Perhaps you can’t judge a book by its cover, but experience has shown that you can quite often judge an anime by its title. The preponderance of lame shows with telltale grammar problems - - needless punctuation marks, odd capitalizations, intentional misspellings and the like - - will attest to that. To whit, here’s LEGEND OF THE LEGENDARY HEROES, a title with a redundancy that’d make my fifth grade English teacher very, very upset. A title that’s more of a warning than an invitation.
At first, this sounded like it was going for the same sort of tongue-in-cheek humor as parodies like THE ICE PIRATES or some such. After actually watching the show, I have the glum conclusion that, somehow, nobody involved was actually in on the joke.
Well, maybe somebody was - - but then they either left the show after the first episode or were kicked off of it.
Anyway, this seemed like it be a gentle goof on shows like RECORD OF LODOSS WAR and their dubious ambitions of directly translating the RPG experience into an on-screen narrative. There were a couple of self-effacing jokes in the first episode with just that tone, actually. Now, those jokes seem more like bait to lure a curious viewer, like myself, into watching something which demonstrates just how terribly disinteresting RPG plots are when presented anywhere outside of the gaming scenario.
It’s taken me much longer than usual to get around to writing this review, and I’ve been thinking about Wolpaw’s Law the whole time. You’re all familiar with Wolpaw’s Law, right? Like a good title, it carries some ripe connotations with it (hell, it even sounds like a magic-binding rule from a fantasy RPG.) It was coined by an associate of our old associates.
Basically, the idea is that a game reviewer doesn’t necessarily have to beat a title in order to give it a poor review. If the game is so awful that it can’t even motivate the player to continue on, then there’s next to no chance that it’ll ever improve enough to affect the reviewing score. A decisive, qualitative conclusion can be made fairly early on.
The same thinking applies to serialized anime. Many users here have chided me for dismissing a show after the first episode in my Watch & Learn column.
“But wait!” they’ll exclaim. “It gets so much better after the seventh episode!”
The logic never seemed to hold.
I haven’t gotten to review too many long-form series in the format you’re currently reading - - one where I’ll view a batch of episodes at once instead of writing about them, one at a time. Technically, I’m using a version of Wolpaw’s Law. Even if I like a show, I’m still basing that recommendation on a sampling.
I still really wanted to invoke the law, because I had the hardest time getting through to episode six. Somehow, despite the crisp and flashy animation, there was nothing in this show that made enough of an impression on me to recall it after viewing; let alone to write about it.
I wanted to be done, and I wanted to move on, and that feeling hasn’t changed. I haven’t bothered to summarize this show or enumerate my specific complaints, because doing so is harder than it needs to be - - it's just like trying to play a game that’s constantly crashing your system.
LEGEND OF THE LEGENDARY HEROES wasn’t a charming fantasy parody. It felt like a furtive stab at epic fantasy from the ill-defined imagination of a fifth grader doodling in his binder while his teacher - - the one who’s so mean about grammar - - is looking elsewhere. It went in one ear and right out the other and, in some respects, that’s actually worse than being memorably bad.