Ever since the first season ended, I’ve been begging for more. When the second season was announced, you can imagine my joy and excitement, but along with that excitement came severe disappointment. Not in the quality of the show, but the fact that the second season was only granted eight episodes. Today, I’m going to take a look at Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu (The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Dust Storm Dance) to see if they were able to maintain the quality with such a short amount of time to do so.
Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu picked up right where season one left off. Arslan had escaped the battle of Atropane and has been amassing an army to try and take back the capital of Ecbatana. Season one ended with Arslan embarking on the path to the capital with the allies he had amassed. With only eight episodes, I thought this season would take us straight there where we would see a long and drawn-out bloody war of epic proportions, but that wasn’t the case! Arslan’s travels detoured to Peshawar where he had to deal with a bit of a struggle against the Truanian army who looked to advance on Pars while the land was thrown into chaos. While Arslan was there dealing with that, something unexpected happened in the capital of Ecbatana.
Guiscard overthrew his brother Innocentis VII, the King of Lusitania, and imprisoned him. The rightful King of Pars, Androgoras, also mustered up the strength to break free from his shackles, where he found his wife and fled to Peshawar where Arslan was. Just when Arslan was about to march upon the capital, his father sentenced him to exile. Well, it wasn’t technically exile, but it might as well have been. He ordered Arslan to leave and gather 50,000 soldiers and not to even bother returning until he did. This set off Arslan on a new journey with Daryun, Narsus, Elam, Gieve, Falangies, Jaswant and Alfraid all sticking their necks out by disobeying the King’s orders to remain behind to accompany Arslan on this journey.
On a third front, we have Silver Mask looking for the sword known as Rukhnabad, which was the founding blade of the kingdom of Pars and whoever holds it is recognized as the one true king. One odd thing about Silver Mask is his name. In the first season he was referred to as Hermes, in this season, they have him listed as Hilmes. I’m not sure which is correct, so just to avoid confusion, I’ll just refer to him as Silver Mask. Guiscard realizes that Silver Mask is no longer willing to assist him and now we have a war on three fronts.
The season ends with Arslan coming to the realization that he should be king and not his father. After gathering new allies with the Zot Clan and the port city of Gilan, Arslan and company march on Ecbatana. His father decides to do the same without Arslan. Silver Mask is leading his forces to Ecbatana and Guiscard is preparing for war himself. A grand and massive battle is set up for a third season. Let’s hope that we’ll get one and it’s not another eight episodes.
I really enjoyed the story of Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu. Despite the episode count, not a lot felt rushed, but where were some areas that could have used a bit more love. They gave time for some of the stories to breathe and it set up, what looks to be, a grand finale for the series. The characters remained interesting and the new ones that were introduced also had their own stories which made you feel attached to them. The story still kept me wanting more and it pains me that we now have to wait and see if we’ll actually get more, but seeing how Hiromu Arakawa’s name is attached to this franchise, I’m pretty sure we’ll get a season three sooner or later. My guess will be Spring 2017 at the earliest, but we’ll see.
I’m not going to do into all the characters since I details a good portion of them in my original review of Arslan Senki, which you can find here. I will, touch upon the new characters we were introduced to, though.
She is a princess of Maryam who has lost her sight due to illness. She plays a part in Silver Mask’s backstory as she was the one person who was kind to him and couldn’t discriminate him due to the burns on his face. The two fell in love and Silver Mask would do anything to protect her as we later see in the series. Her character seemed like it belonged in the background and was only used as a prop to help set up Silver Mask’s backstory. I get where they were trying to go with the character, but lack of screen time caused me not to care all that much about her. There were definitely some parts of the series that could have benefited him with a higher episode count to help set up Irina’s capture and rescue. That would have given a bigger impact to the overall plot, but sadly it didn’t come to fruition. Still a sweet, innocent character, though, but she was just the victim of time constraints.
Merlain is the brother of Alfraid (or Alfreed or even Alfried.. depending on how translators feel like spelling her name this week). After hearing that Narsus is her husband (although not really), Merlain and the rest of the Zot Clan swear their allegiance to Arslan in order to help him whenever he needs it. Merlain is another background character that plays a couple of key roles, but only when he is needed. He was going to help Irina escape Guiscard’s capture, only for Silver Mask to show up. Instead, he ends up helping Etoile escape capture instead since she was framed for a failed assassination attempt on King Innocentis (hilariously thanks to his subcutaneous fat), which was ordered by Guiscard. I can’t really say anything about this character as he’s just kind of there. He doesn’t have much of a personality and doesn’t really stand out all that much. If there is a season three, I hope that changes.
Here is one of our first new major characters. If you remember back in the first season, when Narsus was going to follow Arslan, he said he would send Elam to an old friend of his in the port city of Gilan. Shagad is that old friend. Arslan and Narsus head to Gilan where they overthrow the leader due to his abuse of power. Shagad is against Narsus and Arslan’s view of abolishing slavery and it’s because Shagad is behind the recent pirate attacks which are hurting the thriving merchant city. Arslan and Narsus have to do battle with, not only the pirates, but with Shagad himself, but they are not alone in the battle (as we will see with our next character.) After defeat, Shagard was sentenced to be a slave so he could learn what it is like to be abused by men such as himself. Even with that sentence, Shagad was defiant until the end and really was a loathsome individual. I, personally, thought he got off too easily, but a sentence like that was kind of expected from someone like Arslan.
Grahze is the captain of the port’s defenses and is at constant battle with the pirates who are invading Gilan. He thanks Daryun and Arslan for coming to his aide and they end up gaining a new ally. In fact, Grahze agrees to be the man to supply Arslan with finances for his war! After endearing himself to Grahze, Arslan decides to make him the new ruler of Gilan. With that, Arslan has secured the town of Gilan as an ally in his quest to take back Ecbatana. Grahze is a very noble character who is always true to his word. His fighting skills are on par with Daryun’s and it seems he has tremendous respect for him. My only problem with Grahze is that they made him a little too similar to Daryun both in fighting skill and personality. They should have spent a bit more time making him more unique, but oh well.
Art, Animation, and Sound
The same problems from the first season carried over to the second season and that was the odd usage of CGI. In the bigger scale battles, CGI was used and there was a noticeable difference. The animation quality seemed to jump around because of it and the CG animations were… well.. not all that realistic. One minute you have your typical jittery, frame-by-frame anime animation and then the next second you have this smooth, almost soulless robot animation as we see a lot of no name characters marching or battling. Some of the CG was facepalm worthy, but hey… at least it wasn’t as bad as Berserk.
As an aside, I dropped Berserk after three episodes. Don’t expect a review from me when the summer anime season wraps up.
Everything else was great. The character designs were spot on, although I don’t like Arslan’s cloak. The whole white to blue gradient (despite the opening showing it as gold to white?) just didn’t look good and I don’t think the gradient should have been used. It stuck out like a sore thumb and just really hurt the overall appearance of the character. The new characters all had their unique designs to where you can easily pick them out of a crowd.
One little nitpick is Etoile. It amazes me how she had her helmet off when she was captured by Guiscard and people still referred to her as a guy. Maybe they’re in disbelief that a woman was a part of their army? Even with the damning evidence before them, they still thought she was a he. Lusitanians are dumb as all hell.
I want more of Arslan Senki.
I think that sums up everything. I cannot sit here and believe that there will be no season three after everything we experienced here in the second season. Every episode made me want to see more, to experience more and to just have more, in general. I really believe that they could have done twelve or thirteen episodes and still have been fine. I don’t know the reasoning behind the eight episode count, but it wasn’t enough. Yes, it would have made for some boring episodes because there would be some parts of the story that would be drawn out, but that just means you could have done more and some of the plot points we got would have had more impact to them.
Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu felt like a quick afterthought after the epic first season, but it was still good for what we got. The new characters stood out and enough big plot points happened to move the series into a direction that can best be described as controlled chaos. If you loved the first season, I believe you’ll love the second season despite its length!
Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu
Too Short, Too Good
The series suffers from the eight episode count, but what we got was still more of the Arslan Senki that we know and love. Fans of the series will enjoy it despite the length!