I had high hopes for The Heroic Legend of Arslan and so it might be my problem that I wasn’t quite as enamoured with it as I expected to be, but I can’t fault Universal’s release of it and I’m interested to see if the show can grab me more when Part 2 releases.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan follows young Arslan, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Pars, as he learns how to fulfil his father’s shoes, those of a king, someday. Being young and not enjoying violence, Arslan is held hostage by a prisoner from enemy nation Lusitania who Arslan saves the life of, although he’s upset when he’s unable to save the life of the other prisoners. Arslan, seeing how cruel life can be, vows to learn more about the world outside of the Royal Palace and to prove his worth, aiming to do what he believes is right and just.
It’s certainly slow-paced for a good half or so of the first 12 episodes, but it starts opening up later on with more interesting characters, battles and moral decisions that test the cast. There’s clear progression in the characters, specifically Arslan himself, where their motivations are clear and easy to understand, and it wasn’t difficult to root for Arslan as he tries to do what is best for not only the Kingdom of Pars, but also his neighbouring lands. I can’t say I was engrossed and it took me a while to sit through, but at no point could I say this was bad by any means – it’s just really quite slow! I think it’s something I could potentially enjoy more on a second viewing now that I know it does get better, and I am interested to see how the second half of season one will perform.
Animation studios LIDENFILMS and SANZIGEN have teamed up to produce The Heroic Legend of Arslan and it really does look great, although it isn’t quite up there with the most visually impressive anime I’ve seen. There are some gorgeous, vast landscapes, intense battles and character designs I’ve grown quite fond of. There’s plenty of colour and my only issue with the show is that there’s a fair bit of inconsistency in quality, and faces go from looking great to looking, well, not so great – I also found it pretty funny that there’s a character who looks like a more well-built Izaya from Durarara!!
You can choose between the offered English and Japanese voice-overs but as many of you may have expected, I opted to go for the English dub. Aaron Dismuke, who was perfect as Peco in Ping Pong, voices the titular character Arslan himself with a fantastic performance, with some equally joyful performances given by co-stars Ricco Fajardo, Christopher Bevins, Rachel Robinson and Vic Mignogna makes an appearance too! The opening notes to the OP are super catchy and whilst the rest of the OP is solid, I’d have loved to have heard more of the beginning! The ED makes for nice listening too, and the OST does the job although it’s not what I’d call memorable, and it’s the voice-acting that shines when it comes to audio here.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Season One Part One didn’t blow me away and it wasn’t something that I could easily binge-watch, but it’s clear that there is plenty of potential here and I’m interested to see if it’ll be fulfilled with the second part. It’s on its second season now so there’s definitely more for the series to offer! Universal’s release, like with Seraph of the End, is brilliant with a handful of goodies including a thick, detailed artbook, character cards, 12 large art cards printed on card, a map of the Kingdom of Pars and a boardgame with tokens featuring characters from the anime – sadly, I’ve not had a chance to play this yet! It’s an amazing collector’s edition and I’m excited to see what Universal will release next, and how they will release it.
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