As I said in my previous post about this series, the animation in Arslan sucks fat wet asses. However, like those cheap mints they give out in lobbies worldwide that taste like damp armpits, it does have a certain charm to it. Like in the above picture, where it’s animated much fluider than regular, yet it still somehow manages to simultaneously fail and succeeed at being a fight scene.
The choreography is seriously lacking, with Old Mentor Dude repeatedly failing to actually connect but somehow being able to slash his opponents. It’s more remiscient of a bunch of gradeschoolers playing pretend at the schoolyard rather than epic high fantasy combat. But that’s what made this scene so much fun to to watch, and I wouldn’t have it otherwise unless they got the GARO fight choreographer on board. That’d be swell.
But enough about the animation.
…Let’s talk about Old Mentor Dude’s death. Old Mentor Dude’s death was rather predictable from the onset. It’s just an expected trope for these type of shows to have the mentor killed so the main character can go through their character arc – Obi-Wan in Star Wars, Kamina in Gurren Lagann, Will A. Zeppeli in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Mami in Madoka Magica. It’s a well-known, tried and tested trope.
Don’t get me wrong, tropes are not bad. It’s downright necessary for the mentor to be killed in this type of stories. Main characters need the mentor to be gone so they can form their own worldview and grow more badass and such. Stories of this type that fail to do this often suck, like a manga I forgot its name and can’t be bothered to look up because it was awful because the mentor was brought back and all character development was unceremoniously undone. And then the story proceeded to go nowhere. Some stories did go somewhere and were actually great, like the second half of the aforementioned JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, but Araki doesn’t play by the rest of humanity’s rules.
However I think something is a bit… off about how they killed Old Mentor Dude here. I’m slightly bothered by how unceremonious it was. Still, it was an effective and emotional scene, and it didn’t feel terribly rushed. It would have helped if Old Mentor Dude got developed a little bit more, as I really liked Old Mentor Dude. He needs his own spin-off. Perpetual Irritation King is also killed rather unceremoniously, but I would be lying if I said the direction of the scene didn’t bring the full emotional impact the scene deserved, so kudos.
Anyway, I rambled too much there. Let’s move on to other things this episode has to offer.
We are introduced to other characters, who, in the finest Legend of the Galactic Heroes style (minus beautiful animation by Artland), are accompanied by captions detailing their position and name. And like Legend of the Galactic Heroes, I’m too stupid to remember all their names, so I must resort to nicknames.
On the left is General Tsundere, and on the right is Arabia Guts. They are pretty entertaining characters, and are the highlights of this episode, mostly because of their homolust-filled dynamic. But I’m a filthy fujoshi, so feel free to dismiss my opinion.
In this episode, to the greatest yaoi couple to ever grace high fantasy officially starts. We are talking, of course, about Arslan and Daryun. If there’s one thing about the 90s OVA I remember clearly is the crazy amount of homoerotic subtext between these two (although it may be my filthy fujoshi brain digging up old memories). What’s also not helping is the cheesy flowery high fantasy dialogue between them which makes things sound unintentionally romantic. Well, not that gifting your prized, cool-looking horse can be not romantic.
Overall, this was a solid episode, despite some confusion regarding the world. It’d be nice if Arslan gave quick notes during eyecatches, like Attack on Titan or Knights of Sidonia, although it works well as is.