It’s always good for any anime producers and directors to possess a little bit of a child’s heart when making anime so that the anime contains wild imagination and enough craziness to amaze us viewers. Shonen anime needs this kind of treatment. Mecha and sci-fi/fantasy anime need it even more. Heroic Age is a Mecha/sci-fi/fantasy anime with a boy’s heart. The problem is, in Heroic Age’s case, the boy has taken control of the series while the adult has apparently left the building.
Heroic Age tells the story in the scale of stars and galaxies. It’s your typical old school space opera in which the decisions by handful of people determine the fate of the entire race and star systems. It makes me feel kind of nostalgic. The series is based loosely on Greek Mythology or Hercules’ Twelve Labors, to be exact. Population of the galaxy consists of the Golden Tribe which is the former ruler of the galaxy, the nearly extinct but extremely powerful Heroic tribe (or the Nodos in this show), the elvish-looking Silver tribe which is the current ruler, the apparently hostile insectoid species called the Bronze tribe and finally, human or Iron tribe. The whole anime is mainly about interstellar war and power struggle between human, Bronze and Silver Tribes after sudden departure of the Golden tribe.
According to Golden tribe’s mysterious scheme, Age is one of the last remaining five Nodoses and the only one given to mankind. He is believed to be the key to restoration of peace and balance in this feudal universe.
First half of the series follows Dhianeila on her voyage aboard the ‘Argonauts’ which ultimately leads to discovery of Age and his incredible destructive Nodos power. The later part of the show is all about battles; battle between Age and the Bronze tribe, human Starfleet and Bronze tribe, human and Silver tribe, Age and other Nodos and so on. One thing is certain; the space battle sequences are nothing short of spectacular with very high production quality, nice blending of 2D/CGI and eye-popping details. It’s not every day one get to see Starfleet of thousands of ships clashes with millions of space monsters in all its glory and scale. Heroic Age deserves all the credits in that department.
Nevertheless, as the series progresses, these exhaustively long battle scenes increasingly become rather problematic. No matter how magnificent the production is, it eventually gets old after a few episodes without real depth or conclusion. Heroic Age literally becomes obsessive with fight scenes. Age has a chance to fight with every tribe and every Nodos, multiple times. The viewers hardly see him in his human form, only his berserk mecha form. The battles are long but they lack emotional punch or significant meaning. To put it simply, no one actually dies or loses. They just fight each other in gigantic space battles that expand in several episodes each time but ultimately lead to inconclusive and indecisive results. It was just sad because it looked so good and it had so much potential.
Converse to the long action sequences, the drama parts are reduced into periodic short scenes between the big battles consisting of few supposedly heartfelt conversations (along with frequent arguments, hugging, teary eyes and scenes in which someone gazes thoughtfully to the sea of stars). The human characters are unbelievably one-dimensional; they are either very good or very rotten. Fortunately, the characters from the Silver tribe are much more complex and diverse.
Like the production value, the original soundtracks for this anime is simply amazing. It is actually one of the few things that make Heroic Age worth my precious time. There were several moments that I thought the music of this greatness deserved better anime. Even now, I still listen to the original scores when I am free. It’s just that good.
Conclusion: I admire this anime for its ambition and technical achievements. Heroic Age excels in the production and music department but almost completely falls apart in storytelling.
Title: Heroic Age
Genre: action, fantasy, sci-fi
Released date: April 1, 2007 – September 30, 2007
Director: Toshimasa Suzuki
Animated by: XEBEC