The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel – Northern War Episodes 4 + 5 Review & Breakdown

We’re now back with episode five of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel – Northern War anime, “At the End of an Ashen Journey.” If you missed it, check out my reviews and breakdowns of the first episode, “Appears He…the Hero in Twilight.”, the second episode, “Gathers the Unpleasant Darkness,” and the third episode, “An Invitation to the Port City Engulfed In Darkness.”

I missed out on reviewing episode four last week, “Breaking the Blue Crystal Ice,” so we’ll be quickly covering that today, too. Not much of significance occurred in that episode, thankfully.

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.

At the start of episode four, we see a brief montage of the cast traversing Raquel, Heimdallr, and Roer, with neat character cameos of Ash, Bleublanc, Alisa, and Sharon. They only last a second, but it’s cool to see acknowledgments of other characters in the franchise. The next destination is Ymir, the “hero’s” hometown. At this point, it becomes clear that they don’t even know Rean’s name yet, hence their constant stating of his title. Lavian is even unconvinced that this supposed hero even exists, but perhaps this trip to Ymir will change that.

Spoiler alert, it doesn’t, really. Instead, the cast, particularly Lavian, and Iseria, find themselves helping the townspeople with restoring the flow of hot water to rejuvenate the hot springs. The duo head off to the mountains to take care of a monster while Talion and Marty try to dig up a hot spring of their own nearby.

Lavian and Iseria primarily bond throughout this episode, as the latter begins to question the group’s efforts. Due to their unfortunate origin of birth, they can’t enjoy life like the Empire’s citizens. This topic isn’t pursued much further, though, as Iseria ends up trapped by the monster preventing the flow of hot water, so via orbal communication, the two take out said monster, and things become all fine and dandy.

The episode ends with Iseria and Lavian enjoying themselves in the hot springs, with Lavian asking if she can be taught about facets of life she’s inexperienced with, like clothes and food. Iseria enthusiastically agrees, and it’s pretty wholesome. We get to see a veiled, embarrassed side of Lavian that we haven’t yet seen.

It sounds like I just rushed through discussing that episode, but there truly isn’t much to talk about. It was an enjoyable watch that delved into necessary character closeness. Still, I am fortunate that this is the episode I missed reviewing. I’ll give it a 7 or so out of 10 since Iseria being stuck within the monster’s grasp did take unnecessarily long to resolve, and the bonding here didn’t compel me as much as the previous episode’s showcase of Lavian and Talion. Lavi was quite cute, though.


Regardless, it’s time to delve into the meat and potatoes here, episode five, which is the best episode by far. We open up with a shot of Lechter Arundel seemingly spying/exmaining an exchange occurring between Aurelia Le Guin, Wallace Bardias, and Rufus Albarea. The eventual annexation of North Ambria is the primary point of discussion here, with Aurelia catching onto the fact that Ouroborus is making moves up north. The Crossbell/Erebonian government’s current goal is to get Glark to accept their demands, with Rean being a trump card if things go south.

Interestingly, Aurelia doesn’t want to see him enter the battlefield, and Wallace compares the pitiful states of Rean and Glark as a figurehead hero and a forgotten relic of the past, respectively. Seeing Aurelia express what appears to be concern regarding Rean becoming a combatant is a bit unexpected since I didn’t think she’d care all that much. Following this conversation, Lechter notes that North Ambria’s annexation is confirmed at this point.


We then cut to the main cast on a train, briefly noting their stay in Legram that occurred in between episodes. Talion intends on returning to Bareahard so they can redouble their efforts on learning more about Rean and Valimar, but Iseria interrupts with a showcase of the merchandise she purchased from Legram. A cute plushie of Arianrhod is shown, so that’s kinda cool. A spoiled noble expressing his fascination with the commoner’s train is highlighted, as well as two children who appear to be avoiding him for whatever reason. The train crashes to a halt afterward due to a landslide obstructing the path.


It’s expected to take most of the day to remove the rubble, much to the passengers’ collective chagrin, but before work could begin in earnest, cracks sunder the earth. The aforementioned noble is saved by Lavian, who falls underground, finding herself in a waterway. After being orbally contacted by Talion and company and letting them know that she’s okay, Lavian begins traversing the waterway on her lonesome. Before long, though, she ends up chased by a powerful monster, and a voice guides her to a clearing, leading her to safety.


That voice belongs to the man, the myth, the legend, Rean Schwarzer, and by his side is Altina with Claiomh Solais. Rean introduces the two of them, revealing that they were assigned to defeat that monster Lavian was escaping from, but she doesn’t reciprocate the introduction, resulting in a somewhat awkward air as the trio search for a safe way out together.

Lavian grows impatient, deciding to recklessly break open a path, obviously causing a stream of water to push her away. Thankfully, Rean comes to the rescue, and taking note of Lavian’s stomach growling, he does the best thing this episode and pulls out his fishing rod. In his words, he always has his fishing gear with him. I suppose Lavian has a fishing rod of her own, too, so the duo fish their hearts out, getting themselves a meal. As they prepare to eat, Rean pulls out the mini Jaeger toy Lavian carries with her, noting how it must’ve fallen during the water stream she caused.

As a result, she finally begins warming up to Rean, albeit slightly, finally revealing her name. The trio continue on their trek to escape the waterway, and they finally find the exit. However, the monster Rean and Altina were assigned to eliminate is also conveniently nearby. When Lavian questions Rean on his willingness to go this far to help others, regardless of orders, he simply states that he wants to protect and save those in danger, no matter who they are. Those words remind Lavian of her grandfather, and Rean quotes, “But come what may, keep moving forward, not for the sake of the past, but for the sake of the future,” as a certain scene from Trails of Cold Steel II is reflected in his eyes. The fate of Crow has been engraved in his mind, and it won’t be leaving anytime soon.


As Lavian starts to leave the waterway, leaving Rean and Altina to fend off the monster by themselves, she briefly reflects on her recent experiences throughout Erebonia, determining that she’ll help after all. For some reason, on the surface, the pompous noble seeing the dirtied, bruised hand of a young boy inquiring why he hasn’t helped with the rubble removal causes him to go through an immediate character arc as he starts to help. Granted, he does say that there will no longer be nobles and commoners in the future, a line Rufus says at the start of the episode, but this whole plot thread felt really forced and random.

Lavian, Rean, and Altina end up defeating the targeted monster underground and make their way outside, though Lavian is only present for the time being. Marty, Talion, and Iseria welcome her back as Lavian presents a horn from the monster she helped vanquish. Everyone, including the train riders, comes to the assumption that she slayed the monster that caused the landslide and congratulates her, rewarding her for a job well done, but a certain someone is watching the exchange from behind, Rean Schwarzer.


Marty notably reacts with a scowl as the noble from the crowd finds Rean familiar but can’t quite place who he is. Before further contemplation could occur, however, countless monsters erupt from the ground, being multiple of what Rean and company fought below. In the face of these odds, though, he summons the Ashen Knight himself, Valimar. The monsters are killed immediately, and with Rean’s identity now apparent, the crowd begins to cheer; that is, except for Lavian and her companions. While Iseria and Talion snap photos, Lavian seethes, her rage growing considerably as she reflects on her trauma.

Above, Rean and Altina discuss Lavian, with the former making the conclusion that not only is she a Jaeger based on her combative approach, but her group is blending in with the Empire’s citizens. However, at these declarations and asking Altina what she knows, since she’s clearly in the loop, she simply says that she doesn’t possess the clearance to inform him of anything. This checks out, as during the end of the third episode, Altina was seen spying on the group. Moreover, this response to Rean is certainly a far cry from what their relationship would develop to be in later games, but I assume his efforts in the forthcoming occupation will significantly alter Altina’s lens.

Since Lavian and co have obtained new intel on the hero of the Empire and seen Valimar in action, they decide to head back to their homeland. Still, Lavian is obviously not quite satisfied with this turn of events, amplifying her determination to protect North Ambria more than ever before. When she and Rean encounter each other again, it’s anyone’s guess as to how poorly that will go.


This was by far the best episode of the anime so far, and it has likely kickstarted narrative progression more rapidly in these seven remaining episodes. Andseeing Rean have a central role and even speak was pretty hype as well, with the game callbacks, such as Crow’s untimely demise, contributing greatly. I’ll give it a 9 out of 10. The occupation is on the horizon, and the reality of finally seeing that in real time has me on the edge of my seat.

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.