Hero Tales (獣神演武 Jūshin Enbu?) is an ongoing Japanese manga currently serialized in Square Enix's Gangan Powered. The original story is by Huang Jin Zhou (A unit composed of Hiromu Arakawa, Genco and Studio Flag) and illustrated by Arakawa. The motif of the story are Chinese wuxia drama and novels. The world view is rooted in Chinese folklore and history, as well as having an element of fantasy.
A period piece, Jūshin Enbu features Taitou, a young man who hates the empire that rules at the time, with his sister Laila as they learn of a mysterious power Taitou holds, unbeknownst to him. Taitou is the incarnation of a mysterious star that grants him a huge amount of power that he has yet to fully master. Joining them is Ryuukou, who has power similar to Taitou, just more honed.
After Taitou's coming of age ceremony, which required him being beaten by Ryuukou, he is given the Kenkaranpu, described as a conqueror's sword, which Taitou is not even capable of drawing. Soon after, he and Laila are greeted by a man named Shimei, who wants to take the sword. After a quick exchange of blows, Shimei explains the source of Taitou's power - the star Hagun, one of the most powerful Hokushin-Tenkun. When Shimei uses his own sword's power to cause Laila to stop breathing, Taitou becomes so angry he releases Hagun's power, draws Kenkaranpu and pins Shimei to the wall by throwing the Kenkaranpu through his stomach. He then turns to Ryuukou and attacks. Despite his best efforts, Ryuukou cannot overcome Hagun's power. It is only a resuscitated Laila's intervention (along with a nasty head butt) that brings Taitou to his senses. However, they all soon learn that Shimei had escaped with the sword.
At midnight, Taitou sneaks out to recover the sword. As he leaves, Ryuukou and Laila quickly join him on his journey. As they travel, they come to the canal town of Jousei. While they're there, Ryuukou attempts to teach Taitou how to control his ki, and with it, the power of his star. When you don't refine and focus the power, it exits the body any way it can, leaving the body covered with cuts from the power exiting. But Taito is too impatient to learn Ryuukou's way, who was trained by monks. The three are living in an inn in the refugee section of town, right next to the canal. It starts raining hard, and Ryuukou worries about the levey walls holding. At the inn, the three meet Koyou, a handsome ship captain, who does ladies make-up for entertainment. As they talk, the city officials close the inner canal gates to protect their harbor, not caring that it puts the refugee section in danger of being flooded. When the refugees try to enter the city for safety, they are refused access, even as the levey bursts right into the section. Taitou tells Ryuukou to break the flood gates to release the pressure, because he can control his ki. He does so, but is still dangling over the water when a downed tree hits a bridge, breaks it, and heads towards him. Taitou, in a reckless attempt to save his friend, leaps from the gate walls and smashes the debris, unfortunately forgeting to attach himself to something, and so falls into the canal. Ryuukou jumps in after him, and pulls him onto a floating piece of wood, where he then starts to berate him for almost sacrificing himself, saying he should have left him. Taitou is explaining that he couldn't abandon a friend like that, when their piece of wood hits an obstruction and disinigrates. Taitou starts to drown, and Ryuukou finds the current too strong for him to carry both of them as he is, and Taitou glimpses the symbol of a star on his chest before he falls unconscious.
Later, Taitou finds out that Laila had found Koyou, the man from the inn, and had gotten his help in saving the two. He then rounds on Ryuukou, asking why he had been hiding that he was one of the Hokushin-Tenkun. Ryuukou just felt like the right time never came up, revealing the his star is "Bukyoku", the star right next to "Hagun". They are joined by Laila and Koyou, who derects their attention to his "modest ship", a massive barge he calls "Touga". He then loads all the refugees onto it, promising to take care of them. By this time Shimei has reached the capital and Shogun Kiero Hakuhou, who he then presents with the Kenkaranpu.
The Two Noble Spirits (二天神尊)
Taitou Shirei (岱燈獅麗)
- Voiced by: Kenichi Suzumura
- The main protagonist. A 16 year old youth. He is very headstrong, does not like losing, and though reckless is quite a skilled fighter. He opposes the officials in order to protect the people and his companions. He also has a habit of repeating himself when flustered or angry.
- He has the Hokushin-Tenkun mark of Hagun (破軍) on his right shoulder. He is also part of the law enforcing organization, Seiryutou (青龍党, Holy Dragon Group), which is based at Lotus Temple at Taishan. The group take care of events from rebel raids to violence inflicted by officials. The group overestimated their strength and took on Keirou and in the end lost most of their people. Taitou, seeking revenge for his comrades, left on a journey to train up.
- In the manga, the Kenkaranpu (賢嘉爛舞) was to be given to Taitou on his coming of age ceremony by Sonnei but it was seized by Shimei, turning the journey to that of the recovery of the sword. In the anime, the sword was taken by Keirō after a fight between Taito and the general during the former's invasion of the temple.
Taitou meets the emperor later on in the anime and it is revealed that Taitou is the older brother of the emperor and that they were separated because Taitou bore the 'Hagun' mark.
- Voiced by: Banjou Ginga
- 35 years old. He has the Hokushin-Tenkun mark of Tonrou (貪狼) on his left shoulder. A general of the imperial army and the leader of the Black Wolf Party. He aims to be the emperor of the Ken Empire and to this end forced his way into Lotus Temple with his troops to retrieve the sacred sword Kenkaranpu. It is said that the one who unsheathe it will get the right to rule as Emperor. To get the sword many monks and Seiryutou members were killed.
The Five Divine Warriors (五神闘士)
Ryūkō Mouten (劉煌孟甜)
- Voiced by: Takahiro Sakurai
- The 18 year old bearer of the Bukyoku (武曲) mark. Uses a staff in battle. He is the adopted son of a master from another temple of the Rikka Sect. His original name is Keikō and Keirō is his real father. Ryūkō is a serious person who expects highly from himself. He has a bad sense of direction. The Bukyoku mark is at his right pec. He is in love with Rinmei.
Hōsei Meitoku (鳳星銘徳)
- Voiced by: Yuki Tai
- The 17 year old bearer of the Rokuson (禄存) mark. The archer of the group, a carefree and hot-headed person. He is attracted to Laila. The Rokuson mark is at the back of his right hand.
Koyō Mougai (虎楊蒙骸)
- Voiced by: Rikiya Koyama
- The 22 year old bearer of the Monkoku (文曲) mark. The leader of a group of sea bandits. Although a big, lively and rough person, he has skillful fingers and has interest in cooking and make-up. He wields an eight-section staff. The Monkoku mark is at his neck.
Shōkaku Chōyō (将鶴張楊)
- Voiced by: Sho Hayami
- The 24 year old bearer of the Renjō (廉貞) mark. He is the teacher of the current emperor Taigatei. Usually seen smiling and basically a calm person, yet under that exterior he is actually a tactician who resorts to any means to keep the Ken Empire going. Any action he undertakes is usually for the good of the Ken Empire. The Renjou mark is at his right palm. In the anime, it is revealed that he is actually afflicted with some sort of fatal disease, and expects to die soon.
Rinmei Shokan (麟盟詔韓)
- Voiced by: Yuko Kaida
- The 20 year old bearer of the Komon (巨門) mark. In love with Ryuukou but she hates his unsociable attitude; she is pregnant with his child. She cooks for the temple Ryūkō is from. She is concerned that she looks older than her age. She is the type that becomes scary when angry. The Komon mark is at her right thigh.
Laila Seiren (頼羅青蓮)
- Voiced by: Akemi Kanda
- 14 years old. Taitou's little sister (not by blood). She is the daughter of Souei, the leader of Seiryutou. She is often seen quarreling with Taitou and has not lost in them. But actually she cares a lot for her 'brother'. The only person who can stop Taitou when he acts recklessly.
- Voiced by: Jun Fukuyama
- The 16 years old Emperor of the Ken Empire. Good-hearted and has no self thought. He would like to change the Empire into a better place, yet he does not have much power - in reality members of his court govern the Empire. He and Taitou are twins, with Taigatei being the younger brother. (episode 17))
- Voiced by: Issei Futamata
- A follower of Keirou. He holds the demon sword of all seeing eye, Banshoushimei (萬詳史明) and is able to use spells. In the anime he is revealed to be a demon who thrives on negative emotions.
- Voiced by: Takayuki Sugō
- Taitou's and Laila's father. A former member of the Imperial Army, now leader of Seiryutou. After having roamed the Empire, his master Sonnei asked him to settle down at Lotus Temple. He is killed by Shimei.
- Voiced by: Kenichi Ogata
- The elderly High priest of Lotus Temple (the headquarters of the Rikka Sect[六伽宗]) and former master of Souei. A master of the gaiden technique (外伝法) who is well known in the Empire. Has a weakness for women.
- Voiced by: Fumihiko Tachiki
- A subordinate of Keirou. A quiet and unsociable person. In the anime, he is Taki's real father.
- Voiced by: Fumiko Orikasa
- Keirou's adopted daughter who entered the Court as a princess candidate. A quiet and sweet-natured girl. She and Taigatei are in love and they eventually marry in the anime.
- Voiced by: Junko Kitanishi
- Originally from a foreign country but stowaway to the Ken Empire. She was then picked up by Keirou and now serves him loyally. Now a court lady attached to the Emperor where she guides the weak-willed Emperor to follow Keirou's wishes. She distrusts Ryuukou and Shōkaku, despite them claims to serve Keirou. In the anime, Shōkaku deducts, apparently correctly, that she is in love with Keirou.
- Voiced by: Tanaka Atsuko
- Hosei's teacher who also subsequently taught Taitou the different ways of using Soukihou, Gaiden for weaponry and Naiden for strengthening the human body. Extremely knowledgeable and well read. Killed in a confrontation with Shimei. Shimei addressed her as Chisenkyuu (智泉玖), indicating some kind of prior relationship.
The origins of Hero Tales came from a work by doujin group "Dennou Sanzoku Bukando"(電脳山賊武漢堂) called "Shishi Juushin Enbu"(獅子獣神演武). The work is an illustrated net novel and later released as a doujinshi. Dennou Sanzoku Bukando is the doujin group formed by Hiromu Arakawa and Zhang Fei Long. Juushin Enbu is announced after seven years of conceptualizing and planning.
The events that led to the announcement of Juushin Enbu (from Hiromu Arakawa interview, Pafu -March 2007 issue): In 2005, Huang Jin Zhou brought the plan to Hiromu which is then brought to Square Enix. In the beginning of the project, Hiromu was only in charge of character design. Huang Jin Zhou took care of other matters such as creating the scenario. Before the serialization, Hiromu and Studio Flag took seven years to conceptualize this original story.
Authored by the group Huang Jin Zhou, Hero Tales started serialization in Square Enix's Gangan Powered since 2006. After Gangan Powered's last issue in 2009, the series continued serialization in Monthly Shōnen Gangan. The series is also collected tankōbon volumes by Square Enix. The first volume was published on August 11, 2007. As of June 22, 2009, four volumes have been released in Japan. The first tankōbon was published in English by Yen Press in October, 2009 and began serializing in Yen Plus February 2009 issue.
|Release date||ISBN||Release date||ISBN|
|1||August 11, 2007||ISBN 978-4-75-752065-3||October, 2009||ISBN 0-7595-3116-1|
|2||January 22, 2008||ISBN 978-4-75-752208-4||February 2010||ISBN 0-7595-3117-X|
|3||September 22, 2008||ISBN 978-47-5-752325-8||—||—|
|4||June 22, 2009||ISBN 978-47-5-752581-8||—||—|
On October 7, 2007, an anime series based on the manga premiered in TV Tokyo under the title of Juushin Enbu -HERO TALES-(獣神演武 -HERO TALES-). The series is produced by Studio Flag and directed by Osamu Sekita. Manga illustrator Hiromu Arakawa was also in charge of making the characters designs. With a total of 26 episodes, the anime aired from October 7, 2007 to March 30, 2008. On January 7, 2010, Funimation Entertainment announced that it has acquired the anime.
- Gangan Powered No.7
- "Gangan Joker to Replace Gangan Powered, Wing Mags". Anime News Network. March 1, 2009. Retrieved July 26, 2009.
- "Amazon.co.jp 獣神演武 1" (in Japanese). Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- "Amazon.co.jp: 獣神演武 4" (in Japanese). Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
- Yen Press » HERO TALES story by Huang Jin Zhou, art by Hiromu Arakawa
- Yen Press » The Secret’s Out!
- "Yen Press» HERO TALES Volume 1". Yen Press. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- "Amazon.co.jp 獣神演武 2" (in Japanese). Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- "Yen Press» HERO TALES Volume 2". Yen Press. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- "Amazon.co.jp 獣神演武 3" (in Japanese). Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- "Hero Tales Anime Staff, First Manga Compilation Announced". Anime News Network. June 22, 2007. Retrieved July 26, 2009.
- "獣神演武1" (in Japanese). TV Tokyo. Archived from the original on July 26, 2009. Retrieved July 26, 2009.
- "獣神演武2" (in Japanese). TV Tokyo. Archived from the original on July 26, 2009. Retrieved July 26, 2009.
- "Funimation Entertainment Acquires Jyushin Enbu Hero Tales From Media Factory". Anime News Network. 2010-01-07.
- Anime official site
- TV Tokyo Juushin Enbu Hero Tales site
- Hero Tales (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia