Halo Legends is an anime-styled series of seven short films. It was financed by Halo franchise overseer 343 Industries, while the collection of films in Halo Legends were developed by six Japanese production houses including Bones, Casio Entertainment, Production I.G., Studio 4°C, and Toei Animation. Shinji Aramaki, creator of various other anime productions, also assisted with the project as creative director.
Halo Legends was distributed by Warner Bros. and released onto standard DVD and Blu-Ray on February 16, 2010. And on February 9, the Halo Legends Original Soundtrack was released. Some of the episodes were briefly distributed on Halo Waypoint before the release of the DVD.
Background and development
Halo Legends had origins in the 2006 Marvel Comics tie-in, The Halo Graphic Novel; Frank 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, Frank 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, Frank O'Connor estimated that 50% of the dialogue in the final products were verbatim from the original scripts. While all the stories save Odd One Out are considered canon, Frank O'Connor noted that some discrepancies were the cause of artistic interpretation.
One of the artistic styles that is the most radical departure from traditional animation styles is featured within The Duel, which employs a filter that makes every cell look as though it was hand painted by watercolors. 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."
Halo Legends Heroes Journey Sweepstakes
Halo Legends Heroes Journey Sweepstakes was a marketing competition in 2010 between the January 30 and March 2 for Halo Legends. It had players enter codes from Twitter and Facebook, onto a Facebook application that gave them cards that told them about the then upcoming Halo Legends and related media.
In November 2010, before Halo Legends was released on DVD and Blu-Ray, on the Xbox 360 Halo Waypoint application was shown 4 episodes. One was The Babysitter, and another was The Package.
Release and reception
Halo Legends was originally to be released on February 9, 2010, but its launch was pushed back a week to February 16. 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 United States premiere was held at the AMC Metreon in San Francisco on February 10, with the companion soundtrack released by Sumthing Distribution the day previous. Halo Legends was later included in the 2017 release of the Halo: The Complete Video Collection.
Reception to Legends was mixed. 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 said that the short films "prove surprisingly accessible to sci-fi fans in general," and that the collection was "well worth" the time. 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. Total sales have reached $8.27 million.
Halo Legends is the final piece of media to use the original Halo logo.