Project #261: Arslan Senki Part 3

Hello and welcome to Project Nitsuj. Welcome everyone to the final review of 2017, Arslan Senki S2. Coming out in 2016 roughly a year after the first season ended, season 2 is also known as the Dust Dance Storm and serves as a sequel to the first season. This time produced by Linden Films and Felix Films the season was a big shock to everyone not because they weren’t expecting it but because it was only going to be 8 episodes. 8 episodes? That’s not even a full anime season. It made no sense, especially since there was enough material to go on for at least 12 episodes and a lot of fans who were eager to continue the story were upset by this but they tuned in anyway to show their support and enjoy. Was this season good or just a waste of time? Let’s find out by dancing in the dust with Arslan Senki S2.

Opening and Ending Theme

The opening for this season is “Tsubasa” by Eri Aoi. Looks like the studios took our advice and let her do the opening and she delivers. The opening is quite epic and gives off that new beginnings feel to it. I really do like the middle eastern feel the song gives off which fits perfectly with this series. Eri is of course great to listen to and like I said before she knocks it out of the park here.

The ending is “blaze” by Kalafina and this is hands down my favorite ending out of all of them. Once again this sounds like it would fit as an opening to the anime but it works out well as an ending as well. The song is beautiful, Kalafina are always great to listen to, and I like how inspiring the song sounds. Definitely my favorite out of all the endings.

Episodes 1-4

So the season starts off on an epic note with a battle (man they knew how to get our attention). The battle is taking place back at the Peshawar Fortress where the forces of Turan the conquerors of the plains (they sound plain) have launched an attack on the fortress knowing that the country is in the middle of a war and the fortress is undermanned (I should complain about this but like I said earlier, war is never fair. You find out your opponent’s weaknesses and situations and exploit them for your benefit). As the forces of Pars are losing Arslan and his army return predicting something like this would happen and thanks to a message from Rajenda alerting them, join the battle where they force Turan to retreat (go back to your plains and eat your plain rolls). After that we focus on Gieve where he spots Hermes traveling to Mount Demavant. He’s here looking for Kaykhusraw’s (good luck pronouncing that) tomb the founder and hero of Pars where he hopes to retrieve his holy sword as a way to prove that he’s the rightful heir to the throne (you’re gonna raid the tomb of your founder and ancestor just to prove you deserve the throne? And people say I’m crazy. (Mira): You are. But you’re a good kind of crazy). He finds the tomb and takes the treasured sword Rukhnabad only to have it stolen by Gieve who loses the sword to Bodin’s knights while trying to escape from Hermes. Back in the capital Guiscard goes to talk to Andragoras to confirm if Hermes really is the lost heir of Pars (or just some crazy guy wearing a silver mask who thinks he’s royalty. That’s the kind of vibe I get from him). Instead of answering questions Andragoras instead breaks the chains off the wall, takes out the guards, and takes Guiscard hostage (holy shit that was badass but makes no sense whatsoever). It turns out Andragoras has been playing possum over the last year or so weakening the chains with his sweat making them get rusty and waiting for his time to act (sneaky bastard). So he takes Guiscard hostage, takes control of the throne room, and has everyone in the castle stand down as he’s reunited by Tahamine (Arslan’s mom) who just wants Arslan back (oh now you care about him?). As the episode ends we also see Etoile and the rest of the refugees return to the capital (boy are they in for a surprise).

At the start of episode 2 we see Andragoras escape with Tahamine and Guiscard as his hostage in a carriage where the Lusitanian troops chase after them. Andragoras fights a few of them off and finally throws Guiscard throwing off his pursuers promising to return and reclaim the throne (now we have three people fighting for the throne with two of them being crazy). Back at Peshwar the king of Turan, Tokhtomysh (I’m just gonna call him Moe) shows up to lead his troops on a night attack before Pars can get reinforcements to arrive and aid them. Moe gets under Arslan’s skin after killing a few innocent villagers in front of him and the army of Pars launches out to face them where Arslan takes the lead himself and goes to face Moe himself where he holds his own against him but gets stuck by a cliff where he has no escape but luckily Gieve returns to save him and they manage to force Turan to retreat yet again where one of the generals kills Moe for retreating and wanting to parley with Pars. Once things have settled Gieve tells them what happened last episode and as the episode winds down Andragoras arrives in Peshwar where he basically exiles Arslan (you motherfucking prick). He wants Arslan to assemble new men to retake the lands and he can’t return until his men number 50,000.

In the first half of episode 3 we focus on Hermes trying to pick up Bodin’s trail (follow the buzzards and you shall find what you’re looking for). In his search he comes across a carriage being attacked by bandits. At first he ignores it but once he sees the passenger inside is a young woman he springs into action to save her (woah Hermes I didn’t think you were a guy out to get some booty. I thought it was give me throne or I kill everyone). The woman in the carriage is Irina the princess from a foreign kingdom who is blind but actually recognizes Hermes’s voice and calls out to him only to get no response from him. We then see a flashback where after Hermes was brutally burned and left for dead, he was rescued by that sorcerer who told him to go off, train, and come back strong where he would provide him support (you have my unexplained and unneeded magic). He took up shelter in a neighboring kingdom where he met Irina where they hit it off quite well and even fell in love with each other. Hermes even tells her about him being the true heir to Pars and that once he takes the throne he’ll come back for her (wow this is unexpected. The antagonist of this series having a love life. Yeah, he’s doing all of this to regain the throne he believes is rightfully his but still he’s also doing this in the hopes of being happy and spending his life with the person he loves. It really brings new light to the character). One night the neighboring kingdom betrays Pars and sides with the Lusitanians giving up Hermes to them. Hermes manages to fight them off, saves Irina from them and escapes taking up the name Silver Mask and beginning his quest to reclaim the throne. In the second part we return to Arslan’s story where everyone is in shock at what Andragoras has done (I’m telling you guys, if we all gang up on him right now we can take him down) but none more than Daryun and Arslan where Andragoras adds the stipulation that Daryun, Narsus, and the others are to remain in Peshwar with him (uh no, I think I’ll stick with Arslan. I don’t know if he’s your son, Hermes’s son, or even a member of the royal family at this point but the truth is I really don’t give a damn. At the end of the day the bottom line is he would make a far better king than either you or Hermes). Of course they don’t agree with this and escape Peshwar, catch up to Arslan, and vow to stick by his side because he’s the one they want to serve.

In episode 4 Arslan’s group arrives in Gilan a port town where they go to meet Narsus’s old school buddy Shagad a merchant in the city who can hopefully get them an audience with the viceroy of the city as well as negotiate with the other merchants. Shagad seems more than willing to cooperate and help out however he says there might be a few problems with the merchants. Arslan’s vow to abolish slavery has reached their ears (wow, the word spreads slow. This is why we’re thankful for the internet) and they don’t like that (paying people to work for me, worker rights? What the hell kind of madness is this?). Even Shagad seems to not like the idea of abolishing slavery but he hides it from everyone until Narsus picks up on it. The next day the group goes to meet Pelgius viceroy of Gilan (the biggest brown-noser if I ever saw one. Seriously, he might as well suck Arslan’s dick or let him piss in his mouth) who wants to help but can’t because the city has a huge pirate problem. The group is a bit suspicious of this statement but as they talk a ship does in fact get attacked by pirates (uh sorry guys the set of One Piece is that way) and Daryun, Gieve, Farangis, and Jaswant spring into action where they scare the pirates off after Daryun kills off some of them.

Episodes 5-8 and OVAs

We open episode 5 with Graze the captain of the ship thanking Daryun and the others and also confirming that yes the pirates are a big deal in the area and have been attacking ships constantly. Once they reach port Daryun introduces Graze to Arslan where he’s quite shocked to meet him (I know, he’s so puny and cute. Nothing like his father). Once they inform Graze about the current situation in Pars they ask him to talk to the other merchants in the hopes that they’ll finance the army Arslan is building (nobody fights for free). He agrees to help them by being their financial backer and with him on the team all that’s left is the viceroy who they don’t trust (and why should you?) and who is secretly hoarding all the money in the city for himself (Pars truly was a corrupted kingdom under Andragoras’s rule). In order to catch him they need to sneak into his vault and find his paperwork and in order to keep him distracted they use Farangis as a lady from a foreign land wanting to be in Pelgius’s concubine (ha, as if you could handle someone like Farangis). While Farangis keeps him distracted, Gieve sneaks into the vault to find the evidence he needs but comes up short until he comes across a courier carrying the information he needs and seduces it away from her using some of the most cliché lines ever (but since it’s him, they just sound awesome). With this information presented before Arslan, he finds Pelgius guilty, strips him of his title, and banishes him from the land. The next day Arslan takes over the city until a new viceroy can be decided (or better yet, turn this into your kingdom and overthrow Hermes and your cruel “father”) and returns the money to the people (that’s one way to win them over). With this issue solved they can turn their attention to the pirates who are obviously getting their information from Shagad and working for him (seriously, he doesn’t even try to hide it. We know it’s him). As Narsus has his suspensions about Shagad the pirates attack Gilan but can’t make it to the port because of the tides being controlled by Arslan’s group. They send out flaming barrels to their ships which set them on fire as Daryun and Graze board their ships and begin killing the pirates until the remaining ones surrender (you were doomed the minute Daryun appeared).

In episode 6 we return to the capital of Pars which isn’t doing so well. Guiscard locks Innocentis in his room (was it really necessary? He’s so big I doubt he can fit through the door) and takes command of the capital where it’s facing a number of problems. Food supplies are low, soldier morale is down, and the aqua ducts have been broken (way to fuck up the capital guys). Guiscard decides in order for him to gain full control of the capital and get everyone on his side he has to kill Innocentis and his opportunity comes in the form of Irina and Etoile. Irina was captured and bought to the capital where we find out her kingdom as well as her family was destroyed by Lusitania and Etoile was asked by Innocentis to speak with Guiscard and get him out of his room. Etoile manages to meet with Guiscard who tricks her into bringing Innocentias to Irina’s room where she takes out a knife and stabs him but doesn’t kill him because of all that fat. Not having any other choice, he decides to use Etoile and Irina as his scapegoats and execute both of them calling Etoile a traitor who orchestrated the whole assassination attempt (yikes! Betrayed by the people she serves). As Irina is at the stake about to be burned Hermes come in with his men to save her and escapes with her by his side cutting his ties with Guiscard. As for Etoile she got saved by Alfreed’s older brother Merlane who’s been looking for her and has been serving as Irina’s bodyguard. Etoile tells him he’s met his sister and they decide to travel together to meet up with Arslan and his group.

In episode 7 Shagad attacks the city with the pirates after believing that Arslan’s main fighters went out to search for the gold the pirates talked about which is obviously a lie. Shagad easily takes over the city but Narsus shows up with the Zot clan (see Narsus, being Alfreed’s husband has benefits) and together with the townsfolk they retake the city and force Shagad to retreat with Narsus right behind him hoping to settle the score with his old friend. The former friends fight out at sea where Narsus receives a big time assist from Azrael (that’s awesome) and beats Shagad but doesn’t kill him (even though he has every right to). So Shagad gets arrested along with the rest of the surviving pirates (I’m assuming Daryun got tired or something) and as punishment Shagad will spend one year living the life of a slave (wow, one year? That’s pretty lenient. Back in those times indentured criminals served a sentence of 6 years of slavery). With Shagad defeated Gilan falls completely under Arslan’s rule and they round up all the pirates in the area making the sea safe again (damn, I’m starting think Arslan should run for president. He gets stuff done). At the end of the episode Etoile makes it to Gilan and begs Arslan for help (yay, the ship is sailing again).

In the final episode Etoile tells them everything that’s happened in the capital (it’s like a soap opera there) and begs Arslan to save Innocentis and in return the forces of Lusitania will leave Pars and offer up an apology for all the people killed (an apology?! You think an apology’s gonna make up for what you guys did?). The group is hesitant to take up this offer not because they don’t trust her but because she holds no power (the one who holds power doesn’t understand responsibility and the one who holds nothing understands responsibility. Huh, politics in a nutshell). While that’s going on we see that Andragoras is readying his troops to march upon the capital and reclaim it while Hermes has found out where Bodin has been hiding, raids his camp in a surprise attack, and reclaims Rukhnabad for himself. With the sword of his ancestors in his hands, Hermes turns his attention to the capital and prepares to claim it for himself as the new and true ruler of Pars. Back with Arslan he decides to join the battle despite not having the number of troops required to come back (screw that man, he’s not even your real father. Fuck him and take the throne and fuck Hermes too) and decides to trust Etoile to convince those in power to take responsibility. In the end Arslan wants to try and settle things as peacefully as possible without the need of senseless bloodshed and even though he knows there’s a high chance of him facing off against Andragoras and Hermes he’s still determined to fight and become the king that the people want and need. The short season ends (which shouldn’t be short to begin- no no, I swore I wouldn’t get angry about that. I am a professional, and I will conduct myself as such. But for the record I would like to say this short season is a slap in the face and if they don’t make a film, third season, or even an OVA concluding this series I will lead my own army of 50,000 men to Japan and the first thing we’re doing is launching an attack on Liden Films. You have been warned) with all three armies of Pars heading to the capital for what will be an epic 4-way battle for the capital and an even more epic battle for the throne.

There are 2 OVAs which are original stories written by Hiromu Arakawa herself. The first one takes place before the group met Alfreed. They’re camping out when Daryun and Narsus decide to patrol the area while Elam and Farangis go to wash the dishes leaving Arslan alone with Gieve (this was clearly not the best choice). During their time alone, Gieve tries to get Arslan to focus on his love life by telling him made up stories about how Narsus, Daryun, and Elam each got stronger because they were in love. Being the innocent and easily influenced person Arslan is he takes Gieve’s stories to heart and learns how to be charming from Gieve. The others, sensing Arslan is in danger rush back to the campsite where Arslan has become charming (and shiny. His smile could light up the night). His charming nature actually hypnotizes the men until Farangis (of all people) snaps them out of it and this in turn breaks Arslan out of Gieve’s hold (scene here:

The second OVA takes place after Rajendra becomes the new king of Shindra. The group is at a banquet hosted by Rajendra where we get all types of light-hearted jokes and laughs. They have a curry eating contest and find a missing cat contest. It’s a funny episode and I do like how the people behind this series can take a series that for the most part is serious but take time to make it light-hearted.

Final Thoughts

Man this series really does live up to its title of being the best historical fantasy series. It is awesome from beginning to end. Let’s start with the first season. The first season does a good job setting up the story and introducing characters. I love how they each contribute something to the team and no one ever feels useless. The character of Arslan is enjoyable in that he’s always willing to learn. He knows he’s not entirely ready for the throne yet but he’s willing to learn and listen to what others have to say and decide the best course of action. When the time comes for him to take action he takes action. He’s determined to be a kind-hearted king something that’s very hard to do but he’s set in his ways and won’t back down from them. Probably the two best characters on his team are Daryun and Narsus. I like how Daryun and Arslan have this big brother/little brother bond and I like how Daryun is so loyal to Arslan. Even if Arslan isn’t from the royal bloodline and has no right to the throne, Daryun remains loyal to him not because it’s the final wish of his uncle but because he believes in his heart that Arslan is a person worth serving and dying for. Jaswant was kind of the same way. He pledges his loyalty to Arslan not to Pars showing that he thinks serving Arslan and making him the king is what’s best for Pars. Narsus has a teacher/student relationship with Arslan where he teaches Arslan the right path to be a true king. He never tries to control Arslan or tell him what he should do and shouldn’t do or think. The rest of the characters are good as well but don’t get utilized as well as I would hope. Elam is a good male friend for Arslan, Farangis is like an older sister, and Gieve the bad older brother who’s reliable and gets a good laugh out of you. They’re all good characters, I just wish they had more interactions with Arslan so we could get an idea of their relationship and learn more about them. The one character who everyone didn’t seem to like was Alfreed and yeah she can be a little bit annoying and contributes the least among the group but like I said she earns her keep and I like her rivalry with Elam over Narsus. Even the main villain Hermes is great. You understand why he’s doing the things he’s doing. Everything was taken from him and now he wants it back even if that means destroying it just to rebuild it. I also like how he has a soft spot for Irina and their relationship is cute and touching. Speaking of relationships, the relationship between Arslan and Etoile is done well. They both make each other think and reevaluate what they believe is right. Neither one of them is right or wrong, they’re just products of what they were taught to believe and their interactions with each other help them reevaluate what they’re supposed to believe.

The second season was good as well. While the season is too short it got the job done and set things up for what’s sure to be an epic and enjoyable battle for the throne. While some were a little upset with the lack of character growth from some characters this isn’t really a story about characters growing or changing. They’re all kind of set in what they believe the world to be like and what they want to believe. The only characters who really go through any change are Arslan and Etoile and even then the growth isn’t really that much. Arslan was already a kind-hearted person who’s determined to walk a different path than his father who relies on strength and fear to rule his kingdom. He’s just learning when to show that kindness to his enemies and when not to. Etoile slowly learns that just because people don’t follow her religion doesn’t mean they’re bad people and she shouldn’t be so judgmental about them.

The animation is good. While nothing special it does look good for the most part. There were a few parts this anime was great. They really match the time period and atmosphere the anime was going for. The fights were also great. Each fight is different and incorporates a new strategy which leads to victory. The fights are never too long or too slow. The right amount of time is given to them and they’re each fantastic to watch. I like how it’s not the side with the most men who win but rather the side with the best strategy and plan that wind up winning. While it’s true the numbers game is important it’s meaningless if you don’t know how to use them and this anime shows that. If I had to name the downsides of this anime it would be the CGI and the magical element. While the CGI isn’t entirely bad it’s easy to spot and looks awkward. Not to the point where it’s distracting but to a point where you scratch your head saying ‘what’ and then go about watching the anime. Second, the magic element. For a historical fantasy the fantasy part rarely comes into play which personally I’m all for because the anime is great without the fantasy. When the fantasy does come into play it makes no sense and just leaves you questioning as to why this sorcerer is helping out Hermes and what he hopes to gain from it.

Final Score

The final score Arslan Senki is a 8.5/10. I really did enjoy this anime from beginning to end. It has a few flaws but nothing that really bothers me. The story is great, the characters enjoyable, and the fight scenes are great to watch. With the final volume of the series coming out a few weeks ago, will a third season finally be greenlighted? I hope so. One thing I can say is that Arslan lives up to it’s title and has become one of my favorite historical anime. Thanks for reading and I’ll see next year on Project Nitsuj.

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