The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel – Northern War Episode 2 Review & Breakdown

We’re now back with episode two of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel – Northern War anime, “Gathers the Unpleasant Darkness.” If you missed it, check out my review and breakdown of the first episode, “Appears He…the Hero in Twilight.”

Before proceeding with the review, I’ll reiterate significant points about these articles. Firstly, as someone who has not watched any anime for years, these reviews will not be critical or professional like our site’s video game coverage. My assessments will solely originate from my personal feelings as a fan. Therefore, potential issues regarding presentation will likely not be noticed by me.

Secondly, the views stated throughout these reviews will only be mine alone. Other staff members have significantly different opinions on the series than I do. For instance, the Crossbell arc is my least favorite segment of Trails, while someone else sees it as one of the high points. If you’re familiar with Trails, you probably know how divisive and mixed fan reception is across basically every game, so just keep that in mind.

Lastly, due to this anime’s chronology placement, spoilers for the Sky, Crosbell, and first two Cold Steel games will be stated without warning. Further, events from Trails of Cold Steel III will also be said if relevant, so if you’re not caught up with these games and would like to avoid spoilers, then I highly advise avoiding these articles.

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Now, let’s actually get started. There’s far less to discuss here than the first episode, as a decent chunk of it focuses on political exposition regarding Erebonia following the Civil War’s conclusion and Crossbell’s annexation near the end of Trails of Cold Steel II. In fact, the opening scene of this episode is taken straight from the Divertissement in that game, with different angles showing Lechter near the back, Altina guarding while in the air with Claíomh Solais, and Rean watching via a feed from within Valimar. Seeing Crossbell Central Square and Orchis Tower in this art style is pretty cool, too.

Afterward, we focus on Lavian doing some shooting range training in Haliask, with her getting dead-center shots each time, save for when she reflects on the previous episode’s end-scene with Roland, where he remarked upon her grandfather, Vlad Winslet. We also see brief flashes of the unit Ivano and Tak are part of bidding farewell to Lavian, alongside the grandmother and daughter from the first episode.

Lavian appears to be popular within the Jaegers due to her immense skill, even being an instructor. But she’s expectedly not too proud or caring of the title, as her priorities lie with her own goals. We then cut to the former Balmund Palace, now the Theater of the Arts, focusing on a group of politicians and related parties discussing vital news on the second floor. Glark, the “Lightning Lord of the North,” is also finally shown, viewing an ongoing dance performance below.

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As for the meeting, it houses Supervisor Jayna Storm, Councilor Kiedis, his aide, Chairperson Barzagli, and Rogan, talking about matters fans of the games should be well aware of. Speculation occurs regarding North Ambria being the next target of the Empire’s occupation, given their evident expansionism. Considering how they still managed to fend off Calvard despite enduring a Civil War, Haliask would not fare much better. Kiedis is a standard mustache-twirling guy who disdains Crossbell’s declaration of independence, thinking they should have remained as a buffer state. He has also negotiated with surrounding regions to favor North Ambria’s safety.

However, Rogan doesn’t mince words, implying that Kiedis’ actions are desperate and cowardly, utilizing fork-tongued diplomacy, a tactic wholly reliant on innate deception. Osborne and Rufus are brought up as instrumental individuals in the Empire’s efforts, and I’m assuming you know who they are if you’re watching this. Moreover, the reliance on the Northern Jaegers for North Ambria’s peace is not something the government enjoys, merely seeing them as tools of blight.

Still, Rogan emphasizes that the true cost of their missions is their own people rather than the higher-ups who order them. Barzagli states that since Glark is the last remaining hero of the initial revolution, he should be the leading symbol, but Rogan denies that way of thinking, calling it the reason why the region is in decline. He even suggests a preemptive attack on Erebonia, which seems humorously reckless, at least for us watchers aware of their capability. The efforts of Rean Schwarzer taking down numerous Calvardian troops entirely on his own are then shown in the meeting, emphasizing how outmatched North Ambria is. Then, Glark finally stands up, denying Rogan’s idea of a preemptive strike, instead electing to “wait and see.”

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Afterward, we cut to Lavian and new main characters, Talion and Iseria. The former seems like a nice but hesitant guy, while Iseria is light-hearted and direct yet nihilistic, calling their collective actions ultimately meaningless. Nothing super plot-heavy is stated in this scene aside from the briefly mentioned regions of Kilva and Liviri, which may or may not be relevant in the future. An unspecified blitz and nighttime raid, respectively, were led by Lavian. In November of this year, the Empire takes control of those regions, so we may see that occur.

The trio’s commanding officer, Supervisor Marty, is also revealed. There isn’t much to say about him in this episode; he embodies the trope of appearing overly lazy but readily capable if the situation calls for it. Lavian, in a fit of determination, challenges Talion to a training match, to which he doesn’t respond all that eagerly. Lavian wins due to Talion hesitating, though it’s worth pondering if he could’ve been a match for her based on Iseria’s comment noticing his trepidation.

Soon after, we see a brief flashback of Lavian at her home interacting with her mother, resolving to join the Northern Jaegers, remarking that she’s not like her grandfather, who’s seen as the hero who abandoned North Ambria. Specifics aren’t yet known, though it’s safe to assume that Lavian yearns to live up to where she believes her grandfather failed. Of course, there’s likely a justifiable reason for why he’s seen that way; we’ll undoubtedly learn that at a later point.

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A shot of a hand casting magic is shown, belonging to the infamous Campanella the Fool of Ouroborus. This causes a Jaeger driving a truck of supplies to go haywire, causing havoc in the vicinity. Thankfully, Lavian, Iseria, Talion, and Marty all cooperate to halt the vehicle. However, since these actions were not a result of orders and caused significant surrounding damage, they end up being punished by Jayna and the organization as a whole, given the directive to infiltrate the Empire and investigate its hero, the man, the myth, the legend himself, Rean Schwarzer.

The interactions here are pretty great, emphasizing Jayna’s intimidation over Iseria and Talion and some semblances of her authentic nature shining through. Further, Glark appears to feel concerned for Lavian, a point that Marty takes note of. Regardless, to initiate their mission of learning more about Rean Schwarzer, the group has to participate in a celebratory party that we currently know nothing about.

Finally, the post-credits scene shows that Campanella is in cahoots with Jayna and Dren, so evident corruption is amok if that wasn’t obvious enough already. The purposeful haywire of the truck was justification for sending Lavian and the rest out on that mission for reasons we have yet to comprehend.

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I really enjoyed this episode, about equally as much as the first, actually. Its A and B plots were compelling as a die-hard fan of even the most minute facets of Zemuria. Necessary exposition was delivered alongside the introduction of the primary cast set to accompany Lavian, so the next episode will likely be where the meat really starts. The character interaction and dialogue are all incredibly endearing and engaging, with everyone’s relationships being rather believable so far.

Based on the ending movie displaying photos of Lavian and company in familiar parts of the Empire, like Heimdallr and Raquel, I’m excited to see those spots in anime-form potentially. I’ll give episode two of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel – Northern War an 8.5 out of 10.

This is an off-handed note, but the character performing in the theater looks awfully similar to Melchior from the Kuro arc. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, though.

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The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero is now available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via the Epic Games StoreGOG, and Steam.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie will launch for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC on July 7, 2023.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is releasing for Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC via the Epic Games Store, GOG, and Steam at the following times:

  • March 14, 2023 – North America
  • March 17, 2023 – Europe
  • March 24, 2023 – Australia, New Zealand

Additional coverage for the game is listed below:

The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails is coming to PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC in 2023.

The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki is now available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC via Steam in Japan.

The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki II Crimson Sin is now available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 in Japan. Check out our latest coverage, which also acts as an avenue for previous extensive instances of doing so.


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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual. Fan of JRPGs, Action, Platformers, Rhythm, and Adventure titles.