The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vol. 1: A Review

heroic legend of arslan volume 1 arakawa
Today: I review volume 1 of this series.

I love Hiromu Arakawa’s work. She’s one of my biggest inspirations in my comics-making career.

But I haven’t read much of her work outside of Fullmetal Alchemist and bits and pieces of a volume of A Hero’s Tale. I know. I bring shame upon my nerd head.

My friend Chloe, who is also a big fan of Arakawa’s, gifted me The Heroic Legend of Arslan (volumes 1 and 2) for Christmas. I heard Arakawa was working on this with a writer by the name of Yoshiki Tanaka, so I was super excited to read this.

I was thoroughly entertained.

Is it perfect? No. There are times where it feels like the characters are just throwing up exposition, but the action, the art, and the sincere characters really pull you through.

The story is about a prince named Arslan. He is the son of the war-hardened King Andragoras, who has never lost a battle. When Arslan reaches the age of 14, he rides into battle with his father against the Lusitanians, and I will stop there or else I would spoil it.

The first chapter of this manga was actually written by Arakawa, and takes place four years prior to the main events, to help give some context for the rest of the story. Don’t skip that chapter. It actually helps to give some wonderful insights into the character of Arslan, and is entertaining as hell.

One thing I noticed though, is the character designs.

In Arakawa’s work, she tends to use character designs that are similar across her work. To help clarify, take a look at Solf J. Kimblee from Fullmetal Alchemist, versus Marzban Daryun from Arslan.

kimblee and daryun
On the left, Solf J. Kimblee. On the right, Marzban Daryun.

Now take a look at Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist and Eran Vahriz from Arslan.

armstrong and vahriz fullmetal alchemist and heroic legend of arslan
On the left: Armstrong. On the right: Vahriz.

It’s Armstrong with a beard!

I think the reason behind this is that this references something done by one of the original manga masters, Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka took character designs across works like this because he was heavily influenced by movies. He saw the characters as actors, and he would have the actors take on new roles in various productions…or comics.

I think that’s what Arakawa does, as well. Her characters are actors taking on new roles. Is this an intentional homage? Or an art gag? Knowing Arakawa, it could be both.

Back to the manga, once you get into chapter 2, that’s when the warring and battles start. This is the real meat and potatoes of this first volume in the manga series. And it’s written and illustrated well. It’s not for the weak at heart, though, because it does feature a lot of impaling and catching people on fire.

You know, war.

Because of that, the characters (Arslan is a sweetie and Daryun is my all-time favorite), and the art, The Heroic Legend of Arslan is the rare story that has gotten me interested in manga again! I could not set this book down because I was so excited and eager to see what would happen next.

So if you’re tired of seeing the same old romantic-comedy manga on book shelves, give this series a try. It’s a breath of fresh air.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

A 5-Part Update

This post is coming to you in 5 Parts, so let’s get right to it!

Part 1. If you did not see it yet, I finally posted something on the Women Warriors Project. You can check that out here.

Part 2. My awesome friend Chloe sent me volumes 1 and 2 of The Heroic Legend of Arslan and I am SUPER EXCITED, because we both mutually love Hiromu Arakawa and it’s great to see her work on other manga.

the heroic legend of arslan manga volumes 1 and 2 and jak and elsa fanart
Chloe also sent me some fanart a classmate of hers made, which also looks fabulous.

I’m going to write and post a review of volume 1 this upcoming Tuesday, reviving a feature I introduced last year, “Review Day Tuesday.”

Speaking of recurring segments on the blog, that brings me to,

Part 3. Favorite Artist Friday!

I’m going to rename this feature “Featured Artist Friday,” so it’s not just my favorite artists being featured.

Featured Artist Friday is going to feature lots of different types of artists. So expect to see comics artists, painters, mixed media artists, sculptors, or just people I find while I flip through my stack of business cards I’ve accumulated over the years from conventions.

Speaking of art, though,

Part 4. New Mini-Comics!

I made and finished a new mini-comic recently called “Duck for Dinner.” It’s a short little autobiographical story.

duck for dinner mini comic
Duck for Dinner… the mini-comic!

It’ll be up for sale on Storenvy soon.

If you would like a digital copy of the comic for, say, $0.99 (US Currency) please leave a note in the comments. I’ve been thinking of offering short 99 cent digital comics for sale through Gumroad, but let me know what you think?

Speaking of Storenvy, though, that leads me to,

Part 5: Crafting Stuff!

So I had a ton of excess paper and decide to bind some new books (because bookbinding is one of my new hobbies). I used a new technique I found the other day called the Slot-&-Tab method, which requires no thread or gluing.

bookbinding handmade books slot and tab method
Hand Made Books!

The thing is, I don’t have a use for these (although I’m keeping the grid paper book), so I’m thinking of selling them as filler notebooks or something on Storenvy. If you’re interested in getting one of these, drop a comment below.

And if you would like to see a tutorial, let me know about that, too, in the comments.

So what other things am I crafting?

Well, I have some T-shirts I don’t wear anymore…

t shirts
These shirts either don’t fit me or are just too bland.

I’m going to repurpose these into tote bags. Because tote bags are awesome, and you can totes (HA) use them in lieu of plastic bags when you shop, which is my favorite thing to do.

I’m not confident enough in my sewing skills to consider selling the finished totes, though, so it may be a while before I offer any for sale.

That’s all for today, but come back tomorrow, when I talk about a new artist for Feature Artist Friday!