Arslan, The Heroic Legend of

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"The Heroic Legend of Arslan" is a 6 volume OVA released from 1992 to 1995. The series is very loosely based on a 19th century Persian tale by Naqib ul-Mamālik (or so I’ve been told). It’s also known as "Arislan" because Central Park Media released the first 4 volumes under this title, but then changed their translation for the final two volumes. The "Arislan" volumes feature a looser translation of the Japanese katakana. Katakana, the Japanese alphabet used for foreign words, has only the sounds found in the Japanese language. Japanese does not contain all the sounds found in Persian, and neither does English. So Americans are getting English translations, of Japanese translations, of names which are supposed to sound like mythical Persian (or Greek, or Egyptian) names. On top of this, I saw the English dub version, so I don’t know how any of these characters names should or shouldn’t be written or pronounced. If you want another English translation, you could call it Arusuraan.

The story starts at the battle for the capital city of Ecubatana. The high king of Palsa, King Andragoras III is betrayed by one of his generals, Kharlan; who has allied himself with the invading Lucitainians to help the son of Osiris V, Palsa’s previous ruler, claim the throne. Andragoras usurped Palsa’s throne by killing his own brother, along with his brother’s wife and daughter. While the son, Hermes, escaped his own demise, half his face was burned in the assassination attempt; he now wears a silver mask, and is known as Silvermask (well there’s a no brainer). To throw the Palsian Empire into chaos, so as to attempt to reclaim rulership, Hermes allies himself with the Kingdom of Lucitania and the necromancer Bajon, a devoted follower of Zahak the Snake King (love that name!). Adragoras’ overreaching battle tactics, combined with Kharlan’s treachery, Hermes’ vengeance, Bajon’s dark arts, and the Lucitanian troops, lead to Palsa’s loss.

Defeated, Andragoras is imprisoned in his own capital; but his son, Prince Arslan, escapes the battlefield with the help of another of his father’s generals, Daryoon. Together they form a small band by adding: Narsus, Arslan’s military stratigist; Elam, Narsus’ slave and pupil; Afurido, princess of the Zohga (sometimes written as Zoto or Zok) tribe, desguised as a nomad and besotted with Narsus; Pharangese, a warrior priestess; and Gieve, a wandering warrior minstral.

In the midst of Silvermask’s ploting and Arslan’s fight, the blind princess of Merian (another country across the sea ravaged by Lucitania), Ilina, comes to Palsa to search for the Palsian prince to whom she was betrothed, Hermes. When her ship lands in Palsa, she is immediately attacked by Lucitainians, but she’s saved by two men: Melane, prince of the Zohga tribe, who is in search of his sister, Afurido; and Kubard (“Some call me the one-eyed lion; others, now dead, called me an empty bragard”… ha ha ha), an ex-Palsian general hoping to join Arslan’s force. Melane takes pity on Ilina and decides to help her search for Hermes. On the road, Melane and Ilina meet Silvermask, but Hermes is unable to reveal his true identity to his love, because he feels he must first regain his rightful throne (and maybe she’ll put a crimp in his Machiavellian plotting).

Exquisitely pretty people, dark sorcery, romantic intrigue, political maneuvering, religious zealotry, xenophobia, personal vendettas, and epic battles: "Arslan" has it all… except for a conclusion to the story. Part 1 is great, but you can see the series’ animation degenerate as it went on; from hyper movement of men on horses in part 1, to adequate animation in part 2, to only animated one-on-one fights in parts 3 and 4, to completely still battle scenes that are shaken up and down in parts 5 and 6. Though the animation suffers in later volumes, all have character designs based on the "Arslan" book illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano, the man who brought us the concept designs for "Casshan", "Gatchaman", and "Vampire Hunter D". These character designs are justly known for their beauty and are probably the major reason why many Otaku still fondly remember this unfortunately uncompleted series.

 Arslan Senki 13

 Arslan Senki 14

 Arslan Senki 15

 Arslan Senki 16
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Gallery Created: 1/21/2004

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