Sci-fi has been one of my favourite genres since I first learned the meaning of entertainment; what's more, I have a mild, lay person's interest in anything to do with space, physics, philosophy, and politics. So Heroic Age, being developed around these exact topics, just could not go wrong in my eyes, right? To be fair, the premise is instantly gripping and full of endless promise; as we get to know the important characters which, on the face of it, appear wholly likeable, we are also introduced to a world steeped in a rich and distinctive history. Sadly, what subsequently follows is a senseless sequence of mecha battles coupled with an incongruous political subplot.
Pretty much everything from the seventh episode onwards follows a familiar blueprint: the crew of the Argonaut, led by the beautiful psychic Deianeira, travel a little distance before inevitably coming across enemies whom they engage in a tactical space battle. Then they travel a little further, except, this time when they encounter the enemy, they are a bit cleverer and a bit harder to beat. I'm sure at some point the crew gets a brief respite on a peaceful planet somewhere, but soon they are off again, travelling and fighting, powering up and fighting, and so on and so forth until it all gets rather tedious. Heroic Age does attempt to establish a human political context as well, which, done well, would have added much depth to its sagging midsection. However, the answers to the dilemmas are too often obvious and who is at fault is always clear.
I wish I could say the space battles make for compulsive viewing and thus help to relieve the bland plot developments, but that would be lying. Age and his adversaries spend several minutes roaring at each other and colliding with each other, and generally doing more damage to their environments than to each other. The battles are completely devoid of tension because the Nodos are seemingly invincible; it doesn't matter what they do - be it smashing each other through asteroids or blasting each other with black holes - they always come back unscathed. Needless to say, by the time I reached the halfway point, these problems had taken such a toll that even the elements built into the premise, such as the mystery of the Golden Tribe and the implications of the contracts they left to the Nodos, just could not hold my waning attention.
Heroic Age also has a typical conclusion, the delivery of which shifts at various points from decent to senseless. Epic lessons are meant to be learned and interesting secrets of the universe uncovered, but the aforementioned flaws inevitably combine forces to cripple even that small experience; between the never-ending mecha fights, the overindulgent special effects, and the erratic and confusing monologues, the ending collapses without much effort into a cacophonous mess. Don't get me wrong - there are occasional highlights, but the overall product falls far short of the standard achieved by other contemporary titles such as Toward the Terra TV.
With shimmering galaxies, energy beams of all colours of the rainbow, and a token supernova in every fight, Heroic Age comes with enough gorgeous CGI trimmings to ruin an epileptic's day. Even the simple act of teleportation involves ethereal floating strands of light which must have dented the budget more than all of the other scenes put together. Sadly, for all that glitz and glamour, Heroic Age contains not an ounce of realism. For example, I can suspend my disbelief when Age, in his human form, traverses space without a protective suit - he is a mecha in hiding, after all. But when he can somehow stand on random floating bits of rock with no gravitational pull, and then breathes - yes, breathes - while a gentle space breeze musses his hair, my imagination really takes a battering.
Although by no means the worst that I have seen, Heroic Age's aesthetic concept rarely looks more than acceptable; while the backgrounds are ostentatiously animated (albeit generic in design), the characters' hair and clothes are just blocks of colour with minimal detail, and their motion is not that smooth either. This contrast in quality is obvious at all times and does a lot to damage the viewing experience. On a more distracting level, every once in a while, a female will have overbearing breasts emphasised by the right gravity-defying outfit. Admiral Nillbar Nephew is an especially deformed case whose inspiring speeches are always undermined by the massive growths bursting from the front of her uniform.
Heroic Age is the kind of anime which accepts a well-known scientific theory, that because space has a lot of air, sound can travel with ease. Although this is a feature common to almost every sci-fi anime, Heroic Age, annoyingly enough, takes it to childish new extremes; for example, in Heroic Age's version of the universe, even insects will make an appropriate splat noise when blown up in the middle of space.
As for the voice acting, it is decent most of the time, albeit not astounding; part of the problem is that half of the cast, namely the Silver Tribe, speak in hushed ‘mysterious' tones which, in fact, rob all of their scenes of any dynamism. The effect is such that whenever they hold a conversation, Heroic Age gets really boring really fast.
The best Heroic Age has to offer lies with the soundtrack, which consists of fairly varied synthesised instrumentals. While the opening and ending themes are suitable yet unremarkable J-pop, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed all the themes in between; especially memorable are the eerie battle theme used for when events take a terrible turn, and Age's cheerful theme of flutes and plucked strings.
What becomes clear by the time Heroic Age is halfway through is that none of the protagonists apart from Age have any distinctive backgrounds to speak of. They just are what they are, with no intricate motivations, no defining histories, no important memories... nothing. There is thus little to make sense of what drives them apart from the obvious wish to save their respective races from destruction.
Perhaps the least enjoyable case of this would be Deianeira's stupid brothers, whose political scheming is about as subtle as a bullfight; they are the type of people who treat war like a game for glory and congratulate themselves for every massacre visited upon other races - they are in essence nothing more than stereotyped villains. Similarly, the Nodos are initially interesting because of their various skills and personalities, but they also fall into the trap of being clichéd slaves to the plot.
Princess Deianeira herself is not much of a plus point either, since she spends the entire series being ‘brave' and cringing delicately as her psychic powers make her receptive to every damn battle happening light years away. Everyone loves her for her good sense, her intelligent decision-making, and her caring nature (and indeed, she is likeable for that), but what a shame that she is never tested in any meaningful sense in order to develop her personality. When she first arrives on the screen, she is bright and brave and flawlessly good, and when she leaves at the end, she is bright and brave and flawlessly good, and that's all there is to say about her.
Probably the only individual who is a true pleasure to watch is the title's namesake, Age; he possesses a naive charisma and a childlike frankness which makes it impossible not to feel for him. Despite being unrealistically cheerful no matter what the war throws at him, he actually remains the most refreshing aspect of Heroic Age. His background as the only human to have been in contact with the mysterious Golden Tribe and his uniquely positive perspective make him intriguing in a way that the others are not; I often found myself enjoying the events a lot more whenever he was in a scene. Unfortunately, Age feels somewhat misplaced as a cast member because he gets so little screen time; apart from the first few episodes after the humans discover him, he is mostly fighting inane battles in his Bellcross mecha form. Because of this, he never develops either and Heroic Age's biggest asset thus goes to waste.
There is just not an ounce of subtlety or originality to be found in Heroic Age - because of the poor character development and only the marginal role of human politics, it consists almost entirely of flashy, repetitive space battles. Still, Heroic Age builds largely on well-established clichés and is likely to remain mildly absorbing for any mainstream viewer; in fact, even if the subsequent events are far from innovative, for young teenagers and die-hard fans of space epics, there is definitely enough here to enjoy.
The story was well thought out, it was one of those animes which had everything planned from the beginning and almost or even every episode was story related. It could have had a bit more romance but there was some there. It had a great ending in my opinon, everything was cleared up and it didn't just end like other animes it ended with a new adventure.
The animation was pretty good although I'm not really the one to comment on animations since I watch basically any animation.
The action was nice, the main character was like super strong only 4 others stood a chance against him yet his fights with those 4 others were great, they last up to hundereds of hours at most (in the anime of course).
The characters were good, the main character isn't one of those guys who has strength but always questions himself and has self doubt instead he just gives it his all. The Princess is a nice character you don't get to many animes where the main character falls for a girl like her most go for the tsundere girl most the time. The side characters were all good, and the I really liked how the pilot captain came to like the main character early on instead of trying to compete with him the whole time (those characters really annoy me, the ones who interfer with the main characters romance).
Overall it was a great anime, it's probaly going to be a rewatch for me in the future, I really liked it the music wasn't bad either, I liked the song on the last episode. Give it a try.
This series is closer to seinen than shounen. I need to clarify this point because some people criticize the series for being a bad shounen. Many shounens tell the story of the hero's journey, from their home village like a fantasy epic arc Wheel of Time or Naruto. Heroic Age is right after the hero is at max power and comes back to the village to settle one last problem.
Heroic Age is the story of what happens to the hero, to the human race, at the end of time and at the end of the hero's journey. It is not about a person growing up and maturing, the hero is already a mature warrior. The maturation process is actually seen in the other characters, the military leaders or fleet commanders.
Another point of reference that's important, is that this series heavily revolves around the romance plot arc, and by romance I mean an actual 1 on 1 relationship, not a love triangle, not a drama about harems or teases in high school uniforms.
The reason why I like this series enough to rewatch it several times, is because it shows a view most people will never see. The view of the strongest person in the universe. You'll have to watch the series to figure out what that means. A person that is immature or weak or insecure, that is always staring up at human society from the very bottom of the social resource ladder, cannot understand what it is to look down on humanity at the top of the tallest mountain in the world. It is a view, an accomplishment, that only the worthy deserve.
There's also a bunch of psionic, telekinetic, psychic powers, that are combined with technology, except they never explain how it works. You just sort of figure it out as you go along, which makes it very easy to distinguish this universe from others with laser beams. It requires a significant use of brain power to guess or figure out why certain Tribes are more powerful than other ones, and why certain technologies are more efficient than other versions. Heroic Age demands a certain level of effort and ability to understand. The ending gets somewhat convoluted too, but not to the point where it spoils the early efforts.
Also, if you ever had to deal with incompetent superiors that have totally trashed operations as a result of their refusal to listen to sound tactical and logistical advice, this series has a few episodes where it should trigger that flash back. One of those problems with going higher up in human society is that you tend to start meeting people who have been promoted beyond their competency level.
Overall, the ending, aesthetics, music, and character development never got old when I watched this series. For people that like space opera on the level of the Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Heroic Age feels very similar. Also people who have played RTS or games like Homeworld or strategic simulators, will be in a better position to understand why certain leaders make decisions the way they do in this series. Unlike Shounen series which explain things over and over before and after they happen, they kind of expect you to know this already in this show.
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.
I give Heroic Age a 10 across the board. The overall message of the show was physics. When Age and the other 3 nodos were trapped in indiscriminate space, sheilded by a temporal (time) shield which is arimontos main power source, he draws a distinction of what each of the four nodos represent. In other words, the nodos themselves are symbols for the four main forces in physics; time, space, matter, and life with a key emphasis on the later because that is where the top minds of physicist like Einstein, Max Born, Shrodenger, left off.