Title: The Legend of the Legendary Heroes
Episodes: 1-24 (complete)
Content warning: somewhat graphic violence and lots of blood. Lots of people die fairly messy deaths.
Ryner Lutes bears an Alpha Stigma—the ability to analyze and create any magic he sees anyone else using. But it’s a curse more than an ability, as Alpha Stigma bearers are taboo, and hunted down, because their abilities can go out of control and cause massive destruction. Still, there are those who want to make use of that gift . . .
Sion was an orphan who attended the same military academy as Ryner, and got to know him that way. The son of a noble and a commoner, Sion was a nobody—until he takes the throne. Now a king devoted to creating a peaceful, ideal country (and drowning in paperwork), he’s confronted with a scheming nobility, dangers from other countries, and resistance from every side for the changes he wants to implement. Ryner once offhandedly proposed using the ancient Hero Relics to create this ideal world, and Sion intends to do just that. And he knows exactly who he’ll send after these dangerous artifacts . . .
I’m glad I was warned going in that this would be somewhat terrible, so I had a chance to be pleasantly surprised at how much I did enjoy the good parts.
Sion and Ryner have almost completely separate stories for much of the show. Whereas Ryner is wandering around, theoretically hunting down ancient powerful artifacts that he never quite seems to find, Sion is struggling to build a better kingdom out of the wreckage left to him by all the previous kings. That said, the two of them are foils to each other.
Ryner initially starts stuck in emotional deadness (which manifests as his desire to sleep his life away), which stems from tragedy and the tendency of people to turn on him once they see him for who he truly is. I really like the fact that his powers are only ever partially under his control. When they are, he can be an excellent mage. When they aren’t, he’s an even better mage—and everything living that’s anywhere near him is doomed. But gradually, as he finds allies who see him at his worst and stand by his side, as he allows others to see the darkness inside of him, he starts moving out of that despair. He starts valuing life again. He starts believing in the dream he rejected out of hand the first time Sion offered it to him.
Sion, alternatively, is too good for his current position. He thought being king would allow him to fix problems. He hadn’t accounted for the fact that even though he’s king, he’s got to rely on other people for much of his power. And others are taking advantage of that, from the shadowy Lucille, who put him on the throne (and constantly reminds him can take him off of it), to the amoral Milan Frouard, who offers to perform those little dirty errands sometimes necessary for the smooth running of a kingdom. The nobles still think commoners are little better than dogs, and plot rebellions and assassinations in an attempt to wrest power back. For Sion, confronted with the harsh realities of leadership, it comes down to a choice between protecting Ryner or protecting his country—and he chooses his country. (And I don’t think that was the wrong choice, either.) That led to some of the best drama the show has to offer. Whereas Ryner is walking from darkness to light, Sion is gradually sinking from his bright idealism into a cold horror of what will be required of him to build and maintain the dreams he holds so tightly.
But although those stories are the strongest parts, and something I would very much rewatch, the series is also plagued by a few things that are supremely irritating.
I didn’t like Ferris at all. If the running gag was just that she would excessively beat up Ryner for being lazy all the time, I would dislike it but ignore it. However, in addition to that, she outright lies about him being a womanizer and a pervert, and tells those lies to everyone they meet in an often successful attempt to make everyone else hate Ryner too. There’s a scene where she says, “Aren’t I… your friend?” And my answer is a pretty resounding “No, friends don’t treat friends like that.” Actually, the show was very good about the lack of fanservice or typical perv behavior, which makes her constant accusations even more grating, as no one, least of all Ryner, is actually doing that stuff.
Also, she’s basically a two-note character throughout: her dango obsession and beating up Ryner is 99% what she’s doing whenever she’s on screen. That really should’ve been trimmed back in favor of giving her more of a personality or some actual character development.
Then there’s the grade-school-looking Milk Callaud (yes, that unfortunately really is her name), who is head of a team that hunts down people with Alpha Stigmas to kill them. There is an excessive amount of screen time devoted to her, her crush on Ryner, and her squad, and most of it does very little for the plot. She’s not important to the plot. She’s barely even comedy relief. The story either should’ve done something more meaningful with her or made her squad much less important. I would’ve rather devoted half her time to developing the other taboo bearers, like Tiir and his companions, who show up too close to the end to get any decent plot.
The ending is the biggest letdown. We leave off a war that’s just getting started, a lot of dangling plot threads with Tiir, a few hints as to what Ryner really is but with little to tell us why that’s so important (the legend almost makes it more confusing as to what they want him for), etc. And the scene shifting in the final episode left me really confused—there’s one part where Ryner is in a fight for his life, and then suddenly he’s doing office work with Sion. Was that a dream? If so, was it Sion’s dream, or Ryner’s? And why just drop it in like that, so it’s impossible to tell if it’s a dream or a memory or something going on right now?
Overall, I’m actually interested enough to see if I can track down fan translations of the source novels (I don’t believe they were officially translated, but if someone can prove me wrong I’d buy the real versions instead). There is some good stuff that carries the show, and I’d like to see how it works out, mostly related to Ryner’s unusual powers, the other taboo bearers, the war, and Sion. I can’t in good conscience recommend something with this much of a non-ending, but I do feel that the strong material is good enough that I’d watch it again. I rate this series Neutral.