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Arslan Senki – 08

「裏切りの英雄」 (Uragiri no Eiyuu)
“The Treasonous Hero”

The treasonous hero faces Arslan’s party. If only he were a little smarter—or a little dumber—perhaps he would have won.

The Dangers Of Being Smart … But Not Smart Enough

The tactics are great in this series, putting shows like Madan no Ou to Vanadis to shame—though to be fair, that could easily be confined to Madan’s anime adaptation, which was rushed. Thankfully, Arslan Senki is taking its time enough to not just show us Arslan’s party winning, but both tell us why and explain how. It enriches the experience to be able to go “Aha!” along with Narsus’ reliably clever stratagems.

Narsus’ complete outmaneuvering of Kharlan reminds me of an old theory: Sometimes, it’s the novice that is more dangerous than an experienced fighter, because, since they don’t know what they’re “supposed” to do, they might do anything. Unbound by the “rules” as they’ve been taught them, a novice will likely flounder and then die painfully—but they might do something so unpredictable that even a master could be taken aback.

There are no novices here, but perhaps it would be better if Kharlan wasn’t quite as sharp as he is, because as Narsus aptly notes, it’s men as smart as Kharlan who most easily dance to the piper’s tune. Kharlan knows enough to look for the tricks but it’s wise enough to see through all of Narsus’ tricks, so Narsus is able to more easily anticipate what he will do—though in truth, Narsus’ familiarity with Kharlan likely helped. Kharlan is too smart to get lucky, and not clever enough to match wits with the master that Narsus is. He’s stuck, and loses for it. You should have retreated as soon as you realized the terrain was well suited for guerrilla tactics, Kharlan—winning battles with minimal troops is kind of Narsus’ things. You got too much up in your own head.

The Reason For Kharlan’s Betrayal

When Kharlan faced off against Daryun, it—just, what a battle! Short and sweet, it was decided in an instant, like good sword and horses combat one-on-one should be—without magic, anything but a one or two stroke victory would be ridiculous. But, while the battles were great—most of the visuals are still too dark, but the sound team has been doing a great job of conveying the weight of the horses, and the power of the soldiers’ blows. They’re knocking it out of the park—I was preparing to despair when Kharlan fell. When he started talking about the “rightful king,” and thought about Arslan in admiring terms … “Fuck. Did he betray Pars to get Arslan on the throne? Dammit!”

Turns out, no. Phew! Rather than Arslan, it’s Silvermask who is Kharlan’s rightful king—Silvermask, whose real name is Hermes, son of Osroes, the former King of Pars, and none other than Andragoras’ older brother who he killed over Tahamenay and the throne. That makes Silvermask Andragoras’ nephew, Arslan’s cousin, and gives him as much claim to the throne as Arslan himself. Silvermask’s anger at Andragoras and his scheming against Pars and Lusitania alike come into sharp relief when you realize it’s all a squabble over the throne. This is something that’s happened many times in history, and it adds an extra layer of depth and complexity to the conflict. There’s three sides: Prince Arslan’s party, Lusitania, and Silvermask’s conspirators, all fighting over the embattled fourth side, the people of Pars. It’s cliché to say it, but the plot thickens.

Looking Ahead – Into Ecbatana

I’m surprised that we already got a partial Silvermask unmasking, and that it looks like we’ll be getting another one so quickly. Surprised, but not at all disappointed. I want Arslan Senki to take its time, but not too much—one of the strengths of Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist was that something was always happening; it never slowed down enough to get boring. With Arslan’s party heading into Ecbatana, I don’t expect this to get boring either.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Team Arslan faces off against Kharlan. If only Kharlan were a little smarter–or a little dumber–he may have won #arslan 08

Random thoughts:

  • I liked the reason why Farangis is going to help Arslan. The donation that was made in Arslan’s name to her temple is a good impetus, but I appreciate that she’s doing it as much because she doesn’t like how the Lusitanian’s are pushing their beliefs as much as her duty. Duty and will—that’s a strong character.
  • Likewise, everyone has good, personal reasons to follow Arslan. Take Gieve—his is basically, “I want to get with Farangis, and if that means slitting some Lusitanian throats, that’s easily done.” Which fits him perfectly, even if Farangis doesn’t believe his bullshit—nor does anyone else.
  • Narsus just snuck up on someone while on horseback. Damn! It’s not just his stratagems that are sneaky, apparently.
  • An elegy for their enemies. Truly, Arslan is peerless, in his own way. In kindness—a rare trait, in those days. I find it interesting (and understandable) that Gieve doesn’t approve of this naivety either. I wonder what it’ll be that gets him to stay.
  • My favorite scene: Narsus joking that with six people, they only need to take out 50,000 each. I agree with Narsus. Daryun just might do it. He may even win.

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: Practical freedom, Old to them, Stop sending me job ideas, and Schrödinger’s Skill.

Full-length images: 36.

 

Preview

End Card

May 24, 2015 at 11:34 pm
32 comments »
  • May 24, 2015 at 11:54 pmBlahto Blahtoto

    Better check the stability of your spear Daryun!! or better don’t do what Kharlan just did….
    Can that be consider suicide?? xD

  • May 25, 2015 at 12:23 amWarriorsHeart

    That was a beautiful elegy.

    • May 25, 2015 at 7:41 amRyan Ashfyre

      One hopes it’s in the OST. Please and thank you.

  • May 25, 2015 at 12:23 amWorldwideDepp

    Yeah, the Story is no groundbreaking. Fighting over a Throne inside a Family. But it is the Way in how, that entertain us. And looks like this Anime is doing it right

    But still.. She would get easy an Sunburn. Thats a Enemy she can not defend in her “armor”. You know how i am talking

  • May 25, 2015 at 1:36 ambrajt

    Here I was waiting for Farangis full-lenghts and all I got was Andragoras…

    • May 25, 2015 at 1:40 amStilts

      They were hard to catch this week because she kept moving. Also, I’m lazy. So you get Andragoras instead!

      • May 25, 2015 at 3:01 amWorldwideDepp

        yeah, this Art of Style reminds me of Marvel or DC Comincs villain Closeup Pictures :=)

  • May 25, 2015 at 3:03 amkittyraider

    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2008%20-%20Large%2001.jpg

    I would totally watch a spinoff of just Farangis and Gieve travelling together…

  • May 25, 2015 at 3:47 amSnooSnoo (@ShinJiwon)

    Considering that he lead a savage army to conquer his own homeland it’s pretty safe to say Hermes is not going to be a good king. Hereditary monarchy was a terrible idea anyway.

  • May 25, 2015 at 5:19 amShinwinds

    Narsus is the man for the job. It’s kinda pleasant to see the strategist actually make the battle work for their favour. The strategist role kinda lost in today anime and that’s likely a treat for me personally.

    The surprising factor to me is how a little chat at then end episode bring some much light for what really happen in the last 7 episode, and enlightment us who the hell is the mask freak truly is. The revelation itself kinda plain in my opinion.

    • May 25, 2015 at 9:25 amStilts

      It’s plain, but that’s good in a way. Arslan Senki isn’t astounding in how innovative its setting is, which is pretty clearly cribbed from Middle Eastern/European medieval warfare/politics. It’s the characters that are really driving the enjoyment, and the simple execution. So an entirely reasonable revelation like this fits quite well to me.

  • May 25, 2015 at 5:35 amzztop

    Today’s endcard is by mangaka Satou Yuuki, whose works include Tanteiken Sherdock (Sherlock Holmes reincarnated as a cute puppy) and Tomodachi Game (5 friends must play a psychological game that tests the boundaries of theri friendship).

    His profile states his special skill is gaining weight, and his hobby is losing it.

  • May 25, 2015 at 5:40 amzztop

    From a purely legal standpoint, Prince Hermes probably has a stronger claim to the throne by way of his father being the rightful ruler. His cruel and ruthless behaviour though…

    • May 25, 2015 at 7:18 amZhinvu

      Maybe Andragoras is the cause for Hermes’s ruthless personality. The past episodes already showed Andragoras isn’t really a saint, and then there’s the queen’s supposed magic to charm men of power. For Hermes though the only thing that matters is his father was assassinated by his own uncle and seized the throne. That’s very likely to change a guy. For all we know, Hermes might used to be a nice guy.

    • May 25, 2015 at 10:17 amzrnzle500

      Depends on their succession rules but likely it is the case that he has the stronger legal claim. Historically, the son of the previous king is generally the successor over the younger brother of the king. For example, the English line of succession after the current Queen is Charles, then William, then his son George, then his daughter, then his younger brother Harry. However in Saudi Arabia, the succession has gone from the original king, Ibn Saud, to his eldest son, and has gone down the line of his brothers. We’re actually still on the sons of the first king, who died in 1953. He had a lot of sons. Next one would be the first grandson to succeed to the throne.

    • May 25, 2015 at 6:28 pmSaburau

      That’s what Hermes believes, that’s what Kharlan believes, and that’s what Andragoras laughed out loud at.

  • May 25, 2015 at 7:06 amZhinvu

    Aside from a lot of Farangis screentime and the big revelation about Silvermask, Narsus and Gieve were what caught my attention in this episode. On Narsus, I can’t shake the feeling that Narsus already knew the agent he sent to trick Kharlan would be in danger when discovered, but he did it anyway because it’s part of his plan. Because if this, Narsus came off as pretty scary and ruthless to me that he’s willing to gamble with lives to make his tactics work. In his defense, the situation is that bad that it was necessary. And on Gieve, aside from his deceitful ways, in first introducing himself to Arslan’s party I don’t think he ever gave his name. I don’t know if that’s considered rude of him but for me it came off showing even more how Gieve can be such a scoundrel in any given situation. That or he maybe doesn’t bother giving his name unless you’re a beautiful woman.

    • May 25, 2015 at 8:41 amReikakou

      I do agree with you about Narsus. Damn he’s one sadistic strategist that sent an innocent man to his death.

    • May 25, 2015 at 9:31 amStilts

      On Narsus, I doubt they he told his “agent” that he was perpetrating a ruse; the man was likely as much a stooge as Kharlan himself. But you’re right, he undoubtedly sent the man in knowing he could, or likely would, die. As a strategist, Narsus gambles with lives every time he plans. Doing it with someone who hasn’t willingly joined the fight (i.e. who isn’t a soldier) is a little more bastardly, but maybe he picked a kind of a bastard and let him hang himself on his own greed. Given how the guy acted, that seems likely.

    • May 25, 2015 at 9:53 amZhinvu

      I actually wondered about that too, whether or not this agent was a loyal follower of Narsus or an unwilling pawn in his plan. Either way though, Narsus still comes off as scarily ruthless. Whatever alignment this agent had, Narsus was still able to get him to go to Kharlan’s camp and say what Narsus wanted Kharlan to hear. Anyone who can manipulate like that is darn scary in my book. Glad he’s on Arslan’s side.

    • May 25, 2015 at 6:41 pmZhinvu

      @Mechanon – Thanks! That just clarified a whole heap on this Narsus thing. I wonder why this little important piece of information was left out in the anime episode. Still, I’ll have to rethink my impression of Narsus.

      While it’s already confirmed the guy Narsus sent to his doom was a scoundrel, it is still pretty cruel that Narsus has no qualms about doing it. Guess we can say Narsus is still a ruthless tactician who gambles with lives, but from the looks of it he’s particular with the lives he’s playing with. I really think now Narsus wouldn’t carry out this plan using an innocent bystander. Come to think of it, Narsus did approve of Arslan previously when the latter chose to act at the thought Kharlan will endanger villages to find the prince. So yeah, Narsus isn’t completely cruel. This is the guy who was exiled for concern of the slaves’ wellbeing after all.

      • May 25, 2015 at 9:26 pmStilts

        There’s cruelty there, yes—Narsus sent a man to their death (not assured, but likely) for a crime far out of proportion to his punishment. Yet I think you’re right, he wouldn’t have done that with an innocent man. It’s not good, exactly, but like I said, when you operate on Narsus’s level, people are going to die. Making sure that someone whose life you risk (and ultimately, spend) is either willing or a bit of a bastard is about the best he can do.

        At least Narsus gave both that man and Kharlan choices, even if they made all the wrong ones, just like he expected.

      • May 26, 2015 at 11:45 amHunter-Wolf

        Narsus didn’t send the guy anywhere, he just used his knowledge of human nature to his advantage, he knew the guy was going to rat them out anyway and used that for his plan, whether Kharlan was going to kill the guy or reward him was out of Narsus’s hands .. and besides .. the guy was willing to hand over the entire Arslan party over to Kharlan including Narsus (which would certainly mean their deaths) for a reward from a traitor .. so IMO he totally got what he deserved.

      • May 26, 2015 at 12:49 pmStilts

        Let’s assume that Narsus was 80% certain that the guy would try to steal from them, and 90% certain that he would go to Kharlan and rat them out if that were the case. And, if he were to rat them out, say there’s a 70% chance that Kharlan would kill him. That means he took a 50.4% chance that he would kill the man.

        Make no mistake, Narsus had a definite hand in his death. True, he let the man hang himself, but he still constructed the situation such that his death was more likely. He didn’t swing the sword, but he risked (and spent) his life all the same. Who knows if he might have reformed himself and become an admirable man, had he not died?

        Narsus owes some responsibility, but given everything that is happening, it was probably (perhaps) one of the lesser evils. Like I said, when you’re playing on that level—and especially in that time—some people are going to die. Narsus confined it to an untrustworthy man, so while that doesn’t absolve him of guilt, at least he didn’t manufacture the death of a good person.

  • May 25, 2015 at 7:10 amWarriorsHeart

    I do like the fact that an intelligent man like Narsus would participate in battle, whereas other intelligent characters would avoid battle or wait until it’s too late.

    • May 25, 2015 at 9:27 pmStilts

      I agree. This isn’t a setting where anyone can avoid getting their hands dirty, so it’s good to see that Narsus rightfully doesn’t quail at doing so.

  • May 25, 2015 at 10:19 amzrnzle500

    Since we don’t know who Hermes’ mother is and Tahamenay was with his father at one point, he might not just be Arslan’s cousin but also his half-brother

  • May 25, 2015 at 9:50 pmYukie

    This is a completely wild speculation, but I’m putting them in spoilers just in case: Show Spoiler ▼

    • May 28, 2015 at 2:42 amLookBehindYou

      I was actually thinking something along the same lines, Show Spoiler ▼

  • May 27, 2015 at 7:58 amewok40k

    Too bad Kharlan died before being thoroughly questioned…
    That leaves Arslan and his party with less knowledge than we, the audience, posses…