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.
This story reminds me of the OAV which the creator of Legend of Galactic Heroes did, but then couldn't finish. It was also about a land called Pars and a Prince that lost his inheritance. Graphically and aesthetically, it's been changed significantly from the bishounen view of the previous unfinished version. The ouji or Prince is softer looking, more effiminate or young than like the unreal otherwordly artwork of the previous version. But let's continue on to the meat of this series. Setting wise, this is alternative history, set in Persia in a time when they were fighting religious fanatics. If people know their history, they can kind of guess what time period that would be, since Persia was only conquered and destroyed by one religion in the world's past, and it wasn't Christianity. Even though in this series, you'll see a lot of crosses. Things have been modified a little bit, but this is definitely the Persia before it was conquered by Islam. Even the noble titles like Marzopan is similar to a Count or Baron. Plot wise, you'll mostly see small unit tactics in warfare, some imperial or royal politics and intrigue, plus some action scenes from the Prince's warrior vassals. The atmosphere is more of a commanding officer, a king, where most of your economic or military prowess is in your vassals, your followers. This is different from shounen genres where most of your power rests in the MC, the main character. Overall, I think I enjoyed Kingdom, set in Warring State era China, as well as the older Heroic Legend of Arslan and Legend of the Galactic Heroes more. The application of the themes felt better. So those would be my recommendations for people to watch, if they want to see more things similar to Arslan Senki, to get a sample base up. If you have ever played Crusader Kings II, this anime series will feel very familiar to you.
When this anime was announced, many expected the best show of the millennia. The reason was the story being written by the author of Legend of the Galactic Heroes and the artwork being done by the mangaka of Full Metal Alchemist. Both titles are exceptional and are even in my top 10. Unfortunately, Arslan is not even top 1000 material. Compared to its predecessors:- It lacks the semi-realistic character designs of LOGH- Its cast lacks the charisma and individual importance of FMA characters- It looks bland compared to the ethereal artstyle of the 90s version of ArslanAnother way to view it is like the 2 Star Wars trilogies. The 70s trilogy was a space opera masked as a fairy tale, thus keeping expectations low and succeeding in the longrun. The 00s trilogy on the other hand was a fairy tale desperately pretending to be a space opera and self-imploded in the longrun by promising way too much. It’s the same thing with Arslan; it’s not as good as it wants you to think it is. It’s a silly fighting shonen that tries to present itself as a serious historical epic and fails miserably at it.The general premise and overall plot are fine; it’s always cool to see a prince trying to gather an army and protect his kingdom from various enemy factions. It reminded me of a simpler Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The problem lies in how it was written in a very dry way since it was inspired by the famous contemporaries of that time (Conan the Barbarian, Erlic of Meliborne, Guin Saga) and as such it is a hard sale when it comes to a more modern audience. The storyboard planners didn’t adjust an anachronistic plot so it won’t be boring to Zoomers watch it.As a result Arslan the protagonist comes off as the most boring character. Everybody around him is ten times more capable and interesting than he is. I understand that the show is the coming of age of a naïve prince, slowly becoming a capable king thanks to his interaction with all sorts of mentors. It still doesn’t make him an interesting lead. He’s completely worthless and passive to the most part, and even looks like a girl. Why does he even have so many loyal subjects? Ok, fine, he is the lawful heir to the throne, but in those chaotic times the moment you were showing weakness you were executed and the throne was taken by the strongest man available. The story is not plausible from the get-go because of that simple fact. In a more realistic scenario Arslan would be a puppet at the hands of his subjects, if not a decorative head on some pike.Compare that lead to LOGH and FMA. You can never complain about the protagonists in those shows. They were capable, charismatic, and the story doesn’t begin with them being greenhorns. We saw how they improved in flashbacks and whatever happens in present time is the peak of their power. That’s what makes them compelling. To make an analogy, it’s as if you are watching Romance of the Three Kingdoms from the perspective of the Han emperor, a completely worthless ruler that was being manipulated by everyone. He sucks compared to every general and advisor around him, and that’s exactly what Arslan is in his own story.Speaking of everybody else besides him, they are a fine bunch of cool guys and gals, each one usually specializing in some sort of skill. It’s ok as long as you see them as no more than rule of cool, but falls flat if you bring in a bit more realism. They are closer to the Avengers than masters of ancient warfare. It’s not like Romance of the Three Kingdoms had that much realism either; it’s just that it can be very immersion breaking when you are supposed to be watching historical events that happened in ancient Persia and everybody is breathing fire. I didn’t have this problem with LOGH, since that was taking place in the far future and most head scratching moments had to do with technology and physics that could be excused simply as futuristic science. In FMA it was a setting where everyone could use magic. Arslan has no such excuse. People fly and breathe fire in what is supposed to be our world.Do you know what else LOGH and FMA didn’t have that Arslan does and can be very immersion breaking? CGI crowds! I can tolerate plastic looking cars or spaceships but not hundreds of Lego toys pretending to be fighting each other. It made everything fake looking and cheap; I didn’t care about anyone dying because of it.I can go on bitching about a dozen other things, but you get the gist by now; it’s not a good show. It’s poorly animated, the protagonist is terrible, the plot is childish, and as a whole it was promoting itself as legendary when it’s just a throwaway mediocrity. Once again modern sucks and retro wins.
A very pleasant surprize. With the best anime, you usually have a story that is somewhat unique. This implies some amount of supernatural. Arslan Senki doesnt have a special story in this way. Its pretty simple. Anime like this usually fade into boredom or go apeshit mad and ruin everything like Berserk. What is Arslan Senki? Well, to get the full picture, imagine FMA, Game of Thrones, Avatar: The last airbender and Berserk(not the last episodes, instead the good part) put together. How can you go wrong?! Story: the basic plot is simple. A kingdom is conquered, the prince flees and gathers an army to reclaim his country. We get a lot of twists and turns worthy of Game of Thrones. The way the battles are choreographed is also very good. We dont just get mindless broodshed, we get genuine tactics, may that be fake camps or mannequines to fool their opponents. The story is not as strong and unforgettable as FMA, but out of the source material its probably the best anyone could manage. 8/10 Animation: Exquisite. The backgrounds are THE BEST(you want to find good anime wallpapers, take a random screenshot of Arslan Senki) I have seen up to date. The character animation is also top notch. The only downside is that when you have to animate hundreds of people at once, you have 2 choices. CGI or draw till your hands bleed. They chose CGI, it was not a good idea. Most of the animation is very good, but in fight scenes the lower quality of the CGI shows, so animation gets 8 instead of 10 because of this. 8/10 Music: not epic, but memorable and good. 8/10 Characters: Some people(the ones who think being a "critic" means you have to hate everything thats nice) will say their weak, stereotypical and idyllic. I wont. The characetrs are very good, they all have their place in the anime. As for Arslan. He is the archetype for the perfect prince. Hes a whimp sometimes, but really comes forward when needed. Also, he can hold his own in a fight even against more skilled opponents. Some characters are not the most original(we kept referring to Hermes as Prince Zuco with my girlfriend for a reason - i know the Arslan manga is older than Avatar - one stole from the other, for sure). 8.5/10 Overall: All the aspects of this anime are very solid and they create a more than satisfying overall picture. Arslan Senki will be one of my all time favorites and I eagerly wait a second season. 8.5/10 I can strongly suggest it to fans of FMA or FMAB: you wont find anything more similar, but Arslan has better backgrounds. Also fans of Magi, Avatar should like it a lot and if you liked the episodes of Berserk in which crazy demons didnt rape women, you will also like this. One of the best animes this year, if not the best(I havent started watching Gangsta yet). I find the 4.12 rating very low compared to usual anime-planet tendencies. Have fun!
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