REVIEW: ‘The Heike Story,’ Episode 1

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The Heike Story Episode 1

The Heike Story is an adventure/drama anime inspired by a 12th-century epic story and is produced by Science SARU. Biwa is a young girl with a gift. If she covers one eye she can see the future. But what she sees unsettles her. When she is taken in by a member of the powerful Taira Clan, also known as the Heike, what she sees does not bode well for the clan in The Heike Story Episode 1.

Each season of the 2021 anime year has thus far been highlighted by unique stories like nothing I’ve seen before. Whether it’s the surreal imagery of Wonder Egg Priority, the growth and heart-breaking life experiences of Fushi in To Your Eternity, and now, the stand-out art style of the period piece The Heike Story. Anime this year has been a showcase of amazing things that continue to expand the boundaries of what I can expect of one of my favorite mediums.

The episode opens with Biwa as she walks through a town with her father. When they run afoul of some Heike enforcers, things quickly turn tragic for the young girl. In this emotional moment, we are given our first glimpse of Biwa’s gift as she sees a rapid-fire stream of images pass before her stricken eyes.

From this introduction, The Heike Story Episode 1 jumps to the Taira Clan as they celebrate their prosperity and growing power. The clan seems to dominate much of the economic and political landscape of Japan, and the growing affluence seems to be going straight to the Clan Patriarch’s head, and much of the clan follows in their leader’s inflated opinion of their own self-worth.

One of the few exceptions to this exuberance seems to be the patriarch’s son, Shigemori. A military man by nature Shigemori loves his clan but seems less than comfortable with the frivolity of the moment he is introduced. After Shigemori excuses himself from the others he finds himself face to face with Biwa and discovers they share an unusual characteristic.

The Heike Story Episode 1 does a good job establishing the characters that the story will move around, as well as what the primary focus of the overall narrative will be. While the episode is a little on the slow side, it never failed to interest me as I learned about the characters and the Heike as a whole in a way that feels natural and easy to digest. But while the plot is solid, it is the visuals that truly captivate.

The overall visual aesthetic of The Heike Story feels like a fusion of modern anime and classic Japanese art. The ultra-thin linework of the art gives the entire presentation a feather-light delicacy and makes it stand out against many animes that have adopted the thicker line art style of series like MY Hero Academia. This combines with some gorgeous pieces of music that feel appropriate for the setting. There is one particular sequence that combines the visual and audio of the episode into a moment that left me completely mesmerized.

Between the solid introduction of characters, interesting plot, and absurdly beautiful visual and audio presentation, The Heike Story Episode 1 left me hyped to see where this story will go next.

The Heike Story Episode 1 is streaming on Funimation.

 

The Heike Story Episode 1
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Between the solid introduction of characters, interesting plot, and absurdly beautiful visual and audio presentation, The Heike Story Episode 1 left me hyped to see where this story will go next.