Continuing on his quest to retake Ecbatana, Prince Arslan and his company march toward the city. But upon receiving news that the neighboring Kingdom of Turan is launching an assault on the Parsian stronghold at Peshawar Citadel, the prince is forced to turn back in order to defend the fortress. Amid holding off the invading forces, the Parsian army is met by an unexpected visitor.
As Arslan returns to Peshawar, Prince Hermes takes a slight detour from his clash against his cousin to search for the legendary sword Rukhnabad, which would grant him the right to rule and take back what he believes is rightfully his. However, after unearthing the lost artifact, the blade is stolen by the Temple Knights of Lusitania, prompting the masked warrior to give chase. Meanwhile in Ecbatana, the captive King Andragoras III finds an opportunity to strike and begins to make his move.
As the separate sides of the Parsian royal conflict clash, Arslan's right to the throne falls under attack. But no matter the obstacles in their way, the young prince and his loyal band of warriors charge forward to restore Pars to its former glory.
The boy king’s journey continues. The sequel of Arslan Senki (otherwise known as Arslan Senki: Dust Storm Dance) is a show that fans will easily get attached to. It’s not just because Arslan Senki takes place in a diverse cultural world but also with exploring the journey of the titular character Arslan, one could not help but have high expectations from the boy.
To be precise, the second season is noticeable for being only 8 episodes in length. Compared to the first season, that’s about 1/3 the run-time. Yes, you’re probably asking yourself something along the line of “then how will the story conclude?” The
answer is pretty simple: it won’t. The series is more about the journey rather than the destination. As such, treat the storytelling more as a way to showcase Arslan and his co. as they take on new adventures.
That adventure begins with the war drama. Remember, Arslan Senki is more of a war story than a fantasy adventure despite having supernatural content. Arslan’s forces has their hands full in the beginning to deal with an invasion from Turan. While all this is happening, we are also introduced to a mysterious relic that Hilmes (Silver Mask) has his eyes on. A good deal of the first few episodes establishes the ruthlessness of the antagonists. In particular, Tokhtomysh (King of Turan) even delivers execution in order to draw Parsians into a trap. Anyway, I think the main point of the series is to establish the challenges Parsians must deal with to declare their independence. Arslan has also grown to become a well-respected leader known to even other countries. His maturity is shown with leadership, cleverness, and loyalty with his comrades. So much so, Gieve even returns with his services after going off on his own.
One of the more dynamic elements of Arslan Senki are the characters. Even though the main characters are well-established at this point, we still have characterization and subplot focused on them such as Narsus, HIlmes, Etoile, etc. Sometimes, I find the subplots about these characters to be even better than the main story because it makes us understand them more. Furthermore, their role in the series has influence on the overall story. For instance, Narsus’ reunion with his old friend Shagad shows his cleverness. They have a relationship that I’d describe more as acquaintances rather than best friends. Furthermore, we can easily see Narsus’ own ideologies about certain sensitive issues such as slavery. On the other hand, characters such as Hilmes gives us a decent insight about his past in this sequel. It shows a more gentle side of his character rather than the one we came to see on paper as a ruthless warrior. Even Etoile gets a major role in one of the episodes to showcase her importance. On the downside, new characters such as Grahze can only be remembered for their action and hardly anything else. Other previously introduced characters such as Elam and Falangies gets less focus compared to the previous season.
To say the least, the overall storytelling of Arslan Senki: Dust Storm Dance can feel a bit predictable. Now this might not be true for all fans but should be easily recognized for the plot about the pirates and merchant ship conflict. On the other hand, there are also episodes that are really important. As I mentioned before, the subplot context feels as though they have better storytelling than the main plot; Hilmes and Etoile being prime examples. Thus, it’s disappointing that the show itself is shrinked to 8 episodes to focus on the main story with what it already has to work with.
On the technical front, the art style of the sequel has more or less downgraded. This includes some of the more complex battle scenes involving characters with jerky movements. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still ‘wow factor’ when it comes to fighting in the show. Daryun and merchant captain Grahze proves that quite well. However, it’s more about the character expressions that feels underwhelming. On the plus side, the background settings improved with a more adventurous feel. The introduction of sea and merchant ships also offers some neat naval battle that is refreshing.
The soundtrack is still pretty similar compared the first season. It uses harmonic music to keep in pace with different scenarios ranging from simple conversations to intense battle scenes. Character voice mannerism is delivered well on most parts with Arslan being more noticeable for his maturity. One praise I would like to throw in would be Hilmes for his ability to portray personalities ranging from ruthlessness to sympathetic.
So what should you expect from the sequel of Arslan Senki? If you’re looking for a masterpiece, then it’s clearly the wrong place to look. Even on paper, the pacing of just 8 episodes should trigger a red alert. Less characterization on certain other main characters should also be expected as well. However, the sequel still offers a good amount of storytelling with its existing characters. Remember, the show isn’t just about getting to the end goal for Arslan but rather his journey to reach it. And for that, I think it’s worth to take that journey with them.
I wonder what I expected out of this season. When I read that there were only going to be 8 episodes of content they originally planned on skipping, I didn't have much hope left for the anime. And somehow, it still managed to disappoint me.
Arslan Senki introduced an interesting, while not all too new, story. It's a low-fantasy, presented somewhat cartoonish - the story was kept interesting with exagerations and unexplained magic and a mysterious antagonist, Zuk- I mean, Hilmes.
In this second season, they decide to delve a little into Hilmes' past - we get some character development, and given incentive to care about him.
And that's really nice... if it weren't the ONLY character development throughout this season.
The other characters from last season fall - no pun intended - completely flat. They are reduced to a mere herd of animals following and obeying their leader, Arslan and are pushed completely to the background. Arslan himself seems to be stuck at the character he obtained throughout last season, as well.
There are some new characters, but besides those that are part of Hilmes' backstory, there isn't much development either.
The characters are the only thing that could have carried the story. So that falls flat as well. A lame, minor antagonists and an overall uneventful plot are the main focus this season, while all the interesting stuff is happening in the background - which is mainly the only reason I kept watching. But for the most part, all I heard and saw was a run-off-the-mill story, with one-liners you could have probably found in a book called "Clichéd Dialogue in Fantasy Animes".
Narsus apparently knows all the enemy plans, as usual, but doesn't tell the viewer that he knows this, making all of his counter-plans seem like mere dei ex machina.
If the art and animation had been good, I would have probably enjoyed this as an average anime, but the staff only seemed to have the budget for low quality shots and still images. The CGI was bad, but, with the exception for some fights and the finale, the best animation troughout the season.
The voice acting decided to follow the this trend and all the characters spoke, beside for some returning characters, without emotion and only decent intonation - it was bland.
The music, however, was good; it fit the atmoshpere and knew how to hype up scenes. The sound effects, as well, were on point.
As we reach the end of the season, the story that had been unveiling on the background culminates, the animation gets back some of its life, and the characters some of their depth, giving me at least some hope for next season.
Thirty minutes ago I wrote a review about Arslan Senki S1 now here I am, back to rant about these idiots.
Originally, I gave this season a 5. Now that I'm looking at it scrupulously, it's more of a 4 or 3. Let me explain.
My expectations are completely different than before. In Arslan Senki, I wanted to be introduced to the characters and their goals, to know more about the setting of the story and also the main conflict. Which was all done relatively well.
Now for Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu, I wanted to delve into the minds of these characters and see them evolve. Sadly, again,
they do not grow.
Our main cast is still the same as before, they do not learn from their mistakes -- they don't make mistake to begin with. Arslan is still an innocent white snowflake without any awareness of the real-life dangers being overprotected by Daryun-oka-chan who's reduced to be the mindless brawl of his 'Highness'. I swear if I hear him yell 'denka' again I destroy the internet.
But, pals, I had hope!
When we've met Narsus' old friend, I thought I would finally get the development I've been longing for. Some backstory as to why Narsus is the way he is and how two friends parted on different journeys. Jokes on me, that conflict lasted two episodes with no explanation nor flashback about their relationship to show us how deep the betrayal was.
And even when Alfreed's brother was introduced, I thought we could see some nice frictions between the siblings or even Alfreed revealing more about her past, anything that would have shown us her struggles or the reasons she ran. Something to make me care, ffs. They can all die, I would literally give no shit because they overlooked that emotional development. I cannot connect with this series because characters aren't real. They're funny and lovable and sure looks good but there is nothing more to them. I'm not as much engaged in the story as I was in Fullmetal Alchemist, for instance.
Of course, the rest of the bunch is lessened to their previous role with no active participation in the advancement of the plot whatsoever.
Everything in this series is freaking shallow. It's there for sparks and glitters, for cool moments that would make great AMVs. Nothing is deep, the characters are never challenged externally and internally. As a grand poet would say; they have the emotional range of a teaspoon.
The only one that gets a little bit of backstory is our Zuko/Shouto boy. That makes me want to root for the villain, honestly.
The animation found a way to become even worst. I didn't think it was possible but the overuse of dark contrast made it impossible for my screen to distinguish the dark tones from the light tones. The 3D still looks awful but now I'm used to it. Good news is: characters aren't legos anymore! They're freaking carton boxes. Fluidity was lost in favor of better background visuals. I don't know if it's a good thing though.
I noticed nothing different in the OSTs and despite being sung by the same artists, the OP and ED have less impact than in the first season.
If the eight-episode season didn't tip you off, you can still feel this season was rushed and is nowhere near the quality of the first season. It's not even a whole cour!
There is little chance for a third season, at least not in the close future but I do hope we put all this overdramatic plot aside and focus on the characters. Because Arslan's epic journey is about him, not the super goody fights. I got to care if you want me to root for him or I'll go pray to that Yaldabotthing (bless you, dear) for all of them to die painfully.
Yeah, I'm a resentful viewer.
For this review I'll cover the twenty five episode first series and the eight episode follow up, Fuujin Ranbu. Arslan senki is based off of a novel series that came out from '86 all the way until '17. That's even longer than Claremont's amazing run writing the X-men. And it's not completely over. There's still a manga going. The novels were the brain child of Tanaka Yoshiki, which makes me somewhat wary since he also wrote the brain dead, rubbish series Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu. In any case, the series had an OVA in the early to mid 90s and this two series anime from 2015-2016. It was
handled by Liden Films, the same studio that worked on Terra formars, which was also not good. Who knows, maybe this one will actually exceed my expectations and not be awful. In spite of having a name that sounds like the shit version of Narnia's protector.
The narrative is simple enough. The Kingdom of Pars is prosperous with a strong king to defend it. It also has a strong contingent of nearby nations that would love a piece of that prosperity. Including the borderline Theocracy of Lusitania. During his first foray into battle, Prince Arslan finds himself separated from his father while things around him quickly turn bad for the Parsian forces. He finds himself separated with only the loyal Daryun to rely on. And it seems like the only one who can unite what remains of Pars' military and drive the Lusitanian forces from the royal capital is Arslan.
The biggest problem with the narrative might just be that it drags a bit. There are a bunch of episodes where Arslan and his group sit back and do nothing while we witness the siege of the capital. And it really shouldn't take as long as it does since the way it'll end is obvious. Another prominent example is in the shift from the end of the first series to the beginning of the second. We see our heroes about to take a huge step only to rapidly back-pedal in what feels like a cheap ploy to get more content out of the concept.
As much as it surprises me, I do have a lot of aspects of the series I'm going to praise. In a far shot from that other Tanaka written anime, the strategy in this is actual well thought out strategy. It doesn't rely on one group being composed entirely of idiots. It relies on misdirection, terrain advantages, figuring out ways to rattle the opposing troops and other various things. I don't know if Ginga Eiyuu was just adapted badly or if Tanaka just doesn't know how to apply strategy to a sci-fi setting. In terms of political aspects, the primary issue is a lot more morally one-sided since it deals with slavery but Tanaka does a good job of writing it from the perspective of a culture where that's been their way of life and it's just starting to shift. Which is a big improvement over that other series that presented a more morally grey conundrum, but presented it very ineptly.
The narrative actually somewhat reminds me of Nintendo's classic Fire Emblem series. With the way the prince has to flee while things go wrong in his nation and then has to find strong allies while dealing with intrigue from multiple angles. Except this started coming out before that franchise existed. I can't deny that the story unfolds in an intriguing way, even with the detours. And this is one of the few anime I've seen that has a narrator and uses them effectively. A lot of the narrator's purpose is to show the passage of time between significant events while keeping the audience caught up on what the important characters have been doing. Thereby allowing the series to have greater scope without a huge amount of filler.
One thing I really appreciate about the major characters is that they aren't just blind followers. Pretty much all of them start out with some kind of relatively weak reason to go to his side but then their dynamics start developing and they find stronger reasons to follow him. Which both shows a nice character progression and creates some powerful dynamics. The characters themselves are quite strongly written with enough background details to illustrate how they were shaped into who they are and complexity to them. That goes for the antagonistic characters as well. Especially Silver Mask & Guiscard. Which is another huge difference between this and that other Tanaka anime where the cast was massive but also very boring and one note. The only dude I remember vividly from that is toga guy and that's only cause he was so over the top.
The artwork looks fantastic. No awkward posing that no human would ever use. The character designs are well done. The armour and costuming looks good. Although Falangies' might be overly fan-service oriented. The action sequences are phenomenal with amazing swordplay, quick arrow shots and just very dynamic movements. The backgrounds are strongly detailed, to top it off. Which is another huge difference from that other anime.
The acting is really well done. Kobayashi Yuusuke, Hosoya Yoshimasa, Sakamoto Maaya, Namikawa Daisuke, Numakura Manami, Uchiyama Yumi, Koyasu Takehito, Kaji Yuki and pretty much everyone else does a great job. The only performance I can really single out as lacklustre comes from Sakurai Toshiharu who voices King Innocentis. His performance feels a bit out of place since he sounds a bit like the typical "comedic fat man" in a series where that doesn't really work. Iwashiro Taro's soundtrack is fantastic in both series.
There's a bit. Elam comes across as having a bit of a crush on Narsus at times, and vying for his affections against Alfreed. There are also moments where Daryun and Narsus come across as more than friends. It's not the case in the majority of their shared screen time, but it's certainly an ongoing thing.
Areas of Improvement:
A More Focused Narrative. While the diversions are entertaining, it would be nice to see the story get on with it a bit more quickly.
Proper Clothes for Falangies. I get that she's supposed to come from a warmer climate, but it might help if she was properly dressed for combat and the weather.
A less comedic performance for Innocentis. If this were a more comedic series, he would sound fine. But since it's not, a more nuanced performance would work wonders.
I'm actually flabbergasted. Given my previous experiences with both this writer and this studio, I expected to have a terrible time. I expected this to be a slog I had to force myself through to finish the review request. But I really enjoyed the series. It's the type of fantasy that reminds me of a Fire Emblem story in the best way. I would actually love to see it given a third series to finish things up and I'm definitely going to chase down the manga to see the conclusion regardless. I'll give this one a solid 8/10. If you're a fantasy fan, I recommend it.