If forced to, I would describe this show as an anime who’s story is making an attempt at borrowing elements of Game of Thrones and Fate/Zero…and failing.
The plot isn’t too complicated. At least not until the ending, when the show seems to introduce a completely new mythology completely out of left field. The viewer follows protagonist Ryner Lute, who’s searching for hero relics with his partner Ferris under orders from his aspiring King, Sion. Ryner is the carrier of an ability called the “Alpha Stigma” which gives people incredible destructive magical powers, the ability to see “truth” and also takes away their sanity when it is fully unleashed. Ryner is unique because he’s the only Alpha Stigma holder to regain his sanity after his stigma is fully unleashed. Alpha Stigma users are usually regarded as sub-human monsters by the general public. Ryner shares a friendship with Sion, in part, because he looks at him as a person and not a monster. The search for the legendary hero relics and dealing with the Alpha Stigma are two of the major components of the story. The third component is the political landscape of the world and Sion trying to take the steps to become a King and then to create a world without war.
Legend of the Legendary Heroes (English title, obviously), is a sword and sorcery anime with dialogue so dense, dated and indirect that it feels like the characters are being momentarily possessed by the spirits of Downton Abbey. That’s not to say the show is all dialogue. There are a good number of action sequences mixed in to the show. Action scenes that are incredibly violent and gory which seems odd juxtaposed with the placid nature of the dialogue rich scenes in the show. Overall, the whole thing has some interesting and good individual aspects, but the whole is much less than the sum of its parts. By the time I ended the series I found myself thinking, “what exactly did I just watch?”
The world is full of different kingdoms as well as military and royal factions. Sion has to deal with trying to overthrow the status-quo while still playing the part of the diplomatic king. He even resorts to employing Froaude, a man who takes extreme and underhanded measures to further the king’s ideals (even if he does it without the king’s permission). The show deals a lot with classism and the plight of the oppressed as well as the real costs of uniting a kingdom as far as the amount of blood that must be shed. In those respects the show is actually pretty good, if a little bit predictable, once you get used to the idea that the characters may not exactly follow the archetypes you’d expect them to upon first meeting them.
The political aspects of the story line aren’t the normal thing that you’d see from an anime (this is where the Game of Thrones reference comes in). Unfortunately, trying to convey these ideas is what, in my opinion, drags the show down. The heavy dialogue caused me to zone out a few times and made it feel like a bit of drag to watch the show, even though the things that were being talked about were actually interesting. The action scenes do a great job at snapping you to attention when they show up. However, it starts to feel like that’s what the point of the action scenes are and, because of that, they start to feel like they don’t really fit into the show. At the very least, it made me wish that the show had been a little more major magic battle (ala Slayers) instead of the heavy drama interspersed with action.
Even though I’m complaining about it, the story of this is actually very good. The anime only covers the beginning of the story the manga tells. I think this is a series that would probably be better consumed as a manga with the anime only working as a supplement for huge fans of the series. As a standalone anime, I wouldn’t recommend it.