The Heroic Legend of Arslan 1 & 2 – Bishonen Prince of Persia

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Arslan Senki is a series with a lot of story. It’s a series of novels, proper real novels not of the light variety, that started in 1986, thus making it older than me by eight years. Releases of recent novels, however, have been more and more scarce, thus making Dr. Yoshiki Tanaka the George R. R. Martin of Japan, minus all the blood and tits. Possibly.

It a multitude of adaptations, most notably a 90s manga, a 90s OVA which had beautiful animation until J.C.Staff took over. And now, the author of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa is now doing an adaptation. And it is glorious.

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Right off the bat we can tell Hiromu Arakawa did this manga. Aww, just look at him. Ain’t he cute? Yes, yes he is. I mean, Arslan looked very pretty in the 90s manga and OVA, but Arakawa dialed it up to eleven. Arslan is ridiculously adorable in this incarnation, as can be seen by the addition of puppy-dog eyes (or tareme if you’re speak moonspeak, or tareme eyes if you’re inclined to redundancy and/or are a troper). The girls in KinMoza wished they were this cute.

Arslan is also ludicrously sheltered and naïve. Like, so naïve he can’t even know why a slave would want to be free, or why war is a thing. He also doesn’t fit with his parents, but I don’t blame him for this one. His father has two moods, which are “mild irritation” and “wild irritation” and his mother is too busy channeling many femme fatales from 40s noir films.

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We are also introduced to a slave child (!) from the kingdom of Jerusalem Lusitania, who decides to channel the Prince of Persia and go through the rooftops of Ectbatana, the awkwardly named capital of Pars.

It’s a setup for a typical coming-of-age story in which a prince or princess or person or whatever has to learn to grow up and acquire a more nuanced view of life. This is specially evident in the second episode, when Pars’ army is defeated and Arslan is left alone with Daryun, resident badass. And now they must escape or something. My memories of the 90s OVA is blurry.

It’s a bit remiscient of Yona of the Dawn, although Arslan is much older and Yona just happened to come out earlier than this latest incarnation of Arslan. If anything, Yona is remiscient of Arslan. Or, and I know this will sound crazy, but maybe a noble losing his or her social status and then experiencing hardship and growing as a person is a common trope. It’s crazy, right?

Overall, I love this series so far. The worldbuilding and pacing are so far superb, the character dynamics are excellent and the music is awesome. If there’s one reservation I have is the animation because dear fucking Lord it is awful. The CG is pretty fine on its own, but the integration is horrendous. The shit is more often than not jarring, considering LIDEN FILMS’ animation is not exactly stellar, in contrast to Sanzigen’s dynamic camera angles and pretty good CG. Oh well. I’ll just have to snark loudly and wildly at it deal with it while I cover this series.

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