Literature / The Heroic Legend of Arslan

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The 1991-1996 adaptation by Movic and JC Staff
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The 2015 adaptation by Hiromu Arakawa

The Heroic Legend of Arslan (a.k.a. The Heroic Legend of Arislan a.k.a. Arslan Senki) is a series of fantasy novels written by author Yoshiki Tanaka with illustration by Yoshitaka Amano (Kadokawa) and Shinobu Tanno (Kobunsha) and published by Kadokawa Shoten then later Kobunsha.

The story of all incarnations is very loosely based on the Persian epic Amir Arsalan. It takes place in a fantasy setting reminiscent of ancient Middle East and feature the warring states of Pars and Lusitania (Pars is roughly the same as Persia/modern Iran). The king of Pars—Andragoras—demotes one of his most loyal generals—Darun—on the word of a man who proves to be a traitor. During a battle between the Lusitanians and Parsians the Lusitanians achieve victory and Darun escapes with the crown prince of Pars—Arslan. The story details the ventures of Darun and Arslan as they attempt to reclaim Pars and gain revenge against the Lusitanians while facing innumerable obstacles between them and their goals.

The series was on hiatus at 13 volumes but two more volumes were published as of late and 16th is planned to be the last; the first having been published in 1986 and the series not yet complete, although volume 7 marks a sort of halfway conclusion.

A Manga adaptation of the novels was crafted by Chisato Nakamura and published by Kadokawa Shoten in the magazine Asuka Fantasy DX. Originally running between November 1991 and September 1996 the Manga also stands at 13 volumes.

An Anime OVA adaptation was also created, animated by studios Movic and JC Staffnote  under the direction of Mamoru Hamatsu (episodes: I & II and V & VI) Tetsurō Amino (episodes: III & IV). Released August 17th 1991 to 1996 the Anime OVA consists of six episodes and is notable for its beautiful animation for its age (at least the in first two episodes), its music, its voice acting talent, and for being unfinished due to funding issues.

There's also an Audio Adaptation series (10 volumes plus a special one) that roughly covers the first 10 volumes of the novel and shares the anime voice cast (mostly), and a Strategy RPG for the Sega CD produced by Sega at the same time as the anime.

A new Manga adaptation of the novels was created by Hiromu Arakawa of Fullmetal Alchemist fame in 2013. Said adaptation has received a TV anime, airing in Spring 2015.


Tropes:

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  • Accidental Hand Hold: In the Arakawa manga/TV anime only: Arslan and Etoile notice they are holding hands after Arslan saves Etoile from falling off a giraffe, Etoile pushes Arslan's hand off him that's strong enough to push Arslan down, making Etoile angry and tells Arslan not to touch him. This entire story doesn't happen in the novel or the first anime.
  • Action Girl: Etoile/Ester, sometimes Arfrid.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The themes and cultural trappings exhibited in adaptations of Arslan Senki (both the OVA and the 2015 TV anime) borrow less from the original Persian epic Amir Arsalan (امیر ارسلان نامدار) and more from the longer epic poem by Firdusi, the Shahnameh (شاهنامه‎ , "The Book of Kings"). One of the main characters of Shahnameh, Kai Khosrow (کیخسرو), was acknowledged In-Universe to be the founder of Pars. His story arc of losing his kingdom and then rightfully regaining it is also basically Arslan's current plotline. Many supporting and side characters borrow their names from some characters inside Shanameh (such as Gieve, Farangis and Queen Tahamine) with varying similarity from the originals.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: The Xandes in the anime and the manga have a few differences. Manga!Xandes has more personality, such as being dejected and awkward when he accidentally called Silvermask "Your Highness" and showing intelligence of how to best deploy his men.
  • Adults Are Useless: Entirely averted. Arslan would be dead dozens of times over if not for the competent adults who care for him.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Gieve fell head over heels for Farangis who consistently brushed off his advances. Arfid has a one-sided crush on Narsus since he helped save her life. King Innocentius is doing everything he can, including ignoring his subjects' advice, to marry Queen Tahamine who refuses to speak to him.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Lustania captured and claimed the capital city of Pars.
  • Arc Words: "And thus, the boy would become king" — also serving as an On The Next Episode Of Catchphrase.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After Hodir attempted to slander and get Arslan to abandon Daryun, Narsus and the others because they were "going to use Arslan to further their own ends", Arslan's response was:
    Arslan: If I were to discard Daryun and Narsus and choose you instead, how can you guarantee there shall not come a day when I will be forced to discard you in turn?
  • Arrows on Fire: Used to light a deep trench spanning an entire plain covered in oil—which served as the opening of the Battle of Atropatene where a bulk of the Parsian army were killed in the flames.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Subverted. While Arslan is a decent fighter, those in his group like Daryun, Farangis and Gieve are better fighters.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Elam while disguised as a girl got flirted on by a soldier.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: The second 2015 anime opening displays two instances of this: Arfrid with Narsus and Arslan with Elam.
  • Bad Ass Army: The Parsian army, especially their cavalry. There is a good reason why they were well known and widely feared. Even when they were badly injured, abandoned by the main armies and know they cannot win, they continued to charge at their enemies.
  • Batman Gambit: Daryun pulled one on Narsus early on. He deliberately took the road near Kharlan's base so the soldiers searching for him and Arslan would investigate Narsus's house and Narsus would have no choice but to help Arslan.
  • BattleCry: In various moments, Parsian commanders (particularly King Andragoras, Daryun and finally Arslan himself) have employed the fittingly-laconic Yasashuiin!
  • The Beastmaster: Jaswant, apparently. He travels around on a tiger.
  • Beast of Battle: Shindrans use elephants in battle.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The Shindran agent Jaswant (who is loyal to Grand Vizier Mahendra, serving Crown Prince Gadevi) was sent to infiltrate Prince Rajendra's ranks and sabotage his alliance with Arslan. Being exposed to the strategic excellence of Pars's leadership (particularly Narsus) cemented his respect for them, but still remained loyal to Mahendra. Arslan's mercy towards him after being outed as The Mole, however, led him to save Arslan's entourage (when the sacred duel between Gadevi and Rajendra's proxies went downhill). Gadevi losing it and killing Mahendra was just the icing on the cake.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Kharlan.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Daryun doesn't like it when anyone disrespects his uncle Vahriz, especially after his death. He also really doesn't like it when anyone tries to do harm towards his charge, Arslan.
    • Arslan's button is a bit harder to press but endangering his friends is one way to bring out his anger.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Arslan is normally gentle, soft-spoken, patient and doesn't like violence. However, when Rajendra cynically puts Daryun's life in danger, he snaps, draws his sword and tells Rajendra that if Daryun doesn't survive the fight, he, Arslan, will personally have Rajendra's head. This comes as a surprise not only to Rajendra but also to Arslan's own followers.
    • In the novel he says "I swear by the gods of Pars that if that monster kills Daryun its head will decorate the city gate - along with yours!" The novel also informs us that this was the first time Arslan ever threatened anyone.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Early on, Daryun comes to Arslan's rescue when he was attacked by Kharlan.
  • Bishie Sparkle:
    • Gieve often has these when trying to woo Farangis. It doesn't work.
    • Hilarity Ensues in the 2015 anime OVA when Gieve teaches Arslan to do it. It effectively works on Daryun, Elam and Narsus.
  • Bishounen: Every single male under 30, especially Arslan.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Hermes and Daryun suffer this at the end of the duel in episode 24. The former also suffers a Broken Faceplate simultaneous to it, despite their slashes explicitly only hitting each other at the torso.
  • Boom, Headshot: Of the arrow variation. Gieve does this as a Mercy Kill to Shapur.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Narsus is a formidable strategist and statesman (think Oberstein) who nevertheless regards himself an artist first and foremost. In the second part of the story he says he's a "Royal Court Artist who happens to be First Minister as well." Daryun's utter and vocal distaste for Narsus's artwork is a running gag throughout the story, but while the first anime adaptation would have the viewers believe that Daryun is too boneheaded to appreciate true art, the novel series and the Arakawa adaptation imply that Narsus's art does actually suck.
  • Cain and Abel: Gadevi and Rajendra, the two Shindran princes. Also Hirmes and Arslan, although they're cousins. As it turns out, not even that.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Farangis makes a well-crafted observation about kingship in the Season 1 finale:
    "The throne itself does not have a will of its own. This is how I think of it. Depending upon who sits in it, it can be a seat of justice or it can be the seat of inhuman cruelty. As long as it is a man, and not a god, doing the governing, he can never be perfect. But should he neglect to make efforts to reach for perfection, a king will surely tumble down the slippery slope towards evil with no one around to stop him."
  • The Champion: Daryun to Arslan. At one point he makes it clear that he doesn't care whether or not Arslan is the rightful heir or even of royal blood, he's loyal to him as a person.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Near the start of the duel between Daryun and Bahadur, Daryun's long cape is burnt at the end by the fire surrounding the ring. He later deliberately catches a good portion of the cape on fire to hurl it into Bahadur's face, blinding him.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Arakawa manga/anime only: back in chapter/episode 1, Daryun makes a mention of his friend as someone he would like Arslan to promote. Said character Narsus doesn't appear until a few chapters later (and chronologically three years later).
    • When he first joins Arslan, Narsus originally wanted to send Elam to his friend to Port Gilan to safety. Much later on, we meet Shagad at Port Gilan after Andragoras ordered Arslan to go there.
  • Civil War / Succession Crisis: The straggler Parsian officers in exile are beginning to sense that 1) with Arslan finally making his bid to free Pars from Lusitania and 2) Prince Hermes/Silvermask finally setting his plan to undermine Lusitania from within in motion, liberating Pars will not actually lead to peace but this, which bodes ill for the people of Pars. Former Marzban Kubard, despite remaining a loyal Parsian subject, seems to find the possibility distasteful, and sits out of it—at least until a contingent sent by Hermes tried to kill him, which pretty much drove him to side with Arslan's army.
  • Combat by Champion / Duel to the Death: Shindra's King Karikala issued one where his two sons would settle their dispute for the throne. However, a proxy for the duel is allowed and Rajendra chose Daryun and Gadevi chose Bahadur.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Daryun. Which goes to show that even Knights In Shining Armor need not avoid it.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: For Arslan, at any rate.
  • Commonality Connection: Arslan felt a connection with Jaswant as both respect and want to please their adoptive parents and are uncertain with their place in the world.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: After Karikala passed away, Rajendra hosted a banquet in honor for his disgraced brother Gadevi. Narsus commented that in Shindra, in light of a royal execution, they would ply the condemned with food and wine as a final feast. Gadevi, who knew this tradition, is naturally frightened and jumpy.
  • Cool Helmet: Arslan's helmet has large horns in the original artwork and the first anime. The 2015 Arakawa anime chose to give him, Daryun, King Andragoras and the other Parsian officers helmets with either leonine or equestrian motifs, which would not be out of place amongst the Rohirrim.
  • Cool Mask: Hirmes/Silvermask's mask has large bull horns (one wonders how strong his neck must be). The mask is toned down in Arakawa's adaptation, which looks like an amalgam of a mask a Char Clone would wear (as befits Silvermask's status as The Ace and The Rival) and that of Kurei's initial mask (intending to hide facial burns, as befits being the "Cain" to Arslan's "Abel").
  • Crucified Hero Shot: In the Arakawa manga/TV series Andragonas is forced into this position after being captured and chained up by Hermes, his nephew.
  • Darker and Edgier: Arakawa's version compared to the previous anime and manga adaptations (not the novel, though).
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Daryun dresses in all black, and in the novel he's known in-universe as the Black Knight.
  • Decoy Getaway: How Queen Tahamine tried to escape from Ecbatana. (It didn't work.)
  • Defector from Decadence: In a story quite morally-ambiguous as this, the defection of men such as Kharlan, Xandes and Sam to serving Lusitania under Silvermask's command is treated as such. Their justification is that Silvermask is Hermes, the original heir to the throne of King Osroes V (up until his brother Andragoras III seized kingship after killing him). To them, their aiding Lusitania to destroy Andragoras's rule is less being The Quisling and more engineering Rightful King Returns. Of course, Arslan and his faction has other ideas.
    • Jaswant's departure from the Shindran court to serve under Arslan himself can also qualify as such, considering Gadevi's and Rajendra's appalling track record on keeping their word—at least as long as Pars and Shindra are not at war.
  • Distressed Dude: Arslan occasionally finds himself in trouble and needs someone, usually Daryun, to come to the rescue. Justified in that he is young and inexperienced and while he can hold his own in a fight, he is frequently targeted because he is the prince with a price on his head.
  • The Dreaded: The mere mention of Daryun is enough to send soldiers quivering and running away in fear.
  • The Drifter: Gieve. A Wandering Minstrel with a Gray and Grey Morality who hates nobility and initially only joins Arslan's group because of Farangis and his own hatred against Lusitanians.
  • Driven to Suicide: The Lusitanian women and Barcacion commit suicide as a sign of their faith when they see that the fortress of Saint Emmanuel was overrun by the Parsian soldiers.
  • Dual Wielding: Kishward uses two swords.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Arslan has a rather effeminate face in Hiromu Arakawa's rendition of the story.
  • Easily Forgiven: Played with. Arslan forgave Jaswant and Rajendra after several betrayals from both and spared their lives repeatedly. Jaswant would return the favour and would later join Arslan's group. For Rajendra, however, certain restrictions after the latest betrayal were put in place.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: Played straight with Rajendra's battle elephants.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Arslan is first introduced as someone who dislikes fighting, ponders what it means to be a good king and is a Friend to All Living Things.
    • Gieve performs a Mercy Kill on a captured general who begged to be killed by an ally, firing an arrow from a near impossible distance.
    • Daryun deliberately misses his shot to kill Etoile at Arslan's pleading.
    • Farangis calmly walks right through a group of Lusitanians, before serenely ending them.
    • Andragoras furiously demotes Daryun at his suggestion that the army could be walking into a trap. He then harshly calls out his own son Arslan for arriving on the scne without being summoned.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Kharlan's betrayal stunned his comrades and when confronting him, Arslan asked why he as an honoured knight of Pars would choose to betray his own country. Kharlan would die refusing to explain his actions, though it was implied he did so because he found out Andragoras attempted to murder his nephew sixteen years ago and Hermes had returned to reclaim the throne.
    • Later in the series, one of the Marzban waylaid by Kharlan's betrayal, Sam, already having done his own Face–Heel Turn out of respect to Hermes, exposes himself publicly in order to destabilize the morale of Arslan's army. Arslan's army holds nevertheless—sincee he holds more of the remaining Marzban in his ranks, and all of them profess Undying Loyalty to him right now.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The high-ranking Lusitanian officer Montferrat is seen disgusted by Bodin's extreme murders of innocent Parsians and disapproves of senseless killing. Other Lusitanian soldiers also voice their objection about Bodin's torture of Shapur.
  • Eye Scream: Azrael's main method of attacking anyone who means harm to Arslan. Gadevi experiences this when he tries to kill Arslan.
  • Expy: The Lusitanian commander Guiscard, being a relatively more martial and competent commander than his brother (King Innocentius VII), coupled with his revealed desire to depose his brother and become King himself, is textbook Richard III. His being a more ruthless commander with a very pragmatic (sometimes even disdainful) approach to the political uses of his faith also makes him similar to Cesare Borgia, the man who inspired Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "I'd rather die on the arrow of a friend than be made sport of by these Lusitanian barbarians!" — Shapur
    • "I can't follow your orders." — Kharlan
    • "Please become a fine king." — Bahman
    • "Jaswant...don't choose the wrong path." — Mahendra
    • "O kindhearted heathen prince... be that as it may, itnote  is something that cannot be stopped. Such is the nature of faith. What is within my power to do is to be with everyone and to be with God." — Count Barcacion
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • Pars is Persia (especially under the Achaemenid Empire, further supported by the emblem of Pars looking very similar to a relief of the Achaemenid king Darius I, who ruled it at its peak), Lusitania is a mix of Macedonia and the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Maryam is the Byzantine Empire, and Shindra is India.
    • As for religion, Pars and Shindra are polytheist while Lusitania and Maryam worship one god, Yaldabord. Lusitania is a lot more militant about it: they torture "heathens" and destroy art and scriptures that depict and mention other gods. To drive the point home, the current king of Lusitania is called Innocentius VII, an obvious reference to Pope Innocent III. Lusitania, for all intents and purposes, is pretty much a mishmash of most stereotypes regarding medieval Catholicism.
  • Fatal Flaw: King Andragoras's overconfidence. He believed that his powerful army could overcome any enemy with little regard for tactics or planning, despite warnings from one of his generals. That pride would cost him the battle of Atropatene where he not only lost a huge portion of his soldiers, the rest of his followers scattered, the capital city becoming overrun and he himself would be imprisoned.
  • A Father to His Men: A budding one despite his youth, but Arslan cares deeply for his friends and the men who fight for him. This drives him to work hard to become a leader worthy of their respect.
  • Fiery Redhead: Arfrid
  • Five-Man Band: Prince Arslan's little group.
    • The Hero: Arslan
    • The Lancer: Darun
    • The Smart Guy: the role is divided between Narsus, The Strategist and Gieve the Wandering Minstrel. After Gieve is Put on a Bus, Kishward, being the most senior commander next to Daryun and Narsus, takes his place.
    • The Big Guy: early in the story it's Darun, due to him being the tallest and strongest. Near the end of the battle of Saint Emmanuel, Kubard joins the team and takes up this role.
    • The Chick: Farangis, mostly by default since she's a Lady of War.
    • Tagalong Kid: Elam and Arfrid. The latter is a more straight example as she actually decides to tag along, but she goes back and forth between this trope and The Chick.
    • The Sixth Ranger: Jaswant, who joins our heroes shortly after helping them foil Rajendra's schemes of betrayal.
    • Eleventh Hour Ranger: Most of the Parsian generals who heeded Arslan's call (such as Lord Lucian and the trio of Zaravant, Esfan and Tus) count as this.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Arslan becomes king. His journey to the throne, however, is an epic worthy to be told.
  • Foreshadowing: Early on, Daryun's uncle Vahriz asked Daryun to swear loyalty to Arslan, not the royal family. It's later revealed that he knew or at least suspected Hermes was alive, seeking to claim the throne, and Arslan isn't of royal blood.
  • Framing Device: The anime is narrated by someone, most likely a historian, noting important dates in the history of Arslan's attempts to retake his kingdom.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Hawks Azrael and Surush are very fond of Arslan, as well as horses and a giraffe. Kishward lampshades this and comments how the hawks know the goodness of Arslan's heart.
  • The Fundamentalist: Jon Bodan, High Priest of Lusitania.
  • General Ripper: Just to highlight the show's Grey and Gray Morality, it shows that despite Lusitania having a bunch of fundamentalist nutjobs among its officers, it also shows that even the Marzban of Pars have elitist and We Have Reserves tendencies. One tragic example is the hot-headed Garshaph, who killed slaves planning on bringing in Lusitania after the latter promised freeing them. His high-handedness eventually drove more slaves to revolt against Pars—and when Ecbatana fell, we get a good lingering shot of him becoming a Human Pincushion after Lusitanian soldiers were done with him.
  • Glory Hound: Zaravant and Esfan were this immediately after joining Arslan, and undertaking a foolhardy attack gets their armies suckered into an enemy trap (taking Tus and his men down with them). Fortunately, Arslan and Narsus were able to devise a strategy to rescue them immediately. Thankfully, Zaravant and Esfan learn their lesson and never stray from their orders hereon.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Hirmes's mask hides a rather nasty burn scar.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Don't mistaken Arslan's All-Loving Hero status as weak.
  • Happily Adopted:
    • Averted with Arslan who adores their parents but said parents don't reciprocate.
    • Played straight with Jaswant and the Shindran Grand Vizier.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Played with. Arslan and Daryun would wear helmets during battle/combat and it has saved their lives a few times. Others like Narsus, Gieve or Farangis don't.
  • Helping Would Be Killstealing: Averted. During Daryun and Zande's fight, Farangis stepped in, firing arrows at him and his horse, as well as using her dagger. Daryun did not mind. After all, they were surrounded by the enemy and their priority was to regroup with Arslan and the others quickly.
  • Heroic Bastard: Arslan. Only alluded to in the anime, expanded upon in the novels and the manga. In fact, he's not even of royal blood, he's the son of a cavalry soldier and a serving girl, whom he thought to be his nanny. He quickly proves that he is charismatic, kind, and intelligent enough to deserve his followers' loyalty and grow up into a great ruler regardless.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Arslan goes into numbed shock in the 2015 anime/manga when he witnesses firsthand the bloody destruction and carnage of the Battle of Atropatene, weakly calling out for a familiar face. It gets From Bad to Worse when he sees Kharlan and his men arriving, only for him to realize they are going to kill him.
  • Hitchhiker Heroes: Arslan and his supporters who wander around Pars looking for supporters and allies. It starts out with only Darun, then gains Narsus (and Elam), Farangis and Gieve who make up the core of Arslan's growing group of allies. Originally none of them were very enthusiastic about it and supported Arslan only because they opposed the Lusitanian invasion, but eventually Arslan's personality won them over.
    • At first Darun was only following his uncle Vahriz's orders, Narsus joined because he found Arslan interesting, Farangis because she hated Lustianian religious fanaticism and Gieve because Farangis joined, and because he hated oppression of all kind.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Gieve to Farangis, Arfrid to Narsus. Subverted a little in that both Farangis and Narsus are very much aware of their respective suitors' feelings, and they find the situation annoying.
  • I Die Free: Early in the Arakawa manga, Etoile's fellow captured Lusitanian friends went berserk and fought to the death against their captors rather than become slaves.
  • Ice Queen: Arslan's mother Queen Tahamine is very cold towards her husband, who dotes on her, and her son, who only wants to make her proud.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted as one panel Bodin tosses a young child into the fire and later on, a Lusitanian soldier mentions that three million heretics, including children, have been killed.
  • Inter Service Rivalry: The Lusitanian military and the clergymen/Temple Knights do not get along, since the military does all the fighting but the clergymen take all the credit while not being on the front lines. The rivalry is fueled by the mutual dislike between their leaders, Lord Guiscarl and Archbishop Bodin.
  • Kick the Dog: Bodin strikes one Lusitanian soldier who openly questions the burning of the historical books and scrolls of Pars and hits him hard enough to push him into the bonfire.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Farangis is assigned the noble task of guarding Arslan, so that her fellow sisters at the convent who were jealous of her could find a convenient excuse to kick her out.
  • Killed Off for Real: In the novel series, several characters die much later in the story after Arslan's coronation, including: Narsus, Alfreed, and Etoile.
  • King Bob the Nth: Innocentius VII. Before him, side materials indicate Andragoras's regnal number as "III", while his brother Osroes is "V".
  • Kneel Before Zod: In the TV series, Silvermask and his men surrounded Narsus and would let Narsus live if he kneel before him and serve him.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: Invoked by Etoile, who dresses as a boy so she can fight in the army.
  • Lady of War: Farangis is this trope personified. Incidentally, she's very much aware of her own skills and beauty. She can also drink her Hopeless Suitor Gieve under the table without losing her poise and dignity.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Gieve, the smooth talker, falls head over heels for Farangis the moment he meets her.
  • The Last DJ: The series has some instances where the idea actually becomes a plot point:
    • Narsus had this reputation at Andragoras's court, being the first (and so far, only) Parsian noble to free all his slaveswhose labor serves as the economic backbone of Pars. Thus, he is a source of unease to the traditional Parsian nobles who flocked to Arslan's standard. Hence, despite having served for almost the entire season as Arslan's de facto chancellor, he eventually chose to hand over the position of First Chancellor (for now) to the newcomer-but-most senior Lord Lucian. (After all, his "official commission" from Arslan is "Court Painter".)
    • This is also arguably the cause of Gieve's "exile" With Arslan's army slowly becoming more "formalized" and staffed with the traditional Parsian nobility, the loose nature of his in-exile inner circle, despite having proven themselves as True Companions, needed to be integrated in this formal command.note  Gieve, as it is, is too much of a loose cannon which does not fit into the chain of command. Of course, it eventually appeared that Gieve was sent on a secret mission to secure "something" which will legitimize Arslan's claim to a throne—which is virtually intelligence work.
  • Laughing Mad: Since being captured, Andragoras has a habit of doing this.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Happens during the journey to Peshawar due to the efforts of the Lusitanian soldiers and the fire and smoke set by Hodir's men. Daryun stayed behind to give the group more time to escape. Gieve ran into Arslan and Elam while trying to find Farangis. Farangis managed to find Daryun. Meanwhile, Narsus alone confronts Silvermask and meets Arfrid.
  • Living MacGuffin: Arslan is targeted due to the price on his head and his status as the prince of Pars.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Narsus, Gieve
  • Love at First Sight: Men have a way of falling for Queen Tahamine at first sight. It happened with Andragoras, Osroes and Innocentius, and at least one other man before she married Andragoras.
  • Magnetic Hero: One of Arslan's main traits is his compassion and empathy, able to win over even the most unlikely people to his side. Even his enemies treat him with respect and courtesy. The Arakawa manga and the 2015 anime emphasize these traits to the detriment to his other traits such as his natural insight and being a very good judge of character which are his prevalent in the original story.
  • The Magnificent: It is claimed that Arslan is about to gain the historical epithet Arslan the Liberator: after re-establishing his power base and command, he finally set forth public declarations for his bid to 1) recapturing Ecbatana, driving away Lusitania and freeing Pars, as well as 2) making good on his claim in finally setting the slaves of Pars free.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In episode 24 of the 2015 anime, arrows strangely miss Farangis despite her standing out in the open. Whether it's her claim that the Djinn were protecting her or just good luck, it's left ambiguous.
  • Mercy Kill: Shapur, captured and facing Cold-Blooded Torture, asks to be shot by his allies. However, none of the Parsian soldiers are capable of covering such a distance. He is shot instead by a soon-to-be introduced new character, Gieve.
  • The Mole: Jaswant is sent by Grand Vizier Mahendra to infiltrate Rajendra's forces.
  • Mood Whiplash: Arslan and Daryun finally hear of Vahriz's death. Narsus then chucks a plate at a soldier attempting to escape Narsus's pit and Elam quickly scolds him for wasting dishware.
  • Moral Myopia: Etoile tells Arslan that his god Yaldabord teaches that all people are equal but if you identify with another religion, then you are a pagan and must be marked off and killed. Arslan naturally lampshades this.
    • She also fails to see the hypocrisy of her doctrine when the army doesn't want women in their ranks and has to disguise herself as a man to even join.
  • Morality Pet: Arguably, Arslan for Etoile and Gieve. He is the only Parsian that Etoile respects and he is able to bring out a softer side of the latter. Gieve initially only cared for himself but Arslan's compassion wins him over and Gieve eventually would proceed to do unselfish acts for Arslan's sake.
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  • Ninja: Oddly, Tus's design in the 2015 Arakawa adaptation gives him a mesh undershirt, a forehead protector and kunai amongst his kit—making him look like more an exile from the Naruto universe than anything.
  • No Escape but Down: In chapter 26 where Arslan, Gieve and Elam were trapped between a cliff and the pursuing Lusitanian soldiers. Gieve grabbed the two and jumped down, causing the soldiers to believe that No-One Could Survive That. Subverted in that they actually didn't jump off the cliff but held onto the edge to deceive the soldiers.
  • No One Gets Left Behind:
    • Arslan refuses to leave Elam whose horse was shot when surrounded by Lusitatian soldiers. The fact that Arslan risks his life for not an important subordinate but for a servant cements Gieve's respect for Arslan.
    • Arslan also takes this option when Zaravant, Esfan and Tus were entrapped (as mentioned above). This subsequently cements the three's absolute respect for his orders.
  • Not So Above It All: When Arslan's group first arrived in Port Gilan, Farangis spotted Elam and Arfrid shopping and lectured them about forgetting the reason they were there ... while buying something herself.
  • Off with His Head!: Happens to Daryun's uncle Vahriz and other Marzban whose heads are on display, used as an intimidation tactic against the garrison of Pars's capital.note  Considering Ecbatana is sieged on all sides at this point, it unsurprisingly works. It was also done to Gadevi after he attempts to kill Arslan.
  • One-Man Army: Daryun
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Hirmes's romance with Princess Irina.
    • He is also willing to compensate Kharlan's family after the latter's death.
  • The Queen's Latin: The first four episodes of the OVA were dubbed by Manga Entertainment's UK branch. The voice actors didn't fake American accents like in other Manga UK dubs.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Andragoras orders Arslan to go to the coastal regions in the south to gather 50,000 men and not to return until he has that number. Many characters realize Andragoras is exiling and banishing Arslan in all but name.
  • Red Baron: Daryun is called Sher Senani (Great Tiger General) by the awestruck Shindran soldiers at the end of the duel before the gods. Even prior to this, he also enjoyed the title of Mardān fu Mardān even amongst the Marzban of Pars.
  • Rescue Romance:
    • Subverted. Gieve, finding Farangis surrounded by assailants, intends to sweep in, rescue her, and bask in her gratitude... but by the time he reaches her, she's handled the situation herself, leaving him stunned with admiration.
    • Played more straight in Arfrid's introduction scene, though also with a twist. She's trying to avenge his father on Hirmes but he easily disarms her. When Narsus shows up, she demands he give her his sword so she can continue fighting. Narsus rescues her instead, and eventually she decides she's in love with him.
  • The Reveal:
    • Silvermask does this to Andragoras revealing to him that he is Hermes, his nephew, and by extension, Arslan's cousin.
    • It's much later revealed that Arslan isn't related to Andragoras and Tahamine at all. In reality, he was instead adopted into their family; so he has no blood relation to the royal family, or Hermes.
  • Reused Character Design: In Hiromu Arakawa's manga, the characters bear strong resemblances to characters of her other work Fullmetal Alchemist; Arslan looks like Edward with Alphonse's expressions and white hair, Daryun resembles Kimblee, Etoile has Alphonse's appearance and Edward's expressions and his personality and after the time skip, she looks more like Hawkeye, Farangis' looks and demeanor resembles Lust and her facial structure resembles Lan Fan, etc.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Silvermask wants to torture and kill Arslan so Andragoras would see his son's severed head because Andragoras is actually Silvermask/Hermes' uncle, who killed Hermes' father and tried to assassinate Hermes sixteen years ago.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: A major factor for the Lusitanian victory during the siege of Ectabana was that they were able to persuade the slaves to turn against their masters and let them inside the castle walls with the promise of freeing them. But once the deed was done, the Lusitanian soldiers had no intent to keep their promise and the slaves were treated even worse than their previous masters.
  • Right in Front of Me: In episode 9, Etoile told the "spoiled rich boy" he reunited with from three years ago that he heard King Andragoras and Prince Arslan have two twisted horns, abnormally wide mouths and black tails. Said rich boy looked nervous/appalled because he is Arslan.
  • Rightful King Returns: Once again, played more realistically than most. What happens when there are two arguably-rightful claimants to the throne? As it is, Arslan and Hermes are on a race to make the stronger claim to their "righteousness", set in the backdrop of liberating Pars from the Lusitanian foreign invasion.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Parsian royalty is expected to be war heroes. The King serves as the main commander and is on the front lines, while the prince is expected to go to battle at a young age. Prince Arslan had his first campaign at age 14 and basically, he is trying to reclaim his throne at age 14.
    • Andragoras III, every inch the Warrior King, himself supposedly was performing feats of arms and enjoyed a Memetic Badass reputation amongst his subjects even as a young boy.
    • Similarly, his nephew Hermes/Silvermask has not spent his years of exile idly, having prepared for years to retake the throne of Pars through any scheme and means necessary. Interestingly, he was actually shown as doing a better job in his studies as a Crown Prince in his youth than Arslan was at the same age.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Arslan's original groupnote  blatantly disobey Andragoras's royal mandate not to follow Arslan in his banishment because they are loyal to Arslan first, not the king.
  • Secret Test of Character: Narsus did one to Arslan. He told Arslan that if he was Kharlan attempting to find Arslan, he would set a village on fire and continue to kill innocent villagers to provoke Arslan out in the open, which Arslan immediately said they had to stop Kharlan before that happened. Daryun later commented that if Arslan didn't responded as such, Narsus would have seen him unfit as king and abandoned him.
  • Shirtless Scene: Gieve in episode 2, though technically he's full naked (as he's swimming in a pool).
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • A mild one when Hodir gave Arslan two conditions to gain his support (marry his daughter and refrain from any revolutionary reforms such as abolishing slavery), Arslan was more upset that he hasn't even met Hodir's daughter yet.
    • Narsus is more indignant that Silvermask called him a "third rate painter" than the fact Silvermask escaped.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: In many scenes, Daryun gets to show off his well-toned arms.
  • Soft Water: In the Arakawa manga/TV anime: Arslan and Etoile fell from the castle wall into the moat. Both were perfectly fine and Etoile managed to steal a horse afterwards.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Silvermask is fond of doing this. And some of Kharlan's men mocked Vahriz after his death.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": And how. To start with, originally the names of characters and places either came from Persian legends (Arslan, Farangis, Giv, etc.) or are native to various languages like Farsi, Hindi, Urdu (Daryun, Elam, Etwar, etc. Many places mentioned in the story, such as Ecbatana or Atropatene, actually exist or existed in real life). The person who translated the anime to English treated the names as if they were random fantasy names, hence Arislan, Pharangese, Daryoon, Gieve and so on. The most jarring decision was turning Etwar/Ester into Etoile/Estelle, despite the very obvious ancient Middle-Eastern type setting. And then for the last two episodes of the OVA Executive Meddling happened on the Japanese side, and the spelling and pronunciation of the names were changed for all major characters, turning Arislan, Daryoon, Narsus, Pharangese, and Gieve into Arslan, Darun, Narcasse, Farangis, and Guibu.
  • Spoiler Opening: The 2nd Opening of the 2015 anime spoils the fact that Jaswant joins the party.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Mostly in the Arakawa version, it comes as a surprise to many characters that Arslan is very kind and humble for someone who is the king's son. In the novels he's still kind, but not particularly sweet, and there's a lot more emphasis on his empathy, people skills and observant nature which are a large part of his charisma that draws people to him.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Guiscarl of Lusitania, who actually runs the kingdom in place of his utterly incompetent brother.
  • The Strategist: Narsus
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: Darun
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: In chapter 28, Arslan tells Gieve and Elam that his nurse and her husband died of drinking too much nabeed (wine) when he was younger. However since they both died at the same time in a suspicious manner, Gieve quietly suspects that they were poisoned instead.
  • Tempting Fate: Early on, there had been many mentions how Pars' armies were undefeatable and that no country could hope to challenge them. Cue the Battle of Atropatene.
  • Time Skip: After Arslan's coronation the novel jumps four years ahead.
  • To the Pain: Silvermask/Hermes tells Arslan when he corners Arslan alone in episode 13 that he will cut off Arslan's right hand now. Then when they meet next time, he will take the left hand. And after that, if Arslan is still alive, he will take his right foot.
  • Undying Loyalty: Daryun to Arslan. And eventually, Arslan wins the respect and admiration of the rest of his followers. Farangis sums up best to Ester why they all have been won over:
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Both the Shindran princes have this to a certain extent:
  • Unknown Rival: Zaravant apparently resents Jaswant's position of proximity to Arslan, and tried as much as he can to provoke and undermine him. Jaswant, being The Stoic and the better man, treats Zaravant with indifference. Their relationship eventually graduates to Vitriolic Best Buds after saving each other on the battlefield.
  • Villain Respect:
    • Some Lusitanian soldiers openly admired the captured Shapur for being Defiant to the End even if he was a "heretic" in their eyes.
    • Silvermask has some admiration for Narsus and wanted Narsus to serve him.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Gadevi goes through this when his proxy Bahadur lost the duel and consequently, he lost the throne to his younger brother. He furiously tried to attack his own father and ordered his men to attack Arslan's group as well. And later, he tried to assassinate Arslan when he was in no position to do so. This would eventually result in his own execution.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Darun and Narsus, especially when it comes to Narsus's artwork.
    Darun: (to a prisoner) Start talking or I'll have [Narsus] paint your portrait. And nobody wants that.
  • Wandering Minstrel: Gieve, though he's more of a wandering warrior and thief who also happens to be a bard.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Arslan wants to become a good king worthy of his father's expectations and works hard to please his parents who both act rather harsh and cold towards him.
  • What You Are in the Dark: When the group was separated and chased by Lusitanians, Gieve spotted Arslan and Elam being attacked. At that point in the manga, Gieve was Not in This for Your Revolution and could have pretended he didn't see them. Instead, he chose to come to their rescue and repeatedly protected them throughout the rest of the journey.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser:
    • Etoile/Ester dresses as a boy and goes by a male name so she can fight with the other knights.
    • Elam disguised himself to sneak into the captured city of Ecbatana to get information.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: During the duel between Daryun and Bahadur, Daryun pretended that his only weapon had broken and he was helpless against Bahadur. Once Bahadur let his guard down, Daryun revealed he had a hidden dagger on him the whole time and used it to kill Bahadur.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Hirmes is deathly afraid of fire, as a result of having survived Andragoras' attempt to burn him alive.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: Etoile thinks all Parsians are heathens that need to be killed off but once she gets to know Arslan, his kindness and desire to improve the kingdom makes Etoile acknowledge that Pars has at least one decent person.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • Subverted in that it's the villains who tend to do this. Hirmes when he reveals himself to Andragoras, while Zande, Kahran's son does the whole My Name Is Inigo Montoya You Killed My Father Prepare to Die routine with Darun. Arfrid, however, also has a moment of this with Hirmes after the latter kills her father.
    • A variation where Shapur's younger brother Isfan initially wants Gieve dead, who had shot and killed his brother, though for a good reason.
  • Young Future Famous People: Arslan is noted to become known as "Arslan the Liberator" in the 19th episode. In fact, it can be argued that Arslan's group will be this, as they make their mark in history.

Alternative Title(s): The Heroic Legend Of Arslan

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/TheHeroicLegendofArslan