24 CommentsHeroic Legend of Arslan / By Scamp /

The Heroic Legend of Arslan episode 5 – The Fellowship of the Ring

Arslan Senki - 05 - Large 04I’m not the only one getting a real Fellowship of the Ring vibe from these episodes, right? Arslan is Frodo, Daryun is Strider, Narsus is Arwen obviously. Narsus’ little friend is another hobbit. Yeah it totally works. The only issue is the other hobbit isn’t nearly homosexual enough with Arslan to be representative of Sam and Frodo but I’m sure we’ll get there eventually. Arslan is already showing signs of wanting to cook together.

Arslan Senki - 05 - Large 06One of the issues I’m having with the show right now is, like many grand fantasy stories, I’m finding it a little tough to get emotionally invested in the characters. I like Arslan himself quite a bit, especially in the first two episodes, because he felt like he had serious weaknesses. He felt human with flaws and everything. The more the story focuses on people like Narsus and Daryun, the more it suffers. Those people just don’t seem to have any character flaws (not sure if painting badly is a character flaw). It’s hard to care about amazing people when they seem near infalliable.

At least that’s a problem I personally often have with fantasy. It’s part of the reason why I found it impossible to really get into Moribito. Balsa was just too perfect and unflappable that I couldn’t really bring myself to care. It’s very much a taste thing since I know many people hate weak characters and want awesome people being awesome. I’ve had it described to me as competency porn, where you get pleasure watch people being really good at everything. I like my characters flawed though. Which to be fair I can see this show eventually doing, considering it comes from the same author who wrote Legend of the Galactic Heroes. There was a story that managed to make incredible people like Yang Wenli and Reinhard still come off as flawed and human. So I’m sure as Arslan builds up his fellowship of the ring, we will see more human characters come through.

Arslan Senki - 05 - Large 33When I saw this dude shoot the arrow into Shapur’s head (RIP Shapur, you never had time to get a nickname, probably because you had no distinguishing traits), I could have sworn it was a woman. I even said to myself “oh of course the female character to join Arslan’s fellowship is the archer”. The only time women aren’t the archers is if magic exists and they can be the healer or sexy dark witch. But no instead it was just a very effeminate man, which in the world of anime always means they are sexy womanisers.

I rather like him already but I feel they ruined his little musical performance by randomly putting in a flute player too. Let his instrument do the talking. We’re supposed to be wowed by his playing. When you stick in a second instrument that’s not even being played in the scene, and not only that but an instrument that plays the primary melody in the song, then you’ve severely diminished the purpose of the scene. Not terribly impressive directing. Indeed I haven’t been impressed with the directing in Arslan in general. It gets by almost entirely on the strength of its writing and source material.

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  1. Posted May 9, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    “competency porn, where you get pleasure watch people being really good at everything.”

    That’s the stock and trade of the entire action movie genre. James Bond drives a forklift to flip the baddies’ car; Tony Stark masters flying a one-of-a-kind robot suit in a few minutes; Jackie Chan fools around with a ladder to beat up a mob. Watching these people with unreasonable skills navigate all spaces and master all tools and machinery is the prime expectation of these types of stories.

    You may not be make an apples-to-apples comparison either. In LoTR parlance, Balsa from Moribito is the Aragorn-type: the stout and rugged guardian that guides the more frail characters on their journey. Chagum then is the Frodo, the one who comes from the sheltered life and experiences the greatest character development. He would be the best comparison to Arslan.

    • Nick
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 4:39 am | Permalink

      If anything, the antagonists, the royal guard, were some of the most interesting characters in Moribito. Balsa is supremely confident and fun to watch, but she also has a killer sense of pride in her skills that almost gets her destroyed at times.

    • Scamp
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      All those people though have very severe character flaws. They can kick ass in one category but have deep personal flaws in other areas. Even Aragorn is a man running from his duty and destiny. Balsa didn’t have that.

  2. Shikamaru
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    I also thought that the archer/musician would be a woman and I also hated that flute.

    So basically every main character except Arslan are fucking awesome at combat. This is like Lord of the Rings! I still like Daryun. I usually like badass characters and his voice is just awesome. Or gar. Do people still use that term?

    I was also surprised that they didn’t censor the arrow headshot. You know, after watching anime like Terra Formars and Tokyo Ghoul where they censor fucking everything.

    Overall I’m really enjoying Arslan Senki. Arslan is a pretty good main character and his gang isn’t horrible either. I just wish that there was more comedy. One or two comedy segments per episode would be nice. Okay, okay, I just miss FMA a lot.

  3. Ken
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    I think one of the first “competency porn” lead characters in fiction may be Sherlock Holmes. Especially the early versions played by Basil Rathbone. I prefer the more flawed versions now being played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

    The ultimate anime competency porn fix that I know of would be Irregular at Magic High, and I haven’t seen all of Code Geass but how bout Lelouch?

    • Wodes
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:12 am | Permalink

      Code Geass is the epitome of competency porn; one especially telling scene is in season two where suzaku is shown to have the reflexes capable to stop a hydrogen bomb in .0001 seconds.

      • Madu_Scientisto
        Posted May 10, 2015 at 2:26 am | Permalink

        I’d say both Lelouch and Suzaku have far too many setbacks for it to be called “the epitome of competency porn” and neither are flawless characters.

        The example you named is probably a bit too much though

      • Nick
        Posted May 10, 2015 at 4:34 am | Permalink

        Lelouch is extremely interesting when he is running by on the skin of his teeth. Lelouch constantly fucks up, not just big fuckups like Euphie, but lots of little fuckups as well. And let’s not even get in to just how badly Suzaku is a fuckup.

      • Scamp
        Posted May 10, 2015 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        Yeah Lelouch and Suzaku fall into the same category as Reinhard and Yang Wenli. They are severely flawed while still being superhuman. You can be both.

  4. sena
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    I even said to myself “oh of course the female character to join Arslan’s fellowship is the woman”.

    I think you mean the archer here, right? Otherwise duh.

    Pedantry aside, I don’t really mind super competent people as long as they still struggle hard to achieve their goals and don’t get everything handed to them. Sure, Daryun can destroy 100 men no problem, so put him in a situation against a thousand or things like that. As for character flaw, while ‘being bad at painting’ isn’t necessarily a flaw, it does serve to make him more human, especially the part where he never saw it as bad. What I really like though, is how Arslan motivates him to join him by promising him to fulfill his dreams, and not something he’s actually very good at. Daryun’s still pretty boring so far though.

    • Scamp
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Whoops, fix’d.

      I agree with the Narsus painting thing being interesting. I mentioned that in the last post that picking up on the painting as being his reason for joining Arslan was perfect. You pick up on something that truly matters to him that nobody else takes seriously. It did indeed make him feel more human.

  5. Mr. Anon
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Clearly this guy is so amazing at his lute he can play a flute with it too.

    Daryun and Narsus indeed look kind of OP so far. But if they were better characters they’d overshadow Arslan too much?

    • Scamp
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Eh, Arslan shines in his own capacity. You can never have too many good characters.

  6. Maxulous
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    “Not terribly impressive directing. Indeed I haven’t been impressed with the directing in Arslan in general. It gets by almost entirely on the strength of its writing and source material.”

    If you really feel this way, I’d suggest watching the films – they get through more material quickly, but the direction keeps up with the pace at least until the OVAs.

    • Scamp
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      Yeah I have been wondering about that. If it really just covers the same story but with way better art direction then I would be on board with that.

  7. Insem
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    Everyone loves competency porn. SAO, Mahouka, you name it!

    • Scamp
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Yup, and those are bad examples of how to do it. Heck they even tried to make Mahouka man have flaws but his flaw is not being able to push a brick.

  8. TheVoid
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    I thought Daryun was a combination of Strider and Sam.

    Also I’m pretty sure Narsus flaw is that he can’t even take care of himself with his own hobbit having to do everything for him.

    • Scamp
      Posted May 10, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Hah yup. To be fair, Narsus has proven himself to be a pretty good character so far.

  9. Baphomet
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Don’t worry, they’ll get a female sniper.

  10. On Moribito
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Scamp, your definition of “character flaw” may have been warped from too much anime, that glorious medium where stories are told with all the grace and subtlety of a frying pan to the face. Moribito is very methodically paced, and its characters behave like real people instead of walking power levels with backstories, so it takes a while before Balsa’s seeming invulnerability gives way to qualities like anger, emotional distance, pride, and eventually tenderness and compassion. Based on your comments, I have to assume you never got that far, but I won’t promise it gets better as I know you’ve been burned by that too many times already.

    TL;DR Moribito rules Scamp drools

  11. Posted May 11, 2015 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    Nah man, I get some serious Yona vibes from Arslan rather than LOTR. Arslan is Yona, Daryun is Hak, Narsus is either Jaeha or Zeno and Elam is Yun.

  12. Posted May 11, 2015 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    Tupac Shapur

  13. Hanasra
    Posted May 11, 2015 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    “I could have sworn it was a woman”

    Yoshiki Tanaka have serious androgynous fetish. We’re lucky that the director have balls big enough to changed Reuenthal and Oberstein (also get Tanaka permission, somehow) in the OVA series or otherwise we’ll ended up with both of them being bishie. And we DON’T want that happened.

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