Iran is modern day Persia, which of course is the setting which inspired Yoshiki Tanaka and Hiromu Arakawa’s The Heroic Legend of Arslan manga, which itself is inspired by the Persian epic Amir Arsalan-e Namdar. In fact, the story’s setting, Pars, is in fact, Persia, and its capital, Ecbatana, is really inspired by the old capital which is now modern-day Hamadan.
Now, Iran has been very strict in its censorship, especially on foreign material coming into the country. Yet thanks to the power of the internet, many Iranians have now known about The Heroic Legend of Arslan, as they have watched it through streaming sites or have illegally downloaded its episodes. It is currently one of the most recommended anime in Iran, however, as expected, the reactions are a bit mixed.
Some fans are loving the anime and have commented “Thank you Japanese for portraying Iran’s history,” or “You have brought pride to the country’s history and culture” while one fan was thinking that Japan “pitied” Iranian history and that “the world is gradually coming to understand our culture and ancient stories.” This comes as Persian history is usually overlooked by the rest of the world, mainly in favor of Greek or Roman history. This also comes with the fact that many of Iran’s movies come more with Islamic themes over its ancient history. One fan even commented that “Iran only makes movies about Islam and Arabs,” while another lamented “Our country has many glories and stories, but it doesn’t make movies or dramas about them. There are countless religious movies and dramas, but the settings and characters aren’t Iranian.”
Others lamented that Iran doesn’t have its own animation industry. One said that “I think the country should make animation about our own history” while another commented “Those who think this anime is worthless, why don’t you make a better one? This is a very good anime. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch it.”
However, not everyone was happy. Iran of course being a lot more conservative than Japan has some fans unhappy over how the female character, Farangis, was presented. One said “The Japanese have certainly made a story based on Iranian civilization, but there must be ulterior motives behind this.” Another added “It becomes clear when you look at the women’s clothes. It’s true that at that time Iranian women did not cover their heads, but they wore clothes that covered their bodies. Before others recreate Iranian history for us, why don’t we study our own virtuous history?”
These comments however did not go unscathed as many replied to them with comments like “Unfortunately some people in our country think of other countries as against ours, and don’t want to think that the expression of thought and speech in newspapers, animation or film is free.” while another added “anime these days is full of [women dressed immodestly]. There are no Zionists or puppeteers behind the scenes. Why do Iranians question others so much?”
Don’t miss a single update from SGCafe! Follow us on Twitter: @SGCafe