The sword-and-sorcery adventure Hero Tales is based on a manga by Ryou Yashiro and Hiromu Arakawa, the creator of Full Metal Alchemist. Martial artist-in-training Taito is dumbfounded to discover he’s the incarnation of Alkaid, one of the stars of the Big Dipper, and the destined opponent of Dubhe, another of the stars. Standing between them are the five Divine Warriors, who represent the other stars. All of the celestial combatants command supernatural powers realized by controlling the energy flowing through their bodies. Taito is not the brightest light in the constellation, figuratively and literally. The first half was successful in the sense that it showed the boy becoming a man, and as a man before he would be able to confront Keiro and have a chance of beating him.
In episodes 14-26, the inevitable battle between Keiro and Taito looms closer as Taito learns more about his powers. Major plots in these episodes include Taito training, Keiro’s daughter, the Emperor, a fire, secrets being revealed, and more babbling about the stars/destiny. Although Hero Tales wants to show off the thrill of battle while evoking the spirit of traditional Chinese legends, there just isn’t enough talent and effort put into this work to make it a winner. A winner meaning in the ‘A’ rating category. But, on a lighter note, the best part about this anime is the characters. They are fun and all bring something unique to the table. They all have their struggles at one point or another giving this anime life. Shimei is my favorite character and is fun, even though he is a main antagonist. The voice cast did a superb job though both for the English and Japanese voice audio tracks and the animation is done decently well too a little reminiscent of the new FMA:Brotherhood release.
Hero Tales is a decent anime adaptation but the ending is a little rushed and touchy feely, which is the shortcoming of most anime based on manga that are still ongoing. While it’s a necessary element and an obstacle in his maturing as a character, it unfortunately goes on for far too long. The other is when you have a character whose primary function is to keep another character from losing their temper or keeping their spirit in harmony. That is a good function to have, but that should not be their only function. Especially if the character is more than capable of handling their own in a fight! The emotional depth of this anime is incredible and it really does a nice job pulling you into the characters and wanting the best for them. Maybe that was the intention all along on how to feel?
Tales draws strongly on Chinese history and mythology for inspiration, as well as wuxia (martial arts) stories like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But if you’ve seen any of Fullmetal Alchemist, it’s hard not to imagine the story being set in Alchemist’s land of Xing–also a parallel to historical China, although the events of Tales would most likely be transpiring long before the events of Alchemist itself. Hero Tales, though, makes you feel a little silly for asking it to be something that it’s not. Wishful thinking aside, there was a lot of enjoyment to be found here but ultimately it hovered around average territory for far too long to my liking. Heed caution that there are better anime out there but if you are looking for an anime with a light hearted tale of personal growth and action, this set might be for you.