PLOT: In the prosperous kingdom of Pars lies the Royal Capital of Ecbatana, a city of splendor and wonder, ruled by the undefeated and fearsome King Andragoras. Arslan is the young and curious prince of Pars who, despite his best efforts, doesn’t seem to have what it takes to be a proper king like his father.
At the age of 14, Arslan goes to his first battle and loses everything as the blood-soaked mist of war gives way to scorching flames, bringing him to face the demise of his once glorious kingdom. However, it is Arslan’s destiny to be a ruler, and despite the trials that face him, he must now embark on a journey to reclaim his fallen kingdom.
When author Yoshiki Tanaka began his fantasy series Arslan he started it around 1986. I want to point out that this is the second time in the last year that we’ve had a manga from the 80’s be adapted into a televised animated work. Hope to see more in the future– perhaps Urasawa’s Pluto? Would love to see that animated by MADHOUSE!
Arslan is lengthy and from what I’ve followed up on it’s still ongoing. Most of Tanaka’s works have been adapted into an animated format of sorts Tytania which was decently executed is one of his more recent works in the industry to be adapted. His popularity though stems from the Legend of Galactic Heroes series– around 162 episodes and three feature films! Tanaka knows very well how to write solid and at the time unrivaled stories using methods that are complex and inventive. As good as this writer is I’d like to see him direct an original work– it would be interesting to see his fresh ideas on screen. I have no doubt in my mind Arslan will be awesome. There are around 14 volumes so far! According to history the origin of the story about Amir Arsalan dates back to a much older time and quickly evolved into a story of narrative legend during the 19th century that involves a merchant child discovering he is actually the heir to the throne of Persia. In the early 90’s there have been several Japanese renditions of this known as the Heroic Legends of Arslan. An animated feature film in 1991, a sequel in 1993 and ova’s in-between ’93 and 95 were animated by the largest retailer in Japan– Animate. With of course the help from studios Aubec [a company that isn’t around anymore], MADHOUSE, Production I.G. and J.C. Staff. A manga by Full Metal Alchemist author Hiromu Arakawa began in 2013 which is what this anime adaptation will follow.
Noriyuki Abe the director of BLEACH and GTO helms this version and with what I’ve seen of the first episode could be one of his more stronger works. I think what really blew me away about this episode was the music. Dog of Flanders composer Taro Iwashiro writes music throughout this that reminds me a lot of Michiru Oshima’s resonating orchestra movements with a mix of Kousuke Yamashita’s temperamental tracks. Well-balanced and has an inspiring tone to them that builds on the situation young Prince Arslan is placed in this episode.
Venturing out into the capital city his naivety of the world turns upside down when he sees his father Andragoras III returning after a favorable battle against the nation of Lusitania. Killing for their own religious ideals speaks a lot about how this show will handle this sepration between the adults in authority to the children that live in poverty. The three young kids picking a fight with the Lusitania boy fuels Arslan’s journey towards becoming a boy in a very influential way. Prince Arslan gets kidnapped by the boy and they both get a taste of perspective. The boy sees how the Pars Kingdom handles its slaves and its not pretty; the Prince witnesses the harsh reality that the Lusitania boy arrives at while they are escaping soldiers but that doesn’t falter his own identity at all! I loved the part where Arslan saves the boy from slipping on the giraffe– really portrays youth with such authenticity.
Daryun as little as we saw of him will play a vital role in teaching Arslan the ways of the world and like we saw with this incredible ending Arslan will be showing him a thing or two about saving a life. The narration gives us a solid follow-through on what to expect and how we are going to see Arslan start his journey onto the battlefield.
Moving back to this idea of harsh reality it’s neat to see how the parents of the troubling kids are handled– they beg for forgiveness and only place blame on themselves out of the love they have for their children and respect for the King. Arslan freeing them enhances this idea that he is still just a boy without any aggression. A timid prince that I’m sure will change as this epic fantasy series evolves! Best premiere of any show I’ve seen this season so far with some really strong characterization!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10