11th April 2010 - For those over in the XBOX camp, you would have been familiar with the Halo Waypoint application for some time now. Although I had my doubts at first, it has actually become a very valuable resource for distributing immediate and new media content to the masses as it is made, rather than waiting for DVD. The most recent series is a Red v Blue mini series based on their self made Halo game-type “Griff Ball”, but Halo Legends have also been doing the rounds.
For anyone else who has no idea what I’m on about, Halo waypoint is a single nexus on XBOX Live that weekly streams videos, documentaries cartoons ect- all from the Halo universe. A central point for all content Halo it also manages and tracks user stats across various games. Halo Legends though is also now, on DVD.
Published by Madman, who in Australia monopolizes the distribution of most anime, especially those based on video games, Halo Legends showcases 7 short stories from the Halo Universe but in the unique Japanese styling’s that only anime can. This scope, to take such a strong western icon of modern consumerism and let some of Japans finest artists tackle the subject matter, means the results are rather mixed; from your Saturday morning cartoon, to something more abstract.
If you ever saw the Animatrix, on the back of the 3 Matrix movies, you may have some idea of what to expect, however where The Matrix already lent itself to eastern philosophies and in itself borrowed from Asian martial arts, Halo- has never looked so different.
The DVD retails at around $30 so rather than a blow by blow description, AAG has picked the highlights:
This is the perfect way to open the DVD stories, which have been streaming on Waypoint since November last year. The DVD itself has unfortunately slipped from obscurity, but is found in most good retailers.
Origins is straightforward and follows from the end of Halo 3. Cortana sets the stage of history musing over Master Chief on the failure of mankind. What is unique is that for the first time we clearly get to see the Fore-Runners of Halo’s history the previous race who single handily destroyed all life in the universe and then re-seeded it, using the Halo rings.
It is a good way to introduce the series and deals heavily with the Flood and Fore-Runners fighting. Origins is also the only 2 part episode, bumping the total to 8.
It is probably worth Googling the creative directors and artists behind these episodes, especially if you are a fan of anime, because they have worked on many many of the cult classics but really try something new with Halo.
The Duel is great in that it sets the standard for who the Covenant are: Medieval Samurai-esque Warriors living in feudal ‘Japanese’ villages, with giant space-ships over head- and it works.
Having a whole DVD to play with allows much more personalization of character and allows views otherwise un-seen of the different races in the games. The Covenant come across as proud ancient warriors as a lone Arbitar comes to grips with losing his title and the story of how the Covenant Arbitar became the ‘out-cast’ of Covenant society is told. Watch out for the female covenant! And the very large Elite Unit.
Curiously, throughout the DVD proportions of characters are rather different to the game, creating a ‘what if?’ scenario, where I now really wish that Hunters were the size of a small house, and Elites built like an 800 pound Gorilla, rather than what we currently get in the games.
Odd One Out
This one, made by Toi Animation, deserves a mention, not least because it’s not cannon. A parody of Halo, ‘Odd One Out’ takes the piss in only the way a Saturday morning cartoon can.
As soon as the rejected Spartan L33T (pun intended) lands on the planet and starts fighting dinosaurs, you know something is a little different. There are some kids with superhuman powers, a ship with an AI they call ‘mom’ where they live and a Covenant mammoth Elite called Pluton. Its crazy odd-ball animation, highly exaggerated and very different to the more serious controlled methods used for the other stories.
Throughout the DVD, hints are also given as to exactly who Masterchief might be. In this example the children refer to L33t as a robot although he flatly denies it. In others the Spartan II units are clearly humans (female even) but jacked into their suits and augmented.
A novel way to round out the episodes, The Package is the only full CG (read: 3D) production and it looks on par with the games if not slightly better. There are only so many ways to make a faceless Spartan, so in many regards it looks like Casio Entertainment have just re-used game assets. There is a lot of 3D anime around now-days and in particular The Package has very similar styles to Appleseed.
Set entirely in space between a Human ship and Covenant, a number of Spartans, led by the Chief himself must fly over and extract a ‘human’ package. This high octane show has all the special effects of a 3D camera, not to mention the unique over the top styles that Japanese cartoons- in space have: lots of colour lasers and gravity defying stunts.
There is absolutely no way a bunch of Spartans can hop on their space bikes, without shielding and ‘fly’ through space without a) floating off and b) suffocating- only the Chief has a full helmet! Inertial Dampers aside, it is a fine way to end the DVD while showcasing some of the more special moves of the Spartan program.
The other episodes on the Disc comprise: Homecoming, Prototype and The Babysitter. It is fair to say, that Halo Legends is primarily targeting one audience; fans of Halo, however it may also be targeting a broader audience, those who read the Halo books as well. It brings to life much finer details about the races and the characters than perhaps the game does an at the same time stretches ideas surrounding the game taking Halo out of the XBOX and into the imagination of people everywhere.
It is not, the best science-fiction anime out there, and there are probably much more original titles. It does seem a tad forced as the creators were given a script and the dialogue is almost verbatim. The Animatrix in contrast seemed to be wholly darker, more mature and of a higher production value, but for collectors or fan boys, or connoisseurs of anime, then it is probably worth at least a watch.
343 Industries is a division of Microsoft who commissioned the making of the DVD, which runs at 118 minutes. A second disk of special features includes: The making of Halo Legends feature and Halo: The story so far.
Reviewed & Written By Ian Crane