「ペシャワールへの道」 (Peshawaaru e no Michi)
“The Road to Peshawar”

Guiscard vs Bodin, Daryun vs Xandes, and Arslan vs the selfish concept of contemporary nobles. There are a lot of interesting conflicts going on this week.

Guiscard’s Temporal Politics versus Bodin’s Holy Warriors

The most common criticism I’ve heard of this show is that, while most of the Parsians are multi-faceted characters, the Lusitanians are largely one-dimensional. In Guiscard, we have a character that bucks that. Though that’s not entirely true—Innocentius VII, while clearly not the strongest of monarchs, is more than what he appears. Both when Bodin was burning books two episodes ago, and this time when he was trying to bully Innocentius into authorizing the slaughter of 10,000 heathens, Innocentius did not look entirely okay with the proposition. He strikes me as a man who’s experiencing a conflict between his avowed faith and his internal morality, since his “infallible faith” has gone seriously, and murderously, off the rails. I can’t help but think this story won’t end well for Innocentius, and it likely shouldn’t—by not stopping Bodin, he’s complicit in these murders. But at least he doesn’t appear to feel good about the situation he’s in.

But Guiscard is still the more interesting, or at least more clever, of the Lusitanian royal brothers. I was not-so-secretly hoping for him to snap Bodin’s lunatic neck when he was threatening to undo all their work by going on a rebellion-inciting murder spree, but the presence of Bodin’s holy warriors—okay, let’s call them what they are. The presence of Bodin’s zealots (they’re not as warm and fuzzy as the Protoss version, people) does not bode well for the people of Pars. I still hope Guidcard snaps his neck. Or Narsus does it. Or he chokes on a pretzel and dies. Just someone, take out this crazy priest! Dude gots to go.

Daryun’s Softness

When Xandes, the son of Kharlan, proclaimed his intent to go after Daryun, I honestly didn’t expect him to survive the episode. And there were some odd things about the battle, like how he hulked out and picked up a tree with his sword—I feel like that should have broken his sword, his back, his horse’s legs, or all three—or how they seemed to be billing him as a threat to Daryun, even though I really wasn’t feeling it.

But done well was why he survived. Farangis noted that Daryun is soft, for refusing to use his full strength against an unhorsed opponent, and I agree. Yet Farangis didn’t seem entirely displeased with this weakness. Daryun is a man of honor, and that honor is worth more to his continued fighting strength than the elimination of any Lusitanian / Silvermask-allied soldier, no matter how dangerous they may be. It also just fits what we know of Daryun. As with Arslan himself, sometimes being soft is the right way to be, even in these dangerous times. Though it could still come back to bite Daryun in the ass, if he’s not careful.

Why Arslan Is Different, and Elam & Gieve Coming Around

Gieve accurately zeroed in on the reason why Arslan is different: He hasn’t spent his entire life in the palace. I don’t know why Andragoras and Tahamenay sent Arslan off to live with a Nursemaid and her husband—though there are still questions of his parentage that could explain that—but it did him a world of good. As Gieve pointed out early in the episode, most royalty doesn’t care what happens to their vassals or people, which describes both Andragoras and Silvermask perfectly. Silvermask may be trying to recruit Saam, but he would use and discard him like he has Kharlan and Xandes. But Arslan treats his companions not like servants, but true allies and friends.

I never doubted that Arslan would save Elam. What was heartening was to see hints that Elam is starting to come around to being Arslan’s friend, and that Arslan maaaay have even won Gieve over to his side. His side, as opposed to Farangis’ side, that is. Gieve throwing money as a distraction is symbolic in how he’s willing to invest in Arslan—is what some Literature professor might say. But I don’t think Gieve is going from a straight loss-and-profit point of view there. I think he sees a potential king that might be worth fighting for earnestly, because the kingdom Arslan builds is one he’d like to see.

Looking Ahead – Daryun and Farangis and Their Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I’m glad that Team Arslan didn’t split the party on purpose (Daryun excepted), which would have been aggravating. It still remains that they’re split though, and it doesn’t sound like Daryun and Farangis are going to have an easy time of getting to Peshawar. What I’m most curious about is Narsus, though. Without seeing a body, I have no doubt that he’s still alive (trope!), but where is he? I’m sure he’ll turn up in just the right place to make life difficult for someone who deserves it. I a way, he’s kind of like batman, except Batman probably paints better.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Guiscard vs Bodin, Daryun vs Xandes, and Arslan vs the selfish habits of nobility. So far only Arslan is clearly winning #arslan 11

Random thoughts:

  • The way everyone keeps cutting down arrows is still pretty bullshit, but it’s a bullshit fiction has gotten us used to. Aside from that and some mysticism, this show remains largely true to historic form. I’m fine with these slight departures—it’s another world, after all.
  • “Target the woman” doesn’t work well when that woman is Farangis.

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: How to not get butthurt when others insult stories you love, Guilty pleasures are bullshit, A lifestyle designed for productivity, and Practical freedom.

 

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42 Comments

  1. This is probably my least favorite ep, especially where realism was concerned. I am sued to Daryun being OP, but a guy holding Ichigo’s sword with one hand, taking a tree of the ground and, the most importantly, EVERYONE deflecting arrows with a sword? I guess this is the consequence of the Aniem going past the Manga adaptation?

    Nayrael
    1. Well, at they showed the guy was struggling to wield it, with all those slow slashes & all. I kind of laughed when he got his sword stuck in that treestump and was struggling to pull it out, face red & all that. When he threw it to the ground I was like “Good man, throw that useless piece of shit you call a sword a way.” 😛

      What made me raise my eyebrow more was when Daryum didn’t kill him when was trying to pull it out, as his opponent was still armed. I guess the show’s explanation would be that he was surprised(or maybe like me, he was secretly amused by the sight). Oh well, I’ll just have to roll with it just like with the jedi sword deflecting skills our protagonists have.

      MgMaster of Rivia
    2. The hulk/tree thing was silly. Didn’t much like that.

      The arrow blocking thing, though … well, I guess I’ve just gotten used to it. The problem with arrows is that, like guns, they have the potential to utterly break the idea of melee combat, and melee combat is soooo much more fun to write and read/watch. Armor can be used to get around that, but armor screws with characterization somewhat—it’s harder to get attached to a character when they’re always encased in metal.

      Basically, projectile weapons have to be “dealt with” somehow, to make them not kill the main characters in the first three episodes, even though they would obviously be used. In my own book, I did this by making magical barriers common enough to make projectile weapons video game-dangerous—they’ll hurt, but one isn’t liable to kill a spell caster. Arslan Senki doesn’t have anything like that.

      Honestly, what they ought to do is just have everyone carry a blasted shield, though that would mess up their agility and their cool flapping capes. I guess I’ve just accepted that break from reality as the cost of doing business, if the business I want is cool melee combat.

      The bulk/tree thing was still dumb, though.

      1. Perhaps they should’ve went for a smaller shield, like a buckler, IMO. From the fights shown so far, it wouldn’t have really interfered with their movements. Besides, blocking arrows with a shield at the right time(perhaps more of them to make it look more flashy), even a larger one can look good and while keeping up a good degree of realism.

        MgMaster of Rivia
      2. This deflecting Arrows with a Sword is not new. I remember an Film with Richard Chamberlain “Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold”, the movie was some kind of an Indiana Jones copy. Well anyway, in the Movie there was a scene where someone on the top of a Boot rotate his AXE!! to deflect spears and Arrows. if my memory not fails me, and the Film is from 1986

        WorldwideDepp
    3. yeah, the arrow biz never made much sense. But even more problematic is when Elam was down and about to get stabbed. Arslan came to help. Okay, I can believe him taking on that single soldier. But why did the arrows stop firing? While Elam was scolding Arslan for saving him, those soldiers should have rained arrows on them instead of going in with swords.

      Cerf
      1. They may have been trying to encircle him and capture him alive. Or just encircle him—they would have the tactical advantage once they have him surrounded, even if they had to stop firing beforehand to make sure they didn’t hit their allies. That part didn’t bother me.

      1. I think there’s a little mysticism, just not much. I think of it more like the kind of mystical events people think happen on Earth today … subtle and unverifiable, rather than the Big Flaming Fireballs of most contemporary fantasy.

      2. There were some implications before that the mist from Arslan’s first battle was raised with magic…
        But really that could be ravings of a lunatic for all we know. It’s just that usually in medieval-themed anime it’s not

        On the arrow blocking thing, funnily enough I let it slide as Daryun being just that awesome. But when Elam did it, I almost screamed out loud “that’s not realistic!”

        Erimaki
  2. Well, I wanted to write something sensible but… moe smol Arslan…hnnn I can’t! But little tsundere Elam was cute too: “I-it’s not like… I-i want to be a friend with you…BAKA!”.

    gilraen_tinuviel
  3. Thumb me down if you want, I know its an unpopular opinion but It feels like Arslan Senki pace is extremely slow, we are what? 11 episodes in already. Thought it would be more like kingdom, but the pace is even slower than that.

    Loterwi
  4. I smell a genocide brewing. At this point, Hermes/Silver mask is the rightful king by lineage only. He helped a foreign country invade and conquer Pars, allowed the archpriest to destroy its culture, and may soon preside over the genocide of his at least former coreligionists and nominal subjects and countrymen. That seems like high treason, king or no.

    zrnzle500
    1. Back then, it really wasn’t. I’m pretty sure there were more than a few monarchs who did whatever they had to do to claim (or reclaim) the throne, and the people dealt with it as a fact of life (or in the nobles’ and soldiers’ cases, tried to profit from it).

      Not that he’s liable to have a good reign even if he wins, since people aren’t liable to forget these transgressions. Not without a lot of effort (see: repression) on his part.

  5. The mysteries on Arslan’s true heritage increases, since it seems unlikely the King and Queen sent him to live with the nursemaid to teach him about the common people. Like they were trying to hide him, or prepare the palace for his later arrival.

    zztop
    1. An idea just occurred to me: What if Andragoras or Tahamenay are sterile? Andragoras, I would guess. Perhaps Arslan is her son from someone else, and he was sent off as a bastard disgrace … but when Andragoras couldn’t have a son (or Tahamenay prevented it somehow…?), they summoned Arslan back.

      Either way, I continue to doubt that he’s Andragoras’ son, whatever the reason.

  6. Looks like Daryun’s already got a rematch lined up for next week. The tree thing actually didn’t bother me that much, must’ve been the effect of Xandes having Ichigo’s voiceactor (“BANKAI”)

    Yukie
  7. It’s not too hard to deal with people like Bodin. After all, accidents CAN happen. Like that time that poor noble slipped and fell on that entire cart of sharpened antlers…

    zztop
  8. Even Karl the Great (Karl der Grosse) had bow down on his knee, before the pope at his Time. Church had more Power as Kings

    I think here the “weak point” is, “Rom (Or what was the Main City of the Church at that Time) is far away”. or “allah can not look through the table”
    You get the gist? corruption grow when there is no one that control the rules

    Bit the archbishop can call upon “God’s holy fighters” to kill the current Lord as “traitor to god”, or vise versa. Just take care of Information. because there is no Internet, and News needs Horses or Birds to get delivered

    So the fight between the Lord and Archbishop, is also a fight of controlling information. Like the trick on the battlefield “the King left us here to Die!”

    WorldwideDepp
  9. I am somewhat annoyed by the simplistic dichotomy that was set up here, and is common across most fantasy fiction: Nobles MUST be raised by peasants at some point or they are heartless monsters. It is a simplistic worldview, centered in the notion that all rich people are automatically heartless monsters who manipulate and use people and all poor people are automatically good.

    Just because you are raised rich doesn’t mean you are a horrible person, and being raised poor doesn’t make you Mother Teresa. In fact, real life gives us plenty of examples both ways, and it annoys me that in fiction we must always stick to this schema.

    Void
    1. The problem is that in the ancient world kings really behaved that way, many saw their subjects as livestock that had no right to refuse them. In a little more modern example the kings of France wer completely disconected from the populance by years 1700s and that´s part of the reason the French Revolution occoured in the first place.

      You are right, being rich doens´t make you evil but a legacy of abuse of power and corruption taints a linage and if you put disconnection from your people into the equation the only result is disaster. Narsus and Daryun are strage examples among the nobles of a corrupted society, being able to mantain such sense of right and wrong talks a lot about their strong personalities.

      haseo0408
    2. As Saburau and haseo0408 said.

      It doesn’t have to do with rich. Rich people and poor people are the same—they’re people. In this case, what matters is that the system Arslan was living in—but fortunately, wasn’t totally brought up in—was corrupt. It’s the system that brings about people like Silvermask, and all the nobles and kings that Gieve has experienced.

      Like Saburau and haseo0408 said, Narsus and Daryun, not to mention Vahriz and many of the other Marzban (Shapur, Kishward, Saam … if they’re from high-ranking families, which seems likely, given the caste system within this society) all refute your point.

      Now, I say all that, but I sort of wish Arslan was like he was despite having been raised in the palace his whole life. But an impressionable person put in a bad system is liable to end up bad. This makes sense to me.

      1. Kids are like sponges, they absorb everything around them and build their personalities from that. Sadly hatred and discrimination are very difficult to to overcome once they take root on a child since a young age, it´s not impossible but it takes a strong heart to do so, that´s what I like about Narsus and Daryum, they were born and raised in all this discrimination but they stll know this world is wrong and act on that conviction.

        haseo0408
  10. You what is funny guys? Silvermask hates Andragoras for a lot of reassons but at the end of the day they practically the same guy! They both care nothing for his subjects, use vassals as pawns and expendible ones at that and most important of all: they talk a lot about what´s good for Pars but the have sink the country into a dark abyss. What´s that Silver-chan? your daddy was killed and you the throne? Am I supposed to cry now? Nothing that has been done to him justifies what he has done to his own people, a person who sells his own country to bumch of zealots has no right to call himself king, no matter what blood runs through his veins.

    haseo0408

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