8.4/101 Votes Alchetron
Original run 1986 – present
Originally published 1994
Illustrator Hiromu Arakawa
Written by Yoshiki Tanaka
|Illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano (Kadokawa)
Shinobu Tanno (Kobunsha)|
Published by Kadokawa Shoten (older edition) Kobunsha (current edition)
Directed by Mamoru Hamatsu (1–2, 5–6) Mihiro Yamaguchi(3–4)
Adaptations The Heroic Legend of Arslan (1991)
Genres Action fiction, Adventure, Fantasy
Publishers Kodansha USA (NA), Kadokawa Shoten (older edition), Kodansha, Kobunsha (current edition)
Fantasy books Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, The Sacred Blacksmith, Essential Man‑Thing - Vol 1, Sector General, Three Days to Never
The Heroic Legend of Arslan (Japanese: アルスラーン戦記, Hepburn: Arusurān Senki, lit. Arslan War Record(s)) is a Japanese fantasy novel series written by Yoshiki Tanaka. It started to be published in 1986 and as of 2016 there are 15 novels and one side story in the official guidebook Arslan Senki Tokuhon.
It was adapted into a manga, which caught up with the novel and then received an original ending, and ran from November 1991 to September 1996. It also received two anime film adaptations, and a four-part, unfinished anime OVA. In 2013, a second manga adaptation started serializing at Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine, with illustrations by Hiromu Arakawa. An anime television series based on the Arakawa manga aired in 2015. A second season aired in 2016.
Whilst the protagonist's name appears to may have been taken from the popular Persian epic of Amir Arsalan, other than this anachronism, Arslan and his Parsian enemies and allies primarily share many parallels with Cyrus the Great and other historical figures of 6th century BCE Persia (albeit with several liberties taken), whereas the conflicts with the Lusitanian forces (which bear the Byzantine Orthodox cross) – despite mostly French names and a certain religious zealotry implying a connection to the (Catholic) Crusades (again, with liberties taken)– appear to be based on the Byzantine–Persian Wars, specifically those of the 6th century CE. Furthermore, several names of prominent Parsian characters appear to be taken from known important figures throughout Persian history as well as the historically unsubstantiated legendary parts of the historiographic Persian epic Shahnameh. Additionally, supernatural elements mostly based on ancient Near East mythology increasingly play a role as the series goes on.
The story is set in a legendary vision of an indistinct amalgam of over a thousand years of pre-Islamic Persia and nearby other countries. While the world in which it takes place is one where magic obviously exists, said magic is of an extremely limited nature. Until the middle of the anime, the only magical happenings involve a few spells and a giant, humanoid monster. There aren't races such as elves or dwarves, though many evil monsters such as ghouls and winged monkeys, appear in the second half of the novel series. Especially the first half of the series is, at the core, a war story taking place between human nations. In addition, there are underlying themes exploring the repercussions of slavery on a society, having an absolute monarch who treats the poor as cattle, and religious obsession.
The story follows the exploits of Arslan, the crown prince of the fictional kingdom of Pars, and it is divided into two parts. In the first part, Pars is taken over by the neighboring nation of Lusitania after Arslan's father, King Andragoras III, falls victim to a treacherous plot led by some of his most trusted retainers. After barely escaping with his life, Arslan rejoins his loyal servant, Daryun. Backed up by only a few more companions, including the philosopher and tactician Narsus and his young servant Elam, also Farangis, an aloof, cold priestess, and Gieve, a travelling musician and con-man, Arslan stands against overwhelming odds to assemble an army strong enough to liberate his nation from the Lusitanian army which is led by the elusive warrior known as "Silvermask", who is later revealed to be another contender to Pars' throne. In the second part, Arslan, now king of Pars, divides himself between defending his country against several external threats, including Silvermask, who is still at large, seeking to claim the throne for himself, and addressing the needs and hopes of his subjects.
The original novel, Arslan Senki, was written by Dr. Yoshiki Tanaka. Though he is primarily a novelist, Tanaka's works have been adapted into manga and anime forms before. His novel Ginga eiyu densetsu became Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and Sohryuden became Legend of the Dragon Kings. There are fifteen novels in the Arslan Senki storyline thus far. These novels were illustrated by manga artist and character-designer Yoshitaka Amano (whose other works include the character design for several Final Fantasy games and for Vampire Hunter D).
The popularity of the Arslan Senki novels was so great that it became natural for it to make a transition to manga form. The thirteen-volume manga was written by Tanaka and illustrated by Chisato Nakamura. The manga was published by Kadokawa Shoten.
A second manga adaptation of Arslan Senki started serialization in Kodansha's Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine in July 2013, illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa, best known for the manga titles Fullmetal Alchemist and Silver Spoon. This adaptation is currently available for online-exclusive purchase at Crunchyroll, while Kodansha Comics is physically publishing the manga in North America.
The popularity of the novels led to the creation of a series of OVAs with character designs adapted by Sachiko Kamimura. The first two OVA episodes were released as "movies", which is why each one is an hour long, rather than the traditional half-hour and were produced by Kadokawa Shoten and Sony Music Entertainment Japan. A second OVA series that followed up the first OVAs released in 1995. Both OVAs were licensed by Central Park Media and were released on DVD and VHS. The English dub for Part 1 was produced by Manga UK (who had also licensed the anime in the same region), while Part 2 was dubbed by Central Park Media themselves. This caused a lot inconsistencies in both dubs.
Because of the aforementioned issues regarding translations and names, as well as possible issues with funding the project, it took an extremely long time for the Arslan anime to make its way to the United States. While they originally began production in 1990, as of 2006, they have still not completed the story. Even so, the final two chapters of the OVA arc were not made available until years after the first four had been released, in 2002.
A new television anime series to be based on the Hiromu Arakawa manga was announced on November 2, 2014. The TV series is directed by Noriyuki Abe, with Makoto Uezu acting as scriptwriter. The series aired from April to September 2015 on MBS and other Japan News Network stations in Nichigo timeslot at 5:00pm. An OAD was bundled with the manga's fifth limited edition volume, which released on May 9, 2016. An 8-episode second season, titled The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Dust Storm Dance, began airing on July 3, 2016.
The first video game based on The Heroic Legend of Arslan was released in 1993 for Sega Mega-CD. A strategy RPG in the vein of similar titles of the era such as the Fire Emblem series, it serves as a companion to the OVA series.
A Musou crossover game was released on October 1, 2015 on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in Japan. Koei Tecmo announced on July 30, 2015, that they would release the game in the west. Arslan: The Warriors of Legend, which was released on February 9, 2016. The game is based on the anime adaptation of the Hiromu Arakawa manga and follows the arc of the show's first season.