Project #259: Arslan Senki Part 1

Hello and welcome to Project Nitsuj. Guys, I just got done watching a great anime and wanted to share it with you guys. The anime I am talking about is Arslan Senki. Also known as the Heroic Legend of Arslan this fantasy/historical piece of work is a series that many believe came out in recent years, but in truth, it’s been around for years. The series originally started off as a light novel in 1986 written by Yoshiki Tanaka. The same guy who wrote classics such as Legend of the Galactic Heroes and Sohryuden: Legend of the Dragon Kings. Till this day the novel is still going on and follows the story of a young prince. The first part of the novel focuses on Arslan losing his land and claiming it back while the second part (the present story) shows Arslan ascending the throne and doing his best to keep his kingdom safe from neighboring countries. The series was a big hit even going as far as being called the “greatest historical fantasy novel ever written” and like all great novels back in the day it received a manga adaptation in 1991 written by Chisato Nakamura who also wrote Risou no Tsuma no Takurami wa. The manga ended abruptly in 1996 because it caught up to the novel at the time and thus got an original ending. During that time span an OVA series was also made based off the novel. From what I’ve heard the original plan was to use the OVAs to help spinoff an anime but due to funding issues it never took off. Fast forward to 2013 where the novel was once again given a manga adaptation this time written by Hiromu Arakawa the author of FMA and Silver Spoon who at the time was looking to challenge herself with more realistic stories that didn’t rely on magic. Her version of the series introduced a new generation to the series and as with all her works became a hit that in 2015 the production studio Linden Films along with Sanzigen took her version of the series and turned it into an anime. And I can’t think of a better way to end the year than by looking at this great series. Let’s take a historical venture into the past and look at Arslan Senki.

Opening and Ending

The opening is “Boku no Kotoba de wa nai, Kore wa Bokutachi no Kotoba” by UVERworld. You know your anime is going to be great when you got these guys doing the opening song, they never disappoint. This was hands down one of the best openings in 2015. Great vocals, instruments, energy, and a great band coming together to give us an opening that you’ll be rocking to for hours.

The ending is “Lapis Lazuri” by Eri Aoi. This is one of the best stylistic endings I have seen. The song is quite inspirational and beautiful. Whenever I hear it, I just picture the singer walking through a field at night with the full moon out and singing this song. Some people said this should have been the opening but no, this song is a bit slow for an opening in my opinion and works better as the ending because it reflects the personality of the main character Arslan. A gentle soul but at the same time a man who is prepared to fight for his land and people.

Episodes 1-4

We start the anime on the battlefield where this army known as the Lusitanian is trying to attack the Kingdom of Pars (which are in fact real groups of people from history. Lusitanian were Portuguese and Pars were Persians. Although they never fought each other in real life). Pars troops flank the Lusitanian on both sides surrounding and killing a majority of the troops while keeping a few alive as slaves to bring back to the kingdom. We go to the kingdom of Pars where we focus on our main character Arslan voiced by Yuusuke Kobayashi (Suu-won from Akatsuki no Yona) a kind-hearted child who is quite an airhead due to his spoiled and sheltered upbringing (because of this he comes across as a happy go lucky kid). We see that his parents aren’t too impressed with him (in fact I think there might be a little trouble between them in the sheets) because he doesn’t seem to have the drive of wanting to become a great warrior and king like his dad. When he finds out his father bought Lusitanian slaves into the kingdom Arslan is determined to talk to them in the hopes of understanding their culture and why they want to destroy his kingdom (well give the kid some credit he’s at least trying to understand his enemies). One of the slaves which is around Arslan age (11) escapes from his wooden prison and takes one of the children hostage. When he sees Arslan he captures and uses him as a hostage to escape the city and Arslan seems more than happy to be his hostage (the boy is a fruit loop. Scene here: https://youtu.be/V8deDeCo51s?t=7s). During his capture Arslan learns that the reason the Lusitanians want to invade so much is because they don’t like how the Kingdom of Pars treats people like slaves saying that all men are created equal (but that doesn’t mean they have to be treated as equals sadly). After they reach the outer wall of the kingdom they jump off the wall into a pool of water where the young Lusitanian warrior escapes by stealing a horse. One of the generals has a clear arrow shot at the warrior but Arslan gets in the way forcing the general to miss. Arslan is bought back into the kingdom where we see the other Lusitanian warriors were killed because they were unruly (if you were about to be turned into a slave you be unruly too) and Arslan takes what he learned from the Lusitanian boy to heart. The episode ends with us fast-forwarding 3 years into the future where Arslan is now 14, the Lusitanian army is knocking on the doorsteps of Pars and Arslan is about to enter his first battle.

In episode 2 the forces of Pars prepare for war on the plain and open battlefield which seems to be in their favor as they have the numbers and better knowledge of the field (but do they have the better strategy?). Fog sets in due to rain and covers the whole battlefield where one of the elite soldiers named Daryun voiced by Yoshimasa Hosoya (Kojou from Strike the Blood) tells the king that they should fall back and retreat (good idea, let’s pack up and fall back) even going as far as saying that someone in their ranks might be a traitor. But the king refuses to listen to him and demotes him to a common soldier for talking back to him (he wasn’t talking back to you idiot he was making an obvious observation. Get your head out of your ass). The attack horns go off and everyone marches into battle where the forces of Lusitanian are waiting and ready for them. As the forces of Pars are charging they fall into a moat of oil and a good chunk of their forces get burned to death (scene here: https://youtu.be/tXBtoVv3zwg?t=7s). They then fall into another trap where Lusitanian troops have built towers where their archers can attack from up high (this was a brilliant plan). Arslan loses all of his troops but he does get one good kill in on a soldier before he becomes surrounded by Lusitanian forces which are being led by the traitor Kharlan (somewhere on the battlefield Daryun is laughing his head off while saying: “called it bitches”). As Kharlan is about to kill Arslan, Daryun comes in to save him.

In episode 3 Daryun faces off against the traitorous bastard Kharlan (or Judas if you will) forcing him to retreat from the battle (coward). Arslan’s dad Andragoras also begrudgingly retreats as well where Kharlan’s loyal spies take out the horn blowers signally everyone to retreat and begin running around the battlefield telling everyone that the king fled the battle and left everyone for dead (man they have really picked their spots for this battle. It’s pretty impressive). This causes the morale of the troops to fall, generals begin fighting amongst themselves (with one of them oddly resembling Mustang from FMA), and leaving them as easy pickings for the Lusitanian army. As the king is taking a route back to the capital he gets ambushed by the Lusitanian army which are being commanded by this guy named Silver Mask (a relative of the Silver Surfer no doubt) who carries a deep hatred for Andragoras. Silver Mask takes down not only Daryun’s uncle but he also takes out Andragoras. Back with Arslan and Daryun they decide to seek help from Narsus an old friend of Daryun who lives in the forest somewhere in the mountains. They arrive in the forest and find Narsus voiced by Daisuke Namikawa (Yu from Persona 4 the Animation) who’s happy to greet them.

In the first half of episode 4 we find out that Narsus was quite the strategist in the past. A long time ago three kingdoms joined forces to destroy Pars and Narsus’s father was called in to provide backup for Pars troops. Instead, they got Narsus who bought no troops and freed all of his slaves (I like this guy). Naturally, Andragoras was pretty pissed about this however Narsus said he’ll deliver victory to the king with no problems whatsoever. To do this he freed all the slaves that belonged to the armies attacking Pars and began spreading rumors among them such as one of the armies being traitors. This caused a rift to form between the three armies and they turned on each other allowing Pars to come in and take them all out with ease (like pigs to the slaughter). Back in the present, Daryun tries to get Narsus to come with them on their journey but he refuses to go saying he’s done with politics and war and just wants to paint (which he’s not good at). The next morning Kharlan’s troops come to Narsus’s house (thanks to Daryun who purposely led them there in order to get Narsus to join them on their journey) where they reveal that Daryun’s uncle is dead and try to recruit Narsus to their side. He says no prompting Kharlan’s forces to attack him but he opens up a trap door and drops them into a hole (I like this guy he uses his head to beat his enemies). They all have dinner (with Kharlan’s man still stuck down the hole) where Arslan asks Narsus to join them on their journey promising to make him the Court Painter. This gets Narsus to agree to their request and he and his errand boy Elam voiced by Natsuki Hanae (Ken from Tokyo Ghoul) join Arslan’s army.

Episodes 5-8

In episode 5 Arslan and his gang of merry men leave the cabin and hide in a cave for the time being until Kharlan’s men have grown tired of looking for them. While they do that the Lusitanian army are at the front door of the capital of Pars. They beat up Shapur one of the generals of Pars right in front of the soldiers where he begs the soldiers of Pars to kill him with an arrow saying he’d rather die by the hands of a friend than by these barbarians (that is so badass). He gets killed by a new character named Gieve voiced by KENN (Jinbei from Mushibugyou) a self-proclaimed traveling musician who is actually a rogue of all trades skilled with a bow, sword, and lance (scene here: https://youtu.be/mUBvWX_oGB0). After he kills Shapur he is bought before the queen where one hand maiden reveals that they had a one-night stand with him claiming he’s a prince from another land (yeah, he lied). This calls into question his musician skills so the queen has him play something for her to confirm who he is (the song is good but the lyrics need work). The kingdom of Pars does a good job holding off the forces of Lusitanian however they forgot the soldiers of Lusitanian on the inside, the slaves. Lusitanians start pleading the slaves to rise up from their suppressors and fight their way to freedom promising them wealth and riches beyond their wildest dreams if they help Lusitania (that is brilliant. This is all because of the king’s own foolishness by not listening to Narsus).

In episode 6 the kingdom of Pars is slowly but surely destroying itself. The slaves are staging small riots, the people are constantly speaking bad about them right to their faces (not the smartest people), and one of the generals killed 10 of them (why would you do that knowing the situation you’re in) which only increases their resolve to fight back. One of the generals pleads with the queen to free the slaves and offer them better treatment but she says she needs time to think on it because it goes against the laws of Pars (think on it!? Your kingdom is falling apart. Screw your traditions and do what needs to be done and you might live to see tomorrow. God, between her and her asshole of a husband it’s hard to believe they gave birth to Arslan). The slaves are soon rounded up and thrown in prison (you’re only making things worse) and Gieve is given the mission to escort the queen out of the kingdom secretly (she’s abandoning her people. They realize they’re gonna lose so they’ve decided to abandon their people and save the only person that matters. We wouldn’t be in this situation if you had just listen to Narsus). Gieve escorts her highness through the underground waterways where he quickly finds out that the person he’s escorting isn’t the queen it’s a hand maid, the real queen is escaping somewhere else, and he was just a scapegoat to buy them time (that’s politics for ya). The hand maid attacks and runs away from Gieve where she runs into Silver Mask and Kharlan who are using the waterways to sneak into the kingdom. They kill her and leave the guards to handle Gieve where he easily beats them, takes their money (not like they’ll be needing it where they’re going) and takes his leave (scene here: https://youtu.be/b7q63JudVxA?t=6s). The Lusitanian forces invade the palace, set the place on fire (burn baby burn), and free the slaves who open up the main gates allowing the Lusitanian forces to overrun Pars forces and destroy the kingdom (a well thought out plan). Back with Arslan and the others they decide their best plan is to capture Kharlan to get a better scope of the situation they’re in and they finally prepare to leave the mountain.

Episode 7 starts off with us meeting the king of Lusitania, Innocentis VII (and he is faaaaaaat~. Didn’t know Jabba the Hutt had a son). He takes control of the palace and Silver Mask caught the queen and presents her to Innocentis who falls in love with her beauty and wants to marry her (just don’t sleep in the same bed as him). We also see that the queen has a long history of driving men insane. Before she married Andragoras she was married to two other kings before him with one killing the other to win her, the other committing suicide, and Andragoras killed his own brother just to have her (wow, and you want to marry this woman despite knowing her bad luck with men). Once Innocentis’s brother Guiscard here’s about this he tries to talk Innocentis out of it but he’s not listening to him. While that’s going on we focus on Etoile that Lusitanian soldier who escaped using Arslan as a hostage in episode 1. He’s looking for the slaves who he was captured with 3 years ago but can’t seem to find them. When one of the soldiers tries to rape a villager he goes to stop him only to see that the villager is actually Elam in disguise (so is this a side hobby Elam? Because if so I’m concerned for you). They have a short fight with Elam winning and escaping because the slaves got in Etoile’s way demanding their freedom and money (and cowbell). Elam returns to Arslan and the others and tells them that Kharlan has left the capital to go on the hunt for Arslan. Narsus predicts that Kharlan will attack and burn a village to the ground in the hopes of finding Arslan or striking fear into villagers who aid him. This prompts Arslan to saddle up and find Kharlan before he destroys a village. In another part of the story Gieve is on the road where he sees a beautiful woman being harassed by Lusitanian forces. Gieve’s plan is to save her so she’ll owe him one (in other words sleep with her) but we see that she doesn’t need much saving (beautiful and strong. I like that combination in a woman). When Gieve catches up to her she reveals herself to be Farangis a priestess of the goddess Mithra voiced by Maaya Sakamoto (Crona from Soul Eater). She was sent from her temple to the capital of Pars to meet Arslan.

Episode 8 starts off by us finding out Farangis’s temple was a donation upon Arslan’s birth and was the high priest’s dying wish that when a matter of importance befell Arslan one of their most talented and strongest (and sexiest) priestess would go to help him (they want to make a man out of him). Farangis says she was tasked with this mission because everyone at the temple is jealous of her and wanted to be rid of her (haters gonna hate). Gieve decides to join her in her mission to have sex with her (give him credit he’s at least being honest about it) and they follow Kharlan’s troops hoping to find Arslan and the others. At Kharlan’s camp they find a bandit who say Arslan is heading south (I don’t believe you). Kharlan not believing him cuts his head off (see. You suck at lying) and hears from one of his soldiers that Arslan has headed north (if your wrong, he will chop your head off). He has all his troops move in the night through a narrow dark mountain passage (and you just screwed yourself big time) and falling into Narsus’s trap. Arslan makes his presence known on top of the hillside where the soldiers try to attack but he shoots them down with Elam’s bow and arrow (alright he’s a fighter). While he’s stalling for time Narsus along with Farangis and Gieve use the darkness to slice up soldiers and scare them into thinking they’re surrounded by a powerful army (wow it doesn’t take much to scare these guys does it?). Kharlan’s troops begin to panic and retreat leaving Kharlan to take on Daryun in a lance battle (well it’s a nice change from the typical sword fights). Daryun wins after Kharlan slips and falls on his lance (we’ll just write he died a horrible death to Daryun) but before dying he informs Arslan that his father is still alive (and the good news?) and they decide to head to the capital of Pars to find him. After the credits we see Andragoras locked up in a prison and Silver Mask reveals his real name, Hermes.

Episodes 9-12

In episode 9 Narsus and Daryun infiltrate the capital of Pars in the hope of finding Andragoras (hopefully when they find him he’ll be off his high horse). While in the city they see the archbishop of the Lusitania faith named Bodin go mad over the thought of the king marrying Arslan’s mom (don’t worry, he’ll flatten her on their first night together. It’ll be a short marriage just like those celebrity couples) so he vents his anger out on the citizens by destroying their literature, medical books and history (stealing food and land is one thing but to destroy their heritage that’s just wrong on so many levels). Back with Arslan, while out getting water with Elam he sees a farmer and his daughter getting harassed by Lusitanian soldiers and goes to help them with a pickaxe (that’s new). The soldiers get scared away by Etoile who recognizes Arslan and still doesn’t know that Arslan is actually the prince of Pars (can’t say I blame him. I still can’t believe Arslan and his dad are related to each other). They get into a pretty interesting and intense discussion about the Lusitanian faith and Arslan argues about what they’re doing contradicts what they’re religion teaches them not to do (oh~ nice Arslan). Their discussion gets stopped by Elam who shows up prepared to fight but Arslan stops him and Etoile leaves but not before Arslan tells him that his friends are dead. Etoile thanks him for the information and gives him a book about the Lusitanian religion (you just gave him more ammo Etoile). Back in the capital Daryun comes across Hermes and fights him in a very cool one on one swordfight where Daryun manages to destroy his mask and reveal half of his face burnt (Zuko? Is that you? So, this is what did before the Legend of Korra). Narsus joins the fight as well and they’re forced to retreat and leave the city when reinforcements show up.

In episode 10, realizing they need reinforcements to reclaim the capital, Arslan’s group goes to meet Hodir a powerful landlord and ally of Pars (on the surface at least). He welcomes them to his fortress and tries to get Arslan to marry his daughter who is 13 years old (well they’re close age wise). He seems to be on Arslan’s side but when Arslan declares he’s going to free all the slaves (good on ya Arslan) Hodir rolls his eyes but he makes sure Arslan doesn’t see it (yeah, he’s going to betray us isn’t he?). That night Hodir goes to Arslan’s room and gives Arslan’s two conditions to have his loyalty. One, marry his daughter (they haven’t even met yet) and two, don’t free the slaves (and my one condition is that you jog all that fat off). Arslan tells the others this and they prepare for a battle at night. Hodir tries to trick Arslan into believing Daryun and the others have betrayed him but Arslan sees through his lie (not that it was a good one to be begin with) and Arslan goes off on him. They decide to leave but Hodir refuses to be treated like a fool so he attacks the group and gets himself killed by Daryun. The rest of the soldiers lose the will to fight and open the gates where Arslan goes to the house of the slaves and frees them however once they find out that Hodir is dead they try to avenge him by killing Arslan (well this could have gone better). They manage to escape where Narsus said he knew this would happened and used this as a way to teach Arslan a lesson (sometimes the best teacher is experience). Narsus explains that 5 years ago he too freed all the slaves in his village but a year later they all came back asking to be slaves again because they found it easier to live as slaves under a good master (to be fair that does hold up. In some cultures, some slaves were treated very well. Some were even given rights, food, shelter, and education for their labor. So, for them I guess it came down to do I want to be a poor free person or do I want to be a slave who despite not getting paid I’m at least being fed). At the end of the episode Arslan decides to head east towards Peshawar.

In episode 11 we finally learn that Hermes is the older brother of Arslan’s asshole of a father. When he was young Andragoras set his room on fire and even killed their father to become king. Hermes somehow survived the fire, but his face got the Zuko treatment. Now, he has returned and seeks revenge against Andragoras and to assume his rightful seat on the throne. The only person standing in his way now is Arslan who he wants dead. Hermes sends Xandes the son Kharlan after Arslan’s party and we see that the Bodin has pretty much gone crazy with power and just wants to kill people so he’s called his holy knights (would somebody please kill this guy. Everything that comes out of his mouth agitates me to no end). Back with Arslan’s party they continue to make their way towards the Peshawar citadel the last stronghold of the kingdom of Pars with a large army. They take many detours to avoid ambushes but at night Xandes and his forces find them and they have no choice but to fight. Daryun stays behind to fight Xandes and his men and Narsus and Farangis get separated from the group as they try to escape in the forest leaving Arslan, Elam, and Gieve to run. Farangis helps out Daryun with his fight with Xandes who displays amazing strength with his heavy sword but is no match for Daryun who spares his life because Daryun sees no honor in striking a man not riding a horse (didn’t seem to concern you when you fought the no-name soldiers in earlier episodes). With Xandes weak and exhausted Daryun and Farangis use this chance to escape. Back with Arslan and the others they fight through the Lusitanian forces to escape where Elam’s horse gets shot and Elam becomes stranded and has no choice but to fight. Arslan returns to save Elam shocking Gieve greatly because according to him all royals are selfish individuals who care about no one but themselves (the same can be said about big corporations). Arslan and Elam become surrounded so Gieve saves them by tossing his bags of gold coins at them and it works (wow. The loyalty and focus of these soldiers is seriously low). The three escape through a cavern where they reach a ledge and have no escape. There’s a river down below but the jump is too dangerous to make (they don’t get that urge to jump feeling). But Gieve has a plan. They hide the horses and duck away underneath the ledge to trick their pursuers into thinking they jumped. The plan works and the captain orders his troops to search the riverbank while he surveys the ledge only to get killed by Gieve. The three manage to escape their pursuers and continue to Peshawar hoping to meet back up with the others.

The first part of episode 12 focuses on Narsus. After being separated from everyone Narsus tries to take a shortcut to Peshawar by cutting through the Zot clan territory a territory ruled by this gang of thieves known as the Zots (I’m assuming zits was taken). The Zot’s attack Hermes who was passing through the region where Hermes kills the Zot’s leader and the rest of the clan go down with him. The only one left standing is a 16-year old girl named Alfreed (adding an extra ’e’ doesn’t make her name feminine) voiced by Manami Numakura (Hibiki from The Idolm@ster). She tries to avenge her clan but she’s obviously no match for Hermes and just when she’s about to die she gets saved by Narsus who lures Hermes into a trap and escapes while crushing a majority of his troops with falling boulders. Once Narsus and Alfreed are safe she decides to travel with him because one, she wants to avenge her clan and traveling with Narsus will lead her to him and two, she’s fallen for Narsus despite there being a 10-year difference between them (wow, Narsus caught a wild waifu). In the second half we focus on the others. Arslan’s group is almost at Peshawar but Arslan senses that Daryun and Farangis are in danger (my MC senses are tingling) and sure enough they are. Xandes and his troops have found Daryun and Farangis and are fighting them once again. This time around Xandes has the help of a dark sorcerer who can move through the shadows at will (and they were doing so well avoiding the magic element). Just when the dark sorcerer is about to strike Daryun from behind he gets saved by Arslan (shades of the Hobbit) who in turn gets saved by Daryun who just mows down enemy troops in a badass way (breaking the laws of physics) to reach Arslan and kill the dark sorcerer (scene here: https://youtu.be/dCLy38mEcjg). Realizing he’s on the verge of losing Xandes tries to runaway (coward) but Farangis shoots him with an arrow and he falls off a cliff killing himself. Once the rest of the forces are beaten they continue on their journey to Peshawar.

And this seems like a good place to stop for the time being. Pretty exciting right? Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj.

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