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RERUN REVIEW: Heroes: “The Legend of Takezo Kensei”

Despite Season 2 being so short (only 11 episodes), Heroes managed to cram two major storylines into the mix, one of which was the Legend of Takezo Kensei. For a major part of this season, viewers were thrust back into 1671, the time of Feudal Japan, where we watched as Hiro Nakamura witnessed the rise of the legend of one of the greatest heroes in history. But as it turns out, Hiro did a lot more than just watch Takezo Kensei’s story being born.
In the final moments of the battle at Kirby Plaza in Season 1, we saw Hiro transport himself to the past, right into the middle of a battle between a troop of samurai and Takezo Kensei. Before he can be impaled by a swarm of arrows, Hiro transports himself off the battlefield with Kensei by his side. However, he finds out that the man he saved from the arrows wasn’t actually the mythical hero; he was just a decoy. The real Kensei was hiding in a tree with a crossbow, ready to pick off the enemies from the distance. Right away, we see what kind of man Kensei is; a cheap and dirty fighter (something that Hiro immediately calls him out on). Surly this can’t be the same man who was at the center of the greatest Japanese legends, can it?

It blew my mind the moment I saw that Kensei was portrayed by none other than David Anders, the same actor from the first season of iZombie. Prior to iZombie, I didn’t know Anders had any major acting credits aside from a small cameo in Arrow. I guess before he was an evil zombie terrorizing Seattle, he was a drunken samurai in Feudal Japan.

Yes, Kensei is nothing more than a drunken Englishman, who also happens to have the ability to heal almost any wound. But does he use this power to do good and to carry out amazing feats like his legends told? Nope. Instead, he’s just a vagabond with his own personal interests at heart. Hiro won’t have this. He takes it upon himself to teach Kensei how to be a hero so that he can give rise to his legends.

Things aren’t that easy. Hiro can’t get Kensei to dive into battle or accomplish major tasks like his legends told; so Hiro decides to don the samurai’s uniform himself and use his teleportation abilities to complete the labors. While his powers allow him to do amazing things like disarm an entire troop of samurai of their swords and bows, Hiro constantly finds himself at a loss as to what to do with his situation. He’s stuck in a quarrel between whether he should stay in the past and help Kensei, or if he should go back to the future to save the world. In addition to this, Hiro is caught in a bit of a love triangle with Kensei and a swordsmith’s daughter, Yaeko.

As the season progresses, we come to a major realization: Hiro is actually the real Takezo Kensei from the legends; at least, I think he is. What I think happened is this: Hiro went back in time and created the stories of Kensei by using his powers to carry out the legendary feats. The legends that have been passed down from generation to generation are actually about Hiro under the guise of Kensei. Does that make sense? I want to clarify this theory on some forum or message board, but I’ve refrained due to possible spoilers lurking on the Web. For now, I’ll assume that this theory holds true.

I wasn’t a huge fan of this possible “Hiro-is-Kensei” twist because it boggled my mind how the time travel aspect worked. How did the legend of Kensei exist prior to Hiro’s journey to the past? It didn’t happen yet, so the legend shouldn’t have existed until AFTER Hiro completed said feats. See, this is why I don’t enjoy time travel; it becomes too convoluted and opens up to the door for numerous paradoxes.

Back to the story at hand – Kensei, the REAL Kensei, is not happy. The fact that Hiro has both stolen glory AND the swordsmith’s daughter from him causes Kensei to grow jealous. He eventually betrays Hiro and Yaeko to the enemy samurai warlord Whitebeard. This is one of the reasons I love Anders as an actor. He can instantly flip-flop from a likable fellow with a charming wit to a despicable, selfish bastard who you just want to smack across the face.

Hiro and Yaeko escape Whitebeard’s clutches, and Kensei is seemingly blown up in an gunpowder-fueled explosion. I stress “seemingly” since, you know, Kensei can heal almost any fatal wound. But does that ability work with explosions as well?

With one last goodbye to Yaeko, Hiro goes back to the future and reunites with Ando. All is well and good, except for the fact that, while he was gone, someone murdered Mr. Nakamura. But who was it?

“The Legend of Takezo Kensei” was a fun little adventure. It was nice taking a break from all the other craziness going onto the show, though there were times when the story felt like it dragged on. I had a slight problem with the flashbacks because it got annoying switching from the past, to the present, to the future, and then to the past again. Pick a timeline and stick to it! I would’ve preferred to have “the Legend of Takezo Kensei” just be a group of episodes at the beginning of the season, and then pick up with the other plots later on. Regardless, it was still pretty enjoyable and slightly more entertaining than the rest of Season 2.

Final Grade: B

+ David Anders is a brilliant actor, and I always chuckled whenever he referred to Hiro as “Carp”.

+ It was fun watching Hiro use his powers to accomplish the legendary feats of Takezo.

+ Hiro’s time spent in Feudal Japan was overall much better than I thought it would be.

– Hiro’s time travel ability doesn’t always work for me; I can handle his teleportation and freezing of time, but there are a lot of inconsistencies.

– It got annoying when the characters frequently switched between speaking English and Japanese.

– I wish the story was grouped together at the beginning of the series as a small serial, rather than having it scattered across the season in flashbacks.

Extra Thoughts

– I wonder if Takezo is an ancestor of Claire Bennet due to them sharing healing abilities? Does that mean Nathan Petrelli is also a part of that blood-line?

Did you enjoy the saga of “The Legend of Takezo Kensei”? Sound off in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!