Welcome back to Blog Medley and Anime Wednesdays everyone! This time I’ll be reviewing the hit anime series Arslan Senki also known as The Heroic Legend of Arslan as it makes a roaring returned this summer season with a brand new season after its successful debut in 2015. The Arslan Senki franchise has been very successful in Japan, first appearing as a light novel series in 1986. It was adapted into a manga series in 1991 which finished publishing in 1996 and had its own original ending. The series was re-adapted in 2013 and currently has 5 volumes published. The current anime is based off of the latest manga adaption and is produced primarily by Linden Films. The second season has been airing since July 3, 2016 and so far 8 episodes have been annouced.
The premise behind Arslan Senki is that the powerful kingdom of Pars falls after losing a major battle led by the “undefeatable” King Andragoras III after being betrayed by his retainers (but also because of overconfidence and pride). Coincidentally, it was also the Crown Prince, Arslan’s, debut on the battlefield and he was forced to flee after losing the battle. While Arslan flees from the battlefield guarded by he nation’s strongest warrior Daryun, the capital falls to the invading forces of Lusitania. The story follows Arslan as he struggles to gather allies to retake the capital and expel the Lusitanians from Pars and learn to become a ruler at the same time. At the end of season one, we saw him and the loyal companions he’s gathered “negotiated” a peace treaty and repelled attacks from the mysterious silver masked man, Hilmes.
Arslen Senki: Fuujin Ranbu (Dust storm dance) is the second season of the anime and it starts off with a bang when Arslan makes a swift return to his base of operations, the linchpin border fortress Peshawar, to stop the Turans from invading Pars when they saw his army leave to take back Ecbatana. Although the opportunity to take back the capital was lost, a startling event occurs at the same time where King Andragoras III escapes from prison and manages to force his way out of Ecbatana. While Peshawar was recovering from the Turan invasion, Arslan, his loyal supporters, and the entire fortress was dumbfounded to see the King ride through Peshawar’s giant gates with the Queen in tow. He proceeds to banish Arslan to Gilan where he won’t be able to return until he raises a 50,000 man army by himself.
All of this and much more occurred in the 6 episodes produced so far, which makes it seem rushed. Now I haven’t read the manga so I don’t know if what’s shown so far is an abridged version or not but I’ll rate it as it is. The lack of depth makes the plot wanting as it only scratches the surface like it has often done throughout the series. Using the Turan invasion as an example, it doesn’t show how the Turans invaded Pars and beseiged Peshawar. Instead all we see is a glimpse of the invasion, Narsus’s usual brilliant strategist self, and Pars winning in a swift battle where the battle scenes aren’t shown (no tactics, formations, etc.). Furthermore, the King of Turan was killed by an usurper in the most cliché of ways in a 5 second scene. I have to say, if the King was in that dire of a position where he’d be killed for losing he wouldn’t have attacked in the first place. Generally speaking, Kings and Emperors don’t wage wars with other countries if they’re at risk of civil wars…either that or they’d send their enemies off to war in hopes that they would be met with an “honorable” and “most tragic” death on the battlefield. Also, there hasn’t been enough focus on the Lusitanians and their issues of their supply lines, political turmoil, and governance problems. The latest episode #6 shows a glimpse of their troubles but if the producers wants to weave an intense, eye gripping, heart pounding, adventure story there has to be enough focus on all sides especially since Arslan Senki is plot driven. Arslan Senki, should be a big money making franchise for Linden Films which was just founded in 2013 so its head scratching why they wouldn’t bother producing more episodes to expand the story after spending all that money on producing high quality animations and music in the first place. It’s one of the few animes that will truly earn them a big profit too so its sad that they’ve decided to cut corners a bit here.
The lack of character growth in season 2 doesn’t surprise me since its plot driven but I would’ve like to see Arslan develop more as a King and warrior. Sure he can’t fight as well as Daryun or the others but surely he would’ve improved his swordsmanship by now. The authors tend to coddle Arslan too much during fight scenes where it always seems like they’ll always come to his rescue or he’s not involved in the fight at all. However, we do see that the mysterious Hilmes has a kind side and still loves his fiance after she falls into the clutches of the Lusitanians in the latest episode. The rest of the characters have been pretty platonic so far as if they’ve reached the height of their development. This truly needs to change if the authors want to make it a real epic as the lack of character growth makes it hard for the readers to truly identify with the characters and keep them interested.
Animation and Music (9/10)
The animation and music has never been a question for this series. The anime is bright and vivid and extremely clear for the audience to watch. The short fight sequences that we’re presented with are fluid with no quality issues. The music however is what truly makes it worthwhile to watch. The producers hired the best of the best in Uverworld, Eir Aoi, and Kalafina to produce the opening and ending songs. For anyone that follows J-pop/J-rock or anme in general, you’ll know that Uverworld is a very popular rock band in Japan and Eir Aoi has been a major hit since her debut in 2011 with multiple opening and ending theme songs in blockbuster anime series like Fate/Zero and Sword Art Online. Maybe they spent all their money on the music and forgot about the rest of the anime? Just joking….I hope lol.
In summary, Arslan Senki is an excellent series if you take it lightheartedly and ignore some of its shortcomings. Next week, I will expand on Arslan Senki’s weaknesses in characterization by comparing it to Kingdom, a highly relatable series that follows King Zheng of Qin as he tries to keep Lu Buwei, the traitorous regent and Chancellor, from the throne during China’s Warring State period. I hope you enjoyed this short anime review and will see you all on Friday where I will continue in Travel Fridays to provide you with advice and tips on planning your dream vacation to Japan. Until then, I’ll leave you with Eir Aoi’s opening and ending songs for Arslan Senki for you to enjoy
Arslan Senki‘s first season ending Lapis Lazuri sung by Eir Aoi
Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu opening Tsubasa (Wings) sung by Eir Aoi
© 2016, Anson Wu. All rights reserved.
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