We live in an age where “mech” Anime titles are coming from here there and everywhere, every production company wants their own version of Gundam or Evangelion and most times they just don’t hit the mark, Heroic Age is a series I wouldn’t exactly consider to be part of this generalization, while it seems like just another “space mech, galactic war” Anime it is actually much more than that very deep below the surface and had it been produced and released with the kind of animation technology we have in this day and age it would’ve been so much greater and infinitely more popular. Allow me to explain more.
Heroic Age has, as I mentioned above, a seemingly generic story; there’s a young man named Age on an abandoned planet who is as close to a neanderthal as someone living in the distant future could possibly be, he was raised by what seems like the broken AI of a wrecked space vessel and really that’s all he is at the very start. Enter: The Iron Tribe. Don’t be fooled though, they’re not running out of bearskin tents with sharp rocks attached to long sticks, no they actually reach Age’s planet through space travel because while they’re called the Iron Tribe they are essentially humans who have mastered future technologies, or, present technologies for them. Now the universe consists of a few different tribes; the Iron Tribe, the Silver Tribe, the Bronze Tribe, the Golden Tribe and the Heroic Tribe. The three lowest tribes – being the Silver, Iron and Bronze – are in constant war throughout the universe, they basically just want the other Tribes wiped out so that they can rule the universe. There is a lot to talk about so bear with me.
The Bronze Tribe are, basically, giant insects that just breed and kill so that’s their justification for attacking the other Tribes, the Iron Tribe continue to get attacked by the other two Tribes so they fight back which justifies THEIR place in the war…the Silver Tribe, who are basically the same as the Iron Tribe seem to believe they are of higher power and, for the most part of the series, wish to envelop the universe. So you’ve now got your setting, let’s head back to Age for a bit. The Iron Tribe find Age alone on his planet, the Bronze Tribe engages the Iron Tribe with the poor boy in the middle, after certain events transpire which leads to the destruction of the already fairly destroyed ship Age calls his mother, the young boy explodes in anger and turns into a bio-mech called Bellcross who is a spirit that inhabits the body of Age, the spirit is called a Nodos and it seems like the Silver Tribe has four more of these all-powerful beings.
The Nodos are a gift given to a handful of people across the universe by the Golden Tribe, they are the spirits of the Heroic Tribe that are given to the people as part of a prophecy. The entire series revolves around the battle between the Nodos’ and the Tribes that are using them. The awesome thing about this Anime is that it is actually based on the mythological story of Hercules. As strange as that sounds, that’s what makes this Anime one that is more than meets the eyes. All, or at least most, of the names in the series are based directly off of the names of certain characters in the story of Hercules.
Age himself is the embodiment of Hercules and each of the people whom have the powers of Nodos must go through twelve labours, those labours directly correlate to the twelve labours from the Hercules story that he had to overcome to earn his Godly powers, much like in the Anime. It is extremely interesting and I believe that the real treasure of this series comes from the fact that it was based on mythology in such a way that you can notice certain things but it doesn’t shove the correlation between series and myth in your face, it doesn’t treat the audience like morons and I quite like that. It’s not all mythology though, we see a lot of military action taken place, a lot of relationships built and broken while a 26-episode war takes place. I feel like the pacing of the story was actually done really well, every episode gave you a reason to continue watching and, while some scenes were quite boring, that wasn’t the overall vibe you got as a viewer.
This title is a re-release, the original series was released in 2007, six years is a very long time especially for Anime and the technology that helps create it. I say that because, visually, this Anime is nothing to look at twice which is unfortunate because, “had it been made in this day and age” like I said earlier, it would’ve been an incredible series like no other. The animation fluctuates throughout the series, sometimes it’s quite boring with still figures floating across the screen yet sometimes the animation bumps up to such a degree that you forget you’re watching an Anime made in 2007. The costume design is quite nice on some of the characters, though most are just very basic military uniform. The standard military mechs are very basic and their designs fall behind with the introduction of the Nodos.
Bellcross’ design is actually extremely good, it’s not so much a mech as it is a giant, reptilian creature covered in hard-core armour. It makes for a good looking protagonist. The other Nodod, I feel, didn’t hold up to the standards of Bellcross. The visuals were bearable but it’s hard not to compare this series to the ones that are being produced now in 2013 and while we shouldn’t make a comparison I feel like it’s inevitable. It also doesn’t help that the series takes place, mostly, in space so most of the time you’re just seeing basic, boring, empty space. The space battles are quite good but with the use of lasers it looks more like a Pink Floyd concert than a space battle, that’s not saying it’s a bad thing though, it makes for a cinematic war.
The music within the series was all orchestral, all of it, and while it fit the series like a glove I feel like it got a little boring and somewhat forgettable. Fact is; I can’t think of music that could have suited it better, an orchestral score and space-based stories seem to fit together in the best possible way so I really can’t take away points for that, it’s more of a note than a “con”. The voice acting was much like the visuals; they fluctuated. Some characters were fantastic and showed emotion like you wouldn’t believe, other characters were dull and boring. I would have to say that there were better voice actors and actresses cast for generic soldier roles than main character roles and I’m not saying that in a sarcastic way either, they held up really well. The sound effects were fairly good, one thing I have to note is that sometimes the sound effect didn’t really match up to what was going on, example; a ship warping through space makes a sweeping “boom” sound followed by a…”twinkling” sound. It just didn’t fit at all.
The extras for this release were actually really disappointing, there was practically no extras considering it only came with the bare minimum and usual extras that come with an Anime release. It was just the Textless opening and closing theme songs and some trailers for other Anime titles. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because, like I said, this is the norm for a lot of series’ but I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more. Maybe if there was a video explaining the links between the series and the Hercules legend, a lot of the audience would’ve watched that and connected more with the series.
The series is great! While a lot of little things, as well as a couple big things, let the release down I don’t think that it should be overlooked in any way. Age is a big deal for this release, being a 2007 release being brought out again in this day and age…the odds are against it, but if you can look past that like I did and enjoy the story alongside the characters than I highly suggest this one. Obviously if you’re just a fan of incredible visuals than maybe this isn’t the one for you but if you are a fan of looking into the core of a series and figuring out all it’s got to give than I think this is the one for you.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.