Hero Tales

US Distributor: Funimation
Production Studio: Studio Flag
Was this provided by the publisher? Yes
More Info: Anime News Network

Hero Tales is a charmingly uncomplicated shounen title adapted from a manga of the same name. It features Fullmetal Alchemist creator Hiromu Arakawa’s art style, common themes, likable characters, and plenty of time to tell its story during a 26 episode run. It seems to be inspired by wuxia, best described as badass tales of mythical Chinese martial artists, and that helps to set the show apart from other classically shounen adventures.

Hero Tales is set in the Ken Empire, a land watched over by two opposing gods. Alkaid watches over the realm as the god of order, while Dubhe looms as a deity of destruction. Five divine warriors are chosen to attend to these gods, and ensure that they don’t turn the world into a smoldering ball of sadness and death.  Each god and warrior is associated with their corresponding star in the Big Dipper constellation, and inherits their star’s karma when incarnated as a human.

The Ken Empire, once a land of justice and prosperity, has decayed into a state of corruption rife with poverty and lawlessness. Tian Long temple, where this tale begins, experiences relative shelter from the worst of troubles. The temple houses the empire’s most symbolic sword, the Kenkaranpu. It’s said that whoever draws the sword is the true emperor. You guys see where this is going? Our hero, sixteen-year-old Taito, and his sister Laila live at Tian Long Temple with their adoptive father, and…DUNDUN! Their peace is abruptly shattered when General Keiro attacks the temple in order to steal the sword and usurp the throne.

Naturally, after Keiro wipes out dozens of monks, Taito confronts the general. At the start of the encounter, Taito begins to channel a sudden, awesome power. He manages to draw the fated sword, but is quickly disarmed by the immensely powerful Keiro. While Taito recovers from his concussion hangover, it’s finally explained that he’s the incarnation of Alkaid, and Keiro is the incarnation of Dubhe. Of course, none of that matters to a shounen hero! Initially driven by thoughts of revenge, Taito sets out to acquire the strength he needs to punish Keiro for the deaths of his friends at Tian Long. Along the way he makes new friends, and incites new enemies, all of whom help to broaden his horizons and choose his own destiny.

Hero Tales would hardly be a shounen adventure if it didn’t look at the ideas of fate, loyalty, justice, and hard work! That said, the whole song and dance may seem a bit formulaic to older viewers, or those who have watched a ton of anime over the years. Production is pretty basic across the board, which is unsurprising for a title that seems to be targeting a fairly young audience. Character interactions are accordingly entertaining because of that target, however. Youthfully animated dialogue and frequent silliness help pass the time between plot points. Taito’s voice actor, Kenichi Suzumura, always seems to deliver in the general silliness department, so I had fun.

Hero Tales’ simple story format and art style make it easy to follow for kids and those new to anime in general.  It’s entirely suitable for older children, aside from some rough language being translated as profanity (it’s rated as TV-14), and that makes it a relaxing watch for those looking to kick back with a vanilla representative of the shounen genre.


About the author

Lydia Rivers

As Editor-At-Large, Lydia's interests include working with international contributors and hearing their fandom stories—especially those that originate outside of the English language. She greatly enjoys content analysis and spotting the little tricks that creators use to send their art to the next level. In her time off, she can be found engaging with interpersonal disability advocacy, creative writing, and impulse-buying yarn.

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