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Arslan Senki – 05

「王都炎上~前編~」 (Ou Toenjou ~ Zenpen ~)
“The Royal Capital Burns ~Part One~”

Strategy is how the weak defeat the strong, and the invincible falls.

The Price of Victory and the Peril of Might

What I love about great fiction is how it illuminates the world around us. Everything Narsus says to Arslan is applicable on the world stage today. For instance:

“We make the enemy focus their manpower where we wish them to.”

That’s as applicable in video games as it is business, politics, and anti-insurgency warfare. Or:

“No matter how great your military prowess, the value of strategy is in securing victory before you exhaust it.”

That’s echoes much of what is written in the Art of War, which goes on to posit that if your army has to go to war, you’ve already failed. Best is the victory that is won before armies ever mobilize, or when armies don’t have to mobilize. Politics is not the realm of the weak, but of the strong—it’s how we solve problems without spending our sons and daughters on a battlefield. Or take this:

“Brave warriors such as Daryun are one in a thousand. The commander of an army must think of his weakest soldier as the standard and still emerge victorious. This holds doubly true for the monarch of a kingdom, who ought to devise his plans so that even his most incompetent commander will not be defeated.”

If you ever hear someone complaining that everyone at their company is worthless, it’s not (necessarily) their co-workers faults. Yes, there are incompetents, just as there are exemplars such as Daryun, but in all likelihood it’s the fault of the company’s strategy, or the systems it uses to accomplish its work. It’s possible to create systems to continually recruit rockstars, but if you need rockstars to keep your company (or army, or country) afloat, the problem is higher up. Or:

“When he is too sure of the strength of his men and neglects strategy, if matters should go awry at some point… I am sure Your Highness experienced the result for yourself at Atropatene. King Andragoras never knew defeat. That self-conceit gave rise to the king who was uninterested in politics. The king who tried to resolve all matters with war.”

Failure is valuable, and there’s weakness in knowing nothing but victory. As for the leader who always rushes to resolve all matters with war … well, going further might get a bit too current event-y. Whether you agree with any of these themes or not, they’re ones that are relevant today, because we’re dealing with many of the same concerns. Just on a larger, if usually less overtly bloody, scale.

The Martyr Shapur

Ahhh, psychological warfare. When they rolled the battered Shapur up to the walls, I wondered: Would this galvanize the Parsians, or break their morale? The crazy archpriest was comical in his evil—let it never be said that Arslan Senki isn’t willing to deal in tropes and stereotypes from time to time. But Shapur, ahhh… Now there’s a soldier. Rather than allow himself to be the instrument which breaks his people’s spirit, he withstands the blows and calls for an honorable death, transforming himself into a martyr instead. Though he died, at least he went with a smile.

Gieve: Jack of All Trades, Master of All

It’s hard not to like Gieve (KENN), even if he’s a bit of a duplicitous, conniving, womanizing bastard. To be good at so many things—the oud, flute, singing, poetry, dancing, the bow, spear, sword, and the way around a lady’s heart—is impressive, no doubt. It doesn’t make him a good guy, but there is a war afoot. Perhaps useful is better than morally praiseworthy, at least until they figure out how to clone Daryun. Plus, Gieve looks like a ton of fun to watch.

I’m also a little surprised that Gieve appeared so quickly. I don’t know why, but I expected a bit of an interlude before they picked up someone else. Arslan and co are going to need to hurry—once the way is clear—else he’ll burn with Ecbatana as well. Oh, who am I kidding—Gieve is too slick to die yet. Though I’m sure he’ll still die young, probably from a jilted lover.

Looking Ahead – Rise Up, Up, Up

I don’t think I need to make the case for why slavery is bad. We’re a bit past that, as a world (mostly). But here’s another example of why it’s not just evil, but stupid. They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but I feel like fostering thousands of enemies within your city walls isn’t going to end well for Pars. Ask the slave owners at the time of the Haitian Rebellion, or those during the American Civil War. Oh wait, you can’t—that didn’t go well for them. (Though they’d all be dead anyway, the inexorable march of time and all that.) Once again, Lusitania is using strategy where Pars is using might. I have a feeling the results will be similar.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – #arslan 04, or: The Foolish King, the Martyr Shapur, the Master of All Trades, & the Case Against Slavery

Random thoughts:

  • Early MVP for this quest: Elam’s cooking. Nothing made Arslan and the others agree quicker than the thought of losing Elam’s oishii tabemono!

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: Old to them, Stop sending me job ideas, Schrödinger’s Skill, and Pricing: Ebooks and print.

Full-length images: 15.

 

Preview

End Card

May 3, 2015 at 4:53 pm
26 comments »
  • May 3, 2015 at 6:01 pmIrenesharda

    A great episode. Narsus is already worth his weight in gold in just that one session alone.

    Of the two, I’d have to say that Pars is just little bit better than Lusitania, and I’m not very sure if they are even going to keep their word regarding the slaves. Unless they confirm to their religion, they are still “heathens” and thus will be killed.
    Gieve is interesting. I don’t like his lying, womanizing type, but I’ll be interested in how he will contribute to the story.
    He seems to basically be only in this for the money and is not loyal to anyone, but there’s some goodness in there that allowed him to put Shapur out of his misery.

    And what a guy, that priest was just evil for evil’s sake, but Shapur never gave in and became a martyr, his bravery encouraging his people.

  • May 3, 2015 at 8:15 pmNymbryxion

    RIP Roy Mustang

    The art makes me keep seeing FMA characters in this show >.>

  • May 3, 2015 at 8:29 pmTechim

    If we don’t keep him, who else is going to cook us delicious food?

    *Daryun & Narsus stare at the empty bowls and plates on the table, & instantly relent.

    I seriously LOL-ed at this, had me laughing for a few minutes..

    If this was a 2d RPG game, I can already imagine it.
    *Final Fantasy victory theme plays*
    Elam has joined the party!

  • May 3, 2015 at 8:30 pmos

    slave rebellion is believable, that is probably why some real world ancient countries sent salves into the frontline as meat-shields.

    Wage Slave Rebellion, I will buy a copy if it has fan service!

    • May 3, 2015 at 10:47 pmStilts

      Ahaha, a bit, a bit. All my fanservice is with story justification, though … and I try to have the guys take their shirts off at least as often as the ladies. Fair’s fair, ne? ^^

  • May 3, 2015 at 10:17 pmdanes256

    well i think there’s no need to question how good this anime is anymore, the only remaining question would be how far the anime takes the story to.

  • May 3, 2015 at 10:18 pmchloesong

    this was a deep post stilt. I liked your analysis with quotes. :)

    • May 4, 2015 at 1:04 amStilts

      Domo arigatou! *bows*

  • May 3, 2015 at 11:52 pmzztop

    Today’s end card is by Watanabe Shizumu, mangaka of Kono Kanojo wa Fiction desu (romantic ecchi manga)and Real Account (survival death game manga).

    In fact, all endcard artists so far have contributed to Bessatsu Shonen magazine*, which publishes the Arslan manga.
    (*or its parent magazine, Weekly Shonen.)

  • May 4, 2015 at 1:36 amYukie

    That row of beheaded heads in the preview…things look grim for Ecbatana. :( I hope when Arslan gets back there will still be some citizens of Pars left for him to salvage, otherwise it’d be really tragic.

    • May 4, 2015 at 3:54 amSaburau

      One of Kharlan’s men talked about Vahriz’s head in the last episode and apparently he wasn’t joking.

    • May 4, 2015 at 11:49 amStilts

      They won’t kill ALL the Parsians—they’ll still want some of them to keep the city going. But they’re liable to kill a lot of ‘em, even if Arslan did hurry. I’d count on the capital being taken.

  • May 4, 2015 at 3:51 amReverseTales

    If Shapur turned around, he could have had someone (Gieve) shoot the ropes.

    Then run like hell back to Ecbatana, and laugh at the Lusitanians from the walls…

    Ah well. That would have been too unrealistic.

    • May 4, 2015 at 7:16 amIreneSharda

      His hands, torso, and feet were tied, he couldn’t turn around. Also, he was already bleeding out too much and from the blood coming from his mouth and how much they hit him, he was probably bleeding internally too. He was already dying, just not fast enough. They would have never have been able to save him.

      • May 4, 2015 at 11:48 amStilts

        Agreed; with modern medicine he was probably still dead, and with what they have to work with, it was all but assured. All that was left is how he would die.

    • May 5, 2015 at 5:17 amHunter-wolf

      Actually the real question is why didn’t Gieve shoot a second arrow at the Archpriest.. If not to avenge tortured Shapur and to boost the morale of Pars soldiers he could have at least did it to earn some extra money for that kill if money is what he is after.

      • May 5, 2015 at 8:24 amos

        it is not that easy to shoot a movable armored target who is already expecting more arrows to come.

      • May 5, 2015 at 8:33 amos

        http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2005%20-%20Large%2018.jpg
        if I were the author , then I would make Gieve to shoot 3 arrows at the same time. the first one kills the Archpriest, the second one kills the first soldier and then the third one hitting the helm of the second soldier , knocking him out and then deflecting off the helm, hitting the ropes tying the Shapur and lastly some explosive that exploded, causing some chaos and covered the escape of the Shapur.
        that must be epic.

  • May 4, 2015 at 9:34 amdean

    With Roy dead, I’ve to ask someone who’s read the manga. Is there someone who looks like Envy?

  • May 4, 2015 at 10:44 amWorldwideDepp

    You must understand, at that time both sides was no Saints or Angels.

  • May 5, 2015 at 3:08 amSexyNoJutsu

  • May 5, 2015 at 11:15 amWorldwideDepp

    This Torture was there to demoralize the Enemy, and try to provoke them to open their Gates

  • May 5, 2015 at 11:25 amSalbazier

    A really chilling episode.