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The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky(2011)
No synopsis for The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky.
For more about The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky and the The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky Blu-ray release, see the The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on December 19, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Brittney Karbowski
» See full cast & crew
The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky Blu-ray Review
Lost in Translation.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, December 19, 2012
Some of the further right pundits on Fox News Channel might want to steer clear of The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky if for no other reason than that its focal kingdom is named Liberl (pronounced liberal), and it does indeed seem to be one of those progressively minded places that bandies about supposedly "socialist" ideas the verge perilously close to such hot button issues as workers' rights and the power of the proletariat. Of course some of the further left pundits of Fox's counterpart MSNBC might also want to stay away from this set of OVAs if for no other reason than that it's based on a videogame and has made a rather uneasy transition to anime. This is one of those properties that attempts to ease the shift from gaming to "pure" entertainment with a brief prelude that is meant to get everyone up to speed with various terms and ideas that populate the franchise, but which is too rushed and even incomprehensible at times to really do much more than confuse.
I've watched The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky twice through now, and I'm still at a loss to be able to fully articulate what exactly is going on through large swaths of it. Yes, there's the requisite good versus evil plot, and it appears that a young girl named Estelle Bright is probably the leading character of the game version, something that has been ported over to the OVAs. But Estelle's back story is still a bit of a muddle to me, though evidently at some point in her childhood something horrible happened to her father, a man who was some sort of upstanding crusader for truth, justice and the Liberl Way. Somewhere along the line a young boy named Joshua was adopted into the family, and this set of OVAs begins with the rather weird offering of Joshua "passing" a sedative to Estelle during a rather non-platonic kiss, in order to deaden her hysteria at the thought of Josh taking off on some sort of mysterious mission.
Estelle pines after Josh and continues to clutch the only thing he left behind, his harmonica, as if it were "Precious" and she were Gollum. Meanwhile various battles break out, a bizarre little purple haired girl named Renne seems to have it out for Estelle and there are various mutterings about arcane terms like The Organization and Legion and The Bracers Guild, none of which is ever really explained very well or ultimately made clear, even within the confines of this relatively short running feature.
So what The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky boils down to is a fairly standard battle anime (with some quasi- mecha overtones) that is probably going to leave anyone who has never played the game (that would include me, obviously) scratching their collective heads and wondering what all the fuss is about. It's kind of a shame, for this is an often gorgeously animated piece that offers some really well done backgrounds if some patently weird character design (virtually none of the people in this anime have noses, only little triangles which make them all look like mutant descendants of The Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz.
The characters in and of themselves are relatively decent as well, with Estelle a good, plucky heroine (even if she's really annoyingly voiced by Brittney Karbowski) and Josh an enigmatic hero with a mysterious past (a mysterious past which is not given any explication in this piece). There's a ranting villain who turns out maybe not to be so bad after all and Renne, who speaks in a squeaky high little girl's voice, who acts like a petulant three year old but also seems to have some redeeming qualities as well, at least as evidenced by a third act change of heart where she actually does something nice for Estelle after having plotted against her for most of the preceding action.
The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky is an outing that needed a lot more than just a simple prelude with a few facts and terms bandied about to give it meaningful context and even more importantly some way for non- game playing viewers to have a "hook" into the enterprise. What remains is an often visually spectacular looking piece that fails utterly to connect simply because we're never quite sure what's going on or what various characters are yammering on about. (I'm still not sure what The Organization is or does nor what exactly The Bracers Guild is for nor even what Legion refers to.) After the first time through, I thought maybe it was just me and I had been too stupid to pick up even the barest strands of some of the back story and the interrelationships between various characters. After the second time through, I'm still more than willing to admit my own stupidity probably is playing into my dunderheaded reaction to The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky, but there's at least a sneaking suspicion now on my part that some sort of valuable information just wasn't included for some reason, as if the creators simply assumed everyone would know the ins and outs of the story without being told.
The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. This is an often gorgeous looking anime that has some very well done CGI elements interwoven with more traditional hand drawn cel animation. Aside from the peculiar aspect of having "noseless" characters at times (see the full body of the review above), overall this set of OVAs pops with really sharp line detail, good (often stunning) backgrounds and bright, vivid colors that are very nicely saturated. Some of the elements almost glisten, including a bright orange-red spaceship that Estelle finds herself spirited away to late in the proceedings.
The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky features lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes in both the original Japanese language as well as an English dub. Both of these mixes are identical save for the voice work. Even those who aren't fond of reading subtitles may want to opt for the Japanese language track, as some of the voice work (notably Brittney Karbowski's almost manic delivery as Estelle) in the English language version can grate on the nerves after a while. Fidelity is excellent in both of these tracks, and the battle sequences have some very artfully done surround activity. There are occasional very boisterous bursts of LFE as well as some other great sound effects that up the immersion factor (when Estelle is taken captive by what looks like a giant mecha, there's a cool panning roaring sound that seems to actually elevate over the head of the listener).
The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There are no supplements included on this Blu-ray disc other than trailers for other Sentai Filmworks releases, which I never officially "score" in the star ratings above.
The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky has what seem to be some solid building blocks for a really excellent entertainment, but this set of OVAs simply assumes that everyone is going to know what's going on from the get go, which in my case at least was resolutely not the fact. The barest outlines of the story are clear, make no mistake, and it's not hard to discern who are the heroes (or heroines) and who are the villains, but so much else in this offering is never explained or dealt with so quickly and without any development that many will probably cease to care (or never even start caring) as they watch Estelle battle away and try to reunite with Josh. The game franchise has been very successful and a feature film adaptation is probably a good idea, but for a general audience to come flocking, someone needs to spend more time planting a few seeds of comprehension so that a full flowered appreciation can blossom. For fans of the game who will probably understand The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky a lot more than I obviously did, this Blu-ray does offer superior video and audio, though supplements are nil.
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