The Legend of Heroes series is well known amongst Japanese Role Playing Game fans, launching way back in 1989 with the Trails of Cold Steel arc arriving later in 2013, meaning there is a stack of lore and world-building already to build on in this fantasy world of magic and mechas. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - Northern War anime takes a look at the political situation in the build-up to the titular Northern War and the region of North Ambria which has recently undergone a disaster that has crippled the economy. This means their regular standing army has become a mercenary unit to attract foreign investment, and this group known as the Northern Jaegers has been embroiled in the continent’s politics when tasked with a simple reconnaissance mission regarding the Imperial Hero of Erebonia.
Our story in "Northern War" follows a rookie that enlists with the Northern Jaegers, Lavian “Lavi” Winslet, the granddaughter of the great hero Vlad Winslet that betrayed North Ambria, as tries to set her family name straight in the eyes of the people. Proving her ability to be revered by her peers within half a year in the Northern Jaegers, Lavi is assigned to the reconnaissance mission into Erebonia where she learns more about the continent's politics than she would have ever thought.
More Politicking than Game of Thrones
The plot of Northern War as an anime is pretty simplistic and clear with a poor country girl becoming an excellent fighter to better her family’s name because of her grandfather’s legacy. However, the world setting is as complex as they come with the first few episodes holding a solid ten minutes each for exposition dumps to get you caught up with how important geopolitics is to the narrative. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing as we all love a good political plotline, it does make the viewer feel like they should have some prior understanding even though it does explain all you need in the first few episodes.
This does make it hard to follow for a newcomer, but it is definitely worth it as the politics of the Trails world is fascinating with so many moving parts that are sure to drive the plot forward in Lavi’s story.
A Cast of Colourful Characters
Northern War centres around Lavi, who is a cool, calm, and collected character that gets the job done, but the cast around her carries an excellent array of personalities that compliment her steeled demeanour. The squad she is working with is seemingly foolish in how they act but are highly competent in completing their tasks such as the two soldiers she works within the first episode to stop a rogue vehicle blowing up and killing people, as the two seemed to be letting it away before they support Lavi in her rush to collapse a tower in its path.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - Northern War is a messy political story of how a country girl is trying to improve her family name, and the journey so far is interesting with a good few action sequences that we hope to see more of in coming episodes. Other than setting up a good prequel story, Northern War also serves as an excellent entry point into The Legend of Heroes world, especially the Trails of Cold Steel subseries. What have you thought of the Northern War so far? Let us know in the comments!