Arslan Senki is a fucking embarrassment. That kind of sums everything about it up as perfectly as possible.
This is a show that prominently – worse, proudly – displays incredibly low budget copy pasted CG mannequins with no detail and all the same faces and armor and expressions right away. Literally the first things you see in the entire show are a series of really retarded attempts at Hollywood-esque “war camera” close-in camera shots flying through the battlefield showcasing this one guy who looks worse than a character model in a PlayStation 1 game multiplied by a hundred fighting against another hundred of himself (and sometimes forgetting to shave before going to battle). This isn’t some quick scene, it goes on and on and on, and there is just an endless amount of this throughout the show in every episode even in scenes with actual characters on screen and, fuck, they’re even in the OP. Even ignoring them the show looks pretty mediocre and the “special effects” are even worse than the CG warriors – with things like every “fire” being the exact same 2 frames repeating over and over. I can only hope this is a sign that the anime industry is finally realizing Arakawa is fucking terrible and they need to stop pushing so much money towards her.
“But the art doesn’t matter!” you might complain, though you shouldn’t given anime is a visual medium so being okay with awful art and animation is kind of incredibly retarded – but you still say it anyway and, well, fine. Let’s just pretend the atrocious shit on screen is not a problem and admittedly it wouldn’t make the show outright total shit if it just looked bad. Then how about sound? The voice acting is fine, but the same can’t be said about the soundtrack or the sound effects when 90% of it is made up of random bass that was never leveled out and thus ends up pushing constant distorted noise at the viewer. Seriously, any dramatic scene – most notably so far in episode 3 – you just get fucking noise like all your shit is way too loud and you’re going to blow out your speakers, but it’s really just that whoever was in charge of audio levels fucked up when they were making this…otherwise it’s them trying to be “cool” and “dramatic” and doing it on purpose.
The sound doesn’t matter either though, surely, given Arakawa’s works can do no wrong. What about the blatant plagiarism, is that okay for her to do? Yes, Arslan Senki’s original novels came out in the 80s – I’m well aware. However, Arslan Senki the TV series is based on Arslan Senki the manga created by Hiromu Arakawa in 2013 which is loosely based on said novels – the anime is NOT based on those original novels. Unless you can prove to me that you’ve read the novels and can also prove that they are exactly the same – and I do mean exactly the fucking same in all the overall events big and small in every aspect of how they work out, character’s personalities, looks (novels didn’t need pictures to show you a character), and the timeline – as Arakawa’s manga, then the novel is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. I can’t stand seeing fucking idiots saying “w-w-w-w-well it’s not copying Akatsuki no Yona because THIS came out in the 80s” – IT DID NOT. It came out in 2013, while Yona came out in 2009. This is fact, and it leads one to wonder why almost everything in this is Yona with just three small things flipped around and far worse writing.
1. Yona is a male this time and thus a prince. In every other way they are essentially the exact same person aside one having a penis – they even made Arslan purposefully effeminate to mirror her better.
2. The King loves battle instead of hates it. He’s literally the exact opposite side of the spectrum and just as retardedly eccentric about it. One just wants to slaughter and one just wants to jerk off onto flowers. Neither one gives a shit about their kingdom either.
3. The traitor was incredibly obvious the entire time and even drawn in a hilariously “I’m a bad traitor guy” way, while in Yona without spoilers you would have no reason to ever see it coming.
Everything else has played out exactly the same as Yona to the point that it even makes me feel ashamed for Arakawa.
A king is betrayed by someone close to him that he trusts very much but who believes himself to be doing this for the kingdom, and there’s a big battle while people try to assassinate the king and those protecting him. The king’s only heir runs into the traitor and is almost killed but is rescued by a high ranking soldier who was also told to keep the king’s child safe no matter what were to happen by his family member who also serves the king closely. This essentially-bodyguard who was also very close with the child and king for a long time is also one of the most skilled warriors in the entire kingdom and who happens to use a halberd. The warrior then takes the king’s child to a forest, where they meet a young boy and his master who is a quirky long haired man who lives apart from society which leads them on a journey to gather party members and fight back against the traitor while also letting the king’s child grow as a warrior, a person, and someone deserving of leading the kingdom after realizing how terrible the regime of their father was for the commonfolk.
Actually, I have to point out something about this character using a spear/halberd now – in the original Arslan Senki animation and any designs you can find based on the original novels, he uses a sword throughout the entire story. Yet now in the anime and Arakawa’s manga this character just happens to use the same weapon as Hak from Yona as his primary weapon after this first arc. This is just further proof that Arakawa is literally plagiarizing Yona as much as possible even if it means veering drastically from the material she’s supposedly adapting into manga (then to anime). This is all far too “coincidental” to actually be a coincidence, especially when you see how much she’s changed from the source material just to copy something else.
The only differences aside those pointed out are the quality of the writing (it’s total shit here, while Yona is fucking great) and the fact that Arakawa – as always – copy pasted absolutely all of her character designs from her very first manga into this. Which brings up another complaint; I’m tired of seeing the same fucking cast in everything just because she’s too uncreative and talentless to actually design anyone remotely different. It’s lazy and she gets a free pass thanks to FMA.
Let’s pretend, as impossible as it is, that none of that matters either – are there still issues? Of course, everything about this show is fucked. The ENTIRE STORY is only possible thanks to incredibly shitty writing leading you through a mass of contradictions and nonsensical, unbelievable, contrived bullshit. Not to mention even all that is written like shit. How’s this for subtle – a random scene in episode 3 with no context at all that takes place in an enemy encampment where one of the “bad guys” just out of the blue brings up, “HEH, REMEMBER THAT TIME WE KILLED ALL THOSE BABIES? HAHA WE’RE REAL SHITBAGS RIGHT, BRO?”. I’m barely paraphrasing and the killing babies thing is canon, it really is that bad and the scene just ends as abruptly as it appeared.
Stepping back though, the story is impossible to take seriously on any level – and at this point I truly hope this is Arakawa’s fault and not the novelist’s, else I can’t imagine why anyone published this shit originally. I have to remind you before I talk about the king that WITHOUT THIS THE STORY WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ABLE TO START. This is such an incredibly important core plot point that kicks everything off and this was the amount of thought put into it and how fucking stupid it is.
The King is canonically a warrior type king who has commanded and taken part in a fuck ton of battles and has, after all this time, not lost or had anything less than a victory in his entire career. He is a master warrior but also a master at commanding his men, and then the very first thing he does is decide that we probably shouldn’t scout the area we’re about to charge into. I don’t need to explain the problem with that one. He then demotes one of his highest ranking men moments before a large battle because he suggested they actually have some modicum of fucking common sense, which a commander – let alone a king – should know would fuck up the morale of his forces, let alone the ones under the charge of said demoted man. Then he uses what the story leads you to believe is the only tactic he actually knows: charge all his forces in one column at full speed into a heavily fogged, almost-blind, battlefield that he hasn’t even scouted while leaving absolutely no cavalry or troops to flank or do anything but go straight forward. I say this is what the story leads you to believe, but that’s because only someone so retarded could possibly think this was a good idea – but at the same time this completely contradicts the first line of this paragraph which is also canon. You cannot have a fucking undefeated god of a commander and show him as someone who is so fucking stupid he doesn’t even scout or do something as basic as goddamn flanking or, you know, THINKING.
I assume the idea Arakawa was going for was that hubris had taken the king and so he was basically being a retard because he felt invincible. The problem with this is that he would have felt this same way in many other battles he’s been in and lead up to this point and so he would be the opposite of an undefeated king – he’d lose every fucking battle. We even know it hasn’t been all that long since his last time at war, a few years but that’s not much in terms of how drastically his intelligence should have waned. This goes far beyond hubris into pure unbelievability and breaks the entire story-starting event.
That isn’t all though, the king isn’t the only one with no common sense or basic logic – everyone in his fucking army aside the one guy he demoted is a total retard. At one point the king chooses to retreat (which, by the way, also adds to the whole “it wasn’t hubris” thing) and he sends messengers to relay that order to his generals and men so that they’ll all flee as well. The traitor guy knows this is likely to happen and had plans for that, so the messengers are killed – and in their stead other traitors go running about yelling how the king ditched them all to die like a coward. Literally a rumor in the middle of a warzone, it should mean nothing to anybody, yet it does. We see two super high up generals that based off of nothing but this rumor they heard from some guy who had heard it from someone else that said they heard it from another guy start talking about how the king is a fucking coward and doesn’t deserve to lead this kingdom anymore and how he deserves to die while both of them consider betraying him (one far more than the other, but both do). What kind of general hears A RUMOR from JUST SOME GUY in the middle of a war and says WELL SHIT IT MUST BE ONE HUNDRED FUCKING PERCENT TRUE EVEN THOUGH IT INVOLVES THE GODDAMN KING WHO WE’VE KNOWN AND WORKED CLOSELY WITH OUR ENTIRE TEENAGE AND ADULT LIVES AND SOUNDS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LIKE HIM BUT FUCK IT FUCK THAT GUY HE’S A PIECE OF SHIT FUCK AND HE DESERVES TO DIE AND THIS NATION TO BURN FOR HIS COWARDICE!
This entire fucking military is made up of the dumbest sacks of shit imaginable, and yet you’re expected to believe they’ve been undefeated for decades through many battles and wars. The level of suspension of disbelief you’d need to accept the most important event in the entire series, as it creates the story and the reason for it entirely, is so fucking high that I don’t think it’s possible.
Oddly enough the problematic shitty writing is only worsened by the childish manner in which it was written. Every single thing is told to you like you’re a kid who can’t figure it out. Oh, this guy’s a traitor? Well yes, because Arakawa made sure to draw him as the most skeevy untrustworthy shady looking man imaginable and also make him act suspiciously from the first moment he showed up. Then once it actually happens we of course get a fucking essay explaining that he is a traitor in case you still haven’t figured it out from him literally saying it outright. Or even in episode one about how Arslan doesn’t understand why slavery is a bad thing, we get five minutes of this kid explaining that it’s not right to enslave people and see them as less than you in the simplest terms because the viewer might not understand. Even the character personalities are shown to you this way, like the king who we get constantly being a dick who just wants war and just cares about always winning wars and wants no shit from anyone who doesn’t want to charge straight forward into unscouted areas because waaaaaaaaaaaaaar. I feel like they’re aiming at the Love Live or Kancolle audience with how it treats you like a baby, and it’s incredibly off putting when you’re not a pony fucker or a six year old.
Managing to make all of this even worse is the fact that there’s no actual character development and that absolutely everything in this is so incredibly “by the book” that it blows my fucking mind. Absolutely none of the characters matter or have any sort of personality to them, they’re all just archetypes filling their place on the board and it makes the entire events of the beginning episodes meaningless. I don’t give a shit what happens to this kingdom, this king, this kid, or anyone else – yet they even try to shove in forced-drama with the death of the random three teens who were assigned to guard the prince on the battlefield (why would they assign kids to defend THE FUCKING PRINCE?) like we’re supposed to care about them and go “OH NOOOOO”. It constantly tries to evoke some kind of emotion while providing no reason for the viewer to actually feel that. Then next to that you have the most generic scenarios constantly playing out, like the never-not-stupid cliche of the “evil bad guy is in a position to easily kill the main character but instead plays and toys with him”. Hell, it’s worse when the Greedling clone comes charging at him and fighting men along the way – taking at least a couple minutes to actually reach him, and he just stands there staring at him as he charges rather than killing the prince before this guy is even close enough to do anything about it. It’s not like he snuck up.
Arseland Stanky is seriously something Arakawa should be ashamed of, just as the entire anime staff and her publisher should be. It’s an incredibly shitty Yona ripoff with godawful writing that is both pure shit and worsened by the fact it believes its audience to be toddlers, terrible lifeless set pieces with no development or value at all, the same exact lazy characters Arakawa has always used, awful animation and art, terrible audio that they actually thought was good, and the most contrived asinine bullshit being the most important plot element in the entire series. Everything Arakawa has ever worked on has been total shit aside FMA (and anime wise, only Brotherhood). She’s a one-hit wonder who tripped onto a fluke and she needs to stop getting away with being treated as anything more than that so we stop getting total shit like this pumped out and sucked up by the retarded fanboys.
If you like My Little Pony, Love Live, other incredibly vapid shit, and contradicting unbelievable retardation then this might be the show for you. Otherwise avoiding this entirely is the best advice I could give, especially if you have a problem with undeniable and blatant plagiarism or expect anything worth watching on any level. By the way, if you pay attention in the ED the King isn’t even dead – he’s just imprisoned along with that wonderful titty monster wife of his, so it’s even afraid of doing something that might scare away a younger audience like killing someone that isn’t a CG mannequin or faceless manga character. This is likely going to end up on my worst of the year list somewhere, if not take the crown. It’d be one thing if this was just “bad” for basically stealing everything – but even if you entirely ignore all of that the show is still just fucking embarrassingly awful.