This 8 episode anthology of 10-15 minute length each, explores the origin and historical events of the HALO universe, and various characters inhabiting the world. Like Animatrix and Batman Gotham Knight, each of the 8 epis... more »odes will be created by a separate prominent Japanese anime producer.« less
Michael M. from LEE CENTER, NY Reviewed on 12/29/2013...
A Good anthology of stories from the Halo universe. Rented it on Netflix years ago, and found it worth owning.
NOT a game, these are stories
Erik Oleson | Sacramento, CA | 02/16/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm going to try to give as spoiler-free of a review as possible.
I've been apprehensive of Halo Legends since it was announced, and was nervous with the crazy Japanese getting a hold of the franchise. When a few stories were put up on Waypoint, however, my concerns were diminished. Seeing that Frankie (Frank O'Connor) had control over what was being done in Legends, it led me to give credence to what I was once doubtful of. And I've read all novels, blogs, BWUs, and played each game so much that there is little I don't know.
Yes, there are quivering eyes, men with jaws too wide open, cheesy mid-action posing shots, and a couple other cliched anime items that slipped in, but if you look past these and accept them as artistic interpretation, you can see what is underneath and really appreciate the stories. Elite's losing a pair of mandibles and seeing a female elite in the context of 'the Duel' chuckling like a school girl was probably the worst moment of this entire DVD. With that said, this has given me MORE food to chew on than sinking feelings of Microsoft milking us all out of $20.
-The entire episode of Origins (Part 1 & 2) are pure gold. We get our first glimpse of Forerunners, and witness the true power of the Flood, not constricted by the hardware of the 360 and polygon counts. And they are scary. This is easily the best offering of the entire DVD, and all of Cortana's monologue was written by Frankie himself. Great stuff.
-Babysitter, Prototype, and Homecoming all feature similar-styled animation and actually decent storylines. There are a few canonical things that I am curious of, but I'm sure have explanations. One thing I am getting tired of is all of the suicide missions that these side stories keep telling. It's getting a little too predictable (same as in Halo Evolutions).
-The Duel is a tough one. I hated the animation style when I first put it on, but as it went along, I saw what the artists were going for and really appreciated it. A very dark tone was needed, and this conveyed it perfectly. Two things to note: elites without their top pair of mandibles in certain scenes is simply artistic interpretation, and the large hunters are entirely possible (as Frankie has said in response to this criticism).
-The Package is a unique one. The visuals are amazing. This is the first time we ever see Master Chief working with his Spartans as a team. Highly disappointed that you witness some Spartans (the GREATEST military minds on the battlefield) die to some pretty stupid reasons. Voice acting choice for the MC? Terrible. Overall very, very fun though.
-Odd One Out is just fun. Watch it and enjoy it. Reminds me of Dragonball Z, in a good way.
If you like Halo, buy it. My fiance is somewhat interested in the Halo Universe, but this gives her a chance to really appreciate what the writers of the Halo Universe have made, and we both could appreciate it."
I'm a Halo fan, and this isn't so great
Michigoon | Mid-MI | 02/18/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Halo Legends is basically Halo: The Animatrix, and comparisons are even made during the commentary. Like The Animatrix, it generally places visuals over everything else. It's also likewise very on/off, ranging from big-budget action to intimate character portraits. It's not a bad product, but it is something where you can't help but think what could have been. This review is from the perspective of a longtime fan, and really this product is not a good piece for non-fans anyway, so I'll be speaking in fan terms. Part-by-part, not necessarily in the same order as the disc, minor spoilers ahead:
-Origins I&II is solid. The storyline is essentially a recap of known history, told by the Cortana, although she freely admits much of what you'll see is speculation. The story starts from the Forerunner war with the Flood and covers through "present day", at the end of Halo 3. The drawing is okay, the animation very stiff, and Cortana's stand-in voice actress is not up to the original, but it's a compelling story. The canon is mostly kept, although as Cortana noted, you can't take the whole piece literally. 4/5
-The Duel has awful art, little story, and is mostly just noir. Ancient Elites, who apparently lived in feudal Japan and had two jaws instead of four, wind up in a duel. And one of them is in samurai armor. Lots of people wind up saying the art grew on them, but I just can't watch it. I can't help but wonder if the graphics didn't come out well during development, so the team got embarrassed and slapped on a dirty filter so you wouldn't notice. 1/5
-Homecoming shoots the Halo canon in the face at multiple junctions, and is another character vignette with some action slapped on. The lead female is a (teen, blonde, angsty) Spartan who for some reason wears her hair long in the helmet, and pulls off her helmet in a war zone in front of regular soldiers. This is just a massive no-no, for so many reasons. The story is basically a small remembrance underlying the action, i.e. not substantial. Still, the animation is great. 2/5
-Sort of big spoiler ahead: The Babysitter features the long flowing blonde hair of another Spartan lady. And the Elites are back in feudal Japan again. And a Spartan is listed as KIA. But there's at least a tie-in as Dutch from ODST makes an appearance. The story revolves around an assassination mission targeting a prophet, with some great action. The blonde female Spartan idea works a little better here, as it's given more context and saved up for the last act, but it's still a very artistic choice that you can't think too much about before it falls apart. 3/5
-Be Human is another character vignette plus action. The action here is really great, and the animation is excellent. The story revolves around a guy trying to regain his lost humanity during war, and frankly this bit is ham-handed. It all wraps up well though, with a great allusion to other events in the Halo universe. 4/5
-The Package is a ton of top-notch CGI. However, the voice acting is mostly awful, and the canon is terrible. The CGI during the central battle is amazing and well worth watching. 3/5
-Odd One out is basically a Halo version of Dragon Ball Z. It's supposed to be funny, I think. Spartan 1337 (har-har) gets eaten by a dinosaur and spit out at one point (pardon if I guffaw for a bit). It's mostly dumb, and I found it hard to watch. Some story is thrown over the framework, but it's like trying to build a house on a Jell-O foundation. 1/5
Too much of the disc is made up of what are basically character vignettes. The Duel is about that era's arbiter. Odd One out is about Spartan-Goku. Be Human is about, uh, that guy. Homecoming is about that girl. You can even extend it and say the whole disc is basically a series of vignettes. Origins features Cortana's reflections after Halo 3, The Babysitter is about the revelation regarding the Spartan, and The Package revolves around one great moment of Spartans fighting together. That makes the great failing of this work, that it just never branches out. It's one character and their take on some aspect of the Halo universe, again and again.
You can currently download all of these episodes online, and honestly I have to say you should save your money. The "extra features" include a trailer for Halo: Reach (available online), a DC comics trailer, and a director commentary that's one of the non good director commentaries. Frankie and crew basically recap known items and restate the plot of episodes over and over with little real insight. Oh, Origins is about conflict? Thanks. I didn't get that from the words "conflict" and "war" being used constantly in the dialog. If you're a massively hardcore fan, this is a decent piece to nerd out to. But I doubt even hardcore fans will give this more than one play, maybe two if you'r really nitpicking the content of Origins."
Neel Gandhi | Los Angeles, CA | 02/17/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First off the quality of this bluray is amazing. It is masterfully done and deserves credit. I ironically watched this on my PS3 and enjoyed every second of it. Having very little experience with the Halo Franchise outside of a few hours on Halo 3 I was curious to the larger universe that the games were set in. I know Bungie creates massively detailed worlds to set their games in and was curious as to what made Halo tick. I was very pleasantly surprised at the story and the quality of the animation in this release. The voice over work was excellent as well.
Here is my breakdown:
Voice Over: Very well done, with great narration. 4.5/5
Animation: Its great to see the various studios and artists create their impression of Halo. The quality control is excellent as expected from a AAA title franchise. 5/5
Blu-Ray Extras: Could have used more extras, maybe even a Halo Reach beta invitation code or something. If there is one area that always could use improvement its extras! 4/5
Overall: Well I would have given it a 4.5 out of 5 but that option is not available sadly. I asked myself did I regret pre-ordering the blu-ray and how badly did I miss the extras. To me personally I didnt think the lack of heavy duty extras called for a 80% score so I am giving it a full score. This is something you will enjoy, its feature length and worth the watch. 5/5 \"
Some Solid Sections, Others Not So Great
Siklootd | Santa Fe, NM | 03/12/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Halo Legends is a film that follows in the footsteps of the Batman: Gotham Knight film that was recently released. It is a compilation of sub-stories created within an overall film, but with each sub-story or section being created by a different artist. This can create a great viewing experience, seeing how it allows the viewer to see different artists' rendering of beloved characters such as Batman and Master Chief. Did Halo Legends pull it off as well as Batman: Gotham Knight did? Not really. It had some excellent sections, while others left a lot to be desired.
Halo Legends is a compilation of seven short stories, created by various artists throughout the anime/cartoon world. Some of these sections are done beautifully, truly resembling the anime that the original creator is associated with, but with a Halo twist thrown in.
-Origins: Origins is a great way to open up the film. These sections talk about the Forerunners who originally fought off the Flood upon their initial invasion of the galaxy. The Forerunners had no choice but to create a final resort weapon, known as Halo, that would wipe out the entire galaxy. Before doing so, the Forerunners had collected data of specimens from the entire galaxy. These specimen would multiply once the Flood was no longer in existence, allowing the galaxy to once again re-populate itself to its former state.
-The Duel: Produced by Mituhisa Ishikawa, best known for his work on the Ghost in the Shell films as well as Immortal Grand Prix, this section feels out of place. The art style resembles a painting, except that it moves. Whenever the visuals are stationary, this art style looks amazing, resembling something one may find in a museum. However, upon each motion that the characters take, it feels "awkward" almost as if it shouldn't be moving at all. This may be because the visuals appear fuzzy due to the design of the characters, making it difficult at times to view what is actually occurring. This section follows the fight between the Arbiter and his fellow covenant, and the brutal slaying of his wife at the hands of an Elite. This was all in an attempt to betray the Arbiter, all set up by one of the Prophets.
-Homecoming: Directed by Koji Sawai, best known for his work on anime titles such as Wolf's Rain and .Hack, this section follows the story of the process of Spartan creation. The corporation responsible for the creation of Spartans, kidnapped children, cloned them, and put them through intense training, leaving them mentally scarred. Upon escaping and returning home, one female Spartan finds out the truth about her creation and must find a way to cope with it. Other Spartans who met their clones committed suicide, but the female protagonist is able to proceed with her missions, until the end of the story where she meets a grim fate in the midst of combat.
-Odd One Out: Created by Daisuke Nishio, animator for both Dragonball and Dragonball Z, this section feels exactly like these series as well. It follows the tale of a Spartan dropped off on a planet left to fight a Covenant opponent on his own. He gets the assistance from two human teenagers who are capable of flying, and pulling trees out of the ground, ala DBZ. The Spartan even ditches his traditional heavy artillery guns in favor of hand to hand combat, all the while acting goofy, true to Dragonball fashion. The enemy even at one point "powers up" reminiscent of Dragonball Z. Daisuke truly added to Halo Legends what he is used to doing with anime.
-Prototype: Created by Shinji Aramaki, the character designer for series such as Gundam, the Prototype section feels exactly like a Gundam episode. Utilizing giant Mechs, thrusters, and explosions associated with the Gundam series, Prototype is non-stop action. It follows the tale of a commander of marine team, named Ghost. Ghost received his nickname due to his constant lack of emotions. He has been assigned with the responsibility of destroying the prototype mech suit. He instead uses the suit to fight off the enemy Covenant long enough for his squad to retreat, before self destructing. A great section, and my personal favorite of the entire film, possibly due to the fact that I am a huge Gundam fan.
-The Babysitter: Eiko Tanaka, creator of animes such as Beyond and Kiki's Deliver Service, was the lead producer on this segment. It follows a team of Drop Shock Troopers who are assigned to kill a Prophet of the Covenant, from a distance of two miles away. In order to assist with the assassination assignment, the team is lead by a Spartan. The Spartan becomes side-tracked from the mission due to the constant screw ups of the Drop Shock Troopers, who constantly rely on the Spartan for saving. Until the end, when the Spartan is attacked and must leave the assassination shot to one of the most arrogant of the Troopers. Upon learning the truth about the Spartan, the whole squad quickly feels like they are to blame for its death.
-The Package: The Package is a fully 3D rendered segment that is visually stunning. At times the story switches to a first person view, and it feels as if it is truly a videogame during these sections. It follows Master Chief as he and his squadron try to rescue a scientist from the grasp of the Covenant. Truly remarkable animation, and a nice balance of story and action make this a great segment.
Overall, the film has its ups and downs. Sections such as The Package, The Prototype, and The Babysitter are top notch, adding enough action, story, and art style to truly satisfy fans. However, sections such as The Duel feel too awkward and out of place. It's interesting to see each segment and see how each artist throws in their own art style that utilize for their own shows for this film. This gives each segment the personality to match its director/producer and add a layer of familiarity to each story. An overall great film that is a must buy for fans of Halo, or fans of anime, such as myself."
Thematically a Mixed Bag
Leotol Stoy | 04/24/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Several other reviewers have gone through and related their thoughts on each of the shorts contained in Halo: Legends. This is certainly a valid method, and helpful to the practical buyer who simply wishes to get a general idea of whether or not the product suits him/her. I would like to take a different approach. I will divide the episodes into thematically similar groupings, and analyze them from that standpoint.
Origins, parts I and II, is historical. It is essentially a condensed version of the history of the Halo Universe.
Odd One Out is an attempt at comedy, plain and simple. Whether you as the viewer find it humorous or not will likely depend on your...sense of humor. Not being averse to the Japanese penchant for the ridiculous, I did find portions of it to be funny, though it's not comedic genius in the least.
The Package, and The Duel are both what I would consider to be action-oriented shorts, and in that way will likely appeal more to the fanbase of the Halo Series than any of the others. The Package fills this role far better than The Duel, as The Duel contains many canonical errors that will bother serious fans of the series (from kimono-clad Elites to the number of mandibles). The Package best captures the feel of frenetic action that has embodied the Halo Series from the first game. In it, a team of Spartans attacks a Covenant fleet in order to recover a...well...package. The short uses a CG-animation hybrid style (this is the only short to do so), which also lends the short more of a Western feel than the other shorts in general.
The final three episodes: "The Babysitter," "Homecoming," and "The Prototype" fall into what I would call heroic tragedy. For serious fans of Halo, particularly ones who care about the canon, these episodes will likely elicit some of the most visceral reactions. There is a serious disregard for realism in these episodes, from the teddy bear keychain accessory hanging from the Spartan's armor (or maybe her rifle?) in "Homecoming," to the Gundam-inspired mecha suit in "The Prototype." However, in spite of these obvious problems, I found these episodes the most compelling.
What we often forget in the context of the Halo Universe, especially because the games are so action-centered (and feature a character capable of annihilating hundreds upon hundreds of the alien enemy without suffering so much as a scratch), is that the war between the Humans and the Covenant has been in progress for twenty-seven years by the time of the events in Halo 3 - and Humanity has been losing...badly. These three episodes capture how thoroughly Humanity lost the war by exposing us to the level of sacrifice that was so commonplace throughout it - and which seems so needless in the light of the fact that the Covenant killed billions upon billions of people whenever they glassed a planet. The heroism displayed by the protagonists in each of these three episodes is thus all the more tragic because we must ask, inevitably, whether their sacrifices even mattered.
So who would I recommend Halo: Legends to? Anime fans, for one. The shorts are experimental in nature, but retain the essence of Japanese storytelling, which emphasizes emotion over realism. Coming from a nation that has not engaged in a real war (no, sending token SDF forces to combat zones does not count) in over sixty years, the lack of what we in the U.S. would consider "realistic" dialogue between soldiers, or "realistic" combat techniques is understandable. However, many of those in the audience will not be so forgiving. So the real question for those wishing to purchase Halo: Legends is: can you set aside your desire for realism and a Western storyline for ten minutes at a time while each short episode runs its course? If the answer is yes, then you will probably enjoy Halo: Legends. If not, then don't bother, it's not worth your time. "