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Shoukoku no Altair – 04 »« Shoukoku no Altair – 02

Shoukoku no Altair – 03

「将軍会議」 (Shougun Kaigi)
“The Council of Generals”

Shoukoku no Altair is a tricky kind of story to adapt, because it is messy. It is certainly not, for example, a simple story of a hero fighting against some clear evil (good as those can be), and indeed when Mahmut goes out of his way to be the hero in this arc (and indeed, saves the day), he is punished for it. Rather, this is the story of many different people from many different factions, each with their own agenda that intertwine, and Altair‘s juggling act is to take all these subplots and try to show a big picture of a world order about to collapse into war. Just this episode we learn that even the hawks within the Balt-Rhein Empire are not completely unified, and may as easily vie against each other as against Turkiye. No doubt, things will get messier still.

But amidst this backdrop Altair also wants to talk about objective morality and making the ‘right decision’, and that’s where things get truly tricky. In this messy world of geopolitics, doing the right thing as an individual, like saving a friend, is rarely the right thing as the leader of a state. States are amoral and unfeeling, and individuals expendable. The general consensus, it seems, is that Ibrahim did not fulfill his duties as Vali. Do not negotiate with terrorists. If the hostages die, they will be necessary sacrifices. Hisar is Turkiye’s bulwark against Balt-Rhein, and it must not fall, and the good of the many outweigh the good of the few. But it’s hard to fault him for valuing the lives of family over the machinations of the country. He’s a good man, but because he’s a good man, he’ll never be a great man, in a position to lead the nation. Ibrahim was only reinstated as governor because they couldn’t risk instability in Hisar. He remains a pawn. But a Pasha, like Mahmut, cannot just be a pawn. He needs to be the one moving the pieces. Mahmut is a good man too, which is why he could not be Pasha in his current state.

I really enjoy these tensions between the individual and the state in stories like Shoukoku no Altair. It’s not an angle we’d often find in formal history books, and is the kind of thing that makes fiction more interesting while still being instructive. When war comes to the world of Altair, I’m sure the contrast between what’s good for a country and what’s good for its people will be even starker. And make no mistake, war is definitely coming, and these minor skirmishes so far are simply about how the war will start and on whose terms. If we read between the lines a bit, I think it’s easy to see the gravity of the situation. Recall that the decisions of the Divan are unanimous. That means that when Mahmut was demoted, his ally Halil also agreed with the decision. It could be peer pressure, of course, but I trust that the old man knows what’s going on. Most likely, war is inevitable, and Mahmut is not yet ready to face that fact as a general.

Thus Mahmut is no longer Pasha, which may allow Altair to focus more on the individual level before getting back to the big-picture geopolitics. Hopefully we’ll also get more on the culture and people of this world. Perhaps that’s only interesting for history nerds like myself, but it’s good stuff if you’re one. If you’re not, I think there’s plenty of other entertaining angles Altair will be coming from, like the intrigue. I think the main takeaway of these first three episodes is that there’s a lot going on in Altair. We’ve only just started to plumb its depths, I think, so if you’ve liked what you’ve seen so far I think you can expect even better as we go.



July 22, 2017 at 5:16 am
  • July 22, 2017 at 6:15 amWarriorsHeart

    • July 22, 2017 at 7:01 amChewy

      Could be an aerial based poison? Launch it over and it emits poison all over the city. That or he was going to poison the water supply and commit to a full siege.

  • July 22, 2017 at 7:52 amDonto

    It’s pasha not pashir, and the city is called hisar, not hasir

  • July 22, 2017 at 8:08 amOne Pinch Man

    I don’t really get the war story but the setting is great. I hope Mahmud’s adventure won’t be too complicated.

    • July 22, 2017 at 8:34 amGlutton

      Don’t worry. I have read the manga and skimmed a lot of the political information, but still understood the gist of the situation. The anime does a good job of simplifying things.

  • July 22, 2017 at 9:13 amQuack

    I love it when Passerby gets to weigh in on the humanity-vs-morality debate. I thoroughly enjoyed his Concrete Revolutio reviews, and it looks like I’ll be following his posts on Altair as well.

    • July 22, 2017 at 6:41 pmPasserby

      Thank you! Unfortunately I probably will not be the one to cover Altair for the long haul (schedule conflicts and all). I hope you continue to enjoy the show regardless, though!

  • July 22, 2017 at 9:20 amChris hall

  • July 22, 2017 at 3:30 pmGlutton

    Really loved the counter attack and how Mahmut strangled that dude.

  • July 22, 2017 at 7:28 pmyoloalchemist

    Totally loved this episode. Nothing is clear cut, and Mahmut, a really good man, will have to do things on his own if he wants to prevent the upcoming war from destroying his country. Though if he still wants to be a Pasha, I fear of the changes he might have to undergo in order to earn the title, considering the rather not ideal actions the Diwan, including Zaganos, have to take in order to serve the best interest of the country. But such is the not so bright world of geopolitics.

  • July 23, 2017 at 8:14 amtheirs

    Rather glad with the outcome of the Divan. Also happy to see Mahmut accept the decision and realise why he got the sentence. Even though he’s mad at Zaganos, he understood his decision and is willing to accept his “gift”. A good sign of potential growth.

    I’m still wondering what is a Pasha, we haven’t really seen Mahmut show any leadership skills. All we’ve seen is him failing at leading a four man team. Do birds of prey actually count?

    As for Halil, I think the reason for his agreement is different from the other Pashas. He knows Mahmut personally, including his goals and reasoning in beco,img a Pasha. I think his agreement in the decision is because he believes Mahmut won’t be able to achieve those goals as Pasha. The demotion may actually be more beneficial for his goals. Halil not answering about whether they’re going to war or not may also be in the same thought process. Something that may expand Mahmut’s view instead of tunnel visioning on a single matter perhaps?

    • July 23, 2017 at 2:10 pmDonto

      Equivalent of general in the Ottoman Empire

    • July 23, 2017 at 10:54 pmQuack

      My understanding was that Mahmut had only been recently promoted to Pasha, and the events in the flashback I think you’re referring to took place while he was in military school (or whatever equivalent Turkiye has).

      I could be wrong, though.

      • July 23, 2017 at 10:55 pmQuack

        *that the

      • July 23, 2017 at 11:26 pmbarran

        You’re correct, Mahmut was only very recently promoted into Pasha. In the manga, it was stated Mahmut had only been a Pasha for 10 days when he was called into the arrow accident. Those scenes with Mahmut commanding Ibrahim and the other soldiers were flashback when only had started entering the military. Mahmut will command soldiers later on as the series progress, no need to worry.