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Heroic Age

An anime DVD boxed set.

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Heroic Age - A Masterwork of Modern Anime

  • May 20, 2009

To begin this review, allow me to first come clean with the fact that I'm a bit partial toward any and all mecha (robotic-based) anime titles.  Some may fear that my opinion is thus tainted by this biased devotion but in truth I can attest to the fact that the opposite is the case.  My adoration for mecha shows actually forces me to become overly critical in my opinions as after all, high expectations are always more difficult to meet.

That said Heroic Age is one of the grandest, most spectacular anime titles available today, mecha or otherwise.  But before I dive into the wonder of the show itself, let's begin with the physical attributes of this Funimation release.

Though labeled The Complete Series, do be aware that this set is in fact the first part (episodes 1-13) of a 26-episode show, the second half of which is scheduled to street in July.  The 13 episodes contained here span 2 discs that come packaged in a pair of thin packs housed in a cardboard slipcase.  Total runtime comes in at 315 minutes and extras are limited to textless songs and a crop of current Funimation-title trailers on the second disc.

The show wears a slightly conservative TV PG rating and this is most certainly derived out of violent themes such as war on a grand scale.  There is so nudity, foul language, graphic violence or gore to report.

Language options are standard sub & dub variety: English dub in 5.1 Dolby Surround and original Japanese dialog in stereo.  English subtitles are available in either sound setting.

Now onto the nuts and bolts that make Heroic Age a diamond in the rough…  The story begins innocently enough with a young savage boy called Age living alone among the ruins of a planet with a large squid-like creature native to the land acting as his only companion and source of nourishment (not to worry, like an earthen Starfish, it has the ability to regenerate body parts).

A human-owned vessel known as the Argonaut, after spending years searching the known galaxy, descends upon the planet ruins in the hopes of finally locating the chosen one, a human boy who possesses the power of a nearly extinct tribe of alien warriors.

What's great is that Heroic Age does a spectacular job of melding fantasy elements such as a cryptic prophecy, ancient tribal warfare, and mysticism with futuristic space exploring science fiction.  The material presented within achieves what American film franchises Star Wars and Star Trek dabble in but never fully deliver.

In the plot the majority of humanity scoffs at the notion of an uneducated, savage child being the one to deliver their vastly technological species from annihilation but Age proves he's more than meets the eye when dispatching incredible numbers of insect-like alien invaders known as the Bronze Tribe.  When called upon, Age has the ability to morph into his true form; that of a massive biological killing machine with shark-like features named Bellcross.

It turns out that Age is just one of five that remain of his entire species and though the remaining four view humanity as a scourge to the universe, it is Age's destiny to fight for our hopeless cause.

The scope of the prose can best be described as tribal warfare on a galactic scale with ancient governing races (the Gold Tribe) setting up the framework for conflict that spans an entire galaxy.  Human beings (referred to here as the Iron Tribe) are locked in unending space combat with everything from icy-cold humanoids (the Silver Tribe) to aforementioned metallic grub worms and their shielded mobile "ant hills".

Heroic Age combines intense action sequences with a rich, scientifically sound plot about as effortlessly as any series your author has yet to encounter.  Pacing is just spectacular with episodes that always seem to conclude too quickly only to pick up in the next installment without missing a beat.

A word of wisdom; do pay special attention to the story told in the opening sequence of the show as it is invaluable in making sense of the epic struggles being forged in the galaxy (that is otherwise not fully touched upon in the show itself).  This is especially crucial in the first three episodes as the beginning sequence starts out looking similar but actually goes on to clarify many different elements of the back story/ history of the events taking place.

The show's artwork is one of few that can truly boast of requiring the technological benefits of computer imaging to accomplish.  Many of the space battles in particular are just stunning to behold with an unrivaled sense of depth and scope portrayed.  Just a few short years ago these sequences would have been lavish enough to have been afforded only by Hollywood big budget feature films.  All too often shows with such magnificent visuals (think Blue Submarine No. 6) end up coming up short in the story department but this is simply not the case in Heroic Age.  Clearly this is a story that was developed first and foremost with stunning audiovisual work being the icing on the proverbial cake.

The animation production is done by XEBEC, a studio known for its work on another beloved mecha series, Fafner and while the two shows bare some slight superficial resemblance, the bar was certainly raised in developing Heroic Age.

My one and only compliant of this release is quite simple- that I'm forced to wait a few months before the concluding sequel set is released.  The show ends abruptly and on such a cliffhanger that the temptation to sneak episode viewings online is a definite factor.  This is epic storytelling, flawlessly delivered with excellent animation and crisp visuals to match.  Even the English dub deserves praise for its spot-on emotional delivery and intensity.  Fans of psychological mecha (Evangelion and Rahxephon), action-based mecha (Fafner, Vandread, Aquarion), and just about anyone who appreciates solid storytelling best not miss Heroic Age: Truly a masterwork of modern anime that cannot be contained within the restrictions placed upon it by genre.

Cover art for Funimation's release

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May 31, 2009
great review! Sounds like this may be worth a look for me! I do appreciate mecha-anime and did like "Blue Gender" quite a bit. I have to admit though some cyberpunk premises feel a little formulaic and sometimes I feel jaded. Thanks for the review.
About the reviewer

Ranked #14
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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About this movie


Heroic Age (ヒロイック・エイジ, Hiroikku Eiji?) is a science fiction anime directed by Toshimasa Suzuki. It is produced by XEBEC and airs on Japanese networks such as TV Tokyo and TV Osaka. The series first aired on April 1, 2007, and is now completed with a total of 26 episodes, the last of which having aired on September 30, 2007.

On July 23, 2007, a manga adaptation began serialization in Kodansha's Magazine Z. Though the story will be the same, it will be told in Iolaous' point of view. Five official guidebooks will also be published and will have consecutive monthly releases from July to November 2007.

The story's theme is based on stories in Greek mythology, especially those surrounding Heracles, upon whom the main character is based, and his Twelve Labors. Many of the other characters are also based on some figures in Greek mythology; characters share similar names to their Greek counterparts, and how their relationship is defined with others correspond with Greek stories. The title of the series, Heroic Age, is also a slight testament to the similarities to Greek mythology, referring to the time of the Heroic Age. The tribes featured in the anime are loosely based on Hesiod's Five Ages of Mankind.

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Genre: Animation, mecha
Release Date: April 1, 2007 – September 30, 2007
DVD Release Date: May 12, 2009
Runtime: 315 minutes
Studio: XEBEC, Funimation
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