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Hero Tales: Part One (Limited Edition)
The sword-and-sorcery adventure Hero Tales (Jyukshin Enbu, 2007) is based on a manga by Ryou Yashiro and Hiromu Arakawa, the creator of Full Metal Alchemist. Martial artist-in-training Taito is dumbfounded to discover he's the incarnation of Alkaid, one of the stars of the Big Dipper, and the destined opponent of Dubhe, another of the stars. Standing between them are the five Divine Warriors, who represent the other stars. All of the celestial combatants command supernatural powers realized by controlling the energy flowing through their bodies. Taito is not the brightest light in the constellation, figuratively and literally. (Appropriately, Alkaid is the dimmest of the stars that make up the Dipper.) He's trained by the wise monk Ryuko (Mizar), and establishes a feuding friendship with archer Hosei (Phecda), a relationship complicated by Hosei's crush on Taito's argumentative, adoptive sister Laila. They're pitted against Keiro (Dubhe), the brutal general of the crumbling Xian Empire. Given its authorship, viewers will be disappointed to find that Hero Tales is a very formulaic supernatural saga. Although Keiro looks a bit like Fuehrer Bradley in Full Metal Alchemist, none of the characters have the depth or originality of the Elric Brothers. Voice actor Newton Pittman makes Taito a likable lunk, but there's only so much he--or any of the voice cast--can do with the stale material. The endless training, the ongoing journey, the explosions of power, the foreordained conflict with the obvious ending feel like a reworking of Yu Yu Hakusho or Dragon Ball Z. Been there, fought that. The limited-edition DVD includes a disc with a rather silly two-part discussion by the Japanese voice cast and textless versions of the opening and closing songs, plus four "Heroically Collectible Art Cards." (Rated TV 14: violence, violence against women, grotesque imagery, alcohol use, brief nudity) --Charles Solomon
(1. Alkaid Roars, 2. The Karma of Mizar, 3. The Pledge of Energy Manipulation, 4. Divine Warrior, 5. Ailing Empire, 6. The Red Champion, 7. Sorrowful Phecda, 8. What Echoes in the Gorge, 9. Shadow of the Imperial Capital, 10. The Lonely Emperor, 11. The Tale of the Big Dipper, 12. A Glimmer in the Moonlight, 13. The Two Celestial Deities) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.