I often think that as long as I know what to expect from a show, it couldn’t disappoint me. First impressions from the title alone gave a sense it was trying too hard to be epic, but that didn’t matter since I expected “Legend of the Legendary Heroes” to be a fun, clichéd romp. But instead of creating a brainless fantasy flick for dumb people like myself, the show adopts a taste for complexities with writing that leaves a bad taste.
The story opens with two of the three main characters, the wizard Ryner and the knight Ferris, as they journey across the continent of Menoris in search of powerful Hero Relics to aid our third main character, the High King of Roland, Sion. The lazy Ryner and steadfast Ferris aren’t anything beyond that in the first episode, with the only noticeable interplay between them being a scene where Ferris calls Ryner a pervert. Unfortunately, this scene is a running gag throughout the show that turns the Ryner and Ferris duo from simple to cringeworthy.
Much of the show follows Ryner and Ferris’ adventures, meaning much of that time focuses on their relationship, which is Ferris calling Ryner a pervert for no reason; Ryner doesn’t so much as see a pantyshot from Ferris, so it’s not even clichéd in the way it should be, but outright unbelievable. Their relationship is 70% one running joke and 30% serious moments with no real progress between them, because they’re only sentimental when the show calls for it. Their relationship goes in a circle, or maybe it’s a see-saw; I don’t care, but neither do the writers.
In one of the show’s scenes, Ryner is going out of control for plot reasons while Ferris is trying to snap him out of it. After she manages to get through to him, Ryner breaks down and starts crying in her arms as the rain suddenly pours. This scene of clichés doesn’t work since there’s a lack of tells on their progress. Ferris blushes maybe once before this while Ryner shows no interest in her at all. And even if this scene did work, they go back into being a weightless comedy duo until the story demands their sentiments again. And this happens more than once.
But Ryner and Ferris’ relationship is harmless compared to the threads in the rest of the show. Ryner’s lack of personality outside his laziness can be made up for with his background, but the show’s storytelling often jumps back and forth from present day to flashback without any tell it’s done so, making it hard to follow. Even then, most of what little backstory he has is in the later parts of the show. It’s hard to take his tragic past seriously when the show often glosses over it for attempted comedy.
Ferris is an even bigger joke than Ryner. When she’s not wrongly calling him a pervert for whatever reason, she’s going on about dango flavors without much else to her character. Somehow, she has even less background than Ryner, and it doesn’t help that this background is little more than skin service that isn’t even charming, but a forced attempt at being dark and edgy. But, it wouldn’t be a forced attempt at being dark and edgy if Ferris was a character worth caring for, if she had real progress and most of her time didn’t focus on failed comedy.
The final main character, Sion, is also a big joke. His character arc is about learning to make tough choices that come with being High King, but his personality doesn’t show it at all. He’s equally serious and easygoing until the end of the show, which makes it easy to wonder whether story events are affecting him at all. Most of his background involves characters that have one or two lines of dialog, which isn’t enough for it to be taken seriously like it’s supposed to. He’s also incomprehensible, saying he doesn’t want to rule like a tyrant one moment, then leaves his assassin servant to take extreme measures so he can reach his goals the next moment.
Sorry, I tried jumping over one cliché and fell onto another. When the story isn’t being lazy with its characters’ progress or background, it tries TOO hard and ends up being a war and politics philosophy discussion without compelling characters to distract from the fact. These heavy themes require a delicate touch, but unfortunately most of the villains—villains, not antagonists—are wealthy, evil people that take away from any social depth the show tries to have.
Not that what depth the show does have is worth much anyway. There’s a lot more going on in the story, but most of it amounts to nothing or is rushed. One of the characters shows a thirst for vengeance without any build-up leading to that moment. The character he wants revenge on wants revenge on another character. And that final character is dealt with so quickly it disrespects the passion and empathy the first two characters (try to) invoke. If that sounds like a short plot description, then don’t worry, because the show doesn’t give these multiple story threads more than a few episodes.
But even with a lot of episodes, one of the characters still proves ineffectual.
When this character is introduced, she wants to reunite with Ryner because he was her friend during her rough childhood. It makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is how bubbly she is for most of the show, badly clashing with her background. What’s worse is that this isn’t the set-up to a gag character, because she’s supposed to be taken seriously. But her serious moments don’t work, because she lacks the roundedness needed to make her bubbly and serious side believable as the same character.
The only decent characters are more like two pairings that are unfortunately not around for long. One of the characters in the first pairing appears at the early and later parts of the show. She meets someone she doesn’t like at first, but in their next scene they’re enjoying a cup of tea, and in the scene following she’s a blushing maiden. The other pairing is a classic warrior and princess story that believably flows from adoration to sweetness; in the first scene they’re smitten at first rescue, in the next scene they’re trying to hide their feelings from their friends to no effect, and then they’re enjoying a moonlight walk.
Ignoring the small amount of screentime these four characters have, they’re believable because there’s real progress to their relationships. Sure, it’s cheesy, but it’s at least an attempt at a pairing compared to Ryner and Ferris’ see-saw relationship. It’s not as layered as the other parts of the story, but being more layered doesn’t mean better, but a greater chance to be worse. When there’s more plot to juggle, it only falls down much worse when the juggle isn’t kept up, and the juggle falls the moment it starts.
This is part of why Legend of the Legendary Heroes’ writing leaves a bad taste, and what I mean when I say the story adopts a taste for complexities. It tries to execute too many threads at the same time and doesn’t give enough time for each thread to be properly weaved. At the same time, the three main characters take up most of the story’s screentime but have almost nothing to show for it. It’s this odd combination of incoherent density and weightless quantity that makes this show such a failure from a storytelling standpoint.
This leaves only the presentation to save the show, but the visual part of that falls short. Save for Sion, his assassin servant, and the four pairing characters—the last four lack screentime—most of the character designs are multi-colored to the point where it’s hard to tell them apart. For a world with swords and magic, many of the fight scenes are underwhelming for being nothing but beam spam or poor choreography that makes one question if the combatants are only as strong as the plot demands.
The best part of the presentation is the music, but music isn’t the aesthetic focus of an action fantasy show. Still, it’s loud when it needs to be, and has a surprising amount of grace during quieter scenes when it uses the art of silence to put focus on the dialog. Unfortunately, the music is held back by its odd habit of using random rock music during some scenes. This modern flare clashes with the medieval, fantasy feel of the show. I suppose it’s trying to be cool, and in a better show it’d be shameless fun, but here it comes across as trying too hard.
Which is odd, because looking at how the show’s main characters are handled, it’s like they weren’t trying at all. No respect is given to most of the characters and their stories, it tries to tell too many stories, the stories often lack chronological coherence, the social themes lack any depth with its stereotypical villains, and the presentation is best where it doesn’t matter anyway. This show does a few things right and everything else very egregiously wrong.
But the best thing I can say about this show is what Ryner goes on about from episode 1; take a nap. Sage advice, because taking a tap is preferable to watching Legend of the Legendary Heroes. Sure, you won’t be doing anything, but at least it’s better than getting Alpha Stigma-level angry at the people who made this.