Anime Spotlight: Arata: The Legend

Arata: The Legend is based on a manga by Yuu Watase. The anime was produced by Satelight and JM Animation, and was directed by Kenji Yasuda and Woo Hyun Park. The series aired on Japanese television from April 9-July 1, 2013. As of this writing, Crunchyroll holds the North American license for Arata: The Legend.

At the beginning of the first episode, there is a ceremony taking place in a mythical world where humans and gods co-exist; it is the first time in 60 years that a new governing princess will become the new ruler. Only a girl from the Hime Clan may take the position; however, since there has been a lack of females born into the clan, a boy named Arata must pose as a girl and take on the role.

During the ceremony, the Twelve Shinso that wield special swords called Hayagami, betray the princess and think they’ve killed her. We later learn she uses her power to just hang on to life. Arata escapes and runs into the Kando Forest, after Kannagi from the Twelve Shinso accuses him of murder.

Meanwhile in modern day Japan, a boy named Arata Hinohara is starting high school. Unfortunately, Masato Kadowaki, the boy who bullied him at his old school, continues to bully him. In addition, Arata learns that a boy named Suguru was only pretending to be his friend. Disappointed, Arata walks off on his own and wishes to disappear.

Suddenly, both Aratas find themselves switching places. After finding out what has happened to him, where he is, and about the other Arata, the modern day Arata learns there’s no way for him to return home. At the end of the first episode, he discovers that he can wield an old Hayagami in Arata’s home. This Hayagami turns out to be Tsukuyo, the most powerful one that exists. Modern day Arata goes on a journey with the other Arata’s childhood friend, Kotoha, and learns that he must take Tsukuyo to the princess.

We see the modern day Arata learn a lot about the world he now finds himself in, and he makes friends, allies, and enemies along the way. We also see the modern day Arata go through a major evolution in his personality. Meanwhile, the other Arata ends up standing up to Kadowaki. But instead of making things better, this only fuels Kadowaki’s hatred of the modern day Arata even more. Near the end of the series, something surprising happens to Kadowaki and it puts the modern day Arata to the test.

To me, the strongest part of Arata: The Legend is the character development for the modern day Arata. The weakest part is the fact that we don’t really see the other Arata in modern day Japan all that much. Basically, we see him enough to learn the truth about Suguru and to interact with Kadowaki to fuel his character development. With the way the anime depicts the other Arata in modern day Japan, he comes across more as a plot device than as an actual character. Perhaps later in the manga, the other Arata plays a bigger role in the story; but since I haven’t read much of the manga, I have no idea whether this could be true or not.

The anime for Arata: The Legend was in production while the manga was still ongoing, so of course it doesn’t tell an entire story. After watching the 12 episodes of the series, it feels like it’s covering the first arc of the story. The buildup to the conclusion of the series was very well done and was paced just right. At the end of the series, it’s clear that there’s still more to come, and the door has been left open for more episodes at some point in the future. The manga is still ongoing at this point, and it’s been a few years since this anime aired, so I don’t have high hopes of ever seeing more episodes produced for the anime.

Overall, I did enjoy Arata: The Legend. Usually, my final paragraph is devoted to whether I would want to add it to my anime home video library or not. However, Crunchyroll currently has the North American rights, so there’s no North American home video release for the series. But if there ever was a chance for a home video release in North America, I’m not sure I’d rush to add it to my home video library. While it was an enjoyable viewing, it’s probably not one I’d want to re-watch very often, since it really isn’t a complete story.

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