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 26: A Song By Your Favorite Band

Pretty sure my favorite band is Kalafina. Yep, pretty sure. I’ll just go with it >.<

Hey everyone, day 26 has arrived! What’s so specially about the 26th . . . well, nothing, actually. Why not celebrate just for the heck of it, though, seeing as how celebrating and writing boring reviews is all we do here in the cafe XD Because there are just too many bands that I love listening to to pick as a favorite, I just went with one off the top of my head (or the last song rattlin’ around in me noggin, hehe). This group of three goddesses needs no introduction, I’m sure. They’re always special guest performers here!

From Fate/Zero, “To The Beginning” by Kalafina

How this epic song fills my mind with feels! This is the second opening from the epic retold as an anime, Fate/Zero, a masterpiece in my eyes. I choose this song because it was the first time that made me realize whom Kalafina actually was. I had heard them in Black Butler and surely another show, but I never paid any attention until tuning into this beauty. Wah, then they made “Heavenly Blue” and several others, but those are for another day! I always think of Saber riding her steed  shining, silver motorcycle into the flames of the sunset. Can’t you see the King of Knights?

Here’s an orchestral/vocal/choir arrangement uploaded by Qonell if you need some variation ^.^ Not bad at all. I can totally picture Saber back in her lands slaying deadly foes left and right. Upon the hill appears some horrifying four-legged beast. She reaches her armored gauntlets down to unsheathe her ephemeral blade. A torrent of blue wind sweeps around her, a spiraling gold light shimmers, then . . . “EXXXCCCUUU —- CAAALLIIBAAAHHHHH!!!”

Pardon my fantasies, I suppose we’re keeping it short for today. Until tomorrow everyone!

– Takuto, your host

30-Day Song Challenge Day 20: A Song From A New Album You Are Waiting For To Come Out

I don’t really listen to songs by the album, nor even pay attention to albums in general. So when this uneventful day reared its apathetic head, I was doing the ‘bites thumb’ expression, as I have nothing to show you guys! Hmm, I suppose I could just throw out a few more songs that I often listen to, but wouldn’t that be cheating? I also thought about recommending soundtracks for newer anime, crossing my fingers that it would slide.

What I ended up was . . . researching an album to present to you all. YES, I did it just for you! Without further ado, we’ve got more from Kalafina since that seems to be the only band I listen to 😛 Enjoy!

From Kalafina, Album Title: “Far On The Water”

Release Date: September 16, 2015

Tracklisting:

  1. INTOTHEWATER
  2. MONOCHROME
  3. GOGATSUNOMAHOU
  4. RINGYOURBELL
  5. USUMURASAKI
  6. IDENTIFY
  7. HOKAGE
  8. ONE LIGHT
  9. MUSUNDERHIRAKU
  10. HEAVENLY BLUE
  11. SORAIRONOISU
  12. BELIEVE
  13. FARONTHEWATER

I’ve never researched albums before nor given them much thought, but this was actually kinda fun to write 🙂 And what impeccable timing I have to discover it before the release in two weeks! While my favorite on the list is unarguably “heavenly blue,” I also find “believe,” “ring your bell,” and “far on the water” to be extremely catchy. But what newer song besides the title drop will be considered day 20’s pick?

From The Heroic Legend of Arslan, “One Light” by Kalafina

Hot damn, it’s Arslan Senki, a show that I will satisfy me when it finally ends! I’ve been following it since the first episode was simulcast, and am finding myself a bit . . . frustrated. It’s okay so far, but I wouldn’t hop the fence to reach this one. But that doesn’t stop it from having a near full set of openings and endings! I’ll touch back on that when I do a season review of it, but here is the second and last ending theme for the 25-episode legend about a boy who will become king. 3:30 and on is especially pretty epic!

We learn new things every day, and today’s topic was pretty exciting, wouldn’t you say? Do you track album release dates and concerts for your favorite artists, or do you just enjoy the music when it happens to fall in as an opening, ending, or insert song for an anime? Let’s talk in the comments, and until tomorrow, this has been

– Takuto, your host

30-Day Song Challenge Day 19: A Song You Are Currently Obsessed With

Evening all, I have a night full of studying dreadfully planned ahead, so today’s log will have to be a quickie. Thankfully, I know just the song! But first, how long does it take for you to obsess over something – specifically anime? For me, you can recommend and rant all you want about a show, but it I won’t be hooked until I either A) see the artwork, promotional poster or whatnot, or B) hear the opening/music from the anime. I have heard oodles of fans gawk about how pleasant this cute little show is, but it wasn’t until after I heard the opening – bestowed to us by the Goddesses of Kalafina themselves – that I truly met my love ~

From Sound of the Sky, “Hikari no Senritsu” by Kalafina

I found this, what two days ago, and I love it so much that the words are literally bubbling and foaming at my mouth! I CANNOT stop listening to this elegant song. Such poise, free spirit, and sense of adventure; apparently, the anime has these elements, so straight after Hyouka you all know what I’ll be chasing after! But yes, what an enchanting melody – definitely one of Kalafina and Kajiura’s finest works to ever grace my ears. All I want to do is lay down under a tree, a breeze fluttering in the air, my knees propped up on one another, arms thrown behind my head, and chill. I just want to take a terminal break from school work and taste the liberation I seek that’s found nowhere near this wretched thing we call an “agenda.” But this’ll have to do for now, and it’s one hell of a substitute 🙂

So what are you currently raving over? Did the fire erupt overnight or has it been a week-long curse to have it stuck in your head 😉 Also, what did you think of Sound of the Sky? Ya’ll need to let me know in the comments! Have a fantastic day, and milk all that you can out of the few seconds of free breath you can manage, because they’ll fly by in an flash. Till tomorrow!

– Takuto, your host

30-Day Song Challenge Day 17: Songs You Like Hearing Live

So I’ve never been to a J-pop concert in person before (sad, I know). But it is one of my goals, so I’m tryin’! In the meantime, however, YouTube recordings of performances will have to suffice. And at this moment, there’s only two bands I can think of that I especially love to hear live:

Anything by fripSide: “only my railgun,” “sister’s noise,” “LEVEL5 -judgelight-,” “black bullet,” “HesitationSnow,” “fortissimo -from insanity affection-,” “late in autumn,” and more

Today, fripSide at the AFA Singapore 2014 x MVR series with “sister’s noise”

I found the most recent one that I could, but doesn’t Yoshino Nanjo look like she’s having a blast? I love the Misaka clone and Kuroko that lurk around the stage dancing! Gah, so adorable :> But I love fripSide’s live performances because A) they go all out with the light show, B) Nanjo always has on the coolest outfits (see America, you don’t have to wear a swimsuit to rock a good music video), and C) everyone is so full of energy! The band members, the crowd – you can practically feel the sweat dripping it’s so intense.

Anything by Yuki Kajiura, performed by Kalafina: “To the Beginning,” Heavenly Blue,” “Hikari no Senritsu,” “ring your bell,” “Magia,” and more

Today, Kalafina with “ring your bell” LIVE 2015

Gosh, these three are always so beautiful, so graceful. In contrast to fripSide’s flashy performances, Kalafina opts in for heavenly, majestic, powerful, sometimes somber performances (harmony to die for). Yes, their style is completely different besides there being three of them and only Nanjo for fripSide, but it feels more personal with them – more like a professional concert rather than a pop one. Both are incredible to watch, and I wish I could see both of them in concert one of these days 🙂

So there are two of the best bands EVER – GO WATCH FROM THEM AND ENJOY! I honestly love them both so much! What I’d give to go to a performance . . . Tune in tomorrow for more awesome songs and bands, till then, this has been

– Takuto, your host