This show has never exactly been an animation powerhouse. Truthfully, it’s been hobbling along since at least episode two, mostly getting by on comedic timing while the production continuously degraded. That wasn’t a total deal breaker when this was primarily a comedy with only the semblance of a dramatic plot, but now that The Legendary Hero is Dead! is trying to be at least moderately serious about itself, the poor animation and editing are seriously damaging its ability to tell a story.
The central battle of this episode is a good example. On paper, this is a clever battle of wits between Touka and an equally conniving enemy general, using dirty tricks and hidden moves to outmaneuver one another until one party manages to pull one over on their opponent. In practice, it’s a rushed and poorly edited time sink that takes longer to explain than it does to play out, and there’s never so much as a second of tension. Fights with no sense of urgency or spatial continuity were serviceable enough when they were just vehicles for punchlines, but now these are at least somewhat serious bouts with a ticking clock attached, so “just enough to tell a joke” can’t cut it anymore.
It also coincides with the show’s backsliding in its humor. You’d think the latest enemy being Touka’s former mentor, who taught him the art of traps and tricks, would add to his character or at least build on top of his more recent good turn. Instead, we get a load of exposition to backfill their relationship before Touka jumps right to sexually humiliating her. When the back half of the episode tries once again to prop up Touka’s heroic traits, it’s entirely undercut by him sneaking off to stick Yuna’s body in stockings again because he might care about her enough to fight the armies of hell, but not enough to respect her bodily autonomy. Add in that Ethel’s big bouncing badonkeroos feed into Fieri’s stale groping jokes, and it’s like we’re right back to the insufferable, hack comedy of the early episodes.
It’s a shame because there are elements here that still work, if only in isolated moments. Touka and Estel being scumbag peas on a pod are pretty funny, and the two of them picking that lock to break into the magical craftsman’s home got a decent laugh out of me. The gag of the old man pouring tea on everyone’s head is pretty rote, but watching Airi timidly sit in place, waiting for her turn, looking both scared and resigned, was worth a giggle. Touka finally facing an opponent who’s as devious as him is a cool twist that could have easily been the show’s highlight so far if it were executed better.
Yet that’s not what we got, and as weird as it is, I feel disappointed to see the series regress like this. It would never be a favorite, but the previous episodes held some promise. Seeing so much of that potential spoiled so swiftly is a big letdown.
The Legendary Hero is Dead! is currently streaming on