「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
- 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.