Home > Manga Reviews, Reviews > The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vols. 2 + 3

The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vols. 2 + 3

Apologies for the delay with this week’s manga review. This week was nothing but finals and it threw me way off schedule. Hopefully I’ll be able to return to a twice a week schedule within the next two weeks! At any rate, this week I’ll be taking a look at The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vols. 2 + 3, but first some news…

And now, onto the featured review of The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vol. 2 + 3!

The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vol. 3The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vols. 2 + 3
Story by Yoshiki Tanaka, Art by Hiromu Arakawa
Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Following a disastrous loss against Lusitanian invaders, young Prince Arslan finds himself on the run. Searching for a safe haven with his trusted alley, Daryun, the two make their way to the abode of an exiled member of Pars’s court. Meanwhile the Lusitianian army marches on Pars’s capital, Ecbatana, to claim victory once and for all. War, religion, equality, freedom and more all collide inThe Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vols. 2 + 3, as Hiromu Arakawa continues her adaption of Yoshiki Tanaka’s hit novel series!

With prominent themes of religion, slavery and leadership currently at the heart of the series, The Heroic Legend of Arslan certainly has a lot to offer, but in some cases the depiction of the characters seems to undercut whatever point it’s hoping to make. The lead priest of Yaldabaoth, for example, is so cartoonish and over the top that even Power Ranger villains are asking him to take it down a notch or two. The character is just such a caricature and has yet to show anything other than maniacal over the top religious fervor, that you’re forced to wonder how he ever got to the position of power he’s in? The series is really at it’s best when it’s exploring these ideas and concepts by showing the repercussions of religious extremism and the political power plays taking place. Watching the slaves of Ecbatana plotting against their clueless masters, only to realize that they’ve traded one yoke for another, or the scenes of the invading Lusitanian forces desecrating and destroying Pars’ cultural heritage are wonderful examples of the actual cost of the war, something that’s often overlooked in other fantasy series with similar settings. The destruction of Pars’ books and statues is surprisingly timely as well as it echoes the recent footage of ISIS destroying books, statues and pairings that were part of Iraq’s cultural heritage.

Despite some of the cartoon-y villains, I have to admit that I’m growing rather fond of Arslan himself, not to mention his little entourage which grows over the course of these two volumes. It’s interesting to see how he and others are hanging their hopes on the very qualities that Arslan’s father saw as weak in volume one. His compassion, desire to help others, sense of fairness are clearly what Daryun and Narsus hope will provide a rallying point to unite the currently fractured kingdom. The two new figures who are introduced to us, including a warrior nun named Farangis and the roguish Gieve, seem like they could add some much needed color and life to Arslan’s party, but at this point they both still feel like wildcards.

Page from The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vol. 3

One of the better fight scenes. Note the comical horse reactions!

Hiromu Arakawa’s visuals are simple and clean. For the most part the action scenes here are well done and fast paced, though they lack the intricacy and elaborateness that I tend to fall for in fights. On occasion Hirmou Arakawa slows down the pace, showing off the impressive speed and technique of certain characters in a blow by blow manner. Usually though, the fights feel like quick affairs, with a flurry of speed and motion lines indicating strike and counter strike rather than a detailed decompressed rendering of each move. While she employs several different body and face shapes to help convey personality and add a little variety to character designs, I can’t but think that there’s just something lacking in the character designs. Every design looks and feels stripped down and bare bones. There’s almost a blandness and generic quality about the clothes, armor and hair styles present throughout the books. There’s not doubt that Hiromu Arakawa’s a good visual story teller and a good artist, but in the visuals department The Heroic Legend of Arslan just feels like it’s lacking that spark to really make it stand out and grab readers attention.

The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vols. 2 + 3 present a solid and enjoyable read, but one that just feels like something’s missing. Maybe it’s the lack of flash about Hiromu Arakawa’s visuals, or maybe it’s how the entire tale, no matter how good, feels a bit cliched? A prince struggling to unite his kingdom and overthrow oppressive invaders isn’t exactly new or innovative. Either way, there’s just something about this that keeps it from being fantastic and relegates it to just being pretty good. Hopefully, as the series continues, things will pick up and unexpected twists and turns will help it to develop into something a bit more unique.

The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vols. 2 + 3 are available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copies provided by the publisher.

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  1. May 16, 2015 at 8:32 am
  2. May 18, 2015 at 4:59 pm

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