When I watched the first episode, I had a trouble keeping my mouth closed. It was very reminiscent of half a dozen other favorite titles of mine (check my Suggestion List), the action scenes were great and the graphics were top-notch, exciting me to the maximum. I thought it would be a great series with awesome production values and in-depth story and characters. Yet, as soon as the fourth episode began I started to have less and less interest in it. It quickly devolved into an average shonen adventure with cool mecha, slow pace, pointless action, cheesy teen drama and mediocre characters. Everything felt so fake that I wouldn’t have cared if someone had died (they didn’t) or if there were a sudden plot twist (there wasn’t).
The premise is very good, dealing with an omnipotent caretaker race that has left the universe behind, entrusting it to four most advanced younger races. One of those, the Heroic Race, was too powerful and war-like, so the omnipotent race trapped them in weak bodies to ensure they would use their power more wisely and to determine the next race that would replace them. And typically, all races fight humanity because they are too emotionally driven and are considered too chaotic for becoming the next caretakers. Humanity is on the run until it finds a boy, who was raised alone on an isolated planet and who has the strongest member of the Heroic Race inside him. He is seen as the saviour of humanity and their key to becoming the supreme race in the universe. Well, it sounded all very interesting and being Greek myself, I always like seeing and hearing Greek names and myths; something the series is full of. But there were lots of elements that weren’t used properly and ruined it for me.
The series follows a prophecy called “The 12 Labors of Humanity”. I on the other hand follow “The 10 Commandments of Why Heroic Age Sucks So Much”.
1) YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER SAVIORS BUT ME!
The main character is the only one who actually does anything. He always defeats the aliens, always saves the good guys, always is the center of attention, always does mischief and is generally always seen as the savior of humanity, spoken by prophecy. Everyone else just hides in his shadow and runs after him. The rest of humanity can just stand still and let him do all the work because everyone is a useless ant before him. It’s just boring to have stories where the fate of the entire world is in the hands of just one man. Takes away all the importance from the rest of the cast.
It is even annoying if that man is an unreasonably powerful, immature, teenage boy. Imagine having a super advanced armada of warships being owned by a hormone-crazy teenager who just blindly storms in and blows up everything. How nice to have a savior who pisses on a million years of progress and just clubs stuff with big wooden stick.
2) YOU SHALL NOT BELIEVE IN REASON!
How can an antisocial teenage boy who can’t even count or wear clothes be trusted to do anything right or not turn against his own kind? How does such a boy obey rules in general? Doesn’t anyone think reasonably in this series? This wouldn’t be a problem if the show was trying to pass the message that knowledge or technological progress are not as important as love or compassion. Yet it never tried to go for that and all it was telling you was simply how raw brainless power is all that it matters and fine arts, philosophy, and strategical plans can go screw themselves. That is just BULLSHIT!
3) YOU SHALL HAVE NO FREE WILL!
Oh, sure, the scriptwriters excused themselves by adding the fact that the boy knew of his destiny to protect the world since he was a baby and couldn’t go against fate. Which means that for a protagonist, he was fatalistic and without free will to chose his future. I loathe fatalism! It makes characters behave like robots. Humanity clearly exploited his ability and the only thing he was saying was “Ok, it’s my destiny to be taken advantage. I have no goals of my own. I am a puppet. I exist to serve. Command me!” And no, they never questioned that aspect either.
4) YOU SHALL NOT THINK!
Also, the setting of the story takes place in a far away future era, where telekinesis, teleportation, telepathy and fast healing are mundane abilities, achieved with a simple touch (not even machines are required!). You would expect humanity and the rest of the alien races to be more mature and resolve their differences in a more peaceful way. But no, they just throw lasers at each other like they still live in the Stone Age. This show is supposed to be about progress and has absolutely nothing of the sort in it.
5) YOU SHALL NOT PLAN AHEAD!
You would expect the form of war to be more sophisticated and strategic with all this technology roaming around. But no, everyone just shoots at each other, like city gang members. Idiots and cowards for instance, run the entire Earth fleet. What kind of mad men elected them? Humanity is on the verge of extinction and they elect the worst kind of leaders to guide them!
6) YOU SHALL NOT ACT APPROPRIATELY!
You would expect more mature behaviors and realistic actions by such highly advanced races. But no, you will see even adults nagging, yelling and crying like immature 14-year-olds of today. I wanted to strangle those two twin girls with the high-pitched voices! And that AI mascot advisor… Yuck! How immature can you be in order to fancy that?
7) HONOR YOUR MOTHER AND FATHER… THE STORK!
You would expect a lot of naughty thoughts and even sex in a society that dresses with such tight cloths. You could practically see them naked! Or at least you would expect the main character to go crazy with girls for being a teenager who was raised alone without manners. But no, everyone acts as if there is no sex anymore and a stork still brings the babies.
8 ) YOU SHALL NOT MATURE!
Nobody matures much. The entire galaxy is set ablaze and they still hardly change their initial opinions. 26 episodes and one trillion explosions were not enough for them!
9) YOU SHALL NOT BE INTERESTING!
The plot is really slow. Pointless action scenes and cheesy teen drama were chewing most of the time.
10) YOU SHALL KEEP THE ENDING AS A TIME OF REST!
You could predict the ending from the second episode, because it was clichéd and unimaginative. Fatalism strikes again as the prophecy can’t be avoided, no matter how much the aliens tried to change the future. Where’s the interest in a story with a from-the-get-go predetermined ending? And what about afterwards? What followed after the prophecy was fulfilled? Why keep us in the dark?
Well, at least the production values are good. Or at least they appear to be with all that high quality CGI, decent music themes and voices before you realize it is just dressing for an ugly series to fool the ignorant into buying it. I dislike the way the character faces are drawn; they make them look 10 years younger than what they really are. And no, it’s not some technological trick that keeps them young. The character designer that made Heroic Age always draws faces like that and it always looks stupid. The 3D models are great but it doesn’t take long to realize that they are just reusing the same model a million times over. All those flashy battle scenes with thousands of mecha and space bugs fighting are just two different models, copy-pasted into infinity. And not to forget to mention that there is plenty of repeating footage going around. The music themes are very good but tend to change erratically during a turn in the mood of an episode. They fail to boost the atmosphere properly. And the character voices are decent but tend toward the high-pitched, squeaky yelling of mainstream series.
It is a mediocre show with some scenes of mass destruction of planetary level being an exception for being over the top. It is overrated by some who liked its pretty cover, occationally great graphics and cool battles. Heroic Age incorporates many good scenario ideas, but fails utterly to make use of even one of those ideas. It ends up like a bad museum collection plagiarizing other works of fine art.
All the following titles contain ideas, which Heroic Age "borrowed" in the first episode, and all of them are better than it. They are also amongst my favorites.
- An omnipotent race that takes care of the universe until younger races mature properly is presented in a better way in the space opera with real actors Babylon 5
- The 3 races in the series are very similar to the ones in the Starcraft PC game.
- Humanity versus the bug race is presented in a better way in the Hollywood movie Strarship Troopers.
- A boy, raised alone in the wilderness that can transform into a huge monster is presented in a better way in the beginning of Dragonball.
- The characters are identical to those in the other two series the same character designer made, Gundam Seed & Gundam Seed Destiny and Fahner in the Azure.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks nice)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (fancy)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (lots of explosions)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 2/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (too generic to bother rewatching)
Memorability 2/4 (it has some good ideas but it is nothing great in all)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 1/1 (looks ok for what it is)
Sound 0/2 (sounds uniteresting)
Story 1/3 (good ideas with terrible presentation)
Characters 1/4 (they are meh)