The fight against the Covenant continues, touching the lives of countless soldiers and innocents. Discover the legends of a group of SPARTANs that must intercept an invaluable package; a lone soldier who struggles with the demons of his past; four Orbital Drop Shock Troopers that must assassinate a Prophet with the help of an unlikely ally; and many other heroic and tragic tales.
Let me begin by telling you that I am a Halo fan. I've read the books up to Contact Harvest and played the games up to Halo Wars. Having said that, I am no stranger to the Halo universe, and feel qualified to give this review.StoryWell, Halo Legends doesn't seem to have much of a coherent story. It's a collection of random events in random time periods that are pretty much completely random. They are stories that are pretty much all made up just for this project.To make matters worse, these episodes frequently contradict and vastly over-exaggerate all aspects of the Halo Universe. SPARTANs are depicted overpowering Brutes (which didn't seem possible in the book First Strike), and a single elite can fight an entire army single-handedly in an open field. Things are just so unbelievable that even a Halo fan like me just has to stop watching.CharactersThere really isn't anything to be said about them because they change every 30 minute episode, thus removing any depth to any character. It's just a bunch of people having cool fights that all feel meaningless.OverallI've been struggling through this review to keep a professional attitude, but the real truth is that this show SUCKS MASSIVE BALLS. You don't get time to care about the characters, and combat is so exaggerated that it feels like watching Superman beat the snot out of a 3-year-old. Honestly, Halo Legends is bad, and the producers should feel bad, and you should feel bad for even thinking of watching it (like I do).
To begin with, I am a major Halo fan. I have all books and games and just had to get this movie when I heard about it. Now, there are a few similarities in each of these short movies. First of all, the Halo games' great sound carried over to the movie, which was a great plus, and helped make it a good watch. Character development was good overall considering the time length present. Overall, Legends made me think of an animated version of Halo: Evolution. The lack of time in each episode was a let down, as I was hoping for eight regular length episodes. This aside, I'm now going to look at each one closely, as animation varies greatly, and to me, this is what makes it an anime.Origins I and II 4/10 A comentative history document that started good, but, and especially II, became fill-in shows worthy of the History channel. I did enjoy the first one at least, though. A nice look at the forerunners up to present, explaining things. Animation was of a good quality, although the battles were lacking.The Duel 3/10 Worst. The worst ever. The story itself was nice, the battles amazing. I liked the origional story, which developed a look into elite culture. Wait, why did it score so low, then? Animation. Moving water colors is not anywhere near good animation. The graphics over all were terrible. Anything I say about the plot will not be a spoiler.Home Coming 6/10 I truely enjoyed it when I found an actual anime episode. Half a battle, half a flash back to one spartan's life during training. It was nice to see how she reacted to what happened to her. The battle was of great quality.Odd One Out 7/10 You might wonder wh it was so high. Answer is the fact that it was an anime. This coupled with the story staring an idiotic spartan in a comidy short that had me laughing. The battle was amazingly classic style anime, making it very enjoyable.Prototype 8/10 This was a great short. A character develpement that reminds me of Evolutions, it was a very good watch. It was a nice change to see a non-spartan story for once. The animation kept it as a real anime, and the battle sequence was amazing, remanisint of gundam fights.The Babysitter 10/10 Maybe even my favorite, this made a great show of the ODSTs' opinions of spartans. Great animation and battle sequences. Short but enjoyable story.The Package 9/10 One of the better ones, thanks to the long and amazing battle which is the main portion of this movie. I also enjoyed having a face to put to Halsey for once. The bulets at one point falling like there was gravity in space was an odd anoyance. That along with what seemed like a mix of cartoon and Nightmare before Christmas style graphics lowered the score.
Well just like Batman Gotham Knight and The Animatrix, Warner Bros. once again decided to create a collection of animated shorts, this time with HALO. I’m going to start off by saying I’m not a Halo fan. I’ve played the games somewhat but only in multi player mode and never in the main storyline. But when I heard of this project, Halo Legends, I have to say my interest in checking it out was pretty high. It was stated outright this would be an anthology like Gotham Knight and I had to ask, was Bee Train also going to be involved in some way? And go figure, I was right. The directors were announced which included Koichi Mashimo and Koji Sawai so naturally I was going to pick this up ASAP. Halo Legends was also produced in collaboration with 343 Industries the same company that would go on to make Halo Reach, Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo Waypoint and Halo 4. In this mix also included Joseph Chou, producer of works such as Appleseed Saga: Ex Machina with Shinji Aramaki and including Serpahim Digital, the current recording, authoring and dubbing house of Sentai Filmworks. In the same vein as Gotham Knight several animation houses from Japan were brought on to animate their own animated shorts for a collection of stories largely based out of the Halo universe with the intent of being canon. While most of the studios approached agreed many were actually hesitant to write their own projects, even those whose filmmakers were familiar with the Halo universe. 343 chief Frank O’Connor along with Joseph Chou decided to outline several story possibilities that the studios could work off of. Unlike Gotham Knight, which was written primarily by American writers, the shorts were written by Japanese screenwriters with one or two English writers onboard. Because this is a collection of short stories it's only appropriate to go through each short one by one. The first short is Origins, animated by Studio 4*C and directed by Hideki Futumura, making it the third time in a row this studio has animated a short for an anthology with Warner Bros. Split into two episodes the short is an expansive history of the 100,000 year long Halo universe. It is comprised of two parts, featuring Forerunner-Flood War and the Human-Covenant war. This one was very boring. In fact it’s actually downright pointless as it’s mostly narrated exposition from Cortona, voiced by Shelly Calene-Black. Oh yes it should be mentioned that none of the game’s voice actors are in this. Sorry Halo fans. The episode was intented to try and fill in strangers to the franchise but I have to wonder if they needed two parts. I'm sure the mythos of the Halo universe alone would be enough to fill up a movie on its own so it probably wasn't the right choice for the first part. The animation is very true to Studio 4C's animation style, a rough indy off the mark style that you can love or hate. The Duel Animated by Production I.G and directed by Hiroshi Yamazaki along with creative consulting from the acclaimed Mamoru Oshii. Being animated in a water color motif with CGI models pushes I.G into some serious new territory and unfortunately it looks pretty awful. The water color filter isn’t exactly ground breaking as you can do it quite simply in Photoshop and it makes it look like I’m watching through a Plexiglas window. The art direction is a bit oddly over creative making things look like feudal Japan. Honestly this is more of a Samurai story slapped into a Halo canon thanks to Oshii walking off fresh from his movie on Musashi. The character models are ugly as can be, they look like mutated dinosaurs.The final nail in the coffin was the all to obvious "NOOOOOOOOO" when he finds the body of his wife. Of course that would be upsetting but does everyone have to scream No in film and television? It's an innovative and interesting episode to watch but feels more like a samurai story slapped into a Halo and not a very good one. Homecoming After the continuing disappointments the collection finally picked up with this great episode. Animated by Bee Train (with support from Production I.G) is one of my favorite segments yet. After the disappointment of The Duel and that storybook they called an episode (Origins) my hope was withering for these stories to pick it up again. Having full faith they could do a good job I watched with anticipation. Frankly the dark turn of events was really not something I was predicting for anything Halo ever. I'm glad they kept such strong contrast in the color pallet by not going dark just because it's a dark story like probably most other studios would have done. The episode was directed by Koji Sawai and Koichi Mashimo and scripted by Hiroyuki Kawasaki. Loosely inspired by Eric Nylund’s novel, Halo: The Fall of Reach, Homecoming follows Daisy-023 (voices of Carli Mosier and Houko Kuwashima) who, after years of manipulation, escapes the Spartan training facility on Reach. The story is told in a non-linear fashion, jumping back and forth between Daisy's past escape from the facility and her present involvement in a battle against the Covenant. This episode also sports the more traditional look and feel of modern anime, with a vibrant color pallet and a dough eyed bishojo girl. Well again if you only like the Kon or Ghibli look then well you aren’t likely going to like this but that aside this is without a doubt my favorite of the shorts. Beautifully animated, well written compelling concise and impactful even in such a short length. Very true to Bee Train’s style of story telling and animation the same that made me fall in love with the studio in the first place. Even the music is perfectly nailed in how it’s cued and used though not sure if they had much to do with that if at all. A real tear jerker and if any of these stories were to ever get a full treatment I’d advocate for this one. The reoccuring teddybear might have been cliché but you know, it really worked and it was a very melancholic touch. Odd One Out Well after the two tragedies we need a breather so next comes Odd One Out, A non-canon and satirical interpretation of the Halo universe featuring SPARTAN-1337. This one directed by Daisuke Nishio the same man who brought us the Dragonball anime series and animated by his old pals at Toei Animation. This one is just a lot of fun and really emulates that old Toei style seen in shows like Dragonball. It’s a very stylistic parody not just of Halo but of Dragonball as well with the goofy over the top animation, the fight scenes. It’s a great breather episode and a light hearted one in a collection of mostly heavy and serious segments. It’s not well liked among fans, I’m guessing Halo fans just take themselves way to seriously. Prototype Our next segment is Prototype, animated by BONES and directed by Tomoki Kyoda and Yasushi Muraki.My other favorite of the series! Prototype animated by BONES really caught me off guard. Like Homecoming this one is both dramatic and action packed as well as sad enough to make a little tear in my eye. A very powerful well written and animated drama was the perfect installment. The action animation is marvelously impressive along with the cinematography. It’s a real highlight of BONES’ animation quality and overall a fantastic installment that’s just well written to begin with. I probably even teared up watching this one. This episode and Homecoming were my two favorites and there is no way I can chose one over the other as my first and foremost. The Babysitter Also animated by 4C and directed by Toshiyuki Kanno, this story follows a group of young marines on a special operation. The Babysitter was the first episode I saw through Halo Way Point being the first episode broadcasted and I liked it enough. I wasn’t sure what to think going in as I knew Studio 4°C to have the very unorthodox animation style as seen in Gotham Knight. As a short it was a fairly decent one but like The Duel the art direction choices are questionable given that this ancient alien world looks conviently like Old Japan. The storyline isn’t particularly engaging or moving; being that this is about rivalry between the two groups but it seems to be playing more to one kid's ego and pride believing he’s all that and then some which has only been done about 30 million times in film and elsewhere. Not the most ingenious or creative but not the worst either. Overall not much to say. The Package Animated by Casio Entertainment and directed by Shinji Aramaki. Aramaki has said he is a huge Halo fan having completed the game on Legendary Difficulty. This segment was written by Dai Sato a screenwriter for such shows as Cowboy Bebop, Wolf’s Rain and Eden of the East to name a few. This one I have a lot of mixed feelings about, on the one hand it’s an explosive and exciting action packed finale but it’s also quite cliché. You have really great sci-fi action and adventure topped off with a space battle is the icing on the cake. The story though suffers from some mediocre writing with cheesy one-liners and a predictable plot line it’s such a mood whiplash compared to the rest of the series, Odd One Out notwithstanding. Because this isn’t meant as a parody like Odd One Out, it doesn’t make me take it very seriously. I guess it is a change from all the more serious and heavy storylines present in the rest of the video but even I gotta wonder is Halo like this or is this off kileter? Like the Duel, the animation style doesn’t make it look like an anime but rather a western film which really won’t matter to non anime watchers as non-anime watchers aren’t going to pick up an anime to start with. Conclusion So overall Halo Legends is a pretty mixed bag, some shorts are good some bad. I wouldn’t enthusiastically recommend this like I would Gotham Knight to anime fans or animation buffs in general but I would say check it out, especially if you like any of the studios attached to it. It’s actually pretty accessible to those who haven’t played Halo. What I also liked about this is the DVD actually featured a pretty in-depth making of with actual interviews from the people who worked on the shorts. But even there I have to lodge a complaint as much of the interviews came from the American staff explaining the storyline to us and the Japanese staff seem to talk a lot less. We also don’t get much in the way of any actual production footage save rough pencil art in the early stages. Koji Sawai’s interview in particular was appallingly short who gave all of five lines. I was disappointed his co-director and producer didn’t get interviewed. Still it was enlightening as we so rarely get any kind of this kind of bonus content on your average anime series. The two-disc edition contains the making of and the BluRay contains some extra bonus content relating to Halo ODST. If the bonus features don’t interest you at all the single disc edition should do you fine, even that contains the audio commentary from Frank O’Connor and Joseph Chou so you still won’t lose anything in the end
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