"Heroic Age Part 1" Forges Myths And Legends In Deep Space
Some space opera stories, like Star Wars, have often been compared to stories of ancient legend, and Heroic Age from Xebec presents a more overt union of the two.
Heroic Age is a space opera saga with distinct mythological elements, as the series’ story begins with a recounted tale of ancient beings known as the Golden Tribe. Extraordinarily powerful, their great power faded into obscurity as they left our universe, leaving four other tribes to carry on after them. These were the Silver Tribe, Bronze Tribe, Heroic Tribe, and lastly humanity itself, known as the Iron Tribe.
The series itself picks up with the Iron Tribe desperately in search of a special individual who has the power to save them from the Silver Tribe, who have taken advantage of the Golden Tribe’s absence to create an empire of their own. With the Silver Tribe also having control over the insectoid Bronze Tribe, and the Heroic Tribe having also disappeared from the universe, the Iron Tribe’s last hope lays with the prophecy of a powerful individual who possesses the power of the Heroic Tribe within them. The Iron Tribe’s representatives travel in a large spaceship known as the Argonaut, and are led by the powerful psychic Princess Dhianeila, who is often seen as an astral projection of herself, Dr. Strange-style.
The Argonaut tracks down the individual they seek, a teenage boy known as Age, on an isolated planet. Age has been living on the planet for many years with only his wrecked spaceship’s computer and an indigenous creature for company. Although disconcerted at Age’s primitive and feral ways, the crew of the Argonaut are soon saved from a Bronze Tribe attack as Age reveals he can transform into a powerful being known as a Nodos, with Age’s particular Nodos counterpart called Bellcross, a huge armored warrior which looks suspiciously like a giant robot. With Age proving his worth and his power, the Iron Tribe accepts that he is indeed the one foretold by prophecy who can help them stand up to the Silver Tribe. As such, the Argonaut makes its way through space, with Age as an eccentric yet vital passenger.
Also on board the Argonaut are the ship’s military captain, Mobeedo, and his three children, the fiery Iolaus, who possesses teleportation powers, and the lighthearted telekenetic twins Tail and Mail. With Iolaus possessing clear feelings towards Princess Dhianeila, but the princess herself more concerned with Age’s wellbeing in an environment totally new to him, there is some initial conflict between Iolaus and Age. However, Age’s naiveté blinds him to this, and he maintains a cheery outlook as he enjoys playing with the ship’s supply of paint and about how humanity lives, while periodically saving the ship from the Silver and Bronze Tribe’s attacks. Once on humanity’s current homeworld, there’s little time for a respite, as Age quickly becomes a pawn for Dhianeila’s ambitious brothers Princes Meleagros and Atalantes, who wish to assert their status as the ones who will lead humanity to victory. This leads to a new space fleet being formed with the intent on reclaiming humanity’s original home, the planet Earth. Once in our solar system, the Silver Tribe makes an appearance, along with three other Nodos, and Bellcross has to go up against seemingly impossible odds.
Heroic Age makes for quite an entertaining and well-balanced experience, with an interesting main plot steeped equally in classic space opera tropes, super robot action, and even classical Greek mythology. This last aspect of the series even reminded me of the older classic anime Ulysses 31, which took inspiration from those same Greek legends. The series is also, pleasingly, not deadly serious space opera all of the time, with the odd, genuinely amusing moment to be found scattered throughout the episodes, usually involving Age’s training to act more civilized. However, one of my favorite humorous instances is the revelation that Tail and Mail secretly sell their brother Iolaus holographic pictures of Princess Dhianeila. Adding to the series’ balanced nature is its varied cast of characters, both male and female, young and old, and not restricted so as to appeal to only a narrow demographic.
Presented in anamorphic format, the series features high production values, with plenty of dynamic character and space battle animation. The character designs are varied, with a couple of distinct styles used to differentiate some of the series’ characters, which shows off some interesting diversity with the character art. Having said that, the character design for Nilval, one of the human commanders encountered in later episodes, is rather distractingly very top-heavy, but so far she’s the only moderately outlandishly-designed character in the series. Soundwise, both the English and Japanese tracks sound clear, with great performances from both voice casts.
Packaged handily in a thinpack half-season set, Heroic Age represents the latest enjoyable series from Funimation available in an easy-to-pick-up format. The series comes highly recommended for fans of space opera, mythology and basic action-adventure alike, hopefully leaving such fans, like myself, very much looking forward to the second and concluding half-season set which will hopefully sustain the series’ high quality up to this point.