Arslan Senki, When the OP/ED is Better Than the Actual Show

A spoiler-free review of the 25-episode spring 2015 anime “The Heroic Legend of Arslan,” produced by LIDEN FILMS and SANZIGEN, based on the manga (story) by Yoshiki Tanaka.

Undefeated King Andragoras rules over the flourishing kingdom of Pars with a firm grip through his mighty Royal Capital, Ecbatana, a city structured around a slave system that fuels the royal palace. However, the baby-faced prince Arslan, a wide-eyed and curious boy, knows deep down that he does not possess the same iron fist that his father, the King, leads with.

Pars Era, Year 320. At the tender age of 14, Arslan sets out on his maiden battle at Atropatene only for everything to go up in flames. Ecbatana falls to the Holy Lusitanian Empire, an enemy not only smart on the battlefield, but one that follows their all-empowering god “Yaldabaoth.” The youthful Arslan witnesses bloodshed of his people and the capture of his glorious Ecbatana. Arslan quickly flees the war mounted on the steed of his faithful knight, Daryun. It is at this moment that Arslan’s destiny is written in the stars, and through the help of his new followers and friends, he will rise to reclaim his golden capital no matter the cost.

 

At its core, this anime is about growing up and finding the courage to lead, and it pulls this decently enough. Arslan is faced with countless tasks that he must overcome before he begins his reclamation: Inviting members to join his party, establishing his force, rebuilding his army, seizing a base of operation – those are his main goals. But there are many bumps in the road for the poor blue-eyed prince. He must first find his drive to fight, his charisma to keep others around him, and lastly, his ethical approach to war. All of this ties into leadership, and through the guiding pen of Narsus, the master tactician, Arslan’s ideals become clearer.

Arslan Senki is set in a world based on past historical cultures, and I can proudly say has it done its research quite well. Although I’ve never been out of the country [yet], its portrayal of distant desert lands are captured in such a rich manner that I feel as if I’m actually sitting on a silk cushion in bright banquet room watching minstrels and men get heavily drunk!

You must not forget that Arslan is a fantasy. The magic may only be sneaking in the shadows (receiving no explanation whatsoever), but it’s still there. And since there is a hint of magic, it seems that the anime takes the typical fantasy copout: “It’s magic. I ain’t gotta explain sh*t.” Know that it works in mysterious ways, charming characters in the background, but it’s not the main focus. That’s on our characters.

Wait, what? No. Go home.

We’ve already talked about Arslan; decent kid, fair development, a bit bland, but not a poor character. Following Arslan right by his side – both his sword (javelin-thing) and shield – is Daryun. Daryun’s loyalty to his “prince” is admirable by many and his strength is unmatched – even by those in foreign lands. When he is not speaking to his prince, Daryun chats with Narsus, an old pal of his from back in the day. The two share conversations of strategy and wit, a combo both deadly and humorous. Just don’t bring up Narsus’ side-hobby of painting. Really, don’t.

Hey buddy, that’s what I thought

The other two I enjoyed were also fine warriors in their own rights. Gieve, a whimsical “traveling musician” who can skillfully wield many weapons and the chill Farangis, a muscular yet enchanting cleric and master of the bow which whom Gieve proclaims his love to. Although they are somewhat a gag duo, Gieve neither siding with Narsus nor the enemy half of the time, they receive very little backstory (specifically Farangis) – which is the biggest disappointment. I would have sacrificed ten Arslan balcony-contemplation scenes for one Farangis side story if I could.

That’s right. Slip and slide outta that room Gieve, you perv.

These adventurers along with a couple others compose Arslan’s force against lord “Silver Mask” (oh the cheese, it hurts), an incredibly skillful brute who is after Arslan’s head for some reason . . . Among the challenges that Arslan faces, this is his toughest one yet! This man is what triggers Arslan’s moral conflict. I won’t say much, but it was an intense endeavor for the crew to keep away from this madman.

Too bad NO ONE knows who you are even without the mask

Now, if you’ve thought that up until now Arslan Senki was an A+ for me, you’re incredibly mistaken. The entire show is one sloppy quest, and here’s why:

They say adventures are all about “the getting there,” and that the resolution just happens to tie loose ends. But Arslan Senki doesn’t give us either of these things! Instead it drags on for 25 boring episodes of pointless side plots doing FLIP that take far too long to resolve – Speaking of, IT DOESN’T END. Spoiler alert, but it doesn’t. Instead, we have Arslan and the gang mounted majestically, waiting to take back the kingdom until blah blah blah “here’s a season two B.S. announcement because we couldn’t get our crap together in the first.” Seriously, WHAT!?

Yuck

More yuck

Don’t even get me started with this anime’s production value. It’s TERRIBLE. I’ve had enough of CG-gummy army men, retarded-angry horses, and derpy Arslan faces to last me enough time to figure out the secrets of “Silver Mask” and overthrow Pars THREE times over. The animation is extremely inconsistent, relying on its few high-budget fight scenes and opening animation alone, and it really drags the show in the mud. You know it’s bad when you can tell where the money went in each episode. Art may look pretty, but for the love of Yaldabaoth DO NOT get this show in motion!! It’s so IRRITATING.

Heavens, I find that very hard to believe

Why do those horses look so . . . evil?

why do they go to the dark side

No seriously, what the hell IS that??

23WCsqc

“Yes, he’s supposed to be killing that horse.”

And now for the music. Does it fail epically like its visuals? Well, slap UVERworld, Eir Aoi, and Kalafina in the same anime and you tell me. The first opening “Boku no Kotoba de wa Nai, Kore wa Bokutachi no Kotoba” by UVERworld is pretty darn solid, and the second, “Uzu to Uzu” by NICO Touches the Walls has that quality “second half” feel to it. Once you hit Eir Aoi’s ending “Lapis Lazuli,” however, you’ve entered my top 5 endings. If Arslan is remembered for one thing, it’s gonna be this song (that moment when the OP/ED is better than the show). Lastly, Kalafina brings all under their graceful wings with “One Light,” the second ending, giving us some air of conclusion to grasp onto.

I’ll give Taro Iwashiro’s soundtrack props to filling out the fantasy-adventure tone enough to immerse me in the setting. No tracks in specific to highlight, but being supportive is all I could ask for with this shambling show.

So whoopty-freakin’-doo, there are my thoughts on The Heroic Legend of Arslan, or more accurately titled, The Heroic Legend of Asslan, pardon my French. Unless you are an absolute diehard fan of the fantasy-adventure/war drama genre, then throw this one out with yesterday’s garbage. We don’t need it, and certainly not a flippin’ sequel. That’s bullticky. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find Farangis’ cult and burn crosses in Lusitanian yards.

“The throne itself does not have a will of its own. Depending on who sits in it, it can be the seat of justice or it can be the seat of inhuman cruelty. As long as it is a man, and not a god, doing the governing, he can never be perfect. But should he neglect to make efforts to reach for perfection, a king will surely tumble down the slippery slope towards evil with no one around to stop him.” – Farangis, and amen at that

+ Arslan’s main troupe, though a bit lacking in development, comes across as a pleasant party

+ All openings and endings were the only features keeping me attached to this show

– IN-CONS.ISTENT. ANIMATI-ON.

– Sloppy execution of story, not enough character spotlight, specifically for Farangis and Arslan

– So much wasted potential in all categories, ending was unsatisfactory

For the café rating, it’s average even during its best moments. Did anyone else feel disappointed with this anime? If you had other thoughts, I’d be very interested to read them, but otherwise charge into the like button if you found my “spittin’ fire” on Arslan at all amusing. “Yashasuiin!” I won’t lie, if felt darn good to hate on something since all I do is spread cheer about shows. And right as I return, I must bid you all farewell again, so until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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30-Day Song Challenge Day 30 (FINALE): Songs That Would Be The Theme Song To A TV Show About Your Life

It’s finally arrived. 30 days later, we finally made it, minna! Enjoy the finale ~

I feel like I should be making some sort of elaborate speech, but truth be told, it’s just another day of the challenge XD. One last time, I shall be breaking the rules by uploading as many songs as I freakin’ can just to prove my point. What is today’s topic anyway? A theme song for a show about my life? Well, that’d be pretty boring, IDK, probably just some awkward little string pizzicato diddy. But if it’s like any TV show nowadays, the theme song’s grandeur would be exponentially higher than what the show actually makes out to be. So let’s just blow my life story out of proportion and get to rockin’!

These songs, by the way, will be considered the “opening theme” for a show about my life.

From Gosick, “Resuscitated Hope” by Lisa Komine

If my life was a mystery-occult-romance-drama thrown back in the 1920s, then my opening song would easily be this masterpiece. I’ve been waiting this whole challenge just to fit this song in the mix, and I think it’s more than appropriate here, wouldn’t you? The anime Gosick, by the way, is totally epic! It’s a rarity that surprisingly many people don’t know about, so go check it out as soon as you can. I guarantee you’ll fall in love with the time period and the characters, not to mention getting wrapped up in all of the intense mystery horror (too bad my life’s not like Victorique’s)!

From Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W, “Koi wa Chaos no Shimobenari” by Ushiro kara Haiyori-tai G

If my life was a rom-com-harem-fan-service-ecchi anime, then hells yeah this is what it’d sound like! Now, I haven’t seen the show at all, let alone this sequel, but with the way it bounces all around just makes me think of ecchi things. WOAH, Takuto, you’re a pervert? Well, as much as the next guy I suppose, but doesn’t this song sound kinda . . . naughty . . . ? Think about it.

😉

“Endless Tears” by CLIFF EDGE feat. Maiko Nakamura

If my life was a romance-intense-drama-heartbreaker, then here you go. “Endless Tears.” Yes, I know I’ve already talked about this one, but seriously, this is my drama-bomb cry-forever song. My life will most likely never be so complicated in the field of love (cause I’m a loner), but if things did take a drastic turn and BAM, sudden dramatic twists, then I can’t think of a better match. Enjoy it this last time ~

From The Heroic Legend of Arslan, “Lapis Lazuli” by Eir Aoi

If my life were a fantasy-tragedy-action anime, then you’ve got “Lapis Lazuli.” I mentioned a cover of this song, but try out the original sometime. It’s fantastic! It’s got just enough sass and swing to carry the melody, and the beat is perfect for imagining all kinds of exciting adventures over various lands. But I include tragedy because I feel a bittersweet longing in this song – a craving for something special. In the end, I don’t think I would ever find it, so I mark my ending as tragic. At least it was one hell of an adventure, right?

From In Search of the Lost Future, “Le jour” by Satomi Sato

If my life were a romance-drama-sci-fi-thriller, then I think this would be a decent fit. Now for those who have not watched this obscure anime (or haven’t even heard it before), don’t watch it. It’s sh*t. But it had several wonderful aspects to it that made me want to see it through to the end. What was the best thing I got out of it – this song, the opening. It’s rejoicing, tragic tone just reminds me so much of, well, myself! I probably didn’t match the genres up as well as I could have, but here it is nevertheless.

From Neon Genesis Evangelion, “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” by Yoko Takahashi

If my life were a psychological-supernatural-sci-fi-thriller, then what else would you expect from me?? Honestly, if you didn’t expect this infamous song to hit the list, then you probably don’t know me LOL Seriously though, this song kills me every time – but in a good way, mind you. Eva always manages to remind me of how the world works for some odd reason, and that’s probably due to the way it destroys its characters over and over again until you can hardly not stop crying for them. It’s got giant aliens, giant robots, comedy, romance, tragedy, action, drama – Everything for me!! If my life were anything like this, then this would easily be my theme song without a doubt.

But my life is none of these exciting things, and most likely will never be so exquisite. I manage, day by day, facing the harsh reality like anyone else. I live a normal slice-of-life-rom-com whether I want to or not. As such, there’s really only one song that can capture my struggles:

From Kyoukai no Kanata, “Daisy” by STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION

It’s casual, light-hearted, but also has this relatable passion of feeling like another day is passing by. Fleeting is perhaps the word I’m looking for. While most episodes would take place in the classroom or at home, besides being the opening, this feels like the song that would burst out when I chase the one I love . . . whenever I find them. “Daisy” is very well-rounded, and as such I think it’s the ideal match. It’s slow-drumming groove and slightly delicate chord work timed with the incredible male singer transforms this into a song befitting of my average life. If you listen closely, you can hear the anguish of this normal life within the song, and its subtlety grabs me by the heart every time.

[listen to one of these as you read the rest for maximum feels]

This right here is magic.

And there you have it. 30 days; a ton of songs to listen to! I won’t lie, I’m pretty sad that it’s all over now 😥 We’ve gone through so much together in just these last 30 days. You’ve probably learned so many new things about me, whether they’re personal quotes or whatnot. Thank you for all of the support during this challenge 🙂 If you’ve stuck it through from day one to now, then you’re a really dedicated trooper! I found so much love from you guys, reading boat-loads of comments at three in the morning, or receiving text alerts all throughout the day (*sniffs, stifles back a tear). I’ll really miss this.

If you happened to miss a day during the challenge, or are curious to compare before and after certain days, then never fear. I’ve linked the challenge in the header menu above. If that’s too much work for you, I’ll just leave a convenient listing below. Click on a day and take in all of these feels!!

Day 1: A song that makes you happy
Day 2: A song that helps you clear your head
Day 3: A song that makes you laugh
Day 4: A song that reminds you of something sad
Day 5: A song that has a new meaning to you every time you hear it
Day 6: A song you can always relate to
Day 7: A song that holds a lot of meaning to you
Day 8: A song that makes you cry
Day 9: A song that makes you want to dance
Day 10: A song that annoys you
Day 11: A song that reminds you of summer
Day 12: A song that reminds you of your best friend
Day 13: A song you sing to in the shower
Day 14: A song you liked when you were younger
Day 15: A song people wouldn’t expect you to like
Day 16: A song that is your guilty pleasure
Day 17: A song you like hearing live
Day 18: A song you have as your ringtone/want to be your ringtone
Day 19: A song you’re currently obsessed with
Day 20: A song from a new album you are waiting for to come out
Day 21: A song you want to dance to at your wedding
Day 22: A song that you haven’t listened to in a while
Day 23: A cover song that you like
Day 24: A song that makes you angry
Day 25: An acoustic song you love
Day 26: A song by your favorite band
Day 27: A song you make fun of
Day 28: A song that reminds you of your boyfriend/girlfriend (if you don’t have one, make one up)
Day 29: A song currently stuck in your head
Day 30: A song that would be the theme song to a TV show about your life

[Challenge Starting Date: August 14, 2015]

[Challenge Completion Date: September 13, 2015]

Did you have a particular favorite day of the challenge? If so, tell me down below – Let’s have a party in the comments! Wow, I guess I could go back to watching anime and writing reviews now. Also, I have a crap ton of lovely nominations for various awards to follow up with. I guess wherever the wind takes us next will be our new quest! Thank you all again for your support throughout this challenge. I had way too much fun writing for each of these special moments 🙂 WE DID IT! This challenge was so, so incredibly tiring, but well worth the new friends and songs that I got to meet and listen to. I recommend this 30-Day Song Challenge to anyone daring to take up 30 within a month. I thought it was supposed to be done day-by-day, but apparently other bloggers have been posting to their own liking, which I won’t lie, it probably would have been an good idea to try 😛 BUT I’m crazy like that, so there you go! Until next time everybody, this has been

– Takuto, your host