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Arata the Legend - First Thoughts PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 10 April 2013 20:40
Welcome to the world of Amawakuni, where mankind coexists with the world's many gods. There, a boy called Arata is caught up in a coup d'├ętat led by the Twelve Shinsho, wielders of mystic swords called Hayagami. When he's accused of murdering a princess, Arata escapes to a forest, but then finds himself transported to the modern world - where another boy named Arata is in turn drawn to Amawakuni to take his place...

Arata the Legend is based on a manga by Yuu Watase, of Fushigi Yuugi, and there are certain comparisons you could make between the two - FY sees a young girl sent to a feudal world where she'll fulfil a mystical role of great importance; Arata the Legend sees Arata's role in a mystical ceremony of great importance interrupted, before he's sent to the modern world. Mirror images? I think so. There's a complication, though, in the connection between the two worlds, for as feudal Arata goes forward, he swaps places with present-day Arata, who has a whole bunch of issues of his own to deal with. Although slipping into Amawakuni may just get him a pass from at least some of them.

As well as the swapping of places, there's a connection between the two in the form of having to deal with betrayal. One has seen his princess killed in front of him, and been framed for the deed - a betrayal of his loyalty, in many ways; the other is suffering bullying at the hands of a former friend (betrayal #1), who is also doing his level best to 'persuade' Arata's new friends to disown him (betrayal #2). Trust is going to be an issue here. I also suspect that Arata's present-day tormentors are about to bite off more than they can chew.

THE GOOD: There are some interesting ideas at work here, and while one feudal world in anime often looks much like the next, this one seems to have a bit more vibrancy to it than others. A distinct lack of "Miaka!" "TAMAHOME!!".

THE BAD: Lots of mystical words that make it hard for me to follow along. Present-day Arata is so full of self-doubt and uncertainty that he can be a chore to watch - although that's likely part of his development.

The jury's still out for me on this one. Parts of the episode were entertaining and attention-grabbing; other parts were dull and difficult to watch. But the cross-over of the two boys, with their clashing personalities and own issues to deal with, has real potential. Will have to see how it plays out.

Arata the Legend is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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