I’ll admit straight off that I don't own an Xbox and I have never played Halo. I am not sure if that makes me the best or worst person to review the Warner Home Video release Halo Legends. The distributor sent me a screener, though, so I am going to jump in regardless. Besides, Warner is presumably hoping that buyers won't be restricted to devotees of the titular console game. With that in mind, here’s a non-fan’s view.
Halo Legends consists of eight short animated films that provide background on the characters, races, and history of the Halo universe. These films vary in length from 10 to 17 minutes and each is directed by a different renowned Japanese animator.
The personnel hail from highly regarded anime studios that were responsible for productions such as Ghost in the Shell, Batman Gotham Knight, and The Animatrix. These companies include Production I.G., Toei Animation, Bones and Casio Entertainment. Names among the credits on Halo Worlds that may be familiar to fans of this genre include Shinji Aramaki, Hideki Futamura, Daisuke Nishio, Hiroshi Yamazaki, Toshiyuki Kanno, Koichi Mashimo, Koji Sawai, Tomoki Kyoda, Yasushi Muraki and Dai Sato.
Aside from the links to Halo, this collection will interest anime fans because of the diversity of animation styles the directors have used. In some cases the look will be familiar to anyone who has seen even a small amount of anime. Some directors, however, have used a more unusual approach. The story entitled "The Duel," for instance, is essentially a series of animated watercolour paintings (with some sequences being more animated than others). The details are washed out and the characters' movements are limited. It is an unusual style that, like anime in general, won't appeal to everyone.
The films cover a range of moods from somber to comedic and the quality of the stories is also variable. The opener, "Origins," which is in two parts, is an epic tale that starts in the distant past and charts the events that led to the original construction of the halo weapon and the subsequent emergence of humanity. It is an action-packed and intriguing science fiction story that can be enjoyed with no prior knowledge of Halo. "The Duel," on the other hand, is clichéd and not particularly involving.
Anyone not experienced in Halo will find the characters and races unfamiliar and may become confused by the complexity of their changing relationships. "Origins" provides a useful primer, however, and should definitely be the story seen first by newbies.