Sunday, 3 May 2015


By Susan Broadbent

The 2015 Spring Anime Season is well on its way. We have Owari no Seraph, angry teenagers fighting Vampires in place of Titans, more beautifully animated bands with Hibike! Euphonium and romcoms like Ore Monogatari!! in our line up.

My personal favourite is The Heroic Legend of Arslan aka Arslan Senki, the story of 14 year-old Prince Arslan fighting to win his invaded kingdom of Pars back.

With the Akatsuki no Yona manga by Mizuho Kusanagi receiving an anime adaptation last October, it's easy to think Arslan Senki is just a shounen version of our red-haired heroine, Yona. However Arslan Senki already began in 1986 as a novel series written by Yoshiki Tanaka, an author known for his space epic Legend of the Galactic Heroes and other fantasy works.Although Arslan Senki already received a manga as well as an OVA adaptation in the 90’s, the novels were never translated into English.

Two decades on, Hiromu Arakawa of Fullmetal Alchemist fame is working on a new manga adaptation, finally making the full story accessible to through manga translations. The third volume published by Kodansha Comics is available in English from May 12 th. The Arslan Senki anime is based on this latest manga adaptation, including Arakawa’s character designs. I highly recommend it to people who are into fantasy adventure, exploring the concepts of slavery and religion, as well as the setting of ancient Persia.

However, Yona and Arslan are not the only heirs I support on their journey. I would like to introduce three more young royals you may not be familiar with, but whose story I feel is worth checking out:

Rudolph Gerhard Zeppelin III from “Zoids Chaotic Century”

 Whilst Prince Rudolph is very young, he is intelligent, caring and shows promise to be a good ruler of the Guylos Empire. Unfortunately his grandfather the emperor dies during the ongoing war with the Republic and a treacherous man is appointed as his regent. Rudolph is kidnapped and is saved by protagonists Van and Fiona. These two had set out on a journey to learn about Fiona’s mysterious past, but became entangled in the war. Airing in 1999, Chaotic Century is the first anime of the Zoids franchise, based on mechanised animals that can be piloted as war machines. Chaotic Century ends at episode 34, but is continued after a time skip as Guardian Force. Even if you are not a fan of the mecha genre, I would recommend Zoids CC for its naturally developing military storyline, exciting (early CG) action and well developed male and female characters.

Youko Nakajima from “Juuni Kokuki(The Twelve Kingdoms)

16 year-old Youko’s worries about her red hair, fitting in at school and reoccurring nightmares of monsters are eclipsed by greater problems when she is reluctantly transported into the realms of the Twelve Kingdoms. Youko is told she is the heiress to the throne of 2Kei and must grow as a person, facing demons and risking betrayal at every turn.
The anime based on the novels by Ono Fuyumi was released in 2002 and concludes in 45 episodes. I would recommend this anime to people who enjoy complex political fantasy, the calmer anime (that is to say there are some battle scenes) and realistic character development. Most notably Youko’s journey from insecure girl to confident queen is 
very rewarding.

Chagum from “Seirei no Moribito(Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit)

After falling into a river, Prince Chagum is thought to have been possessed by a malevolent water spirit. The only way to save the kingdom from harm now appears to be his death, however Chagum’s mother hires a bodyguard to take Chagum under her protection. Yes, enter Balsa, the spear-wielding female warrior who accepts the mission owing to her personal vow to save eight souls.

Based on Uehashi Nahoko’s fantasy novel, the 2007 anime adaptation features realistic character designs and solid animation in its 26 episodes. Admittedly Moribito is not a fast-paced watch, but it is an adventure worth going on to watch Chagum learn about life outside the sheltered palace and  discover the secret of the water spirit.

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