One a upon a time, in an oriental archipelago far far away, a wise sensei of the literary arts told his students, “Foreshadowing can be used to masterfully hint at the future direction of your story and make the experience more interesting for your readers. This is an ancient technique passed down through the centuries and it has the power to either advance the human condition when used for good or destroy all life on Earth if it should ever fall into the wrong hands.”
Unfortunately, his lesson was soon forgotten. The Dark Side is too strong and the temptation too great. Forged by the twisted nethers of teenage angst and the passionate flames of homoeroticism, The Legend of the Legendary Heroes is a massive black hole of pure foreshadowing, unrestrained by such mundane limiters as climax or resolution.
Yes, “The Legend of the Legendary Heroes” (Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu) is guilty of more crimes against humanity than just its ultra-camp title.
The 24-episode anime is an adaptation of a long-running epic fantasy light novel series written by Takaya Kagami. There are dozens of books published and maybe they are all great books. I haven’t read any of them so I wouldn’t know.
Despite its title, LotLH is not a parody as I had initially hoped. The story, set in a fantasy world, starts off light-hearted with the main character Ryner Lute and his partner Ferris Eris travelling through foreign lands in search of fantastical weapons of mass destruction — powerful relics left by ancient legendary heroes who fought apocalyptic wars against mythical monsters and, probably, one another.
Ryner and Ferris were sent on this quest by the newly-crowned king of their country, who supposedly wants to locate all the forgotten relics out of a magnanimous and selfless desire to “create a peaceful world where there is no war.” Presumably he plans to do this by either nuking or conquering everyone else using the relics’ devastating powers. Most of it doesn’t make sense and no one really bothers to explain the details. This is true of almost everything any of the characters ever do.
Ryner can be best described by the Obfuscating Stupidity trope. He is lazy and hates the mission that he has been forced to carry out, but it is hinted that he possesses some kind of secret talent and is highly capable despite spending all his free time taking naps. Ferris is a violent tsundere swordswoman sent by the king to whip Ryner into doing his job but claims to be his bodyguard. Hilarious Japanese light novel-style comedy hijinks ensue.
Over the course of the series, as we learn more about the king, Sion Astal, and his history with Ryner, the story takes rapid descent into emo-town and eventually becomes a charcoal-grey canvas of forgotten dreams and lost hopes. There is plenty of laughter and the occasional punchline, but everything is interlaced with betrayals, broken promises and utter despair. Every character in the show carries a dark secret but hides it behind his/her friendly exterior. The sole except is the dreary Miran Froaude who is gloomy all the time.
As a fantasy epic, The Legend of the Legendary Heroes is probably quite decent. The story is driven more by passion and emo than by logic, but it has all the fundamental bases covered: friendship and camaraderie, betrayal and vengeance, epic battles and medieval-style diplomacy, etc. Its meandering rambles on war and peace can even be occasionally thoughtful. As the story progresses and conflicts between characters and factions play out, we get the sense that a larger underlying story exists somewhere beneath all that entangled relationships that will be gradually revealed over time.
Unfortunately, what I described is as true for episode 24 as it is for episode 2. Right until the final scene of the last episode, the audience never truly gets to understand what exactly is the ultimate truth that we seek. I imagine this is what it would feel like if Scrapped Princess or Utawarerumono had ended without revealing the “catch” of their respective universe. All that is left is a handful of meaningless proper nouns and unexplained character motivations. Disappointing.
To be fair, the novel that it is based on is a pretty long series that certainly cannot be distilled into just 24 episodes. But still, I find it hard to accept the fact that LotLH, a 24-episode series, can have no discernible climax or story resolution that can stand on its own merits, especially since a second season does not appear to be a certainty. That’s 24 episodes worth of emotional investment stuck in limbo. 24 episodes of nothing but foreshadowing. I call it a crime against humanity.
And LotLH is really quite a charming show. The characters are lovable in their imperfections and the conflicts are full of moral dilemmas. Foreshadowing of a massive conspiracy at work is always a delight, but sadly in this case it never amounts to anything concrete. In fact, I did not realize that episode 24 is meant to be the final episode until 15 minutes into it.
Sure, a second season may eventually be made to finish the story. But then again it may not. Regardless, it would have been nice to have a proper self-contained sub-plot that could be resolved within the span of the season to give the audience a sense of closure and still leave the larger story open for future sequels. Even the Harry Potter books managed to accomplish that much.
Towards the end of the series, I realized that, having lost hope that the story was going to arrive at any meaningful resolution, I continued to press on mostly in the pursue of more Ferris fanservice. Ryner, just kiss her damn it!
Ferris can hit me with her giant claymore any day, if you know what I mean. :3
Here is an appropriate video to end my post.