Anime Meta-Review


Heroic Legend of Arislan


By Date




Title Info

  • alias: Legend of Arslan, The
  • seen: 1-6 of 6
  • type: OAV
  • grade: watchable
  • made: 1991
  • Review created: Recently, but I didn't record the date.
  • mod: none

This is an ambitious, but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to do epic high fantasy. And while it has some failings, it's an interesting title to explore. The story is founded on the solid pillars of this sort of thing, following a young and somewhat innocent prince as he seeks to recover his land from the invaders. This is made more interesting because the invaders are aided by traitors from within the kingdom itself. Around this core hero's gather, some evil, some neutral, but a greater number forming the retinue of the prince. And, as always, politics, intrigue, religion and magic swirl in the background.

While the story sets the stage the focus is clearly on the players. And a colorful group they all are, with extremely varied history, beliefs, attitudes and appearances. At times it seems like almost any one of these people could be the lead character for an anime series. And the wordy, slow pace of the anime allows these characters a substantial amount of room to play. On the other hand this does mean that the background story is somewhat diminished by the importance and number of the characters. Likewise the story is occasionally bent in favor of heroic actions and the opportunity to give complex speeches which sometimes strains the credibility. The slow pace of this will scare off many of the fantasy fans, and there is little here for action fans, but those willing to take the time to let the atmosphere and characters build on them may find it to have some interesting elements.

Sadly even if you can find the patience the fact must be faced that most audiences clearly couldn't. The first two OAV tapes are actually cinematically released movies that run for about an hour. Clearly many movies were planned, but the second movie already shows signs of a shrinking budget, while all later episodes move to the OAV format. This clearly required great simplification in appearance, but there are also signs of the story being compressed. Regardless of other things it is a shame to see such an ambitious effort slowly surrender to budget realities.

The movies are very attractive, having very complex character designs (lots of flowing cloaks, jewellery and hair around here) which are very nicely drawn. Mind you they often seem to have a tendency to drop into poses, but then if I looked as good as these people I probably would too. This is fleshed out with a world drawing from both western and arabic fantasy elements (occasionally in an uneasy mix) to give some quite lush environments which are represented in good detail. The color is subtle, perhaps even looking a bit washed out to some, to emphasise the complex linework. Of course the very decorative style does give a feeling of femininity to many of the characters (especially the prince) which should delight those interested in bishounen gazing (while probably annoying the action fantasy fans). Combat is somewhat abstracted to give atmosphere rather than complete details and mass combat (as always) reduce to a number of action sequences. Voices and sound are likewise complex and decorative rather than strongly characterised. The OAV, of course, shows a significant reduction in the detail that is possible. To its credit though it still manages to capture the character and atmosphere of the movies to a quite reasonable degree. The biggest problem is the transition, try and avoid going straight from one to the other if possible.

In Japan this was called `The legend of Arslan', and this is what you can hear in the sub. The reasons for adding an i, while perhaps not neccessary, are fairly obvious. The Anime Critic confirms the episode count and mentions that the last two episodes came substantially later and under a modified title. His review calls it `too epic for its own good' which is probably true. Too many characters, too few of whom he liked, spread the focus too wide.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:19 WST 2009