「エクバターナの栄華」 (Ekubataana no Eiga)
“Glory of Ecbatana”

Arslan Senki is fantasy in the old style, with princes and kingdoms, invasions and politics, slavery and crusades, and battles involving tens of thousands. The first episode goes to great lengths to show us exactly who Prince Arslan is, and it does it well.

Who Prince Arslan Is

This is The Heroic Legend of Arslan, so the characterization of Prince Arslan (Kobayashi Yuusuke) is vitally important. I’m happy to report that not only did the anime spend an entire episode tending to Arslan’s characterization, but they did it well.

It didn’t take long for a clear picture of who Arslan is to emerge. The sword practice revealed him to be weak, and somewhat unmotivated. His relationship with his mother Queen Tahamenay (Tanaka Atsuko) and his father King Andragoras III (Sugou Takayuki) revealed him to be timid—yet in those same interactions, he showed that he’s reflective, as he wondered what it means to be a fine king. Most people don’t think about why they do the things they do, but Arslan does.

Arslan is kind, too, possessing of a kindness that could be mistaken for weakness, from a certain (jaded) point of view. Animals love him, painting him as a person of sound heard and mind, as Twin-Blade General Kishward (Yasumoto Hiroki) opined. But it was his kindness to the Lusitanian boy, and to the three kids and their parents who inadvertently led to him being in danger, that spoke volumes. Others might see that as weakness, or as an opportunity to show strength. Not me. I see saving the life of a boy who has barely had a chance to live (twice!), and six people who will now do anything for Arslan. We may be fast-forwarding three years after this episode, but I have a feeling the essential nature of who Prince Arslan is won’t change.

A Clash of Idea(l)s

Slavery and holy wars are, by most people with enough affluence and free time to watch anime, easy things to decry. Yet they make sense in the contact of a sword-and-horses fantasy world, where they’re clearly not over these foul institutions/pastimes. What I appreciated was that they didn’t paint either as the bad guys. Or the good guys—like in reality, there are just two sides, where one is prosperous and open (but keeps slaves), and the other believes all men are equal (but heathens are okay to kill).

The really beautiful trick is that they did give us a good side—Arslan’s. Arslan started out mindlessly parroting his culture’s tolerance for slavery, but by the end of the ordeal, it was clear that the Lusitanian boy’s words had an effect. Arslan is open to other people and cultures where others are closed—he seeks it out, in fact, even before he meets the Lusitanian boy. Combined with seeing the barbarity of his own people—juxtaposed with the comparative nobility of the Lusitanian boy—and the introspective Arslan is actually thinking about the situation rather than accepting the status quo blindly. I have a feeling he’s going to be a fine king, even if the road will be harder for him than most.

Looking Ahead – Arslan’s Maiden Battle

I had to fight off most of my fellow writers to win the right to blog this show, so I’m ecstatic that director Abe Noriyuki’s team is doing so much so well so far. I’m also pumped that we’re going to be getting into some classic adventuring team situations before long, because—I feel like I’m saying this a lot this season—that’s my JAM! (It’s what I write.) But first Arslan has to go through the wringer some more, as Lusitania comes knocking.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Kind, timid, reflective, weak, forgiving, and good to the core … that’s Prince Arslan. One episode in, and we know him well #arslan 01

Random thoughts:

  • Kobayashi Yuusuke is a good pick for voicing Arslan. He’s got the weak-sounding, kind part down (it’s Honoka from Witch Craft Works all over again). I wonder, how will he do when Arslan grows into a hero? Early indications are good.
  • Not a great relationship between these royals. The father and mother are chilly to the son, and the mother is chilly to the father. What parents indeed.
  • We haven’t seen much of Daryun (Hosoya Yoshimasa) yet, but I’m excited to do so. Not only does he look and act like a badass, and his seiyuu fits him perfectly, but his mention of a cantankerous man who may be able to answer Arslan’s questions about slavery … it could be that Daryun is one of those whose eyes are open as well.
  • “My father’s reign is unlikely to waver for many decades to come.” Stop tempting fate, Arslan!

My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now available in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel short story. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Cut away the boring bits, Sheet music, Wage Slave Rebellion is officially in print, and From LEGO to author.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「ラピスラズリ」 (Lapis Lazuli) by Aoi Eir

Preview

End Card

101 Comments

      1. Rather harmless spoiler but I tag it anyway:
        Show Spoiler ▼

        Saburau
      1. The “our hands touched and suddenly I felt embarassed” scene felt as if taken straight from a typical romance or romcom anime. I’ll reserve my right to expect more in the next episodes. <3

        brajt
    1. I’m not exactly sure where people are getting the BL vibes from, but unless they do so many 180″ from the novels that they turn into a virtual particle accelerator, there will be zero BL in the story.

      Mike
      1. Yoshitaka Amano’s illustrations are amazing! But that’s the problem. It’s the illustrations that’s amazing. The adaptation, not so much. It lost some of the charm that was exist in the original.

        Salbazier
    1. Lots of guys would hit him. Exactly because he’s a guy.

      Seriously, the prince have to enroll himself into the school of hard knocks for a while in his growth to manhood, right?
      After all, isn’t hitting girls is still frowned upon in our society?

      kittyraider
  1. Wasn’t there another anime about this story not too long ago? Not the old 90’s OVA but about 2-3 years ago perhaps. It’s driving me crazy trying to remember which one it was but this episode was such a massive Deja Vu to me. I can also remember what will happen next so I have to have seen this somewhere…

    Jerodar
  2. So far what this series reminds me of is a tighter Guin Saga focused less on magic and more upon political reality. While the fantasy setting and the political nature alone already has me committed for the long haul, I’m absolutely loving the Persian and Assyrian influences in both the character designs and background (the Pars capital city especially). Bringing back the Guin Saga thoughts too is the similarity in “enemy” there as here with the Lusitanians (like the Mongauli) appearing at least to me to be based partially off of the Mongols/Scythians. Thus if one really wanted a historical reference to use the best one would probably be the Sassanid Empire or the Abbasid Caliphate.

    Really hope Arslan Senki can fulfill the hype because it’s been too long without a solid and gritty fantasy series.

    Pancakes
    1. No, Lusitanians are nowhere Mongolian/Scythian…They are somewhat inspired by The Eastern Roman Empire.

      The Pars are as you guessed it, inspired by Sassanid Persians (Down to the Asavaran Grivpanvar Cataphracts), among others evident by the titles held by the commanders.

      kittyraider
      1. And fyi, Pars is based on Persia, which is now called Iran.
        Actually Maryam is the one which is inspired by The Eastern Roman Empire.
        That means Maryam has basically the same religion as the invaders(i.e, something inspired by the Christianity), and that is clearly stated in the original novel.
        You can consider this world as a what-if world without Muhammad and Islam. This kingdom of Pars has somewhat like Ancient Greece type of culture and religion.

        Saburau
    2. Byzantine? Personally don’t see it considering their religious focus (more Islamic than Orthodox, especially in terms of their definition of equality), but they are likely a mishmash all things considered.

      Pancakes
    1. Amestris-Central Studios Presents:

      THE HEROIC LEGEND OF ARSLAN

      Starring Edward Elric as ARSLAN and Solf J. Kimblee as DARYUN

      An Epic based on true Xerxesian Saga…

      kittyraider
  3. Going into this completely blind, not being familiar with the staff nor with historical anime in general, and I thought it was a great premiere. Not idea what to do with my expectations but I’m just hoping it turns out to be a memorable adventure of a prince’s coming-of-age.

    I’m also perfectly fine with the pacing here and believe that a slow would benefit this show as it did Akatsuki no Yona. Heavy exposition wouldn’t sit well with this show.

    MgMaster
    1. There’s CGI in the large battle scenes, but it’s pretty good (this is no Madan no Ou to Vanadis here), and that’s the extent of it. Everything else is animated well. I would only expect to see the CGI during those big battles.

  4. I started watching with no expectations, but wow, what a great looking show. I’m looking forward to see Arslan grow as a character. Finally an earnest historical fantasy show minus pandering fan service. At least so far…

  5. It seemed fairly average to start off, but at least it has room to grow. The main character is pretty standard for the type, but again we’re only in the first episode so we can see where this goes.

    Talk about creating a conflict between two mixed nations. Slave Nation vs. Religious Fanatics.

  6. I think that if there is something to be related to it will be Akatsuki no Yona – sans romance. Unless Arslan meets soem nice girl in episodes ahead. Didn’t get any BL vibes…

    ewok40k
  7. Tanaka Yoshiki and Arakawa Hiromu, this’s a combination that could never go wrong XDDD Tanaka Yoshiki story about war and politic could never disappoint me (Legend of Galactic Heroes is a masterpiece). The only major setback to me is whether the novel has finished or not; it’s a pity if it ended up like Tytania (T.T)

    fc
      1. Yeah, hopefully it isn’t on hiatus again. I’ve watched the old version of Arslan Senki OVA, I’m happy that this version would continue further than the old one XDDDD

        fc
  8. As of this episode, this is the show I’m the most excited for this season, at least for now. Instead of being annoyed at the currently weak and maybe ignorant main character, I really like him already (he’s cute) and am excited to see where the story goes from now.

    ZJZJ
  9. Hurray Stilts! Well done in fighting off the ravenous bunch and drawing the long straw. Now that I’ve gone and said it I’m praying the others won’t be biting me afterwards.

    I’m a sucker for epics, and this one seems and sounds very much like one with Akatsuki no Yona being the most recent anime I can draw reference to, which is an awesome thing since that show was stellar. Setting it in what seemed like a Persian empire (correct me if I’m wrong, as I haven’t picked up the manga) is very refreshing. The animation is also excellent, as were the seiyuu for the different roles. In terms of pacing I’m loving it as they gave time for the audience to get to know the hero of the story at his roots, and had that little bit of adventure every protagonist ought to have in such settings before the plot begins to really take off.

    I have to admit not being a fan of the character designs previously, one shallow reason why I never watched FMA, but this show is exciting and has so much potential. Can’t wait for the next episode.

    Owaranai
  10. Let me guess. This Princess Boy Mother is a Captured Queen or Princess from an conquered Kingdom. So in a way the Bond is not Love, it is obeying and he is trying to win her Heart through Gifts

    That would also explain in how she is a bit Cold to his Sun

    And if you compare her with the other Chars. She is to White skinned for be born nearby. She must be a “trophy” from a Raid

    WorldwideDepp
  11. Can’t deny i really enjoyed this episode a lot, a great balance of world building, action, character presentation and even comedy … Arakawa’s adaption of the original story indeed does have it’s strengths and charm specially how she masterfully weaves comedy and melodrama into her stories so skillfully that neither of them hinders the other.

    But i have one gripe with her adaption, it will only come clear later but i think most people who watched the trailers know, there is a female character that’s going to join the cast and i have serious gripes about Arakawa’s redesign of her, bascially if anyone watched the older Arslan OVAs (and i suggest everyone does because it is fantastic and its characters are designed by none other than the talented Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy fame) the older design of that female character was dignified and beautiful while also practical, it was perfect .. so imagine my surprise when i find of all the characters in Arslan the only one that has a 100% redesign is her, all the other character really resemble their older selves in a lot of ways (based on the novel and older managa/OVA) but she is turned into a scantly clad amazon with very little clothing and over-emphasized assets, and to let you know i love sexy female character like any hot-blooded guy and defended a lot of artists when they choose to draw sexy female characters but what surprised me is how Arakawa changed that character’s design so dramatically for no good reason and left everyone else the same … if she was a new character or an original story by Arakawa i wouldn’t have any problems with her design, but the contrast between the older and newer designs is just so jarring and isn’t justified at all (unless Arakawa is trying to please her male viewers by turning the only female character in the cast into a sex-goddess to balance out all the bishounens in the story XD)

    Anyways, that’s not going to stop me from enjoying the heck out of this show (but don’t blame me when i face-palm when she shows up).

    Oh, and while waiting for the next week episode go watch the older OVAs, they are really well-made.

    Hunter-Wolf
    1. Just in case someone doesn’t get what i’m talking about, here is a comparison of the old character designs and the new ones.

      The female priestess is the one of the top right side here in the older adaption.
      http://static2.minitokyo.net/view/38/08/215438.jpg

      Now compare her with the character third from the left here in the new adaption by Arakawa.
      https://shinigamilist.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/arslan-senki-characters.png

      You will notice almost all character designs are very similar to their older selves except her, which makes me wonder … Does anyone know how people (fans of the novel and older OVA) reacted to that redesign choice in the new manga and how Arakawa replied to that (if there was any angry reaction at all XD).

      Hunter-Wolf
      1. You know, in Animes all “Skimpy” females have an Magic Codex. Les Armor or more Flesh is shown, then more Armor is given. And in this case here. She is not freezing, because it is the Men that are sweeting under their Cloth

        You want to explain the design? As if you want to compare Anime rules with Real Life rules. it’s impossible 🙂

        WorldwideDepp
      2. To be fair, IIRC she also only wore that at the very start, so I’m guessing that’s just her Priestess outfit. I’m fairly certain after that she generally wore more practical clothings

        Mike
      3. To answer your question, any female anime viewer is just going to be rolling their eyes at her get up. Let’s get to the nitty gritty. First, her outfit has no boob support to stop her overtly perky boobies from flopping around. Second, her pristine ivory skin will become very damaged and sun burnt while walking through that desert (and no, the cape will not save her. Third, do I need to repeat that she is in a desert? Her chances of sandy vagina are at an all time high.

        I don’t know how the majority of Japanese women in Japan feel about women being presented like this, but my Japanese friend who is female is sick and tired of it. However, she told me a great point. Men dominate the anime industry. Therefore, the artist of the redesign was probably applauded for his success in creating a fictional woman that he can only have in his dreams.

        As a woman, I am tired of it. Hyper sexualization of women in graphic novels and manga is nothing new. Hopefully, one day it will stop and women that look like her will be only acceptable in hentais or ecchi.

        WhatTha
      1. Jasmine’s clothes isn’t Persian at all. In fact, those belly dancers outfit are first created whole cloth in european fantasies/fictions about Middle Eastern women.

        Salbazier
    2. Arakawa has said in the past that she likes drawing sexy female characters, so that’s probably the only explanation you’re going to get. Heh.

      Hell, even Arslan’s mother is quite well-endowed.

      Mormegil
  12. I love that they are revisiting this after nearly 2 decades! Personally, I preferred the artistic style of the 90’s version, but this version has its charm as well! I’m more conflicted in reconciling this Arslan with the version from the 90’s though. The older version seemed more…focused, this version comes across as naive and not unlike many young protagonists, but it’s still the 1st ep. Conversely, I didn’t mind the badass bishie ladykillers that all the characters were in the 90’s!

    I really would like to go back and read the manga that was created by Chisato Nakamura, but I could never find a version for sale, or translated for that matter. I shudder to think what finding it today would entail, especially since the new series is based off Hiromu Arakawa’s work. Hopefully the renewed interest will allow both versions to see international release!

    I know that I’ll inevitably be left wanting more, but I’m looking forward to revisiting the world of Arslan! It’s so rare to see such diversity of characters, cultures, and music (which I think is what drew me to Magi). Waiting weekly for the next episode is going to be murder!

    Seracen
  13. You just can’t compare Yoshitaka Amano’s original (and superios) character designs with Arakawa’s. It’s like you have a full buffet right before your eyes, and then you eat a cheap hamburger.
    Sadly the comparisons with FMA will be the modus vivendi of this one, but the fact that Arslan itself has become the long-lost “sister” of Edward Elric is unnerving.

    SeedStriker
    1. Sorry, but that’s only your taste. If you have a strong opinion on what’s better for you, it’s ok to have it, but please don’t claim that the other people can’t see it different.

      brajt
  14. The last drop that made me stop reading RandomC was your first line on: Is it wrong to pick up girls in a dungeon? where you called it chauvinistic. For a while now, not from you but from other writers there’s this over analyzing and bashing of things that aren’t relevant to the story.
    An anime with the name like Is it wrong to pick up girls in a dungeon? should be taken lightly, it’s a show to be fun and not deep.
    Don’t worry Stills you were not the main reason why I stopped reading as I said you were the last drop. Both Enzo, in Aldnoah, and the girl who covered Your Lie in April already did more than enough to make want to stop reading. However I did find funny that a guy that likes Highschool DxD would find offense in the Dungeon anime. (I never saw Highscool DxD but I think it has a lot of panty shots and boob close ups, correct me if I’m wrong)
    However when I saw Arslan I could not but think I wonder what they say about this show because this ones yes deserves at least being called out. Surprise, surprise, it wasn’t called out. Apparently attacking anime because of how it portrays woman caring about being fat in a comedic scene (aldnoah) or a guy wanting to become stronger for the one he loves (dungeon) is alright but attacking it because it over simplifies historical conflict is not.
    This is set in our world, Lusitania and the city from where Arslan is existed. It’s really lazy to simplify a conflict with such simple ideology clashes, reaching almost offensive.
    Roman’s had slaves, and Muslims also did forced conversions at the time.
    Lusitania is mostly Portuguese territory now, I’m Portuguese, I wasn’t uber offended but was like: if you are going to change history change the names too, because this is just not true. And misrepresents Romans and Persians.
    I hope you read this before it gets downvoted into oblivion. If you don’t at least I vented one last time.

    chad28
    1. You’re welcome to read what you want to read. That’s your right, as much as it is ours to write what we want to write. Thanks for reading this long.

      I will say that I mentioned in multiple DanMachi comments, as well as in my DxD intro, that I may have taken one throwaway line (that rubbed me the wrong way) too seriously, and I should have applied the MST3K Mantra to the show; the simple fact is that I write these posts quickly—and have a policy of not editing (aside from typos) a post after it goes up (whitewashing the past won’t encourage me to be better in the future)—so sometimes I write things I wouldn’t have if I had more time to think about it. Such is the risk of posting immediately after watching an episode.

      As for Arslan, it’s a fantasy series. Look at the map:

      https://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2041.jpg

      If that’s featuring a clash between Iran (Pars) coming from the south, and Portugal (Lusitania) coming from the north, then I don’t know where they are. Around Istanbul would be my best guess, but it doesn’t look like that, nor did Portugal ever have land there to my knowledge. Gibraltar wouldn’t work for obvious reasons.

      Either way, thank you for reading.

      1. Ooo, good point on the arrow / Georgia location. I stand corrected.

        It does seem (to me) more like they’re using the Lusitanian name as a stand in for the Romans in general, perhaps? Either way, I wouldn’t take it as historical revisionism, especially since the story is made by a Japanese author, and they’re (and this is a generalization) not always totally clear on Western history (the same way Western people aren’t always clear on Japanese, Korean, or Chinese history). A humorous, comic example: http://www.marycagle.com/letsspeakenglish/64-oh-that-guy

        I digress. I wouldn’t take it as historical revisionism in the least, especially since the intended audience probably doesn’t know the history in question. (You’re diverting again Stilts, get back on point!) The author(s) are just using some real locations in a fictitious setting to tell a story, and while the idea of no particular side being good is a great one, having them all be good and evil in more or less the same way is … well, it can make for an interesting story, but it’s not always the story everyone wants to tell. Giving them identifiable differences while preventing them from being better (or worse) is a good backdrop for making a point. I think that’s the point of portraying these two sides as they are here, history be damned.

    2. If you’re getting offended because a Japanese fantasy story with magics that is 20+ years old had a fictional country that happened to have the same name as a province from your home country, you have more serious problems.

      Like, ones that probably requires a visit to a professional.

      FFS, that’s like a English man flipping out at F/SN, or Koreans at Akatsuki no Yona, or Chinese at every Romance of Three Kingdoms ever(and there are a lot of those), and Japanese at every anime featuring their highschool.

      You’re literally the kind of person they invented the “all person/organization/event are fictional” statement for.

      Mike
      1. Yeah I got a little heated. However I did not see any magic if I did maybe I wouldn’t done this. The funny part is that that warning always annoyed me: like of course this is fiction you don’t have to tell me that but I see its use now. Just i was kind of happy to see “Portuguese” in anime because I never seen it and then they had this really extremist view which is not real. But you are right I shouldn’t got heated over it. Mind you I was not mad or offended by it. I’m going to continue to watch it. And the post resulted from other stuff that not this anime as you can read.

        Chad28
  15. no portugal never landed there, but I think Romans battled Muslims around that area. I also think that Lusitania is being using instaead of Romans, which again is not a good choice.

    chad28
  16. I also heard that: “Arslan is based loosely on a Persian legend called Amir Araslan, and the entire setting is intended to be Persian in theme.” Not sure if true or not. Didn’t search for it.

    chad28
  17. “Persian in theme” means nothing but a theme, the overall atmosphere and some loose similarities. It doesn’t mean the story takes place in the real world and is history-based or even tries to be.

    Have you seen anybody pointing out in the comments for Vanadis, that we didn’t have any warrior princesses in Eastern Europe and some children can get a wrong idea of european history? I haven’t.

    brajt
    1. @ brajt @Chad28

      In this case, I’d point to that MST3K Manta I forgot to pay heed to the other day. I think the quirk here is that it’s too close to real life, so it almost seems real—it has an uncanny valley problem. But it’s still fictitious, and appears to be meant to be so (though I could be wrong!), so it should probably be treated as such until something changes.

    2. It’s a step close to historical fiction without actually being one. The author has his own story to tell. It just so happens that certain names, locations and other facts are used to create a setting. Besides, Show Spoiler ▼

      If you want to rant about historical simplification, there’s an abundance of Sengoku Jidai and Three Kingdoms anime out there for you to feast on.

      Aizen-chan
  18. I have to say that both Arslan and the Lusitanina boy were both right and wrong. Slavery is wrong no matter how you look at it, no man should live with chains but it´s worse to destroy anyone who think different from you, fanatism is one of the worst qualities of us humans and destroy everything it touches, even when the boy said all men are equal that does not give you the right to kill anyone who thinks differently , even worse if you use children as soldiers to spread your own version of the truth. As Stilts-san said, Arslan is inteligent and has a quality that many rulers lack: he thinks of hiself as a mortal who needs to learn to be good leader to his people; many rulers see themselfs as gods and try to act as such, causing untold suffering to their people. Mix this with the fact that Arslan is not happy with the current situation of his kingdom and you have the recipe for wise king.

    Tp quote a certain bastard from A Song of Ice and Fire: “To rule is not a right, it is a duty.”

    haseo0408
    1. The thing is, he doesn’t think of himself as a child, but as a warrior. It seems in this kingdom a young boy is already a man, probably with full rights too.

      It’s not that uncommon for teenagers to take part in wars as equal to adults. Quoting Wikipedia: “A young boy, Bugler John Cook, served in the U.S. Army at the age of 15 and received the Medal of Honor for his acts during the Civil War Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history. Several other minors, including 11-year-old Willie Johnston have also received the Medal of Honor.”

      brajt
    1. Even moreso it’s a show I give a damn about that’s getting a positive reception and in some degree of numbers too. Sorry but this is absolutely blowing my mind right now.

      Kaioshin Sama

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