Heads will roll and blood will spill.
Story: Yoshiki Tanaka
Art: Hiromu Arakawa
Translation/Adaptation: Lindsey Akashi
What They Say
THE SIEGE OF ECBATANA
After escaping the horrors of the battlefield, Arslan takes refuge with Daryun in a mountain retreat belonging to the former lord and genius strategist, Narsus and enlists his assistance in his mission to reclaim his lost kingdom. Meanwhile, the royal capital of Ecbatana is under siege by the Lusitanians and the queen finds herself captured by the mysterious masked figure behind the fall of Pars.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Arslan has escape the battle which has seen the defeat of his nation’s army. His father, the King, has fled the battle and unknown to everyone is likely deceased. His sworn protector, General Daryun, leads Arslan to a man named Narsus, a once great Lord and strategist for the King. The first key to escape and regrouping is convincing the man who gave up nobility for art to once again walk into danger.
While Arslan appeals to Narsus’ sense of vanity, the city of Ectabana finds itself under siege. The generals and upper class citizens sit comfortably inside, confident the siege will break when reinforcements from the border arrive. The Queen even takes time to entertain her court as heads role outside the gate. She remains an enigmatic character. We discover some of her bloody past as a prize constantly being fought over by men of power, but she herself seems cold and collected.
Arakawa drew some bloody stuff back in Fullmetal Alchemist, but it never hit the levels of gruesome that we get here. No punches are pulled showing the slaughter of the soldiers of Pars. Blood splashes black across the pages as Ecbatana is sieged and falls to unrest and a force bent on eradicating the heathens and plundering the city. Arrow to the head? Check. Decapitations? Check. There’s an especially tough scene where a captured general is mercilessly beaten with teeth flying before begging for his own men to kill him.
We get to watch the city fall in spectacular fashion, and the price the citizens face for the failure of their king as the Lusitanians loot, rape, and pillage. (Thankfully, we don’t see the rape but we do see plenty of women being dragged away.) It’s convert or die, so many do, except the court isn’t given that luxury and they are slaughtered without mercy. The Queen is captured eventually by the masked man who seems to have a deep, dark history with the royal family. She is eventually brought before the ridiculously obese King of Lusitania who fails for the woman at first sight.
The Lusitanians, whom I was hoping would be given some depth to their crusade, are further depicted as raving fanatics who are bent on destroying the heathens. The story doesn’t shy away from showing the troubles in Parsian society, as their system of slavery is shown as the lynchpin which eventually does the city of Ecbatana in. The King’s own hubris lost him the battle, but his generals remain honorable men until the end.
Legend of Arslan continues with the same strengths and weaknesses shown in the first volume. The action is solid and engaging while the characters remain fairy one dimensional. The villains are still cartoony excesses of hatred, although there are some nice shades of gray in the bard character who arrives and gains the momentary favor of the queen. I feel that this volume is still mostly introductions and set up for the big reveals to come, and Arslan is still a young man who won’t be able to do much yet. We’ll have to fall farther before the heroes can begin to climb their way up yet again.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: A –
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A –
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: November 4th, 2014