OP Sequence

OP: 「僕の言葉ではない これは僕達の言葉」 (Boku no Kotoba de wa nai, Kore wa Bokutachi no Kotoba) by UVERworld

「十四歳、初陣」 (Juu shi-sai, Uijin)
“Age Fourteen, Maiden Battle”

Tactical errors at home, on the battlefield, and in the mind lead to King Andragoras III’s first rout—and it’s a doozy.

People As Things

“There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment about the nature of sin, for example.”
“And what do they think? Against it, are they?”
“It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”
“There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
“It’s a lot more complicated than that—”
“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they are getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”
“Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes—”
“But they starts with thinking about people as things…”
—Terry Pratchett (1948 – 2015)

I go into this further on my personal site, but Arslan Senki is an excellent example of this sin. On both sides—the Lusitanians are as wrong to dehumanize the Parsians as heretics as the Parsians are the Lusitanians as savages. In this case, it’s Pars that suffers for it. The king refusing to believe Daryun’s extremely accurate concerns directly led to the Pars defeat, and it’s all because he underestimated the Lusitanians. Imagine if instead he has supposed that the Lusitanians could possibly be somewhere near as intelligent and powerful as himself and his own forces—he might have wondered more about why Maryam fell, as Arslan did, or been leery of traps in the fog, as Arslan and Daryun were. Instead he shut off his brain, thinking his army’s superior numbers could slaughter the savages.

And look what it’s getting him. A smaller army and less kingdoms.

The Bastard Prince

This is conjecture, but allow me to propose a theory: Prince Arslan isn’t the rightful son of King Andragoras III. We saw the coldness between the king and queen last episode, and the king’s chronic mistreatment of his son. Now, when Vahriz asks Daryun who he thinks Arslan takes after, it’s the queen. What if the king was cuckolded, and he resents both the queen and Arslan for it? Maybe that’s not it—it’s enough that Arslan doesn’t appear to act like the king wishes he would act to explain his harsh attitude. But the talk of Arslan’s visage got me wondering.

Daryun’s Loyalty, Kharlan’s Betrayal

When Daryun suggested that an escaped slave could be informing the Lusitanian army, my response: “Uh oh…” Turns out the informat is higher placed. Kharlan’s (Ookawa Tooru) betrayal isn’t something I saw coming, because we never got to know him well enough—which is good, because if they foreshadowed the reveal in any way (other than retroactively … he was a little too willing to set Daryun against the king, and then agree wholeheartedly with said king when it seemed like Pars would fall into the trap), it would have been aggravating that the other characters didn’t catch it.

On the other hand is Daryun, who is so loyal he’s willing to disagree and suffer at the hands of the king he swore to serve, and to charge an entire unit by himself to rescue Arslan. He’s exactly the kind of soldier the king should want, one who’s willing to speak hard truths out of sincere concern, and who doesn’t think it’s a soldiers job to seek out battle, but to win necessary battles. But he struck out at him, to his detriment. Luckily Vahriz was wiser than his king in this case.

Looking Ahead – The Prince’s Promotion

They did a good job of illustrating Daryun’s battle prowess, proving that the title Mardān fu Mardān isn’t just for show. It’s him versus Kharlan as Prince Arslan finally gets that promotion he didn’t want to have.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Treat people as things, and you’re liable to underestimate them. That’s a great way to lose a kingdom #arslan 02

Random thoughts:

  • One thing this show does completely unsubtly: tempt fate. “I hardly think there are any who would make war upon our Kingdom of Pars right now. It seems it will be a while yet before Your Highness serves on the field.” Shut up shut up shut up!
  • One side has 223,000 men, the other an estimated 105-120,000. Now that’s what I call a battle!
  • I like how Arslan keeps thinking. Not only does he notice the moisture on Azrael’s wins, he thinks creatively to best the Lusitanian soldier. He keeps thinking—until Kharlan’s betrayal shakes him utterly. Arslan needs more experience, more steel in his spine. Then he’ll be a formidable man.
  • All I could think of when they kept going on about the undefeated Parsian army: “Past performance is not an indicator of future success, baaaakas!”
  • The oil, the fire, and the siege towers. As soon as the Parsians started dancing to the Lusitanian’s tune, they were screwed. The battle isn’t over, but it isn’t looking good.
  • Of course the boys were going to die. No doubts there. My question: how did Arslan get back to them? You’re going in circles, Arslan!
  • “We’re under attack!” “How many of them are there?!” Just one.

My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now available in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel short story. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: People as things, Cut away the boring bits, Sheet music, and Wage Slave Rebellion is officially in print.




  1. The King is totally mistreating his son, and the Queen is totally uninterested in her son. It’s amazing that Arslan has become such a good kid considering neither of his parents apparently doesn’t love him at all. Maybe because Vahriz loves him instead.

    1. This is pretty generic fantasy medieval story.
      Seems to be following same story as original ovas that are from 1996 I think.
      There are 6 ovas 1 hour each and this could just be remake.

      1. Actually it’s following Hiromu Arakawa’s magnga adaptation of a series of 14 novels that started in 1996 and are still ongoing. The old OVA barely dented the novels, and there’s a good chance this will go far past what Arakawa’s adapted so far.

      1. I’m pretty sure they’ll just add a scene of discret fanservice here and there, like they did in the 1st episode with the boys touching their hands, to make it more appealing for fans of BL, but keep it non-intrusive for all the rest of people. F.e. I find it interesting that they decided to make OP be sung by a boysband, that surely helps the show get attention of girls.

    1. I find it interesting to compare Yona’s situation to Arslan’s. Both Yona & Arslan lived a peaceful life. But the similarities in their circumstances end there.

      – Yona’s father was a 100% pacifist and the life she knew had been one devoid of conflict. Even if Yona was a man(obviously under a different name :P), her people(the people she knew, not the ones all over the country) would’ve expected her to be like her father, a peace-loving ruler, not a conqueror or a warmonger.

      – Arslan, on the other hand, had a father who was the complete opposite of Yona’s, has received some training in fighting with a sword and most of his people probably expected him to be more like his father. It’s more like Sion’s situation, except that Arslan isn’t so keen of following in his father’s footsteps. But it also seemed like Arslan wished to meet the expectations set upon him, making his people & father proud, but he has plenty of doubts on whether that’s truly his path.

      Very much looking forward to witness his development.

  2. Was I the only one that loved how hypocritical Vahriz was, when he told Daryun he had “no charm” when it came to saying (near-traitorous, according to their society so far) things (aka, warning the King when the king wanted to hear no such warning, and concern of course bordering on impudence), only to start a much more dangerous discussion with asking Daryun whether he thought Arslan took after the king or the queen (and insinuating he took after neither)?
    It made it pretty clear that while Vahriz is smart enough to avoid commenting about these things within hearing of the king or his various attendants, Daryun has likely learned to think along these lines from his uncle/Vahriz – he just hasn’t learned to keep his mouth shut like Vahriz while among royal hearing. Not yet, anyway. It’s good character fleshing/development, and I really love it, so that little bit had me smiling.

    All in all, I’m really enjoying this show so far and what it’s setting up to be! They’ve been doing an excellent job.

    1. Hypocritical isn’t the word I would use. That usually implies some level of self-delusion about the hypocrisy, whereas Vahriz appears to be purposefully playing the political game in front of the king while doing what’s necessary to protect Pars when he’s out of earshot.

      It’s like you said further in—Daryun probably learned his manner of thinking from Vahriz (and his exiled friend), he just hasn’t learned to shut his mouth in front of the closed-minded royals.

      1. Arrogance my friends, that´s the most deadly weapon you can encounter in a battlefield and the best part it is that nobody wields but yourself, like poison it kills the warrior from within and that´s what I see in King Andragoras. Some say war is like chess, whoever plays the best strategy wins but I don´t think that´s the case, war is like a raging beast that once is unleashed nobody knows how it´s going to end, you only know for certain that a lot people is going to die and the screams of the dying wil reach the heavens. King Andragoras was arrogant when he thought he had the advantage because he was playing in his home and now see the results, the trap was perfect becuase despite being so obvious it took into account the arrogance of the foolish King.

        Daryun and Arslan were smarter than all the generals in that army despite being the yuongest, at least the young prince someone who actually uses his head.

  3. Mm not too sure on that theory of Arslan being illegitimate yet, Vahriz’s pondering could also be seen as concern over how the prince would conduct military matters in time of war. No matters the fault of the king, it’s undeniable his actions up to this point have build a pretty solid war machine; Vahriz could very well fear that Arslan will lack the resolve to act in a similar manner necessary during times of crisis. It’s not the first time a prince has been the effeminate foil to an imposing and powerful king after all. Doubts can only be lifted after seeing how Arslan conducts himself in combat.

    As an aside loved the (semi)-accurate portrayal of cataphract cavalry here, nothing whets the grim fascination more than watching a brobdingnagian wave of heavy lance crash into a bunch of poor unsuspecting footmen 😛

    1. Hmmm. The harsh way the King treats Arslan could simply reflect his sheer disappointment, but the scene between the King and Queen really suggests more than that. The Queen’s cold shoulder suggests a marriage of convenience, but even more than that, one that was against her will. Her complete lack of warmth towards Arslan suggests three possibilities: 1) he really is the son of Andragoras, which is why she wants nothing to do with him; 2) he was conceived out of an act of rebellion with some random man she had no attachment to; or 3) he was conceived with someone she cared about who might have been executed by Andragoras in his wrath, and she therefore blames the child for his death.

      I think I go overboard with theorizing, sometimes….

  4. If your battle plan’s working, it’s probably a trap.
    – Kolton Phae, On Military Matters, 739 M41

    Enemy always gets a vote. – General Mattis, USMC

    It’s a trap! – Admiral Ackbar, Rebel Alliance
    (also not-so-famous last words of way too many soldiers in history)

    The Lusitanian forces have took every step to counter cavalry advantage of Persians. Burning ditch trap, siege towers filled with archers, and a high ranked traitor to deceive enemy HQ.
    All the while Persian King has showed all the tactical acumen of G.A.Custer at Little Bighorn or Lord Chelmsford at Isandhlawana. Charge those savages!!!

  5. Arslan is definitely not the son of Andragoras, but I am pretty sure that his original father is just some random person and not of any noble birth. This may be the reason his mother is also reluctant to pamper her then 11 year old son. She might also be embarrassed by the past actions of which Arslan resulted from.

  6. Big battles. Those numbers. Those bloody numbers. THAT’S the way to do war.

    I loved how they showcase the tactics too. Simple, but brutally effective. The way to fight an army priding itself on it’s cavalry is to stop the charge and momentum of it. The effective use of ditch-digging, weather condition changes and your enemy’s momentum by the Lusitanians was brilliant, and nothing like a sudden wall of fire to scare the crap out of horses to send your enemies into greater disarray, then narrowing their routes before slaughtering them with projectiles and deflate their morale further before charging in to finish them off.

    As cliche as it sounds, the saying “Pride goes before a fall” works aptly here. The Lusitanians who were long viewed to be barbarians and a race deemed fit only as slaves used tactics to even out the odds and even gain the upper hand, while Andragoras’ obstinate refusal to listen to his subordinates and belief in his army being invincible (which was reinforced by others) held some resemblance to Kanu Unchou’s final defeat. It goes without saying that Andragoras should be going down the same path.

    And it’s not just the tactics, music and battle sequences that are so good. Daryun continues to impress as a GAR character (here comes a challenger, Archer!) and Kharlan’s unexpected betrayal with subtle hints were excellent, but I’m also impressed with Arslan. The boy has talent and is resourceful as well as brave. Sheltered brats would probably have peed in their pants when facing down a soldier out for your blood and be a lamb to the slaughter, but this lamb kicks very hard despite his demeanor.

    The speculation around the Bastard Prince is interesting. Vahriz sounds like he knows more than he’s letting on as well, so I’ll just stay tuned to see how that part turns out.

    This is a great show, and thanks for the good summaries as always Stilts.

    1. Danke *bows*

      On Arslan:

      That’s the benefit of training as well. He only freaked out when he had too much time to think—when it came down to it, his practice and training took over, and he was able to best at least one enemy soldier. Kharlan would have probably gotten him, had Daryun not showed up.

      1. I thought so. Many of his movements felt very instinctive and I had a feeling Vahriz’s encouragement was one of those prophetic declarations a mentor has, the one when his charge complains of never improving as he never bests the former, but shows his class in real combat. That training always pays off.

    2. >] “The speculation around the Bastard Prince is interesting. Vahriz sounds like he knows more than he’s letting on as well, so I’ll just stay tuned to see how that part turns out.”

      Rather curious that Vahriz would seem to place so much importance on Arslan’s well-being, particularly if he suspected him of being an illegitimate successor to the very king he’s sworn to serve. He even went so far as to have his own flesh and blood swear to protect him personally.

      …Could it be? Vahriz does appear to have blue eyes himself, iirc.

      Ryan Ashfyre
      1. Vahriz has vowed to serve the royal family, and more importantly, the country of Pars. He knows that future lies with Arslan, whatever the case (he’s the only prince). Arslan’s blood shouldn’t matter next to that.

      2. Fair enough. By that same logic however, Arslan obviously isn’t yet ready to be king and so for one who, as you said, has sworn his loyalty to an entire kingdom, it just comes off as a bit strange that, in spite of all the years they’ve spent together, now is the time when he would be so suddenly insistent on his – and only his – protection just as matters of his lineage were called into question.

        After all, if it’s the Pars Kingdom that’s first and foremost in his mind, why not focus on the protection of the king? If he falls, and with a prince still too weak and inexperienced to seize the throne, isn’t it common sense that the kingdom would collapse? What good would Arslan’s surviving be in that kind of a situation, unless there was something more personal going on?

        Ryan Ashfyre
      3. Remember, Arslan’s lineage is only (possibly) being hinted at to us for the first time; it’s likely that Vahriz has been thinking about this for a while. And compared to a king who won’t help himself, tasking a single man (Daryun) to protect the prince is a small insurance policy in case of defeat. After all, it will take Arslan to reclaim the kingdom if it does fall for a time.

  7. I’m not convinced that Pars could ever have won any battles with such an incompetent King leading them, even by sheer force of numbers. Nor am I convinced that this story has either the subtlety necessary to be compelling as a character piece, nor the pomp to be a fist-pumping classical war epic. It seems to be aiming rather low for my tastes so far, and ending up only a tad more convincing than Yona, and only because it’s sticking closer to the beaten path. They’re outright telegraphing story elements that are so obvious that it feels hokey. I’m also surprised at the lame choice of music for the OP and ED – utterly generic, not epic at all. Otherwise this is serviceable enough to keep watching, and hope for the best.

    1. Bear in mind that it’s likely all monarchs are acting like Andragoras III in this time period, and he might in fact be better than most (he did show some level of mercy to Daryun, where other monarchs might have not).

      It’s only when a leader who’s craftier appears that ‘ol Andragoras III gets in trouble.

  8. I’ve been getting strong vibes of Arslan being an illegitimate child throughout the entire episode, too, and I honestly don’t think it’s just a hunch. I don’t see any other reason for the whole visage thing. And Vahriz is smart, so he probably would’ve caught up.
    A random thing, though: when they started being all sure about themselves, I remembered the review Stilts did on episode one and how he spoke about tempting fate and I literally started laughing because it is so true.

  9. Really loved the tactics used by the Lusitanians here, brilliant … the managed to get their enemy’s officer (one responsible for scouting of all things) to betray his own people and report falsely that there is nothing ahead but plain land, then used the mist to dig a big trench, fill it with oil and prepare siege towers with archers to flank those stopped by the trench … that’s what i really want to see in an anime (or any media) that involves warfare and big battles .. not just mindless troops clashing at each other like some anime and movies do.

    But it wasn’t just the Lusitanians plan that made them win, but Pars King own hubris and ego, you see .. when a nation or a king grow overconfident and lax because of successive military conquests and military power things are doomed to go downhill from there … so not only did the king fall into a sort-of routine/groove that involves just rushing their enemies with superior cavalry force and large numbers but he stopped listening to any ideas/complaints/suggestions from his subordinates (another fatal mistake, specially for a king who doubles as the supreme commander of the army) thinking everything he says and does is always right, his way of acting simply alienates everyone who is truly loyal to him and leaves him surrounded by traitors and boot-lickers (and no i don’t mean Vahriz), all these elements came together to spell the end of that king .. even if the Lusitanians didn’t have that brilliant plan of theirs things would have fallen apart sooner or later.

    As for Vahriz’s question about the prince, i don’t think he meant it as a way of saying he isn’t a legitimate heir, IMO he meant it as a way of saying that he won’t be as strong and independent as his father (as he is more similar to his mother, it happens) so he will need loyal and strong people to protect him until he can figure things out (people like Daryun and the rest of the folks who appear in the OP/ED), sure it might seem like he is hinting illegitimacy when he tells Daryun to swear and oath to protect the prince personally rather than an oath to protect the Pars royal family members (because in case of illegitimacy Arsaln isn’t part of the royal family bloodline, so the first oath doesn’t really include him).. but i don’t think that’s really the case.

  10. Trying not to spoil story elements for folks who many not be familiar with the previous series, but yeah, Andragoras is a right jackhole. As for Arslan’s legitimacy to rule Show Spoiler ▼

    Stilts edit: Adding spoiler tags, just in case.

  11. The cunning and guile displayed here shows a plan long in the making by the Lusitanians. Their preparations of counter cavalry tactics are more psychological than purely cost effective, as expected from religious fanatics. A series of sink holes, caltrops or just investing in disciplined pike infantry would have been easier than a deep and flammable ditch but then one won’t get the satisfaction of hearing the screams of burning heretics. I assume they brought out the slumberous siege towers just to crush whatever morale was left of the Pars van while raining down payback 3 years in the waiting.

    All is not lost yet I hope, there might be enough reserves for the king to save Arslan, but I wonder if that is really any priority to him. Regardless of whether Vahriz was putting Arslan’s legitimacy in doubt, the oath he made Daryun swear gave me a more sinister undercurrent of the relationship of the royal family. Vahriz seems to be making it rather plain to Daryun that Arslan cannot rely on his family for support, and that he may in fact be in danger from his family. Arslan needs a guardian like Daryun, someone who will standup to even the king.

  12. I really hope they give our Female Archer more Cloths. They are in a Country with heavy Sun, and they need to protect themselves of Sunburn. Right now, the pictures i saw of her (The Female Archer), is more like a Dancer instant an Archer. I hope they show us only her Work cloths so far, and she has an alternative Cloths for traveling. If you go there and make Females a cloth less as possible, then you should make the Males all rivals of “300 This is SPARTA!” (Insider) Soldiers

  13. Ep 03:

    Show Spoiler ▼


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