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Heroic Age: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 28, 2010 by  



For those who have been wanting sci-fi/mecha action on Blu-ray will definitely enjoy “Heroic Age: The Complete Series”.  Definitely one of the top three anime series available on Blu-ray in the US and a series that his definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © XEBEC/Argonaut Crew. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Heroic Age – The Complete Series

DURATION: 26 Episodes (635 minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9, Dolby True HD English 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese 2.0

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV PG

 

Originally created by Tow Ubukata

Directed by Toshimasa Suzuki

Series Composition by Tow Ubukata

Character Design by Hisashi Hirai

Art Director by Toshihiro Konama

Music by Naoki Sato

Mechanical Design by Ken Ootsuka, Naohiro Washio, Yoshiki Kuga

Anime Production by XEBEC

 

 

Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiroshi Yazaki/J. Michael Tatum as Age

Yui Ishikawa/Caitlin Glass as Deianeira (Dhianeila)

Kaori Shimizu/Luci Christian as Aneesha

Rie Kugimiya/Monica Rial as Mail

Satomi Arai/Brina Palencia as Bee

Takashi Kondo/Joel McDonald as Iolaus

Takashi Matsuyama/R. Bruce Elliott as Mobead

Yukari Tamura/Monica Rial as Tail

Ami Koshimizu/Cherami Leigh as Utila Ra (Yuty La)

Chihiro Suzuki/Greg Ayres as Mehitaka Bore (Mehitak Pore)

Daisuke Kishio as Meleaguros

Hiroki Yasumoto as Kilis

Hiroshi Okamoto as Takius

Hiroyuki Yoshino as Atlantis

Masayuki Katou/Christopher R. Sabat as Karkinos Lucan (Rucan)

Miyuki Sawashiro/Stephanie Young as Rekti Rekuu (Lecty Leque)

Rina Satou/Lydia Mackay as Prome Ou

Saori Seto as Hestia

Shiho Hisajima as Iouda

Susumu Chiba as Rom Rou

Yoshinori Fujita as Paeto Ou

Yukana as Nilval

Akira Ishida as Zaki

Ayako Kawasumi/Wendy Powell as Elena

Cho as Ermita

Long ago, the advanced Tribe of Gold vanished from the vast universe. In the void left by their departure, the tyrannical Tribe of Silver ascended to rule, forcing mankind – the Iron Tribe – to the brink of extinction.

Now humanity wanders the cosmos in search of a savior. Prophecy has foretold of one who will labor for their freedoms, and on a planet of ruin a champion is found. A feral boy named Age holds the destiny of their species in his hands and the untold power of the Tribe of Hero within.

In April 2007, the sci-fi anime series “Heroic Age” produced by XEBEC (“Steam Detectives”, “To Love-Ru”, “D.N.Angel”) and directed by Toshimasa Suzuki (who worked on “MoonPhase”, “Rozen Maiden: Traumend”, “Silent Mobius” TV) began airing on TV Tokyo and TV Osaka.  While the anime series was ongoing, in July 2007, mangaka Tow Ubukata (“Chevalier D’Eon”, “Sokyuu no Fafner”, “Pilgrim Jager”) began work on the manga series “Heroic Age” which was serialized in Kodansha’s Magazine Z.

The 26-episode animated television series featured Ubukata who would be involved with series composition, character designs by Hisashi Hirai (“Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”, “Infinity Ryvius”, “Fafner”, “S-CRY-ed”), mechanical design directed by Ken Ootsuka (“Banner of the Stars”, “Brave King GaoGaiGAr Final”, “Gurren Lagann”) and music by Naoki Sato (“Sword of the Stranger”, “X”, “Eureka Seven”).

The story parallels Greek mythology and takes place in the distant future in which humanity is in dire trouble.  Known as “The Iron Tribe”, they are looked at as an inferior race by the Silver Tribe, a race who looks at themselves as not only the most superior and powerful but also the guardians of space and then there is the Bronze tribe, an insect species who takes direction from the Silver Tribe to hunt down any members of the Iron Tribe.

Thus the Iron Tribe under the direction of the young princess Dhianeila (a psychic and telepath) in search of a person as told in an old prophecy of a person who will protect humanity and bring peace to the world.

While the Iron Tribe were searching a deserted planet known as Oron, the only living person appeared to be someone named Age who looks like a teenager but is actually 120-years-old (due to being in stasis for over a hundred years).  Why is this young man living by himself in a deserted planet?  No one knows why but as the Iron Tribe search the planet, they are immediately attacked by the Bronze Tribe who destroy the home of the young man who immediately transforms into Bellcross, large destructive mecha.

It is then learned that Age is a Nodos, a vessel that contains the essence of a Heroic Tribesman and can transform into a member of the Heroic Tribe.  These Nodos have superhuman abilities, can breathe in space and unaffected by the space vacuum.

While Age spends time with the humans (The Iron Tribe), he learns about humanity and defends them from any attacks and danger.  Immediately, the princess feels that Age is the prophecy who will help save humanity from its oppressors.  Meanwhile, the other Nodos in the world are not to thrilled that Age is spending time with the lesser beings – the humans and thus ask him to join them or else, be their enemy and he will be destroyed.

This sets up events in which Age, a Nodos who has now dedicated his life in protecting the humans from those of his own kind and from those who want to oppress humanity.

“Heroic Age: The Complete Series” features a total of 26-episodes on three Blu-ray discs.

VIDEO:

“Heroic Age: The Complete Series” is a series that looks very good on Blu-ray and compared to recent FUNimation Entertainment releases, the good news is that I didn’t see the discoloration problems that were evident on “Witchblade”, “Samurai Champloo” and “Basilisk”.  Many times through the series, it made me wonder if “Heroic Age” was an upconvert or not because there were scenes that looked absolutely beautiful but then there were some scenes that I felt, were not as sharp and vibrant.

Part of the problem when it comes to animated television series is that there is a shorter time schedule to get an episode for airing and for the most part, budget is quite tight as opposed to a film or an OVA. Also, I’ve been told that if we want the better looking series on Blu-ray, look for series after 2008. “Heroic Age: The Complete Series” was released in 2007 but by no means does this series look bad.  Blacks are nice and deep, action/battle sequences look very good and I find less aliasing (it’s there if you really look) and compression artifacts this time around.  So, picture quality is not absolutely pristine.  Personally, if this is an upconvert, then the good news is that “Heroic Age: The Complete Series” definitely looks better than the majority of the anime TV series upconverts that I have seen on Blu-ray thus far.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Heroic Age: The Complete Series” features a lossless English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack.  Special effects are used to good effect with the surround channels, audio and music is nice and clear coming from the front and center channels and for the most part, from spacecraft motioning to the hear the battles between the Nodos and using their weaponry, you get a good amount of  action from your surround channels and good utilization of LFE for the multiple attacks and explosions.  A good immersive lossless soundtrack for the English dub track.

And like previous FUNimation Entertainment releases, Japanese soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 2.0.  Granted, you can easily have you receiver set with stereo on all channels but for the most part, for those expecting a lossless Japanese soundtrack, you are not going to find it in “Heroic Age: The Complete Series”.  But overall, voice talent is solid for both English and Japanese soundtracks. English dub fans should enjoy the lossless soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

With the recent “Claymore – The Complete Series” filled with special features content and a booklet, unfortunately “Heroic Age: The Complete Series” is not given any major special features treatment for its Blu-ray release but the textless opening and ending themes.

There are no Japanese commercials or promotional videos for the series.  With such a strong Japanese and English dub cast, it would have been cool to see any Japanese featurette including commentary by the ADR Director and voice talent for the English dub track.

“Heroic Age: The Complete Series” was a pretty solid series from beginning to end.  A lot of action sequences that reminded me a little of “Super Robot Wars OG”, “Aquarion” and event”Battlestar Galactica”, the series has a lot going for it as it brings together sci-fi action, mecha battles but also a deep storyline about humans trying to escape those who want to destroy them and finding a hero who fights on the side of humanity.

To see human kind as the underdogs is this battle in the cosmos was rather enjoyable and in a way, I was very happy because I have been wanting a sci-fi/action anime series on Blu-ray and I have to admit that “Heroic Age: The Complete Series” is probably one of the most satisfying anime TV series that I have seen on Blu-ray thus far.

As for the Blu-ray release, it’s hard to recommend the series if one already owns it on DVD based on the fact that there are no special features included and there is no lossless Japanese soundtrack.   But for those who do not own the series on DVD, will enjoy the marginal upgrade for the video compared to its DVD counterpart and a pretty solid English lossless soundtrack.

“Heroic Age: The Complete Series” is not a perfect release but it’s one of the top three series out there available on Blu-ray in the U.S. at this time.  An enjoyable series from beginning to end that is definitely recommended!

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