Halo Legends is a collection of 7 short films set in the Halo universe. Financed by the franchise’s overseer 343 Industries, the stories were created by six Japanese anime production houses: Bee Train, Bones, Casio Entertainment, Production I.G., Studio 4°C, and Toei Animation. Shinji Aramaki, creator and director of Appleseed and Appleseed Ex Machina, serves as the project’s creative advisor. Warner Bros. released Legends on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 16 February 2010.
The idea for an anime compilation existed for years before there was momentum for the project. 343 creative director Frank O’Connor produced story outlines or finished scripts that the production houses animated in a variety of styles.
The universe of the Halo video game series is expanded in seven short animated films from Japan’s greatest anime directors and studios.
To oversee development of the entire Halo franchise, Microsoft created an internal division, 343 Industries, to manage the Halo brand. Frank O’Connor, 343’s creative director, said that such a move was vital: “If you look at how George Lucas held on to Star Wars, not just to make money from action figures but to control the direction the universe went in, you can see why we think it’s pretty vital.”
Halo Legends had origins in the 2006 Marvel Comics tie-in, The Halo Graphic Novel; O’Connor said that the idea of an anime compilation existed for years before there was momentum for the project. Wanting to tell smaller stories in a different format than video games and novels and in different art styles, O’Connor said that anime was a natural fit. An additional consideration was that 343 Industries felt that the Japanese style of narrative fit the stories well. Most of the animation studios Microsoft approached were available for the project. Most studios were “afraid” of creating their own stories, even if they were familiar with the series, so O’Connor sent them possible story treatments. Microsoft was deeply involved in making sure story details were correct and writing the scripts for the stories – O’Connor estimated that 50% of the dialogue in the final products were verbatim from the original scripts. While all the stories save one are considered canon, O’Connor noted that some discrepancies were the cause of artistic interpretation.
The animation studios were given wide latitude in their presentation. “We realized very early on [that Halo] could take interpretation,” said O’Connor, saying that the look-and-feel of the universe persisted even through differing artistic styles. In developing their stories and styles, the anime studios were supplied with access to Halo’s story bible and art assets.
One of the artistic styles that is the most radical departure from traditional animation styles is in “The Duel”, which employs a filter that makes every cell look as though it was hand painted by watercolours. His goal that he was aiming for in this project was, “to make audiences understand there should be other styles of animation beyond the existing two primary kinds of animation presented – precisely cel-drawing 2D style and CG 3D style. I wanted to show that creators are not limited, that they have many options for different (animation) styles to create stories.”
Voice recording for the English dub was done by Seraphim Digital in Houston, Texas.
The soundtrack was composed by various artists, such as Tetsuya Takahashi] and Yasuharu Takanashi. Although the soundtrack contains mostly remixes of original work by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori, it also has some original material of its own.
Halo Legends was originally to be released on 09 February, but launch was pushed back a week to 16 February. The compilation comes in three different retail packages: a standard DVD release with all the episodes, a two-disc special-edition which contains additional commentary, and the Blu-ray Disc edition, featuring the special-edition features and a summary of the Halo storyline. The film’s US premiere was held at the AMC Metreon in San Francisco on 10 February, with the companion soundtrack released by Sumthing Distribution the day previous.
Reception to Legends was mostly positive. Orlando Parfit of IGN UK wrote that while the decision to merge Halo and Japanese anime seemed an odd choice, “Halo Legends proves a successful—if uneven—attempt to fuse these two universes, and will certainly prove essential viewing for those with more than a passing interest in Bungie’s seminal shooters.” IGN US reviewers Cindy White and Christopher Monfette said that the short films “prove surprisingly accessible to sci-fi fans in general,” and that the collection was “well worth” the time. Matt Miller of Game Informer said that Halo Legends would appeal to story-interested fans of the franchise, not those who cared about multiplayer gameplay.
Based on Rentrak and Home Media Magazine numbers, Legends ranked second and fourth in Blu-ray Disc and DVD sales, respectively, during its first week of sales in the United States. It also ranked seventh in Blu-ray Disc rankings in Japan. In its second week it dropped off the US Blu-ray Disc Top 20 charts, and slipped to tenth for DVD sales. According to The-Numbers.com, Legends sold $2.56 million worth of merchandise or 168,000 DVDs its first week. Sales later reached $8.32 million, selling almost 600,000 units. As of 2018, DVD sales have grossed $11 million in the United States.
- According to Frank O’Connor, nearly all the studios they approached to do the project said yes right away.
- Production designer and segment director Shinji Aramaki is a huge Halo fan, and has even completed the game on Legendary Difficulty.
- The segment Homecoming was originally going to have a much darker story than the one presented.
- In the original plan a Spartan Candidate would be sniped and her body replaced by a flash clone and the father would discover the body of his dead daughter leaving him to assume that he accidentally killed her.
- The idea was dropped after Frank O’Connor and Joseph Chou felt it was too dark.
- Most of the studios were hesitant to write their own projects for the collection, even those whose filmmakers were familiar with the Halo universe.
- Frank O’Connor decided to send possible story treatments for them to work with.
- In the end O’Connor estimated that 50% of the dialogue in the final products were verbatim from the original scripts.
- Some words spoken by Master Chief and Dr Halsey in “The Package” are taken from the Halo games.
- The exchange “Sleep well? No thanks to their driving, but yes” takes place at the very beginning of Halo: Combat Evolved between Cortana and Master Chief.
- The “Don’t make a girl a promise, if you know you can’t keep it” is again spoken by Cortana to Master Chief at the very end of the “High Charity” level in Halo 2.
- Odd One Out director Daisuke Nishio was hesitant to join the project as he is a pacifist.
- Spartan designation “1337” is functionally impossible in Halo canon as all Spartan-II were given three-digit designations.
- 1337 is commonly used in gamer lingo to refer to a good player, the numbers bare a resemblance to the letters “LEET”, a shortening for ELITE.
Halo Legends Series
Several episodes were originally broadcast on Halo Waypoint (an evolving portal of content related to the Halo series. The application acts as a hub for Halo-related news, podcasts, art, video content, social network conversations, and user’s Halo gaming careers). Episodes range in duration from ten to twenty minutes.
- Episode 01: The Babysitter (07 November 2009 on Halo Waypoint).
- Episode 02: The Duel (21 November 2009 on Halo Waypoint).
- Episode 03: The Package (As two parts on 05 and 12 December 2009 on Halo Waypoint).
- Episode 04: Origins (01 January 2010 on Halo Waypoint).
- Episode 05: Homecoming (Unaired on Halo Waypoint).
- Episode 06: Prototype (Unaired on Halo Waypoint).
- Episode 07: Odd One Out (Unaired on Halo Waypoint).
The DVD, released in 2010, has a different episode sequence:
- Episode 01: Origins I.
- Episode 02: Origins II.
- Episode 03: The Duel.
- Episode 04: Homecoming.
- Episode 05: Odd One Out.
- Episode 06: Prototype.
- Episode 07: The Babysitter.
- Episode 08: The Package.
You can find a full index and overview the Halo Franchise here.
Production & Filming Details
- Frank O’Connor … (creative director).
- Shinji Aramaki … (segment “The Package”).
- Hideki Futamura … (segment “Origins”).
- Toshiyuki Kan’no … (segment “The Babysitter”).
- Tomoki Kyôda … (segment “Prototype”).
- Kôichi Mashimo … (segment “Homecoming”).
- Yasushi Muraki … (segment “Prototype”).
- Daisuke Nishio … (segment “Odd One Out”).
- Mamoru Oshii … (creative director) (segment “The Duel”).
- Kôji Sawai … (segment “Homecoming”).
- Hiroshi Yamazaki … (segment “The Duel”).
- Keiichi Sugiyama … (co-director) (segment “Origins II”).
- Takahiro Tanaka … (co-director) (segment “Origins”).
- Joseph Chou … producer.
- Joey Goubeaud … producer.
- Kevin Grace … co-producer.
- Rika Hitakada … line producer (segment “The Babysitter”).
- Yoshi Ikezawa … producer (segment “Odd One Out”).
- Mitsuhisa Ishikawa … executive producer (segment “The Duel”) / producer (segment “Homecoming”).
- Hidetoshi Kobayashi … line producer (segment “Origins”).
- Rui Kuroki … producer (segment “The Duel”).
- John Ledford … executive producer.
- Kôichi Mashimo … executive producer (segment “Homecoming”) (as Kouichi Mashimo).
- Masahiko Minami … line producer (segment “Prototype”).
- Kôzô Morishita … executive producer (segment “Odd One Out”).
- Koji Murakoso … producer (segment “The Package”).
- Hideaki Muraoka … producer (segment “Homecoming”).
- Satoshi Okano … producer (segment “The Package”).
- Veronica Peshterianu … line producer.
- Bonnie Ross … executive producer.
- Hiroyuki Seshita … executive producer (segment “The Package”).
- Alison Stroll … co-producer.
- Eiichi Takahashi … producer.
- Eiko Tanaka … producer (segments “Origins”, “The Babysitter”).
- Kunitoshi Yamada … line producer (segment “Origins”).
- Joseph Staten … (game).
- Frank O’Connor … (screenplay cooperation).
- Hiroshi Yamazaki … (screenplay) (segment “The Duel”).
- Eiji Umehara … (screenplay) (segment “The Duel”).
- Hiroyuki Kawasaki … (screenplay) (segment “Homecoming”).
- Daisuke Nishio … (screenplay) (segment “Odd One Out”).
- Megumi Shimizu … (screenplay) (segment “Prototype”).
- Dai Satô … (screenplay) (segment “The Package”).
- Ryan Morris … (screenplay) (segment “The Package”).
- Naruki Nagakawa … (screenplay) (segment “The Package”).
- Eiko Konoo … (segment “The Duel”).
- Tetsuya Takahashi … (segment “The Package”).
- Yasuharu Takanashi … (segment “The Duel”).
- Ryûji Miyajima … (segment “The Package”).
- Mutsumi Takemiya … (segment “Origins”).
- Junichi Uematsu … (segment “The Duel”).
- J-Spec Pictures.
- Studio 4°C (segments “Origins” and “Babysitter”).
- Production I.G. (segments “Duel” and “Homecoming”).
- Bee Train (segment “Homecoming”).
- Bones (segment “Prototype”).
- Toei Animation (segment “Odd One Out”).
- Casio Entertainment (segment “The Package”).
- 343 Industries.
- Seraphim Digital.
- Tensegrity (participation).
- Warner Bros. Animation.
- Microsoft (2010) (World-wide) (all media).
- KSM (2018) (Germany) (Blu-ray).
- KSM (2018) (Germany) (DVD).
- Warner Home Video (2010) (Germany) (DVD).
- Warner Home Video (2010) (Germany) (Blu-ray) (DVD).
- Warner Home Video (2010) (USA) (DVD).
- Warner Home Video (2010) (USA) (Blu-ray) (DVD).
- Release Date:
- Halo Waypoint: 07 November 2009 to 01 January 2010.
- DVD: 16 February 2010 to 27 March 2010.
- Rating: PG.
- Running Time: 10 to 20 minutes (per episode).
- Country: US.
- Language: English.