The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Dust Storm Dance – Review
The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Dust Storm Dance:
Original Air Dates: July 3rd, 2016 – August 21st, 2016
Synopsis: Lusitania’s forces continue to subjugate and rule over the Kingdom of Pars, despite Arslan’s fierce confrontation with Lord Silver Mask. As new enemies take advantage of the kingdom’s turmoil, and Silver Mask seeks a new weapon that could turn the balance of the battle, Arslan is faced with the difficult truth of one important question: Who are his parents?
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: If it isn’t already obvious, the 8 episode count for this season was a red flag to begin with. Unsurprisingly, the story feels both rushed and out of place due to it, with any development in the story feeling more like a quick snippet than full fledged progression. One can’t help but feel like this season is more of an extended OVA with a lot of the episodes involving Arslan feeling like side quests, with events and a tone that feels more light hearted than the norm. Yes, the events that happen are obviously going to contribute to Arslan’s future but it’s hard to shake off the rushed feeling as we blaze through a mere eight episodes.
Tom: Despite Funimation billing this season with teases about the truth of Arslan’s lineage, and whether he’s ready to face such answers, there’s no actual reveal here and this misrepresentation sets up false expectations going forward. Ultimately Dust Storm Dance, if not for a few key developments, almost feels like OVA or filler material as Linny described, particularly when we’re looking at Arslan’s efforts to pull together a new fifty thousand man force.
Linny: The huge tease about Arslan’s secret lineage is really an exercise in frustration as the season only addresses it for a couple of minutes and the whole matter is dealt with and dispensed of without any concrete reveals. There are no grand scale invasions and wars this season either but for those who enjoyed the combat sequences, there’s plenty of smaller fights and rebellions to be seen.
Tom: Outside of Arslan’s main group, the rest of the cast furthers the actual main plot lines, with lots of development and twists and turns while Arslan works through his banishment handed down by his father. It’s these developments that save the season, giving it enough weight to feel like a proper continuation, rather than a side story used to pass the time. At times, however, events feel a bit rushed, as if certain developments have been sped up and crammed into this eight episode mini-series. When looking solely at Arslan’s plot line, many of of the twists and turns can be seen coming a mile away, with villainous twists hardly having any bite of surprise. It’s not to say the first season was some paragon of thrills, mystery or suspense, but what was there seems to be more than lacking here.
Linny: There’s a couple of new characters introduced this season with only one of them, a Princess named Irina, seemingly likely to play an important role in the main story. Irina helps us see a more personal and humane side to Hilmes. Hilmes has always been an interesting character in the story of Arslan, as someone who is painted as a villain but whose actions and morality may be better than they seem at first glance. This new exposition helps to paint a sympathetic picture and might warm him up to viewers. Our other new character, Shagard plays a weak villain for this season with a personality and ulterior motive so predictable that most seasoned viewers will see it coming from a mile away.
Tom: The real focus for Dust Storm Dance is not, in fact, on Arslan, or even his mysterious lineage. Instead the real focus on these eight episodes is split between Narsus and Hilmes. Events within Arslan’s exile actually focus on Narsus and his relations with former friend, Shagard, soon to be turned enemy (the twist telegraphed miles away). Hilmes, painted purely as a villain throughout the first season, is portrayed in a softer light here as Linny described above. The series takes an interest in trying to rebuild him as a more sympathetic character. While neither character ends up gaining character development from the proceedings, both act as clear focal points for the events unfolding around them. You can, of course, still expect Daryun and the rest of the gang to play their roles, but know this season is really focused on Narsus and Hilmes.
Linny: Art direction wise, there are instances when certain cast members seem to be drawn slightly different from their usual designs but it’s only for fleeting moments and our characters look the same as usual. Thanks to Daryun being out of his armour and also battling in semi stripped outfits, his body looks even more bulky than usual. There are a few quality dips here and there, mostly noticeable for me in wide shots and in scenes involving horseback riding. It’s not a complete mess but it might bother those more sensitive to animation quality.
Tom: A few later episodes dip in quality, with less animation and simpler art than usual. The CGI is still as disappointing as ever, but thanks to a short season and less of a focus on grand, epic battles the rougher aspects of Arslan take a backseat.
Linny: If you are an Arslan fan who is yet to watch this new continuation, it would be best to go in thinking of this as an extended OVA even though the story told does chronicle Arslan’s progress in his quest to be king. Despite all the tall claims and teasers, this season feels more like character exploration than anything else. There’s nothing exceptionally shocking or mind blowing about the reveals and developments made this season, but it has enough content to amuse you if you truly enjoyed the first.
Tom: I’m crossing my fingers that Season 2 was mostly an attempt to keep Arslan in the minds of viewers this year, with a third, full season, just around the corner. While these eight episodes are indeed fun, and thanks to a few key developments entirely necessary for following Arslan’s ongoing story, they lack some of the overall epic quality present previously, and the refocus on Hilmes and Narsus, while enjoyable, leaves me yearning for the answers originally promised in this season’s promotion.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Dust Storm Dance and its first season are available for streaming via Funimation.com.