What would it be like, not being able to choose your own life? What if your family died? How about the person you love? No one ever wants that, and yet the world hands out that sorrow for no reason, laughing all the way.
The Legend of the Legendary Heroes (Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu) is a series of Light Novels written by Takaya Kagami, illustrated by Saori Toyota, and published by Fujimi Shobo since 2002.It tells the story of Ryner Lute, a young mage who bears an Alpha Stigma, which grants him incredible magic power at the cost of making him go a tiny bit insane sometimes. After surviving a brutal battle, he is tasked by his friend Sion Astal (who also happens to be the king of Roland, the country they live in) with obtaining relics of the so-called legendary heroes who saved the kingdom from monsters in the distant past. And then things escalate quickly.Despite its relatively light-hearted premise, this series is extremely fond of Mood Whiplashes, with a heavy focus on politics, overcoming trauma, and themes revolving around what humans will prioritize above all else and how far they will goto achieve their goals.Over the course of its (on-going) run, the series has generated several spin-offs and adaptations, including an anime adaptation in 2010, created by ZEXCS and licensed by FUNimation, which follows the first series. note Strictly-speaking, Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu is the title of the first series, with the sequel being known as Dai Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu. Manga adaptations include the primary manga, which similarly covers the first series, and The Legend of the Legendary Heroes Revision, a compressed and alternate version of the story. The series has also spawned a number of Drama CDs and a Japanese-only video game known as Legendary Saga.
Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female on Male: Ferris to Ryner. Abuse Is Also Okay When It Is Male On Male applies too in the light novels, with Ryner twisting Sion's arm so badly Sion was afraid his shoulder would get dislocated. Ryner also knocks Iris out purely to get her to be quiet, so it might be safe to say that Ryner and Ferris are just jerks in general.
All There in the Manual: Outside of the main storyline, there are two side series: Toriaezu Densetsu no Densetsu no Yuusha (The Legend of the Legendary Heroes Anyway) and Ochita Kuroi Yuusha no Densetsu (The Legend of the Fallen Dark Hero). The first one introduces several characters who would then appear in the sequel as well as going into further detail about Ryner's past (among a few others'), with the other telling the story of Sion's revolution and the pasts of those involved (namely, Claugh, Luke, Calne, and Lucile). Furthermore, Sion Note covers the true story of the Mad Hero and Lonesome Demon, altogether making it difficult to fully understand the story and all of the characters without reading everything.
Almost Kiss: Claugh and Noa in Episode 21, before Calne interrupts them.
An Arm and a Leg: This happens a lot, though not necessarily with long-term effects. To name all the incidents:
Art Evolution: Considering how long the series has been going on for, this shouldn't be a surprise. The style at the start of the first series and the style at the start of the sequel are virtually unrecognizable as being done by the same artist, and it's only continued to change from there.
Bio-Augmentation: The Roland military was fond of doing this in the past, with notable results including Peria, Claugh, and Luke.
Blackmail: Sion does this to force Ryner into joining his team in the academy. Also the method he makes Ryner and Ferris go in journey, though the actual threat is formulated by Ferris's big brother Lucile.
Brainwashed: There's a lot of brainwashing that goes on in the series, with varying degrees of severity and relevance, but perhaps the most notable example is Milk (or rather, the Goddess inside of her) brainwashing her team into loyalty towards her.
Bullying a Dragon: Alpha Stigma bearers have special eyes that let them copy any magic they see, and have a tendency to lose control of their emotions and destroy entire towns. Yet rather than leaving them alone (or just killing them with weapons), tormenting and ostracizing them seems to be the preferred reaction.
Compressed Adaptation: Both the anime and manga, which cut out various scenes and aspects. It's particularly noticeable in the latter half of the anime, where 9 episodes were used to cover 6 volumes whereas the first half covered 5 volumes in ~15 episodes. Interestingly enough, though, both the anime and manga borrowed content from The Legend of the Legendary Heroes Anyway, thus adding Filler as well.
Claugh can be seen leading the reinforcements after the incident with the Estabul Magic Knights—a reference to The Legend of the Fallen Dark Hero, as it was there and not within the main series that it was revealed that Claugh and Sion met that way.
In the map showing Ryner and Ferris's journey for the Heroes' Relics, characters from The Legend of the Legendary Heroes Anyway, such as Vois, are displayed, despite not being introduced in the first series or manga.
In The Legend of the Legendary Heroes Revision manga, which leaves out the majority of the main plot and thus major characters, Sion's allies (i.e. Claugh, Luke, etc.) can be seen when Sion mentions having started a revolution.
In the anime, when Calne is going over Ryner's past, Germer, Peria, and Pia make cameos.
Easily Forgiven: Once Ryner leaves Tiir, things proceed almost exactly like he had never betrayed the kingdom. Plus, him joining Tiir in the first place required him conveniently ignoring the fact that he just killed and even ate many people in front of him.
Eldritch Abomination: The Goddesses. Beings whose sole purpose is to consume the entire world. The Lonely Demon as well, perhaps even moreso, considering that the ones who created the world are baffled by and utterly terrified of him, even though he's mostly benign.
A Fate Worse Than Death: The Solver of All Equations is doomed to suffer hellish pain for all eternity when he's devoured by the hero. This is why Sion tried to kill Ryner, even though he couldn't bring himself to do it.
Grey and Gray Morality: Ignoring minor villains who generally exist to die a karmic death later on, just about everyone in the cast ultimately has good intentions and is sincerely trying to change the world for the better in some way. Conversely, there are no straight up 'good guys', as trying to be anything above an Anti-Hero doesn't get you very far.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: Mostly played straight. Even though they're essentially the same, humans and some possessors of magic eyes deem each other as different races, with the latter often suffering at the former's hands, ranging from being discriminated against (only rarely is this justified) to being slaughtered by people out to harvest their eyes.
Insistent Terminology: Tiir would rather Ryner call it God's Eyes, not Cursed Eyes, thank you very much. A downplayed example, though, in that he only corrects him the first few times before apparently giving up, though Ryner corrects himself later on when trying to appeal to Tiir.
Instant Expert: Spells usually take anywhere from a few months to a few years to learn, depending on the proficiency of the magician. However, Ryner can learn any spell the moment he sees it. Taken Up to Eleven in that the person casting the spell in front of him doesn't even need to finish it, So long as they get the majority of the way through the spell, he can cast the whole thing fine with his usual level of proficiency even if they stop partway through.
Instant Runes: Spells can look this way in the anime, though it's actually Geometric Magic, as the user is required to draw the magic circle. Some characters (namely, Ryner) are simply very quick about it.
Kick the Dog: After his mother dies, Sion's half-brothers leave him a gift in the form of a dead puppy.
Killing Intent: Expect this to be mentioned often in the novels, as any Badass has been trained to detect it.
Limited Wardrobe: While a few characters do occasionally change outfits, most of the cast tends to stick with one outfit only. Justified in some cases, where said outfit is a military uniform (and as shown with the Taboo Breaker Pursuit Squadron, they do have spares).
MacGuffin: The legendary artifacts the Ryner and Ferris are looking for. Subverted later on, when not only are they no longer the driving force of the plot, but they have a definite purpose: being used as Weapons Of Mass Destruction in war.
The series is very fond of these, but episode 3 and 18 probably take the crown. This even happens in the short story collections: You've just finished reading about Ryner battling pirates and a seasick Ferris trying to down a ship. Wonder what kind of crack is coming up next....wait, we're reading about Ryner's past? Uh, okay...
Then there is episode 23, which starts with Ryner getting worked nearly to death by Sion, some more funny scenes about that, then funny birthday preparations for Sion behind his back which even involves Miran Froaude, a fleeing Sion a few days later (turns out he was fleeing from his birthday), a heartwarming birthday scene, and ends with a serious fight between Sion and his soldiers against Ryner. Wait, what?!
Off with His Head!: This has happened a lot and it seems to be Lucile's preferred method of killing.
Orphanage of Fear: It's actually a hellish military training facility disguised as an orphanage. Those who cannot keep up are disposed of.
Our Demons Are Different: In the short time we knew him, the Solver of All Equations is a gentle, kind being despite possessing the power to destroy the world. His other half, the Weaver of All Equations seemed like a mad demon that's responsible for how twisted the Eris family is, but in the end voluntarily let himself be devoured by Lucile and genuinely wishes happiness upon him.
Power at a Price: The series as a whole generally runs on this principle, with notable examples including:
Glovil requires you to sacrifice something in order to use it.
Ryner's true ability can only activate by sacrificing of the soul someone who loves him.
Powers That Be: The priests who have been orchestrating almost all events in the series.
Pragmatic Adaptation: Of sorts. The Legend of the Legendary Heroes Revision manga is a compressed version of the series that leaves out most of the main plot and focuses primarily on Ryner's Character Development over the course of two volumes.
Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Taboo Breaker Pursuit Squadron in the first part of the series, though they're hardly villains, aside from generally being an annoyance to Ryner and Ferris, courtesy of Sion.
Rescue Romance: Noa and Claugh. The first time Claugh rescues Noa from Miran, but the situation becomes inverted when Noa decides to negotiate with Miran instead of getting Claugh hurt. The second time is played straighter, when Claugh saves Noa from would-be assassins/rapists.
Running Gag: The main trio have a fair number between the three of them.
Ferris's love for dango, Ryner's love for naps, and Sion's... not quite love but inclination towards paperwork.
Ferris beating up Ryner.
Ferris accusing Ryner of being a pervert and, similarly, spreading lies about him being one to others.
Sion coercing Ryner and Ferris into doing work for him, with Ryner and Ferris, on the flip side, vowing to assassinate him.
Sacrificial Lamb: Many, with a general good rule of thumb being that if they don't seem too important, don't appear in the opening, and have yet to appear in more than a few scenes, there's a decent chance they'll die.
Save The World Climax: Starts off as an innocuous journey to find the Heroes' Relics or, at worst, a continent-wide war. Except for that tiny detail where the world's going to end in a couple years, thanks to the Powers That Be.
Spell My Name with an S: As most of the series lacks an official translation, many names fall under this. This also applies to certain terms such as Magic Eyes/Cursed Eyes, with the official translation going with the former and novel scanlations going with the latter—though given Tiir's distaste for the label, Cursed Eyes is likely more accurate.
Spoiler Opening: The first opening shows the Mad Hero and Lonesome Demon, with Ryner's opening narration in the first episode also essentially showing part of the story of the Mad Hero. On a lesser scale, the second opening, if you look hard enough, shows Ryner walking with what is presumably Tiir's silhouette.
Superpowered Evil Side: Ryner's Alpha Stigma seems to give him a textbook example of this. Most Alpha Stigma bearers, for that matter.
These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: The very existence of several beings that hold the world in their palms. The Goddesses, the priests, the hero and the demon. Oh, and by the way, the world has been destroyed before. Many, many times. It got better... then worse.
Vicious Cycle: The vessels for the Mad Hero and the Lonesome Demon are chosen, with the Mad Hero vessel ultimately having to devour the Lonesome Demon vessel(s) to gain their power in order to prevent The End of the World as We Know It—and, given the present situation, have failed each time to truly change anything. The previous Sion in particular crossed the Despair Event Horizon at the end and, out of his bitterness towards the entire thing, used that power to alter the cycle.
Words Do Not Make The Magic: Otherwise, the fuss about not leaking the secrets of one's magic to other countries would be rather silly.
A World Half Full: Yes, really. Despite all the negativity in the world, the characters are always shown to ultimately prevail no matter how much trauma is thrown their way, with very few named characters actually crossing the Despair Event Horizon. According to Word of God, his hope is that by reading his works, fans will believe that there's always a light at the end of the tunnel.
You Will Know What to Do: Essentially what Ryner's given before the fight between Gastark and Geihilficlant, as Vois won't say how exactly Ryner's supposed to save them all. Namely because it involves him nearly dying.