Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: All Region DVD
- Released By: Central Park Media
- MSRP: 79.99
- Running time: 240
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 for Volume 1 & 2, 1.33:1 for all else
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Heroic Legend of Arslan
Heroic Legend of Arslan
By Chris Beveridge
March 20, 2002
Release Date: March 02, 1999
Heroic Legend of Arslan
What They Say
© Central Park Media
It is an age of swords and sorcery. Betrayed from within and overwhelmed by dark sorcery, the valiant armies of Pars are overrun by the warrior-fanatics of Rucitania.
Escaping the destruction of his homeland, the heroic Prince Arslan begins to assemble a group of five extraordinary allies - a priestess, an exiled warrior, a mischievous minstrel, an insightful artist and his attendant - to aid him in his fight against the Rucitanian invaders. Together they must build an army and defeat 300,000 trained soldiers - including the mysterious Lord Silver Mask, who has also laid claim to the throne of Pars.
But fate is on the young prince's side...
Contains Parts One through Four, plus the Age Of Heroes sequel.The Review!
Betrayed from within and overwhelmed by dark sorcery, the valiant armies of Pars are overrun by the warrior-fanatics of Rucitania. Escaping the destruction of his homeland, the heroic Prince Arslan begins to assemble a group of five extraordinary allies--a priestess, an exiled warrior, a mischievous minstrel, an insightful artist and his attendant--to aid him in his fight against the Rucitanian invaders. Together, they must build an army and defeat 300,000 trained soldiers--including the mysterious Lord Silver Mask, who has also laid claim to the throne of Pars. Contains Parts 1-4, plus the "Age of Heroes" sequel.
Across both volumes of this DVD set, I found no issues at all with the audio. The Japanese language version was a straight forward stereo mix with nothing being sent to the rear channels. The English dub, where I spot checked it, was the same way. Dialogue is very clear and moves along the front soundstage exactly where it should be. Excellent audio presentation all around.
The video on this disc is nothing short of just gorgeous for the most part. Keeping in line with other recent releases from Central Park Media (Wind Named Amnesia, Takegami) the video is very crisp and clean with no artifacting or breakup in the picture. This is especially a good thing as the first two episodes were classic Kadokawa presentations. I'll get into that further down though.
This is the first multi-disc set made directly from CPM. Instead of going the route that Image did with Record of Lodoss War, CPM got a hold of some dual keepcases. Essentially, it's about the size of a novel, with the front half holding disc one, and the second side holding disc two. A little hard to explain, but you open up two sections to get both discs. It works very well overall, though the second discs section could use some tighter clasps, as it doesn't really feel like it'll shut all the way, or at least stay shut, though it will.
The menu is straightforward with no lag or slowdowns at all. A great looking picture of Arslan is on the menu. While overall the menu won't win any awards for amazing creativity, I doubt anyone will complain because it's functional and gets the job done. A good improvement over the earlier menus we saw last year.
And the show itself? Well, there are obviously going to be a lot of differing opinions over it. Arslan is presented in part by Haruki Kadokawa, whose influence on the shows he put out to me is very obvious. The first two parts, which are the only ones with his name actually listed at the opening, are presented in a gorgeous 1.85:1 widescreen format. Instantly you get a film like experience, which is enhanced by the types of backgrounds which are often found in shows under him. Backgrounds are very realistic looking, as well as gorgeous skylines. Many portions are reminiscent of the Dagger of Kamui, which I think stands as a hallmark to how his anime looks.
Many comparisons will be drawn between this show and Record of Lodoss War, which is only natural. There's really a limited number of straight forward fantasy anime in the U.S. which is really a shame. Where Lodoss tends to lean more towards the adventure aspect, Arslan leans more towards strategy, religion and leadership. Don't get me wrong though, I'm not knocking Lodoss at all. But the shows are presenting two very different views.
In the "hype" section for Arslan, they mention that Pars is overwhelmed by dark sorcery. You may watch all 4 hours of this show and wonder, just where the heck is that dark sorcery? There's maybe all of 2 minutes worth of screen time to some mysterious group of sorcerers, and beyond maybe one hint of magic, you won't see any. Weird, but it's something that I felt was good about the show. Instead of relying on magic, it went towards the physical aspect, and became more of an alternate world medieval show instead.
There is a wide cast of characters here as well, with stories being told from different perspectives, as well as from different plot viewpoints. New characters get introduced even in the seeming conclusion to the series, the Age of Heroes. I believe there was a 3 year gap between the first four episodes of Arslan and the Age of Heroes portion, most likely due to the Kadokawa financial problems. The Age of Heroes definitely ends at the halfway point of the story, leaving you guessing which way it will go. Will there be more? I hope so, but I don't believe there's any plans at this time in Japan for it. Age of Heroes may not have done well enough when it was finally released to give them financial reason to continue.
I don't know if I should say that that fact should discourage you from picking it up. I enjoyed all the episodes, though the change from widescreen to full frame was a disappointment. Character design quality seems to go down on episodes 3 and 4, but overall quality goes back up on the Age of Heroes segment.
Arslan is definitely a good sign of things to come from CPM. Good packaging, excellent video, great audio, and well done subtitles (though a border would have been good during those early all-white sequences!).
And kudos on their first dual layered DVD as well!
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Gallery,Summary trailer (due to gap between VHS releases),Licensing explanations (Name changes, etc.)
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.