Heroic Legend of Arslan
by Rose Bridges,
If The Heroic Legend of Arslan has been a snooze-fest for you so far, this should be the episode that wakes you up. It introduces not only several exciting plot lines, but also multiple characters with instant viewer appeal. Now, both sides of the conflict have people I care about, including one who has returned from a long absence. Welcome back, Etoile!
I was wondering when the Lusitanians' takeover of Pars would yield a return for the sandy-haired slave boy Arslan met in episode 1. You don't introduce relationships that compelling only to have them disappear for the rest of the show. Etoile also appears in the ED, so I figured we would see him again, and now he's an officer in the Lusitanian army! He looks completely different from the hard-scrabble kid we saw earlier, but he apparently still remembers his encounter with Arslan. He doesn't realize he was the prince, thinking he was just some privileged kid (which is strange, since I thought Etoile found this out in that episode, but perhaps I remembered wrong). Now that troops are being sent out specifically to look for Arslan, it'll be interesting when the two boys have their next fateful encounter.
This episode also introduces a bunch of new Lusitanian characters. They're all immediately interesting or at least amusing. The king, Innocentis, is a jolly fat guy who gets the hots for the Parsian queen. We also learn a little bit about her backstory: Andragoras' brother stole Tahamine from her intended, and then Andragoras took him out to get her for himself. Tahamine's suffered a lot of tragedy, but the men responsible see it as her being "cursed." The king is warned not to marry her, especially since she's a heathen, but he doesn't care. I found it odd that in a society with such heavy religious beliefs, he's willing to disregard such an important part of them, albeit with a justification rooted in the faith. (He'll be free of the curse because he believes in the right god and those men didn't, Innocentis says.) It makes him an intriguing ruler for such a devout society. Others see that trait as merely incompetent, and that sets up another fascinating storyline.
We also meet Prince Guiscard, the Lusitanian king's younger brother and chief advisor. He's clearly far more capable than the actual king, but he's happy to guide his brother as long as he can prevent his foibles. Marrying Tahamine is obviously one of those, and Guiscard isn't a fan. I don't know if Guiscard is oblivious to the fact that a lot of people would rather have him on the throne, but the masked general immediately starts working that angle. I've seen this in too many other shows not to know where this is going. If Guiscard actually follows up on that, the ensuing power struggle could allow Arslan's group an opening to take back Pars. More interestingly, it brings up some questions about the masked man's intentions—and those of Kharlan, who he appears to be working for. The masked man specifically refers to the Lusitanians as "savages," so I doubt this is about a real investment in Lusitanian rule. No, it's clearly some sort of grudge against Pars or Andragoras III specifically. I'm eager to see more as we delve further into the Lusitanian side of the conflict.
The last third of the episode adds another new player as we check in on Gieve. I was wondering when the archer woman was going to show up. She's prominent in the promotional art and the OP and ED, so I figured she was important. The Heroic Legend of Arslan desperately needed a female presence among all these puffed-up dudes. Farangis is perfect so far. She gives the chivalrous Gieve the cold shoulder, letting him know she can take care of herself, and intriguing him further. I'm interested in learning more about the religion she follows and how it fits into The Heroic Legend of Arslan's world. We haven't seen that much about what role religion plays in Parsian culture—or any culture other than Lusitania. I wonder what her beliefs are like and why she was seeking out Prince Arslan.
The technical stuff is sharper this week, particularly the music. The Heroic Legend of Arslan has always had a sweeping, if generic, cinematic-style score. It's good for battle scenes, but it gets boring after a while. This week, it added some exotic-sounding pieces to the list as the show delved into Lusitanian court politics. I'm not sure what that says about how we're supposed to view the Lusitanians. However, I am glad for more sonic variety on this series. These new pieces sound really cool, especially those with choral or other vocal effects. It gives a haunting presence to the Lusitanian takeover of the Parsian capitol.
There is a lot of potential in The Heroic Legend of Arslan. It could be something really exciting with the focus in the right places. This episode is a promising step in that direction.
Heroic Legend of Arslan is currently streaming on Funimation.
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