alliance with The Covenant. The main characters is apparently the Arbitrayer (sp?)of the time as he resists the alliance and fights for the independence of his race. Even without the terrible animation style this episode is done in it probably would have still been a pretty bad episode, but nothing else seems to matter when I can’t even see what the hell is going on. It’s done in some sort of water color style, don’t know, I’m not an expert. But one does not need to be an expert to tell you that if you can’t SEE what the hell is going on in a movie or TV show or whatever, then no matter what else it does right, that’s the only that that is going to matter. How can I really appreciate the epic battle that takes place here if I can’t SEE what the hell is going on? How can I sympathize for a character being unjustly tortured if I can’t SEE her bruises and scares? If their just a bunch of lumps of indiscernible colors and shades then how can I saw I liked it?
The Homecoming is a little better than the previous two episodes, but once again it lacks that ‘wow’ factor the games posses. Fortunately it’s done in a more traditional style of animation so we can actually SEE the action going on. The story focuses on a Spartan other than Master Chief, who is stuck battling the Covenant on an unnamed Inner Colony with a squad of UNSC Marines. As they fight their way through a ruined city to get picked up by a Pelican and evacuated, we are treated to some back story on our Spartan, how she tried to escape the training center, how she was kidnapped and replaced by a clone so no one would know she was gone. It’s not a bad story, but it suffers from a few common anime faults. Like when the episodes hero (the younger version) points a gun at her clone (who has no idea she’s a clone) and the clone girl just smiles and says hi. Really? If your double ran up to you and pointed a gun in your face, are you just going to sit there and say hi? Why do anime characters always do this? Moving on.
Next we are treated to the abomination that is Odd One Out. Its dragon Ball Z and Halo neatly wrapped in one of the most absurdly idiotic anime’s I’ve ever seen. Basically Master Chief is flying over an unknown world (for some reason) with another Spartan, #1337, who apparently despite his status as one of the world’s greatest worriers has a habit of falling out the back of Pelicans in mid flight. As you might be able to tell from that alone, this isn’t a serious episode. But it IS a stupid one. From ninja kids with super powers, to cavemen kids riding Dinosaurs, bumbling bad guys, full of themselves hero’s, its basically a Saturday morning kids cartoon squished between a couple of drama/action based anime’s. This episode really is the ‘odd one out’ as it doesn’t fit with any of the other episodes, and sucks a whole lot more then the worst of them.
Then there’s ‘Prototype.’ It starts like dozens of animes. The fragile girls voice dying while a strong male lead stands by trying to comfort her. Anyone here see ‘Now and Then, Here and There’? This anime starts pretty much how that one ends if that helps anyone (probably doesn’t, most who read this probably have never seen the show I’m talking about; your loss). This, along with the next episode, is probably the best of the series. A lot of action to love, some interesting character development. The main character, ‘Ghost,’ is a soldier dealing with the loss of his platoon at the beginning of the episode and his lost humanity. They call him Ghost because he doesn’t feel anything, doesn’t love anything, and according to a few soldiers in this show, doesn’t show much regard for their lives. It figures there would have to be mechs in this series somewhere, it’s a Japanese staple after all. Plus it does kind of fit Halo, doesn’t it? The mech in this episode looks a lot like a Spartan but packs a lot more heat. Though it does get kind of cheesy and emo, it’s still pretty good.
Next is ‘The Babysitter,’ an episode about the badass ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers) who jump into a planet with a Spartan (another blond hotty, apparently the Spartan program was full of them) to take out a Covenant prophet and document the ‘unknown alien ruins’ of the planet. The reason I liked this one so much is the simple fact that it involves ODST, who other than the Spartans, are the biggest bad asses in the entire Halo universe. Sure, the Spartans are cool and all, but personally I prefer ODST troopers to the regular Halo hero.
And lastly, rounding out the list is ‘The Package,’ pretty poorly done CGI episode where we get to see Spartans fight together and use some new fang space fighters. This one is nothing more than a ‘shoot em up’ episode. The animation is pretty poor by today’s standards, the action power ranger ish, the dialogue cheesy at best. Nothing special to report.
On a side note, I want to say I’m impressed with the Halo music, even if it was taken directly from the video games. Makes me want to go back and play the old ones (Halo 1 and 2) even more now.
So, is this a set worth owning? Only if you’re a diehard Halo fan. If not, it’s a rent at best.
What did you think of this review?