The setting takes place in an alternative version of the Middle East. And from the beginning, we learn of a warring conflict that erupts between two factions – Pars and Lusitania. At a young age, we meet Arslan and he witnesses the reality of war; bloodshed, chaos, and death by the Lusitanian forces. The premise also establishes that Daryun, a former high ranking military officer gets acquainted with Arslan. The story then goes on to show the adventures of Arslan, Daryun, and others as they struggle to regain Pars. As with the way the premise sets up, there’s a whole load of potential with its direction. In particular, there’s character growth that really becomes evident for Arslan. In addition, we see character relationships that expands beyond just military acquaintances such as the relationship between Arslan and Daryun.
In the beginning though, we must first learn to understand who Arslan is. Thankfully, the pilot episode does just that as we see a young Arslan from the Kingdom of Pars deal with an escaped young kid. Turns out, the kid is a prisoner that escaped and is from the nation of Lusitania. The most important part however is his reasoning for hating slavery. In essence, the show prints an image into the audience’s mind that conflicting ideologies can break out conflicts that leads to bloodshed, war, and death. It’s also clearly evident that Pars and Lusitania have different views on social equality. In particular, religion and slavery become prominent aspects of inspiration for characters’ motivations. I also have to give some praise for the show’s ability to show its reality of war. It isn’t shy to deliver violence when it comes to content. And by doing so, we can see how far some nations can go to get their message across.
While essentially showing that Arslan is a naïve young man, he is also known as the prince of Arslan. By holding such title, the people of Pars seems to hold a respect for him. In particular, we meet others that join him and Daryun along the way helps him in his quest to restore Pars. The journey they take involves obstacles while Arslan himself learns about different views of various countries and factions. For Arslan himself, the young man becomes more confident and even seems to be able to influence some others. His relationship with the people traveling with him demonstrates his loyalty and selflessness. In particular, Arslan and Daryun has a dynamic relationship as the two are nearly inseparable.
There’s a mutual feeling of respect the two holds for one another and Arslan treats him like a friend rather than a soldier. In his group, Arslan has a diverse range of characters. There’s Narsus who plays the role of a tactical genius as well as Elam who serves him while developing a respect for Arslan himself. Joining them is Farangis, a priestess archer with a cold yet courageous attitude. We also meet Gieve, a traveling musician and curious adventurer with an infatuation towards Farangis. All these characters come from different backgrounds but forms a group to fulfill Arslan’s ambitions. Throughout their journey, we learn more about each of them individually while characterizing their roles to define their finest moments. In retrospect, they also bring out the best of Arslan’s character as he leads them with a solid ambition.
While the show isn’t always able to capture the interest of the audience, it does present it in a way that is clever in terms of story development. Along the way, we also meet Silver Mask, a character that serves as the antithesis of Arslan. He is cruel, bloodthirsty, and prideful with an intent to capture the throne of Pars himself. As leader of the Luistania army, there’s a sharp contrast between him and Arslan’s personality. Almost each time he is shown on screen, there’s ruthlessness that is enforced as Silver Mask stops at nothing to achieve his goal. What does this tell about such an antagonist? It means that Arslan has a huge obstacle that he must overcome in order to prove himself as a worthy prince.
The romance aspect of the show is also quite stale as Gieve tries to hopelessly win the heart of Faraganis while being rejected every time. Later on, Narsus attracts the attention of a young girl that becomes a bit of an annoyance for him and the audience. Finally, the plot of Arslan Senki may not be for everyone. While I personally enjoy the direction of the story, patience may be tested for some viewers as the pacing isn’t entirely stellar. In addition, Arslan is a character that people may or may not like depending on personal preferences. If you don’t believe me, just ask Silver Mask himself.
Unquestionably, there’s a familiarity with the character designs. Anyone who has seen Full Metal Alchemist would know this from first glance as Arslan looks like Edward Elric in terms of physical resemblance. After all, the character designs are based on the Hiromu Arakawa’s version of the manga for its adaptation. In essence, the character designs are fitting for someone like Arslan. He is young with his signature silver hair, compassionate personality, and resilient youth. On the other hand, there’s Daryun who stands out as a warrior with his iron clad-like armor and signature spear.
Arslan Senki is also known for its breathtaking soundtrack. The war-like drama orchestra combined with the riveting nature of the show brings out each episode to life. The OP and ED theme songs are also memorable for its ability to tell a story just by its scenario of important scenes.