I heard about Heroic Legend of Arslan from a friend who had already watched most of the first season. He eventually talked me into watching it and I was not disappointed.
The story focuses mostly on the main character Prince Arslan of Pars, a nation that draws inspiration from Persian culture. The core show focuses on Arslan trying to retake his kingdom. Daryun is the first to join him having been one of the generals on the field of battle. After escaping, Daryun takes Arslan to see an old friend of his named Narsus. Originally a lord of a territory within Pars, he gained renown for defeating three armies without a single soldier. Along with Narsus is Elam, an ex-slave sworn to Narsus for freeing his family from slavery. A traveling bard, named Gieve, and the priestess Farangis. Gieve joins mainly to stay around Farangis. Farangis has a much deeper reason for joining Arslan, she is there as a gift from her temple master to protect the prince. The group’s final member to join is Alfreed, the daughter of a tribal chief that declares herself the wife of Narsus for saving her.
The animation is very impressive. The characters are nothing that we haven’t seen before; if you’ve seen Fullmetal Alchemist you’ll likely recognize most of these faces. Where the series truly shines is with its stunning backdrops. The land of Pars is vast and as such it shows this with varying terrain. One part is a vast forest, in another scene, next a winding canyon area, and vast, majestic mountains. It sadly falls a bit short when it comes to mass battles. The animations there are fairly rigid and even from a distance look incredibly blocky. These are fairly few and far between, and there are some scenes where they put the time in to make them look good. But it’s the handful of times that always will stick out to me, to the point I can call out when they appear.
As I said, the story has trouble getting started. There are pockets of action, but several parts are used in the beginning to explain prior events. This isn’t a bad thing, each time a new subject is brought up it’s used to expand on the characters and their motivations. But seeing as the first opening scene is a massive cavalry battle, it is a bit misleading. Thankfully, once the action shows up its nearly non-stop swordplay and even a little twist of magic. The series doesn’t focus on these large battles. The series main focus is on the single combats of our heroes. Watching what Daryun can do with his spear is a marvel in itself to watch.
The English VA cast members are all veterans, each having done several works before they joined this project. And that’s kind of disappointing. They don’t really match a few of the voices in the beginning and some just flat out could be better. For example, there’s a scene where Daryun argues with the King. It shows the king as being a tyrant, believing only himself right in his actions. Daryun suggesting that they fall back to a better position sees him not only rebuffed, but stripped of rank. And the English actor can’t seem to match that. Even though he’s played so many angry sounding characters in the past. The characters that I have problems with do grow into the role or vanish from the scenes so it’s not a deal breaker for this series. But there is definitely some improvement that can hopefully be made for future episodes.
The box set itself is nice and compact which is perfect for those of use looking to collect and save on space. And the DVDs are securely kept in place, but you don’t feel like you need to break the disc to pull it out either. The extras aren’t too much to speak of. There’s a single commentary for one episode on each disc with a few of the main VAs. As well as the normal commercial trailers and textless versions of the songs as well. It does come with a set of normal DVDs as well and is good in quality for being normal DVDs. All in all, a good package and gift for those interested in high adventure and even better as a split purchase for friends since it comes with two sets of the show.
You can purchase the set on Funimation’s website here.