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Arslan Senki – 13

「王子二人」 (Oujifutari)
“Two Princes”

The truth is revealed: There are two princes, and one has a better claim to the throne than the other.

Elam Versus Alfreed

I’m glad that Arslan Senki reliably wraps at least a little comedy into every episode. This could easily be a story devoid of light, but the humor provides character, which makes us care about these characters more than we might otherwise. Of course, there’s always Gieve, who was jealous that it was Daryun, and not him, who got to spend so much time with Farangis. But undoubtedly, it was Alfreed who stole the comedy show. She switch to declaring herself Narsus’ wife fast, and her bickering with Elam was as funny as I expected it to be! I also could have done a whole post of Elam reaction shots, but I had to hold myself back. It wasn’t easy.

But I like that, even amidst the first salvos of that (presumed) running gag, Alfreed hasn’t been made into a joke character, not even for one episode. Her talk with Farangis revealed her cynicism about nobles, which very much matches Gieve’s. It also revealed exactly why she’s taken a shine to Narsus, for the optimism he engenders. But more than that, I liked how Farangis showed a soft side. Which is only right and proper—she’s shown every indication that she’s a kind person (Ex: saying a prayer for dead enemies at Arslan’s request), provided she’s around anyone other than Gieve or Lusitanian soldiers. It’s just that she spends so much time around those two parties, she always seems badass and cold. She’s more complex than that, as most people are.

Kishward’s Valor

I like that we’re getting to spend more time with Kishward. First of all, the dude is strong; anyone who can match (and even push back) Silvermask is definitely good in a fight. I also appreciate that he’s the only character using twin blades. Though it’s common in medieval fantasy, it’s a style that, while cool, usually isn’t as effective as a single sword, since it lessens the striking power and is harder to learn (and probably other reasons I don’t know about). Having one character that can do it, though, is absolutely fine—it can be done, and it can be extremely effective in the hands of a master. It just shouldn’t be common.

But more than that, I liked that, when confronted with the idea of Arslan freeing the slaves, he didn’t reject it out of hand. I was honestly worried! While Arslan’s former ignorance on the issue was understandable—he was a kid, and had just accepted the status quo as “the way things are done,” never considering whether they were right, until he did—had an adult like Kishward done the same, he might have been beyond saving. Fortunately, he’s not. He’s a good ally.

The Truth Is Revealed

“Something Vimes had learned as a young guard drifted up from memory. If you have to look along the shaft of an arrow from the wrong end, if a man has you entirely at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you’re going to die. So they’ll talk. They’ll gloat.

They’ll watch you squirm. They’ll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar.

So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word.”
― Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

I loved when Silvermask walked up to Arslan. It was immediately clear that he didn’t just want to kill his cousin. He wanted to torture him. He wanted to make him squirm. He wanted him to know that he was going to die, and what’s more, he wanted Arslan to know why he was going to die (saying that he knew Peshawar Citadel like the back of his hand, telling Arslan to blame his father, etc). Silvermask has been increasingly loose at the lips about his heritage, which makes perfect sense to me. He’s like a man who has slept with a beautiful woman—he wants everybody to know, no matter how unwise that might be.

But his enraged meditation over how to end Arslan’s life proved once again what kind of man he is. An evil man, to be sure. But also an unwise one; he lets his anger and pride so overpower his good sense that he almost devolves into a villain cliché. And I would call him one, if not for how diligently the story has shown him wanting to tell people of his lineage, and soaking in the unending rage of his misfortune.

But he was unwise. The good man kills (or captures—the good man is not necessarily bloodthirsty, just decisive) with hardly a word because to tarry is to give your enemy a chance to survive. Which is exactly what Arslan did—and he discovered Hermes’ weakness to fire as well, which may come in handy later on. And of course, he has to spill the beans in the end. Now our heroes know: Prince Hermes is alive.

(I liked that he used the reveal as a tactical benefit, using it to sprint past Narsus and Daryun while they were reeling. Silvermask may have been drunk on revenge most of the scene, but he still has some of that tactical mind that so destroyed Andragoras’ army.)

Would that was their only problem. But Bahman’s death reveals what Vahriz’s letter was out. If Hermes’ death would end the royal bloodline of Pars, that means that Arslan does not share that blood. He’s the son of Tahamenay, but not Andragoras, which is why he didn’t even know he was a prince when he was young. Now people in the know have a choice: Support the blood, or support the good man.

I know which one I’d choose. Easy choice.

Looking Ahead – Sindhuran Attack

There was no chance that the vultures would stay away. I’m once again interested in how this story will proceed, because, though we have another cour, it seems like we keep heading into detours … only maybe not. So far nothing has seemed like filler, but there is a certain aimlessness to the plot at present.

By the sound of it, next episode will be a recap. If that’s the case, don’t expect a post this coming Sunday, and meet back here in two weeks for the next new episode. Until then!

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Trouble rousing troops, porous defenses, and barbarians at the gate mean Peshawar isn’t the game changer Arslan was hoping for #arslan 13

Random thoughts:

  • Arslan still thinks Andragoras will listen. For such a thoughtful young man, he still has that one blind spot. For Pars’ sake, it might be better if Andragoras dies in chains, because I can’t imagine that old bastard retiring if he can instead reclaim the throne.

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 save Twitter, The secret to enjoying a long life, Story Review: Mad Max Fury Road, and How to not get butthurt when others insult stories you love.

End Card

June 29, 2015 at 1:46 am
34 comments »
  • June 29, 2015 at 1:59 amKala

    Gieve is so cute when he’s jealous ^^ I ship Gieve & Farangis

  • June 29, 2015 at 2:06 amzztop

    Today’s endcard is by Isayama Hajime, mangaka of Attack on Titan.

    Who’s excited for the upcoming Titan live-action movie?

  • June 29, 2015 at 2:09 amWarriorsHeart

    Great episode!!! The lead up to Arslan’s and Herme’s confrontation was good, but stupid Silver Mask has to let his mouth run instead of achieving anything.

  • June 29, 2015 at 2:43 amYukie

    Although it’s going to be interesting how the others will react to Arslan’s actual lineage, I’m even more interested in how Arslan will react to this news. What will push him to claim the throne now that he’s found out he doesn’t have the “rightful” claim?

    • June 29, 2015 at 4:28 amWorldwideDepp

      The Citizen Backup… Well today, some want a Strong leader. And some want an Leader that care with them.. So, it’s 50/50

    • June 29, 2015 at 1:28 pmStilts

      I think he’ll claim it because Lusitania certainly shouldn’t be ruling Pars, Silvermask definitely isn’t good for the country, and because Andragoras—well, actually I think he’ll keep trying to save his father. But I expect Andragoras won’t be able to reclaim the throne, either because he dies beforehand or for some other reason.

      • June 30, 2015 at 6:44 amKaleRylan

        I mostly agree with this, but I also think it’s a matter of momentum at this point. Arslan isn’t the type of person who would randomly take over a country because he’d be a better monarch. He has little to no personal ambition. So if this situation were to occur and he had been a commoner he’s unlikely to become some rebel warlord.

        But at this point, he’s been raised to think of this country as his own, even if he finds out it’s not it’s a bit too late for him to just go ‘oh, well then I’ll be going’ now. So I do think there’s a weird grey area in Arslan’s motivations that may never be filled, or may be ignored, or may in fact end up being a major point of conflict.

        It could end up forcing him to undergo some character development. Because if he DOESN’T have any right to the throne, what is he fighting for. We as modern people of course say ‘because he’s right/they’re evil/whatever,’ but he was fighting to get back his birthright. If it’s not his birthright, he’s just a conqueror, well-meaning or not. And I could see that being a fairly major philosophical conundrum for someone as kind as Arslan.

    • June 29, 2015 at 4:05 pmSaburau

      No one can stop Arslan if he gets Kishward’s oath and his soldiers and, after dealing with the Sindhurans, kicks Lucitanians out of Pars for good.
      And he is still a crown prince, unless Andragoras officially declares he no longer is.

  • June 29, 2015 at 6:15 amVoid

    Would that was their only problem. But Bahman’s death reveals what Vahriz’s letter was out. If Hermes’ death would end the royal bloodline of Pars, that means that Arslan does not share that blood. He’s the son of Tahamenay, but not Andragoras, which is why he didn’t even know he was a prince when he was young. Now people in the know have a choice: Support the blood, or support the good man.

    Actually I am not convinced of this, given how she acted around him. Not having an heir in these societies is tantamount to being a lame duck ruler, where everyone spends your reign preparing for the inevitable civil war to follow. I think Tahamenay and/or Andragoras are sterile, and rather that admit this Andragoras pulled in a commoner to create an heir (one possibly with blood from a fallen branch of the family or from a fallen noble family). It’s probably Tahamenay; given how the show has made a point of painting her as a Helen-like figure, it would be one of those ‘irony of the gods’ sort of twists (or maybe even magic; the price of a spell of absolute beauty or something?).

    • June 29, 2015 at 1:29 pmStilts

      Potentially, but people kept remarking upon how Arslan looked like Tahamenay, but not Andragoras. Granted, that’s not proof; the only thing I’m willing to say for certain is that Arslan is not Andragoras’ biological son. The rest of his lineage isn’t certain, for now.

  • June 29, 2015 at 6:22 amzztop

    The whole thing with Arslan smells of a conspiracy, likely to help reinforce Andragoras’s reign. Although it makes sense for Andragoras not liking Arslan for not being his biological son.

    • June 29, 2015 at 4:13 pmSaburau

      Yeah, like his foster parents got *accidentally* deceased.

  • June 29, 2015 at 8:53 ambelatkuro

    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2013%20-%20Large%2011.jpg
    I ship these two instead of Alfreed with Narsus. Narsus is for Daryun, though Daryun has Arslan. Gah!

    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2013%20-%20Large%2025.jpg
    When I saw Arslan getting up and there was a torch beside him, I knew immediately what he would do. It feels a bit convenient but it did its part to reveal a chink in the armor of the vengeful prince.

    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2013%20-%20Large%20End%20Card.jpg
    Even without the translation, I could still guess that this was Isayama’s art. I feel sad that this looks much better than the art of the latest manga chapters.

    • June 30, 2015 at 6:39 amKaleRylan

      I think people tend to over-think ‘convenience’ in stories. Life is full of chance, and if that chance works in your favor it’s ‘convenient.’

      Obviously there’s a fine line between an actual plot hole/deus ex machina and random chance (which is a major part of life but by nature is impossible in a story where the writer decides all things) but I think people should be a bit forgiving of ‘fortunate coincidences’ in stories. Life is full of them. As long as you have unfortunate coincidences on occasion as well.

  • June 29, 2015 at 10:38 amkittyraider

    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2013%20-%20Large%2004.jpg

    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2013%20-%20Large%2011.jpg

    Awww Elam, Why so jelly?
    Don’t say you want to monopolize Lord Narsus’ love…

    Suddenly, Indian Sindhuran Invasion

    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2013%20-%20Large%2038.jpg

    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2013%20-%20Large%2039.jpg

    I like this, its so rare to see an opportunistic fantasy Indian counterpart, not just some mystical kingdom on the edge of the known world…

    • June 30, 2015 at 6:33 amKaleRylan

      It’s fun to have a fantasy show have other cultures besides Western European or the odd East Asian. That said, it was pretty sudden, though not without military precedent for a third power to attempt to take advantage of political turmoil.

      • June 30, 2015 at 10:04 amSaburau

        Well, you know several years ago Alliance of 3 countries in the East invaded Pars, but ended up getting tricked and sent back home by Narsus. Anyway obviously those countries are always looking for a chance to take Pars at advantage.

  • June 29, 2015 at 6:50 pmPtolemaios00

  • June 29, 2015 at 7:42 pmZhinvu

    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%2013%20-%20Large%2012.jpg

    And Queen Tehamenay is supposed to be the one with the bewitching beauty that brings powerful men to ruin? I’m not sure about that because personally Farangis beats her in beauty hands down. That smile.

    • June 29, 2015 at 10:59 pmStilts

      Can’t it be both?

      • June 30, 2015 at 6:32 amKaleRylan

        I’m with Farangis mostly because the queen has never been anything but cold, though that was true of Farangis til this episode as well. So I’m a late-comer to this party.

      • June 30, 2015 at 6:03 pmZhinvu

        Yeah I guess it can be both too. Sorry, Stilts I’m just more smitten by Farangis more than the Queen really.

  • June 30, 2015 at 6:31 amKaleRylan

    I kind of don’t get why the situation with Hermes creates as much turmoil as it does. I’d have to go re-watch the show, but I’m pretty sure they all know that Andragoras was the younger brother who usurped the throne and yet they followed him. Why would they care that the son of the elder, deposed brother is still alive? They’re loyal to the usurper in the first place.

    Maybe I missed some key. Did they thing the older line died by accident and it was a secret that Andragoras did it to get Tehamenay? Or were they all brought in after the fact?

    I mean I get that having the prince alive means he has a claim, but I don’t get ANDRAGORAS’S troops are so torn/willing to turn sides for him. If Andragoras was so disliked, why was he held in such seemingly high esteem at the beginning?

    Also, has it been confirmed that Arslan isn’t Andragoras’s kid in the show? Bahman just said ‘the rightful line dies with him’ when Hermes escapes. The rightful line just means the elder line. If it was the only line he could have just said ‘the line dies with him.’

    • June 30, 2015 at 9:02 amHoshi

      I think it has a lot to do that no one knew that the first king was secretly killed in order for Andragoras’ to get the throne. They knew he was ill and probably was not going to live very long so in order to cover it up I imagine that fire Andragoras’ created was a way to hide the fact that the first king was killed and also kill Hermes in the process. Kill two birds with one stone. Also they have been giving hints throughout the show that Arslan is obviously not Andragoras’ child. Hell this episode was also another clear example that Dayun uncle knew more than he let on about Arslan parents and shared that information with Bahman, which is why the guy was so torn between his loyalties because its clear that Arslan would make a good ruler and potentially save the kingdom. Meanwhile Hermes has done nothing to prove he would make a good ruler since he has directly caused the death of million of civilians and does not give a shit about the folks who follow him.

      • June 30, 2015 at 9:31 amzztop

        If Hermes was ever kind and gentle, that version of him’s long gone by now…

    • June 30, 2015 at 1:17 pmStilts

      It’s not about being loyal to Osroes or Andragoras or any particular ruler. Most of the troops are loyal to Pars, which manifests in loyalty to Pars’ royal family.

      Take it back to the fire that killed Osroes and burned Hermes. Had Osroes died, his son Hermes would have likely become king, rather than Andragoras. Or even if that wasn’t likely, there would have been contention. Andragoras sought to both kill his older brother and his rival for the throne, thus laying claim to both the throne and Tahamenay. It cleared up all the loose ends, basically … had he killed Hermes as he intended, at least.

      For the servants of Pars, I’m sure many suspected that this convenient fire was Andragoras’ doing. But they’re loyal to the Pars royal family, and with the other scions of that family dead, that meant they took their orders from Andragoras. By the way, this kind of thing was not at all uncommon among royal families of ancient times.

      Where things get tricky is when there are competing claims, like with Hermes and Arslan. In truth, Hermes has the better claim to the throne—he’s older, and he carries the actual blood of the Pars royal family, whereas Arslan does not (not 100% confirmed, but it pretty much is). Yet Arslan is the better potential ruler, which provides the conundrum for the servants of Pars. Do they back the royal family, or the young man who would make a much better king?

      That’s what keeps it from being an easy choice. If both Hermes and Arslan carried the royal blood of Pars, it would be easier for high-ranked people to rally under Arslan, because when competing claims are all but equal, they would pick the one they’d rather see as king.

      • June 30, 2015 at 5:56 pmZhinvu

        All of a sudden Kharlan’s actions made sense. For him, he wasn’t betraying Pars but simply returning power to the rightful heir. It’s funny how you can actually see Arslan Senki two from 2 viewpoints: W

      • June 30, 2015 at 6:01 pmZhinvu

        All of a sudden Kharlan’s actions made sense. For him, he wasn’t betraying Pars but simply returning power to the rightful heir. It’s funny how you can actually see Arslan Senki from two viewpoints: With Arslan as the main character, the show is a story of a righteous prince’s quest to save his kingdom from an evil force. On the other hand, if Hermes was the main character it’s a story of an anti-hero’s revenge against a kingdom that took everything from him, and you’d think he has every right to be as ruthless as he is now.

      • June 30, 2015 at 11:00 pmKaleRylan

        Again, I could be forgetting something, but I though we learned about Andragoras usurping the throne for Tahamenay’s sake from the Lusitanians, which I assumed meant that this was a known fact.

        I’m well aware of how dynastic politics can and did play out, my point is that from my understanding this was all already known. Everyone knew Andragoras killed his brother to steal his wife and, if they weren’t exactly thrilled about it, they still went along with it.

        And despite being a not nice person in the slightest, it wasn’t presented as though these people were particularly displeased with Andragoras as their king.

        And to take slight issue with Stilts’s interpretation of ‘real’ dynastic politics, the reason they were so muddy is not simply that competing claims messed things up, but because retainers were NOT perfect bastions of loyalty who followed the one with the best claim and became confused if two contenders with equal claims appeared. They were people with agendas and opinions and oftentimes hopes of manipulating a grateful monarch to support their own interests if they could help them win the throne.

        That’s part of the issue here. In general, Pars’s retainers are all treated like absolute paragons (even Kharlan is just a different kind of paragon). I guess the key is who KNEW that Andragoras had usurped the throne? It seemed to me like everyone did and was over it and then suddenly they weren’t. But maybe the Lusitanians only knew because Hermes told them? That’s not how I took the scene but it would make the story make more sense.

      • June 30, 2015 at 11:49 pmStilts

        I never meant to say that subjects only looked at whether someone had a better claim and if they liked him (even if it accidentally came out like that). Just a few episodes we had the lord of a castle trying to use Arslan for his own benefit, after all. I guess the story just isn’t as interested in dealing with more than a certain measure of that murkiness.

        I don’t think hardly anyone knows that Andragoras killed Osroes and tried to kill Hermes. Most people seem to suspect, certainly—the coincidence is too great to not suspect the one who benefited the most. But unless they could prove something, it’s all the way the game is played. And it might not matter even if they could.

  • June 30, 2015 at 8:47 amgrayne

    another episode of arslan being a girly pansy.. at least put up a bit more of a fight

    • June 30, 2015 at 11:03 amHunter-Wolf

      Considering the situation and how wimpy Arslan was at the start of the series he did put up quite a fight, don’t forget he is still a novice in sword fighting and this guy (known to be ruthless and powerful enough to kill Vahriz with a single strike) basically ambushed him alone inside what he thought to be a safe impenetrable place

  • June 30, 2015 at 9:21 amzztop

    Next week’s Arslan is a recap episode.

  • July 2, 2015 at 7:25 amtreize

    Currently the rightful ruler of Pars is Innocentis VII, by right of conquest. Hermes is the rightful heir by blood but he needs to take the throne from the Lusitanians. Arslan is just the bastard son of Andragoras the usurper. His claim is the weakest one.