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Arslan Senki – 10

「カシャーン城塞の主」 (Kashaan Jousai no Omo)
“The Lord and Master of Kashan Fortress”

I was worried this would be a detour from the main story, but it was nothing of the sort. Arslan learned some difficult lessons today.

The Chase Scene – Show, Don’t Tell

As a storyteller, I doff my hat. The opening chase scene was an excellent example of an old storytelling maxim: Show, don’t tell. The OP led right into the chase—no explanation of how the Lusitanian soldiers found them, or why they were chasing them. Neither were necessary. They would have been a drag on the story to divulge! It didn’t matter; Lusitania after Arslan, Arslan’s party running. Got it, we got the gist. Then there was simple stuff—mention of Daryun, implying that he was working on something that would save them, so they must run. Run!

The djinn thing was whatever—it’s hard to account for guns and arrows when your characters aren’t arrow or bulletproof, so they needed a way to avoid it being too convenient that the Lusitanian arrows would miss, as they did (much better) when Elan cut the soldiers’ bow strings later on. But it still worked because they didn’t let us dwell on it. Go, ride faster! The scene was quick, exciting, and no longer than it needed to be. That’s damn fine storytelling.

Scheming Schemers And Their Schemes

I appreciated that Hodir was—well, he was fairly one-dimensional, but not to a cartoonish degree, like that Lusitanian inquisitor who is so tiresome. This is another example of a medieval trope that absolutely would happen: the scheming influence seeker. I’m glad Hodir was dealt with quickly, because more than one episode would have seen him overstaying his welcome, as the inquisitor has.

Better in the schemers, I thought, was Narsus. Obviously. Since that goes without saying, I’ll give my gold star to Arslan instead. After being admonished by Narsus at the beginning of the episode, he did exactly what he should have—he took good counsel and led. Narsus was right; the monarch need not come up with the plans, nor win battles. His give direction and choose the right people to execute his goals. Once the plot was afoot, Arslan trusted his experts, which shows wisdom far beyond many adults. It also might be important later on, since Silvermask doesn’t really seem to be doing this.

Freedom Isn’t For Everyone

The break from Hodir’s “hospitality” was textbook Narsus; Narsus is better than others, this we knew. That alone would have made for a good enough episode. What elevated it was punching home on the nature of slavery, and that freeing the slaves might not be treated as the blessing Arslan has come to think of it as. This is a medieval society, remember—not everyone can even read, most of all the slaves who haven’t had a reason to do so (and their masters have undoubtedly had call to prevent them from learning). That’s not even mentioning how the slaves don’t have the knowledge to do most jobs. They’ve only ever taken orders! What are they supposed to do if they’re freed?

Freedom is scary. It’s often not a lot of fun. Freedom of choice includes the freedom to be uncertain, to fail, to make bad decisions, to destroy yourself. The master prevents that by making all the decisions for you. I’m not surprised that some—though not all!—of Narsus’ slaves came back, nor that Hodir’s slaves attacked Arslan. Not all would choose slavery over freedom, but some would. Especially if you have a kind master, and you can’t imagine being anything but a slave, and you know you could have much worse than the master you have.

It brings up an interesting conundrum in morality. We also think of it as a binary choice, of black and white. And as far as morality goes, I think slavery is pretty black and white—it’s one of the highest sins in my book, along with sexual assault (rape), since it serves no good purpose. And yet, at this time in history … well, there were economic issues to consider. And I’m not talking about for the slave owners; the slaves themselves needed to eat. Morality is, as Narsus said, more like the stars than the sun. What is murder to you might be self defense to another. It’s not always as easy as we wish it was. But the stars are beautiful too, even if they’re not as bright as the sun.

Loyalty Is Not Due, It’s Earned

Another element that elevated this episode was what Arslan said at the end, and I cannot emphasize how important this was. He said:

“These five who are so trustworthy and dependable… How long will they follow me like this? I must become a worthy ruler before they despair of me.”

To many—such as Andragoras—loyalty is something that is due. It’s not a choice, it’s a requirement is certain boxes are checked. It’s allotted by station, or money, or age, or profession—and if you are, for instance, the King of Pars, then you are due a certain amount of loyalty, however you act. And that isn’t how it works! Loyalty is not given so freely. Loyalty is earned. In the same way that Daryun has earned the respect (and fear) he engenders in allies and enemies alike, Arslan must earn people’s loyalty … and he must continue earning it, again and again and again, lest he become unworthy of the loyalty of such sterling individuals.

If that sounds exhausting, you’re right. It’s not easy being king. At least, if you don’t want to end up in a Lusitanian dungeon, like Andragoras has.

Looking Ahead – Don’t Split The Party!

Looks like they’re going to split up into two or three groups and—wait, what!? Don’t slit the party! (trope!) That’s, like, adventuring 101! What are you guys doing? I know Narsus is behind this, but, but… *sputters* *flips coffee table* *goes to play Sega Saturn*

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The Lord and Master of Kashan Fortress is out for himself alone. It doesn’t end well for him #arslan 10

Random thoughts:

  • Now Gieve is saying he can take 400! Sorry, but that’s nowhere near enough. Daryun is already doing 50,000. You need to pull your weight.
  • “The more you speak, the more you reveal.” So true. Hypocritical coming from Gieve, but accurate. Reminds me of an old tactic in negotiations, sales, and interviewing: get your opposite to talk, in the hopes of them betraying themselves. Fortunately, being an author is the exact opposite.
  • I forgot to include a screen cap, but go back to the meal scene and look at Elan. Notice how happy he looks to be eating someone else’s cooking? It reminds me of something Mario Batali (I think) once said. Whenasked what his favorite meal was, he said: “One someone else cooks.” Mario feels you, Elan!
  • Daryun maxed out his intimidate skill ages ago. Eep!
  • A weighty parting gift, huh… I wonder if Vahriz knew about Hermes. Seems like the old man knew more than he let on.

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: A lifestyle designed for productivity, Practical freedom, Old to them, and Stop sending me job ideas.

 

Preview

End Card

June 7, 2015 at 11:29 pm
19 comments »
  • June 7, 2015 at 11:36 pmrandom viewer

    I wish every episode would just have them being comical.
    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2010%20-%20Large%2013.jpg

  • June 8, 2015 at 12:29 amWarriorsHeart

  • June 8, 2015 at 1:13 amCurious

    I’m probably just over thinking this but…. In the scene when Arslan calls everyone to leave, does anyone think there was a reason why the order was Daryun, Narsus, Gieve, Faranhis and Elam or it’s just random? Again, I’m probably over thinking this. Haha.

    • June 8, 2015 at 11:17 amKling_Klang

      They’re going to be walking through a crowd of potentially hostile soldiers, the order that you listed puts the most effective close combat fighters in the lead with the archers in the rear.

  • June 8, 2015 at 1:22 amRandom Wanderer

    Freedom takes strength! It also allows you to take a nap in the middle of the day without caring for what other people think :p

  • June 8, 2015 at 1:57 amReikakou

    And thus, democracy and domestic helpers are introduced in Pars.

    What Arslan needs to offer to the slaves is not the freedom from slavery per se but the right to choose what they want to do in life. He have to determine first where the slaves came from. While most slaves in Ecbatana are probably POWs, I think the slaves in Kashan Fortress were the poor people of Pars who willingly allowed themselves to become slaves just for them to be able to eat and have a shelter to sleep at night.

    If the slaves are POWs, Arslan can use them to exchange POWs with Lustanians. While for those who willingly volunteered to become slaves, Arslan can implement laws that will secure their welfare akin to domestic helpers today.

    • June 8, 2015 at 12:36 pmStilts

      True. He needs to offer them more than freedom—he needs to offer them a path to the future they prefer. For some, that will be going back home. For others, that will be helping them acquire the skills necessary to lead a life of greater dignity, while still feeding themselves and their family.

    • June 8, 2015 at 4:26 pmMistic

      True. How can you choose freedom if only poverty awaits?

      Ironically, Lusitanians should be able to provide an answer from their camp. Seize lands and riches from the Parsian royalty and nobility who resisted, and distribute them among the slaves who supported you when the capital was conquered. You’ll have a class of former slaves who will owe their freedom and (most important) their living to the invaders, so they’ll be loyal to you.

      Of course, since these bad guys are a bunch of simple morons, I don’t expect any cleverness from the Lusitanians.

      • June 9, 2015 at 8:27 pmKaleRylan

        Yeah, the Lusitanians are weird. Because in the first few episodes it seemed like they were trying to say that ‘there is no good or evil/black or white’ with the Parsians endorsing slavery and the Lusitanians believing all are equal and so on. But as the show has gone on, despite being really good in all other aspects, it’s become very apparent that the slavery card was the ONLY card the author played in an attempt to even the sides. In every other way the Lusitanians are pretty much monsters and the Parsians are basically fine (aside from the King who’s an ass and the Queen who’s a mystery).

        I really like the show and the characters, but there’s this odd sense that the writer sort of thought if they reversed the slavery thing that would make the villains seem layered and forgot that 3-dimensional villains/characters need more than one trait.

  • June 8, 2015 at 2:04 amMistic

    And another example of how villains can be more than one-dimensional parodies if done well (that is, if they are Parsian instead of Lusitanian). Hodir was the villain of the week, a schemer, a slaver and a reactionary force. Yet he didn’t like the Lusitanians, every time he gave orders not to harm the prince and, in the end, even Narsus admitted he might have been a good master to his slaves.

    The thing is, I hope Narsus explains politics to the prince and not just ethics. It’s pretty clear that the traditional Parsian aristocracy commands armies and fortresses… military force you need to reconquer the capital. And many more will be like Hodir.

    Also, Arslan, sorry, you’re a great guy, but marrying daughters of nobles you have never seen before is practically the modus operandi of royalty.

    • June 8, 2015 at 12:39 pmStilts

      I laughed about the marriage thing too. Arslan thinks meeting his future queen matters! How adorable.

  • June 8, 2015 at 3:12 amzztop

    Today’s endcard is by mangaka Oima Yoshitoki, creator of Koe no Katachi(A Silent Voice). It revolves around a remorseful bully seeking forgiveness for severely bullying a deaf girl during his elementary school days.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Silent_Voice_(manga)

    So far all the endcard artists have contributed manga to Bessatsu Shonen(which publishes the Arslan manga) or Weekly Shonen, Bessatsu’s parent magazine. There’s a pattern here.

    • June 8, 2015 at 7:37 amSaburau

      They are all “Magazine” or “ex-Magazine” artists.

  • June 8, 2015 at 3:15 amzztop

    What is interesting is the suggestion that Arslan may not even be Andragoras’s biological son. Which makes you wonder just what the truth behind his birth is.

    • June 8, 2015 at 12:42 pmStilts

      In this case, I feel like they’re remembering that the previous king had a son (Hermes), and that they haven’t seen his body. They’re remembering that Hermes existed, and hypothesizing about who the “rightful king” really is. I can’t read Parsian (or whatever language it’s based off of), but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hermes’ is one of the names this image shows:

      http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2010%20-%20Large%2014.jpg

  • June 8, 2015 at 3:51 am15FAN

    Not to be simple but you are right do the story w/ o a batch o thesis. And the hard lessons that were learned!No wonder it’s my number two anime!

  • June 8, 2015 at 6:12 pmHunter-Wolf

    I was surprised when Arslan traversed all the balconies to the other side of the mansion, seriously he must have had some Prince of Persia or Assassin’s blood in his family line somewhere … calling him Prince of Pars from now on XD

    Also about the matter of slaves, as much as i hate slavery and despise it experience tells us that mass-freeing them suddenly is always a bad decision, as well as forcing your freedom on them when it means being jobless and dying in poverty (Game of Thrones dealt with similar themes and ideas in Dany’s story), in order to free slaves it has to be done gradually and with both compensations to their masters or a form of encouragement, as well as a way to ensure slaves who seek freedom are to find a job or a way to secure a living .. otherwise you are just screwing things up for everyone and yourself included .. that’s why good intentions alone are never enough.

    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2010%20-%20Large%2020.jpg

    Also .. Still find Farangis’s underboob and naked mid-riff so distracting .. i think she looked way better in the other clothes she wore this episode, and it was almost funny seeing every male character donning their heavy armor on top of their clothes (even the bad guy) in preparation for conflict while she goes to wear “less” clothes than she wore at the dinner .. honestly that felt a bit silly XD

    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2010%20-%20Large%2013.jpg

    • June 12, 2015 at 8:59 pmCodex

      Indeed. I love this series, but if I had a beef with anything, it would be Farangis’ clothing. That’s just … unnecessary. The characters and the story can carry the show by themselves without having to resort to this sort of fan service.

  • June 9, 2015 at 8:39 amewok40k

    Gieve and Farangis still best pair.
    A noble trying to manipulate Arslan into shotgun, erm, sword/bow wedding… now it feels like straight from Game of Thrones. Nice!
    Slavery is often hard to uproot, since it is often hard to people who lived their whole lives as slaves to navigate the free life.