"Heroic Age Part 2": Battling Robots, Starship Fights, and A Hint Of Plot
And so we come to the conclusion of Heroic Age, which wastes a lot of the drive that the preceding volume had built up. “Age” becomes an ironically apt descriptor, as whole eras seem to pass as we wait for the next round of story development to unfold between the series’ almost innumerable battles.
Naturally following on from where Heroic Age Part 1 left off, Part 2 continues with a heated battle between Bellcross and two of the other Nodos under the control of the Silver Tribe. (Nodos, in case you haven’t been following, are select individuals with the power to become giant armored warriors.) However, the battle has taken its toll on Bellcross (Age’s Nodos form), with him now having been clearly driven out of control. While Princess Dhianeila’s incompetent brothers are in command of the Iron Tribe’s fleet, pushing their forces into near-suicidal attack strategies, saner heads attempt to prevail back on the Argonaut. Their actions come too late however, as the Silver Tribe confront the Iron Tribe while within our solar system, and the princes’ disastrous tactics result in the destruction of no less than the planet Jupiter itself. In the wake of this outrageous act, Dhianeila at last assumes full command of the fleet and her brothers are removed from military command, allowing the fleet to be repositioned and giving Dhianeila time to try to reach Age’s mind through Bellcross’ berserker rage. Eventually this leads to the long-awaited re-emergence of Age, absent for several episodes while having been in his Bellcross form. Also alongside Age is Mehitak, one of the four Nodos under the command of the Silver Tribe, albeit in the pacifistic Mehitak’s case, very reluctantly. Now carrying two Nodos as passengers, the Argonaut then travels along with the rest of the fleet to the Iron Tribe’s ancestral home: Earth.
While Mehitak’s eating habits (non-organic material) make for a short but amusing diversion during the Argonaut‘s journey, there’s little further time to rest, as the Iron Tribe’s fleet is dispatched to make direct strikes against the Silver Tribe’s worlds, beginning with an attack on one of the Bronze Tribe’s spawning grounds on the planet Tauron. The action then moves to the Silver Tribe’s homeworld, Codomos, as the Silver Tribe dispatch two of their remaining three Nodos to confront the Iron Tribe’s pair of Nodos. While some of this segment falls into the series’ increasingly familiar trap of too many overlong Nodos and spaceship battles, this particular one fortunately doesn’t drag on too long. With the four-way Nodos battle running the risk of all the Nodos entering a frenzy, threatening both tribes, Dhianeila makes direct contact with the Silver Tribe’s ruler, Prome O, who actually welcomes the chance to talk and try to end the cycle of war between the tribes. With this in mind, Prome O gives Dhianeila the name of the Golden Tribe’s homeworld, Elysium, in the hopes that discovering more of the Golden Tribe’s intentions for the universe’s younger races will finally lead to peace. Unfortunately, there still remains resistance to the Iron Tribe’s existence from within the Silver Tribe, by Rom Ror, who is tasked with controlling the Silver Tribe’s Nodos, and Phaetho O, a field commander intent on destroying the Argonaut. When both sides finally reach Elysium, there follows the ultimate battle involving all five Nodos, as Dhianeila and the crew of the Argonaut try to solve the mysteries of the Golden Tribe once and for all.
Characterization this time around takes a backseat to the almost incessant fighting, either ship-to-ship, or between the unspeaking Nodos, and both types tend to outstay their welcome, even if they are nicely animated. Character truncation results in most of the Iron Tribe characterization amounting to them simply reacting to the Silver Tribe’s attacks. This gets tiresome after a while, especially when considering that outside of the Silver Tribe’s four Nodos characters, the rest of the series’ ostensible adversaries are pretty dull. That the supposed main character Age himself also spent so much time fighting in his Bellcross Nodos mode was also slightly disappointing, in that Age’s naiveté could be quite amusing at times, and it would have been nice to see some more of this. Indeed, altogether it would have been nice to see a little more of the characters having some downtime and naturalistic interaction rather than stuck behind tactical monitor screens for episodes on end. While the series does draw to a natural and fairly satisfying conclusion, the fact that it relies so much on a virtually completely unseen backstory makes it a little impenetrable at times, which aside from the aforementioned padding is perhaps the series’ greatest flaw.
With regard the more technical aspects of Heroic Age, both sub and dub are of fine quality as with the last volume, with good performances all around from the cast, especially main cast members J. Michael Tatum, Caitlin Glass and R. Bruce Elliott. Having said that, though, I did notice a small textbook slip in the dialogue when a planet (Jupiter in this instance) was confused with a star, since in translation both words can be interchangeable, but this is only nitpicking.
Like the first volume, extras are a bit light on the ground with only a creditless opening and ending included. While extra material may have been short on supply from the original producers, it would have been nice to see something from Funimation themselves, like character profiles or a timeline; both items which would have made keeping track of the many characters and events a much easier task, especially when each Nodos two names, one for the characters in their natural state, and one for their giant Nodos forms.
Ultimately, there is a nice story somewhere in Heroic Age, although the series as is suffers from quite a bit of padding, seen most noticeably in the aforementioned never-ending space battles. This could understandably task the patience of many viewers. With a bit more streamlining the show would have been a much better paced series, but even with some of the filler the series as a whole acquits itself quite reasonably compared to some other latter-day space opera-styled series. Recommended, but really only for die-hard fans of space operas.