Niijima Eye! | Hero Tales 01

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After three years, another Hiromu Arakawa (creator of Full Metal Alchemist) work is syndicated for TV. This time it’s a fantasy based on Chinese folklore. The story is about Taitou, a Hokushin-Tenku, an avatar of the star Hugan (a star that makes up the Big Dipper), and his journey to recover the sacred sword Kenkaranpu from another avatar gone rouge, Keirou. Along the way he gathers the rest of the avatars to help him recover the sword. Spoilers ahead.

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Screencaps, View (mirr)

OP: 「WINTERLONG」 by BEAT CRUSADERS
ED: “Kakegae no nai Hito e (かけがえのない人へ)” by Mai Hoshimura

Characters and Other Definitions

Kaio – One of many monks at Rentsuji who protected the sword. Taito’s friend.
Taito – Avatar of the star, Hagun.
Rentsuji Temple – Temple safeguarding the sword, Kenkaranpu. It’s sacked by Keiro, the one man army who storms the temple to steal the sword.
Kenkaranpu – Called Sword of Heroes by Keiro. Historically, those who can draw the sword is chosen to rule the kingdom. It’s revealed the current emporer can’t draw the sword and was entrusted to Rentsuji temple to hide the truth.
Keiro – Avatar of the star, Tanrou.
Sonnei – Elder of Taizan.
Souei – Raira and Taito’s father.
Ryuko – Another avatar of Hokushintenkun. He discovers Taito’s body at the bottom of the ravine.
Mount Ghibi – Sonnei and Souei were away moon viewing at Mt. Ghibi the night Keiro attacked.
Seiryutou – Warriors stationed at Rentsuji.
Raira – Souei’s daughter and Taito’s sister.
Taizan – Town where Taito lives.
Shemei – Undead soldier ordered by Keiro to assassinate Taito.

Review

There are noticeable differences between the animation and comic. Some parts are left out or completely rewritten. In the comic book Taitou gains the Kenkaranpu, or Conqueror’s Sword, after his coming of age ceremony only to have it stolen by Shimei who takes it to Keirou, a dead ringer for the furer in Full Metal Alchemist. In the animation, it’s Keirou who steals the Conqueror’s Sword from a temple with Taitou failing to stop him. Shimei comes in later to antagonize Taitou by hurting his sister. Not too bothered by the changes because it’s nice to see a different take on an established story. However, the animation doesn’t live up to expectations.

Disappointed with the animation because the same problem in the comic shows up in the animated TV show. Jyuushin Enbu leaves the viewer feeling detached and uninvolved in comparison to the creator’s previous work, Full Metal Alchemist. This most likely due to the situation driven vs character driven storyline which is the crux of the problem. The characters are woefully underdeveloped.

Can’t empathize with the protagonist, Taitou, at all because the events leading up to his “awakening” happens too fast nor does the animation give us enough time to empathize with his situation. He obviously adores his sister but they might as well be complete strangers because of their level of interaction. Laila is as uncharismatic as her hot headed brother and just as two dimensional. She plays the tired role of the peppy litter sister and side-kick. Maybe if the character designs were more striking it would compensate for lack of personality. The one element kept in tact is the humor (from the comic) like how Laila headbutts her brother.

I was hoping the producers could salvage the story and make it more compelling but when the foundation is bad it’s hopeless I guess. Since it’s only the first episode, maybe it’ll turn out better in the following episodes.

Notes:
– Thought Taitou’s seiyuu was Toni’s voice actor from Terra E but it’s actually Suzumura Kenichi, the voice actor for Chika (Zombie Loan) but probably more well known for Hikaru (Ouran Host Club)

Images copyright to their respective owners.

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One Response to “Niijima Eye! | Hero Tales 01”

  1. abepunky Says:

    How I didn’t know about this? Hope it gets better on the next episodes :S

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