What They Say:
Arslan and his troops counter an invasion in Peshawar while Etoile guides refugees to Ecbatana. But when a royal relative makes a surprising appearance, Arslan is banished until he can build an army of fifty thousand soldiers. Only his closest companions join him on this impossible task that leads to the port city of Gilan, where a pesky pirate invasion turns out to be the least of their worries.
The audio presentation for this series is definitely well done as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo and the English dub in 5.1, both of which are encoded with the lossless Dolby TrueHD codec. The 5.1 mix definitely takes things up a notch, not so much in directionality and placement but rather with the overall impact. The sound of the horses and other battle elements have a stronger feeling throughout this as it plays out, making you feel the bass a bit more and giving the scenes greater strength. Both mixes handle most of the swordplay aspects well and the thwip and thunk of arrows works really well, too. Dialogue is strong overall with some very clean and clear moments to it and placement is solid throughout as there are generally a few characters around at a time digging into things as the narrative shifts focus. There may not be any huge standout moments but it’s a very strongly designed show that comes through without any problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The eight episodes in this collection are kept to a single disc with plenty of room to work with. Animated by Liden Films and Sanzigen, the series is one that looks quite good overall with some very appealing animation and character designs. That generally comes through well here with a clean look to the characters while the CG animation has a very good look in handling the troops and all the detail there, which the transfer handles perfectly. The series has a mildly muted design to it overall with what it does but it’s got some nice pop of color here and there and finds areas to really stand out. Some of the backgrounds show a bit of the gradients that exist in how the series was animated, which can be more distracting in the darker and late night scenes, but it’s not something that’s a constant.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the three discs from both formats on hinges and it largely mirrors what the first season releases were like The release also comes with an o-card that replicates the artwork from the main case but with a better cardstock that gives it a richer color palette. The look is one that uses the familiar key visual of of the main cast that’s aligned with Arslan and most of the main cast of this arc together with an ornate framing of gold over the red that fits the tone and atmosphere of the series very well. The back cover carries this design overall and places the summary of the premise in a nice design that takes up most of the real estate here while also including a breakdown of the extras. The shots from the show along the right are small but good and we get a standard technical grid along the bottom that’s mostly readable as it’s done with the gold text over the red. While there are no show related inserts here we do get a reversible cover where each of the panels pairs Arslan with different members of his core council as they have serious on-battlefield kind of looks about them.
The menu design for this release goes for the simple approach with what it wants to do as we get the image from the cover set against the full screen in static mode. Using that gives it a very serious feeling to it but with a moody aspect that definitely works well. The logo is kept to the upper left with a simple font while the navigation along the bottom works the same color design as the cover with the gold and red. That works well as both the main menu and the pop-up menu and everything works really well in moving through the menus as it’s smooth and problem free.
The extras for this release are definitely fun as we get the Corporate Warrior Arslan material, which is a series of cute chibi style shorts of the gang working in the corporate world. They’re about three minutes each and definitely make for some good comedy after watching the serious show. We also get the clean version of the opening and closing sequences and the seventh episode gets a commentary track from the dub cast.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first season of the Heroic Legend of Arslan ran in the spring and summer of 2015 and the second season came quickly with it arriving in the summer of 2016. What was surprising, though rather welcome, was that it was kept to just eight episodes and given the subtitle of Dust Storm Dance. I’m definitely in favor of shows finding non-standard configurations in order to work with the source material that they have rather than trying to do things in problematic ways. I had enjoyed the first season a lot more than I expected, especially after some problematic issues with past adaptations, and going into this series I had some pretty good expectations with it and that it would be a fair bit tighter overall because of the episode count.
And that’s largely what happens as we get a few different actions taking place, some fortifying of events and locations, and progress toward Arslan building his connections with what’s to come. There are some smaller subplot pieces in the mix, notably with his father and the escape there, but most of what we get focuses on what Arslan and his growing army is up to. The opening salvo, which takes a bit to reconnect with as the minor recap comes a few minutes into the season, involves Arslan’s forces returning to Peshawar as it’s under a new attack by Turan as they saw an opening and weakness to try and exploit. You can’t have Arslan losing Peshawar at this stage so you know he’ll get it back but it’s a solidly fun fight overall with the forces involved and it reaffirms for the people that Arslan is intent on protecting them rather than just continuing on with his series of conquests. Arslan isn’t exactly a charismatic leader but he’s tapping into the right things combined with his appearance that can make him a beloved leader.
The show does work through some fun character pieces, I particularly liked seeing Andragoras’ escape and how that changes the nature of things in Peshawar as well as the way so many of those that are charismatic and capable end up aligning with Arslan with his new mission to increase his army to some fifty thousand soldiers. This has us heading off to Gilan, a really appealing port city, where most of the rest of the season takes place. It’s here that we see a viceroy that has abused his position and is dealt with by Arslan that helps to increase his own standing as he treats the populace very right. It also works in seeing him discover what talent resides in the area and how that can be used to replace the viceroy and give him more standing in the future with a people and leaders he can rely on. There’s a next-generation element to what’s happening that I like a lot and it works just as well as seeing the action segments, especially when the pirates try to invade and are dealt with in some really cunning ways.
Dust Storm Dance is a bit of a transitional piece as it brings certain elements to a close and refocuses with what Arslan is attempting to do now. That has a lot of little things in motion to watch, including some fun with Narsus getting closer to a certain someone that still kind of makes him uneasy and seeing Hilmes working to set his position in a stronger way with what he’s searching for. But most of what we get is focused on the core with Arslan in Peshawar and then for a very fun arc that takes place in Gilan. The eight episodes are strong with little in the way of what really feels like fluff but instead was more just color and place setting for what’s to come next. This series is really well executed and getting an eight-episode run with some solid changes in what’s going on works very well and has me hungry for more.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Chapter VII Commentary, Corporate Warrior Arslan, Textless Opening & Closing Songs
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: September 5th, 2016
Running Time: 200 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.