Heroic Legend of Arslan
by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 17 of
The Heroic Legend of Arslan ?
This week's episode of The Heroic Legend of Arslan finally wraps up the Gadevi vs. Rajendra plotline, and not a moment too soon. While individual players in that story had potential, it was ultimately a tumor encroaching on the whole show. It didn't introduce anything new to the thematic mix of the series. It just stalled out Arslan's return to Pars unnecessarily, and took screentime away from political power plays between the Lusitanians themselves. Either of those would be better than this.
At least it went out in style. By "in style," I mean as much style as the show is capable of, anyway. Even the battle between Daryun and some rampaging Goliath is mostly a snoozefest. But in comparison to the last several episodes of this series, it's edge-of-your-seat excitement. At least it gives us a single event to unite our focus and doesn't rely too much on overused devices like "Narsus spouts exposition" or "someone sees the light because of Arslan." It also accomplishes something that seemed impossible for this series before: Arslan gets to act like a real person! He actually does something wrong!
Arslan is attached at the hip to Daryun, and this week we see the consequences of that. He's already unsure about letting Daryun fight for somebody else, but when he realizes that the adversary Bahadur is more than a match for his loyal bodyguard, Arslan begins to panic. This results in him lashing out at the people responsible for the battle, specifically Rajendra. It's not that much of a flaw for Arslan, and his reaction is perfectly understandable. Still, the episode frames it as a fault, and Arslan is coached to have more faith in Daryun. This pays off in the end when Daryun wins the match (of course), and then Arslan is back to his old, flawless self. It was nice to at least have a moment when we saw the human beneath the Sweet Perfect Ruler.
The other character with a lot of focus this week is Gadevi, who I'm thrilled to see exit stage right. Gadevi was interesting during the brief period where it looked like he was a ruthless-but-effective ruler. Then the "effective" part was discarded to amp up his evilness and selfishness. The very fact that he frees a rabid monster to fight for him is enough, but his refusal to accept the outcome, rejecting his religion and attacking Daryun, is really something else. The Heroic Legend of Arslan could have played this as a more rational course of action too. Gadevi's just been told his dad basically wanted Rajendra to win, and he was passed over because Dad knew that Gadevi had the wrong personal qualities. Rajendra and his men are only going to regard Gadevi as a traitor in their new regime. Making a last dash at taking over the country anyway, through superior military might, is actually not a bad idea for Gadevi at this stage. However, the show frames this as Gadevi acting like a paranoid giant baby. He's a petulant child who just can't handle being wrong. It's a huge disservice to a character who could have been much more.
It doesn't hurt that the staff really doesn't know how to animate Gadevi. The character animation in general keeps slipping, but Gadevi logged the most egregiously off-model moments of any important character so far. As for other technical stuff, one big plus this week was the music. It was a different set of themes than we've heard before, and it felt much better timed to each moment and mood. The Heroic Legend of Arslan has a gorgeous, soaring score, but it rarely does much to elevate the series. The show fails to place its selections in an effective way. It's nice to see they're getting the hang of things now—even if it's well past the series' halfway point. Better late than never!
This arc stalled the plot with all the repetition and irritation of a skipping record. At least episode 17 was a decent swan song, the best of the storyline. Rajendra himself has some intriguing dimensions, as does Jaswant. I'm glad these characters were introduced, and I'm cautiously optimistic where the story might take them if they join Team Arslan. I just wish it hadn't taken so long to play out their introduction. Unfortunately, the faults of the "Sindhura arc" are really just extreme versions of the existing issues with The Heroic Legend of Arslan as a whole.
Heroic Legend of Arslan is currently streaming on Funimation.
Rose is a music Ph.D. student who loves overanalyzing anime soundtracks. Follow her on her media blog Rose's Turn.
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