I think I’m going through some kind of Halo re-lapse or resurgence at the moment. From speaking to a friend a-length about the franchise, to pre-ordering Halo 4, to watching the anime compilation Halo: Legends last night, I’ve been doing a lot of Halo – related stuff recently. Hell, I’m even thinking of giving Halo: CE Anniversary a proper go… I’d probably be reading the books right now, if I had any on me (as I said in my Halo 4 post, been looking at getting the newer novels, but not entirely convinced yet).
When it comes to a particular IP or Universe that I’m a fan off, there are differing levels of interaction that I have:
There’s the main or ‘Genesis’ product, the thing that started it all and where from a canon perspective time began, as well as anything that follows on directly from that. You watch/play these products because they were there first, and if you’re a fan of the IP you’ll never get tired of what created it in the first place. Then there’s the Expanded Universe, which is mainly presented through novels, although comics etc… are also a popular form of EU content (although I tend not to like comics as much as they take more liberties than novels). You engage with the EU because you want to know more about the universe, you want to see little minor segments present in the Genesis products expanded more fully, or you just want more. Finally, there’s a minor or sub category called ‘fan service’, the comfort food of IP media. No matter what form it takes, it’s usually aimed at just giving the fans what they know and love already as opposed to exploring more meaningful corners of the universe, which is where Halo: Legends comes in and why I like watching things like it at bedtime before I go to sleep. To be fair, it has EU elements to it as well, but given the fact the shorts are between 10 – 20 minutes long, it’s not really proper EU as they barely have time to explore anything worthwhile (not a criticism, just explaining how I interact with it as a fan).
You see for me, watching Halo: Legends is like eating a bowl of ice cream. It’s on the TV, so its passive entertainment, it’s about an IP I’m a huge fan off, so I get the connection there, and yet it’s light on story so it doesn’t require me to think too much. It’s the same with movies that are based on anime shows – comfort fan service. Anyway, even though no-one cares, here’s a deconstruction of the individual parts of Halo: Legends, and what they mean to me as a fan:
Origins I & II – Probably the most disappointing bit of the DVD, which is annoying as it’s right at the beginning as well, this two-parter manages to show a hell of a lot without actually telling you anything. It’s almost a direct mirror of the origins two-parter from the Animatrix, except the Animatrix showed you stuff you didn’t already know. This origins story though, whilst be alright for the first half as you get to see some interpretations about Forerunner culture and some visualisations on their fight with the Flood, doesn’t really offer up anything new. The second half just kind of sprints through ‘Human History’ and summarises the events of the Halo games, which as someone who has played all of the Halo games isn’t really something I actually needed.
I suppose you could argue it’s to help new people acclimatise themselves to the universe, but then it doesn’t really do a good job of explaining the specific events of the games, only really that stuff happened, which they could have gotten from reading a blurb. Still, it’s watchable and in no ways a deal breaker, just don’t expect anything interesting from it (apart from some cryptic clues that may or may not (have) be(en) incredibly early Halo 4 references.
The Duel – The only short which is purely Covenant focus, this is basically a look into what Elite (Sanghelii) culture is like, which is to say they are basically the ‘brothers from another mother’ of the Japanese. The ‘main’ character is a respected General within the Elite society who holds the rank of ‘Arbiter’. What significance this rank used to have isn’t really explained much, but by the end of the whole thing you get to see how the rank of ‘Arbiter’ became what it was when it was introduced in Halo 2.
It’s interesting, and I like what they did with the art style, although personally I think they humanised the Elites too much (which was probably done for the sake of accessibility and ease of creation), plus, a little Epilogue would have been nice, but I guess you’re meant to take cues from Halo 2 as to what happened next.
Homecoming -Probably my favourite of the whole compilation, this one centres around a female Spartan called Daisy who’s trying to help a squad of marines evacuate from a planet under heavy attack from the Covenant. During the retreat though, she starts having flashbacks to what happened during her time in the Spartan program. Seven years in to her training, her and four others run away from the facility on Reach and try to get home to their families, only to find the clones living there in their place (something which is established in the Fall of Reach novel).
My favourite bit about this short is what happens at the end (Spoiler incoming): Daisy unfortunately dies during the evacuation, but at the very end the Master Chief can be seen standing over her body and laying her to rest properly. What I like about this is that it cements the ‘image’ of the Chief that much more – both as a bit of a legendary figure who’s beyond what grunts, will see in an average day, but also (as the EU has established) as the leader of all of the Spartan II’s. They’re all his soldiers, and despite being rather emotionless at times he does deep down care for all of them, and you can almost feel his regret as another one dies.
Interestingly enough the former is something that Neill Blomkamp was going to play with in the movie adaptation. Can’t believe that still isn’t being made (read an interesting article about it though, but sadly I don’t have the link).
Prototype – Second favourite alongside The Babysitter, Prototype doesn’t really deal with anything that’s already been established, but is a nice little redemption story. A marine sergeant, nicknamed ‘Ghost’ because he has as much emotion as an emotionally deprived peanut, is tasked with destroying an experimental weapons factory on a planet being evacuated because, surprise surprise, it’s under heavy Covenant attack (I’m sensing a pattern here). His squad isn’t too happy about it because not only are they the last ones to leave, but Ghost is also infamous for getting his last platoon completely wiped out.
However, not wanting a repeat of the last time he lost all his men, he commandeers one of the experimental combat suits and uses it to all kinds of ass before self-destructing and buying time for his men to escape. This one is more in the realms of ‘fan service’, as you only really watch it to see Ghost kill some Covenant like a boss. Also, not quite sure what significance the suit is meant to have… possibly an early MJOLNIR prototype, combined with some of the special abilities they introduced in Halo 2 & 3.
Odd One Out – Not my favourite, but it’s not the worst either. ‘OOO’ is just a short spoof about a Spartan called 1337, and the only one of the compilation that’s not canon (everything else is said to have happened/be true at time of release). Having fallen out of his transport en route to… wherever, 1337 runs into a group of children, some of which have superhuman powers. The group is then attacked by a new Covenant enemy called Pluton, and everyone has a good old fashioned brawl before the beast is sent back into space by the AI who had been taking care of the kids. It has it’s neat moments of self-awareness where it takes the mick of things like DBZ (the kids are basically parodies of saiyans, I guess), but other than that it’s one I tend to skip as there’s little in it for me as a Halo fan.
The Babysitter – This is another good one: it involves a small unit of ODST troopers (one of whom I think is meant to be ‘Dutch’ from Halo: ODST, and another that’s called O’Brien but is apparently a different O’Brien) and a Spartan – Cal – who have been assigned to assassinate a Prophet who’s in charge of the local sector. Kill him and the UNSC gets a breather in the theatre. O’Brien isn’t happy that he’s not the one to be doing the shooting, and is even les happy when Cal has to save him several times during the course of their mission. His outlook on, well, life, is drastically changed though when Cal is mortally wounded protecting him for the umpteenth (and last) time, and it’s revealed she is a woman.
The only real issue I have with this one is that ‘Cal’ has ridiculously long hair… so long it probably wouldn’t all fit into her helmet. I get the fact that they want to show that she’s a girl and everything, but you don’t really need the long hair to do it. Daisy and even Kelly in the next short were portrayed well enough to get the point across.
The Package – This one is ‘fan service’, pure and simple. It’s made completely in CGI, and shows the Chief and a team of Spartans (inc. Kelly and Fred, fairly popular characters from the expanded universe) being awesome and doing awesome things in awesome ways. Think of all the stuff they get up to in something like Gundam, or even Bleach, and throw in the general principle of just giving fans what they want, and you should have an idea of what this one is like. It’s like the big fight scene in a Bleach movie or something, where they just show all your favourite characters doing what you like them for, and is pretty light on substance.
It’s alright though, as a finale to the whole compilation, it does its job very well and is fairly enjoyable to just switch off and watch. The constant quoting lines from the games though is kind of annoying, and staged, but I guess they’re just trying to show a basis for all the things that were to come.
Hmm, this post turned out to be longer than I thought it would be. Sorry if it seems like I’m waffling and/or geeking out, but being a fan does strange things to you.