RogerBW's Blog

Arslan Senki (2015) season 1 15 March 2016

2015 pseudo-historical fantasy, novel series adaptation in 25 episodes: AniDB, vt "Heroic Legend of Arslan". Prince Arslan of Pars is the weak son of a tough and vicious king. But when the Parsian army is defeated by treachery, he may be the only member of the royal family left…

This is the second version of Arslan Senki: there was a series of six OVAs in 1991-1995, also based on the novel series, which were generally well-liked, though in those days people who didn't speak Japanese had to put up with some very ropey commercial dubs. (The novel series in turn is based very loosely on the Persian epic Amir Arsalan). The characters here have been completely redesigned since the 1990s series, with rather more variation between them (though one in particular has been distinctly sexed up, for no apparent reason beyond the obvious).

Pars is invaded by Lusitania, drawn here as a crusader kingdom. The priests of their god Yaldabaoth are fanatics who insist on killing or converting all outsiders, though it rapidly becomes clear that those priests don't represent the mainstream of worship. Meanwhile the Parsians have slaves as a significant part of their economy, as they have for years, and this turns out to be a bad thing when the capital comes under siege.

Because while this is in part a story of battles and loyalty, it's also a story of doing the right thing: Arslan insists that all the slaves will be freed once he sits on the throne, even though that costs him the support of some of the Parsian nobles. In a world where it's not only acceptable but expected for a king to be a bloody-handed conqueror, he's somehow managed to become not only a pleasant person but a moral tyrannosaurus. He certainly doesn't get that from either of his parents…

That doesn't mean he can take back his country single-handed, of course, and he gathers the traditional band of companions. They're reasonably distinct and well-drawn, and rather than assembling into The Band, which then stays constant, there's a continued slow change of who's working closely with Arslan and who's more in the background. There's a little bit of magic, but it's only in the hands of the bad guys – who are not a single faction, but several separate groups pulling in slightly different directions.

There's a great deal going on here, with no sort of conclusion to the story, and some plot threads get dropped without comment (I'm sure there was one ambush in the sewers from which a character escaped simply by the writers forgetting that he was in trouble). There are small fights and huge battles, the latter taking blatant advantage of CGI so that they really can portray thousands of warriors; sure, maybe each soldier is only a few pixels high at a distance, but then we can zoom in and see everyone standing in formation. It's a very different visual style from the older technique of four or five distinct layers of animation, and for me at least it works very well in showing the size and confusion of a battle.

The animation is otherwise workmanlike but not exceptional, in the standard modern style. Same for the music, though there's a funeral hymn in the final episode that I'd love to hear at full length.

Overall this was my favourite series of both summer and autumn 2015. A sequel is expected in 2016, though no broadcast date has been announced.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2022 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1