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Arslan Senki – 14

OP2 Sequence

OP2: 「渦と渦」 (Uzu to Uzu) by NICO Touches the Walls

「異国の王子」 (Ikoku no Ouji)
“The Foreign Prince”

Ignore the principles of war at your own peril. Assume you know what Arslan’s group will do at your misfortune. But most of all, try to out-drink Farangis at your doom. Poor one out for Gieve, gents.

Silvermask’s Withdrawal

A short note on our friendly rightful heir to the throne, Silermask. At first I found it puzzling that he would withdraw when he had a golden opportunity to sneak back in and kill Arslan (though it would of course be natural to assume Arslan would have a strong guard at all times now). But it actually makes sense. Arslan was certainly rattled by Bahman’s death, but Hermes was as well. It would be like if Arslan were to have accidentally killed Vahriz. For the extremely flappable Hermes to be shaken up by the death of one of the men who helped raise him, a man he himself killed, and who died protecting the rival Hermes sought to slay—yeah. I can see that messing him up a bit.

The Three Principles of War

Pars’ three principles of war were like something out of the Art of War. It was the mention of heaven that first brought this to mind (the Art of War is big on referring to heaven and earth, at least in the translations I’ve read), but the lessons themself were right out of there as well. First: Heaven’s time. Weather. We, of course, have the advantage of knowing full well that invading Russia in the winter is unwise (and related mishaps), but it’s no surprise that an Indian—sorry, Sindhuran prince like Rajendra (Toriumi Kousuke), especially one as foolhardy as he is, wouldn’t pay heed to it.

Next: Terrain’s advantage. Knowing the lay of the land. It’s the lazy strategist depends on main strength—and true, to quote The Order of the Stick’s Xykon, “In any battle, there’s always a level of force against which no tactics can succeed.” But this wasn’t one of them, my friends! Using their knowledge of the terrain, Narsus was able to flank the Sindhuran army no less than three times, and knock them off balance—even with a numbers disadvantage of 1-to-5.

Third: People’s harmony. Morale. One of the more underrated elements, I feel. When the banners of Gadevi appeared, I knew Narsus’ trickery had struck again, and when we saw Alfreed and Elam inside the enemy army, it was already over. They fell for everything Narsus planned, hook, line, and sinker.

I don’t feel like I’m getting my excitement across about how great this battle was. It was awesome! The whole thing was a big long stream of “keikaku doori,” and I was damn near cackling along with Narsus’ stratagems. And it was all capped off not by Daryun and Narsus capturing the prince, nor even Farangis (as I assumed when his horse was felled by an arrow), but Alfreed. I’m glad she apparently got a promotion to a full member of Arslan’s troupe. Well deserved.

Wine Diplomacy

It’s exactly like Arslan to speak softly, especially when he has Daryun and Narsus to carry the big stick. For the longest time at the banquet, I was wondering whether their goal was to ply Rajendra with wine, to get him drunk and to negotiate with him then. And perhaps that helped, though he sobered up admirably when it came time to do business. Mostly I just enjoyed how Farangis interceded, probably to keep Arslan from getting too drunk to do his part, and Gieve, all jealous, had to butt in. Lesson learned, gentlemen: Don’t try to out-drink Farangis. She will destroy you.

Related: I want to drink with Farangis now. Is it bad that all my favorite anime characters are older women who like to drink? Moving on.

Their plan can go largely without comment. Classic Narsus! I did appreciate that they thought far enough ahead to make their alliance a fait accompli, by announcing it before Rajendra agreed. That changed the calculus, making him a traitor (unless he wins), so he was forced to come along. I can’t help but think he might not be happy about being forced into this, though. They still need him to return the favor.

Looking Ahead – Spoiler OP Sinhuran Ally

I was initially annoyed that the OP and ED spoiled the fact that a Sindhuran would be joining Arslan’s gang. But now I’m not, because the crucial question remains: Which brother will ascend to the throne? Jaswant (Hatano Wataru) works for Gadevi right now, or rather, his Grand Vizier Mahendra, but will that be how things remain? We know at least one Sindhuran will end up helping Arslan, but that’s small potatoes. Us anime-only watchers still don’t know shit other than that.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The three principles of war lead to wine diplomacy, which lead to the march on a new capital. What an awesome episode! #arslan 14

Random thoughts:

  • Of course Farangis is the only one who gets a costume change. Though granted, it is winter, and her old one would be chilly. I like that Kishward is going to be joining Arslan’s party as well. I like that guy a lot.
  • The frozen lake bit was perhaps overkill, a bit much in the legend that is Narsus. It was saved by my realization that, unlike how such things usually work in fiction, not everyone who was on the cracked ice immediately died. It just disrupted their army, which was the point more than anything.
  • Despite their frenemy vibes, it looks like the OP is shipping Alfreed with Narsus, and Elam with Arslan. Make of that what you will, you crazy kids.

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.

 

ED2 Sequence

ED2: 「One Light」by Kalafina

Preview

End Card

July 12, 2015 at 11:28 pm
33 comments »
  • July 12, 2015 at 11:47 pmSilentCid

    She can really drink everyone under the table. I wonder what they did at the temple she was in…

  • July 13, 2015 at 12:04 amSaburau

    Serica, which Narsus referred is actually China, or a country based on ancient China. So it is basically Art of War.

    • July 13, 2015 at 12:28 amDene323

      Can confirm. Actually Heaven’s Time (天时), Terrain’s Advantage (地利),People’s Harmony (人和)are the three principles of war first mentioned in the work of Mencius (372 – 289 BC), a Confucius master around the same time of Sun Tzu. These concepts are hugely influential in East Asian military learning throughout history.

    • July 13, 2015 at 10:42 amStilts

      Ahhh, thanks for confirming that. It was good that they brought forth the idea well enough that I didn’t need to have it explicitly stated that Serica = China to get the Art of War flavor. Though it wouldn’t have mattered either way. ‘Twas awesome :D

  • July 13, 2015 at 12:35 amQ

    ‘Heaven’s time, Earth’s advantage and People’s Harmony’ is a literal translation of the Chinese idiom ‘天时地利人和’ from Sun Bin’s (not the same as Sun Tzu) Art of War, which in turn is a shortening or reinterpretation of the phrase ‘天时不如地利,地利不如人和’ (An advantageous time pales in comparison to an advantageous terrain; an advantageous terrain pales in comparison to harmony among the people) credited to Mengzi (Mencius), which suggests that, rather than being underrated, this was considered the most crucial of the three principles, and IMO, rightly so. Nothing destroys an army quite like internal strife; the downfalls of so many great empires in history were due to succession disputes and infighting.

    Pretty good episode. It’s interesting that rather than Rajendran, it is Jaswant who is portrayed alongside the protagonists in the OP and ED. Doesn’t bode well for Raj!

    • July 13, 2015 at 6:36 amMistic

      Interestingly, the episode seemed to follow the longer, original phrase to the letter. Narsus got the upper hand with the use of weather and terrain, but the Sindhuran prince managed to reorganize his people and push the Parsians back thanks to their sheer advantage in numbers. It was only after Narsus used his last card that victory was assured.

      As Stilts, I also liked that the frozen river didn’t swallow the whole enemy army.

  • July 13, 2015 at 1:43 amzztop

    Today’s endcard is by Mashima Hiro, Fairy Tail’s mangaka.

    • July 17, 2015 at 3:18 amShrubbery

      I thought I knew the style, it reminded me very much of Fairy Tail indeed. Nice catch

  • July 13, 2015 at 2:18 amZhinvu

    Actually I thought that Sindhuran in the OP and ED was Rajendra with a change of clothes, until Jaswant was shown in the after-credits. And I pretty much dig the new ED by Kalafina, though I kind of miss Aoi Eir’s previous ending song.

    Anyways seeing Narsus’s tactics in action never gets old. However, I was partially worried that Elam and Alfreed were actually among the enemy ranks considering that they’d too have to defend themselves from the volley of arrows from the fake Gadevi army. I’ll just have to assume that Narsus trusts that they can take care of themselves. I also felt a little sorry for Rajendra’s army. Sure their prince was captured but he was still able to enjoy a banquet while a number of them was killed in that night battle, not to mention they were exhausted from marching who knows how long into enemy territory. But then again they were asking for it since they were the invaders. I guess some loss of lives was the price to pay so the alliance can be formed, and since this was a forced alliance I still can’t trust Rajendra at the moment.

    Also this was already brought up in forums but Arslan in that end card seriously reminds me of Vivi from One-Piece. I wonder if Mashiro-sensei used blue hair on purpose to make Arslan look like Vivi.

    • July 13, 2015 at 2:19 amZhinvu

      Oops I meant Mashima-sensei.

    • July 13, 2015 at 8:42 amKrono

      Considering that to the best of our knowledge, Mashima doesn’t read One Piece (or anything current in Weekly Shounen Jump for that matter), the answer is almost certainly no. He likely used as reference one of the images like http://i.imgur.com/4JX0Q4Z.jpg where Arlan’s hair has a blue/white cast to it.

      • July 14, 2015 at 8:32 pmZhinvu

        If that’s the case yeah it’s probably just a coincidence Arslan looks like Vivi. That’s interesting too. I didn’t know Mashima wasn’t a Jump reader, considering his art style reminds me of One-Piece and from what I heard Akira Toriyama was one of his inspirations for drawing manga.

    • July 13, 2015 at 10:52 amStilts

      I also thought that the Sindhuran could have been Rajendra (though I doubted it, since he lacked the forehead tattoo, lip ring, general facial shape, and general expression … so yeah, that thought didn’t stick around long). Then I thought it could be Gadevi, until we saw him. Now I know who it is, but have no idea how we’ll get to him being on their team. Fun!

      Also x2: I was both worried and not surprised that Alfreed and Elam infiltrated to spread dissent. Worried that they might get shot, but they probably positioned themselves so as to minimize that chance. They were more likely to get stabbed by a Sindhuran who figured them out, tbh.

      • July 14, 2015 at 8:54 pmZhinvu

        Nice observation about Alfreed and Elam being possibly discovered by the the soldiers as not one of them. It’s also very possible they wouldn’t be exposed considering their situation: the Sindhurans were tired, in unknown territory, surrounded from nearly all sides, and we’re under the impression they were being attacked by Prince Gadevi. I doubt that the soldiers would stop and think if these kids within their ranks were really one of them while they were slowly being killed off. Narsus read them too easy, that brilliantly scary guy.

  • July 13, 2015 at 7:36 amAP

    I wonder why they left the elephant in the room out there: nobody seems to really talk about the revelation from Episode 13, you’d think that Daryun and Narsus would at least discuss it briefly on the side for a couple of minutes. Given the nature of the state, even if everyone is prepared to swear allegiance to Arslan personally, and not merely because of his blood, you’d think its something they would want to investigate a bit.

    • July 13, 2015 at 7:56 amMistic

      They noticed that Arslan was shaken and that he didn’t want to talk about what happened before yet, so I guess they wanted to let him think things through on his own. Also, priorities. If the Sindhuran army conquers the territory, any reveal about Arlsan’s and Hermes’ heritage won’t matter anything.

    • July 13, 2015 at 10:56 amStilts

      Most of Arslan’s party are loyal to Arslan himself. Daryun, Narsus, Farangis … even Gieve seems to think better of Arslan than he does of other nobles. So for them, the matter of his claim to a throne is a problem they have to get around, not something to be overly worried about.

      But yeah, it’s mostly like Mistic said. Priorities. When there’s an army howling at the gates, you leave the existential questions to the side and go kick some athroats in.

  • July 13, 2015 at 8:07 amKaleRylan

    I like that Arslan’s group is growing. First off, the new characters are fun, but second and more importantly, they’re beginning to establish it as more than simply an RPG style band of true companions. It’s becoming more about people being pulled into Arslan’s orbit. And that’s an important quality to establish when you’re trying to present a fictional monarch.

    It’s actually kind of an old-school ‘divine right to rule’ sort of thing, but in fictional monarchs you want to believe there’s some sort of magnetic quality that draws people to them, forces them to follow. We’re starting to see this with Arslan and I approve of that.

    • July 13, 2015 at 10:58 amStilts

      Not forces them to follow. Makes them choose, of their own free will, to follow. Though in some cases it’s other players that attract people to the party (Farangis for Gieve, Narsus for Elam and Alfreed, etc).

      • July 13, 2015 at 11:07 amKaleRylan

        That’s not really what I’m talking about. I mean when we imagine the ideal monarch, we imagine someone whose charisma is like gravity. Choice or not is just semantics. It’s the idea that they compel loyalty simply by being deserving of it. And we’re starting to get that sense with Arslan which I enjoy.

        Because Rajendra very much did not choose.

      • July 13, 2015 at 2:10 pmStilts

        I would argue that choice is not a semantic issue, but I don’t much feel like arguing, so agree to disagree.

        I wouldn’t characterize Rajendra as one who is following Arslan, though. He’s a foreign monarch, and an ostensible equal of Arslan’s. He’s not someone who could ever be a follower in Arslan’s party. Sure, he may end his aid, but that’s different than following, much less being loyal.

  • July 13, 2015 at 10:03 amYukie

    I loved the new OP and ED.Like Daryun said, it is true that Arslan will need more than kindness to become a great king, but the fact that Narsus rebutted, I can’t help but feel that there’s actually a possibility for Arslan to reign w/ kindness if he keeps the great tactician around (along w/ Daryun).

  • July 13, 2015 at 10:59 amkittyraider

    Congratulations OP, you just spoil Jaswant would become one of Arslan’s follower to the viewers…

    http://randomc.net/image/Arslan%20Senki/Arslan%20Senki%20-%20OP2%20-%20Large%2006.jpg

    • July 13, 2015 at 11:08 amKaleRylan

      eh, par for the course with anime. More often the not is how stuff gets to the form shown in the opening rather than a true mystery.

      • July 13, 2015 at 11:09 amKaleRylan

        wow, brain skip. The sentence should be “more often than not the question is…’ missed like 3 words and misspelled a few others.

    • July 13, 2015 at 11:18 amkittyraider

      …Narsus, Oh You magnificent bastard, You…

      In one fell swoop, He raises the position of Arslan into a great merciful prince, use it as carrot to Rajendra to accept the alliance, in the same time blackmailing him as the stick; In addition, this secures Pars’ eastern borders and a potential help on the future war for driving the Lusitanians out.

      I can’t stress enough how much is his influence at molding Arslan to be a King…which so far to his liking…

      But, Why Hirmiz retreated back to Ecbatana, when he can attempt to assassinate Arslan once more with more help, considering most of Arslan’s trusted and Army are away, leaving only a small garrison with Kishward at command? Troubles in back in the Capital, perhaps? Slaves rebelling because they still haven’t got the freedom promised? or another strife between the leaders of Lusitania? I mean, this is a great opportunity to take.

      • July 13, 2015 at 1:04 pmMistic

        I, however, fear that Narsus’ Zhuge Liang tendencies might be overlooked by the narrative. His influence maybe is not always the best.

        Let’s see it from this point of view: Arslan and company are marching into another country to start a civil war and put their own candidate on the throne over the rightful heir. That way they can get troops to fight against… a candidate for the Parsian throne backed by an army of foreign invaders.

      • July 13, 2015 at 2:12 pmStilts

        @ kittyraider

        I mention why I thought Hermes retreated rather than try to assassinate Arslan again in the post itself. It’s the first section, check it out.

  • July 13, 2015 at 2:04 pmKling_Klang

    With all due respect to the Art of War, it seems to me that 1) Narsus’s tactics are unnecessarily complicated, and 2) There is no way that they would be able coordinate all of those attacks by different groups in the middle of a 60,000 man battle in the middle of the night.

    • July 13, 2015 at 2:20 pmStilts

      Complicated? To a point. More complicated than a head-on battle, certainly. But unnecessary? Certainly not. His tactics are a force multiplier—smart tactics are exactly how smaller armies are able to defeat larger armies, as both the Art of War and many military tacticians have proven. Napoleon comes to mind as someone who repeatedly used advanced tactics to repeatedly stomp his enemies.

      And no way they could have coordinated? You lack imagination, my friend! Once again, I’m not saying it’s easy, but no way? No possible way? All the elements are there! They don’t even need anything fancy. Only the frozen lake was too cheeky by half, on the story’s part. The rest was simple enough. Attack, draw them into battle on terrain of your choosing, flank them, flank them again, and apply pressure until hey break.

  • July 13, 2015 at 9:11 pmReikakou

    I’m actually more concerned as to where the survivng Sindhuran forces were when their captured Prince was having a banquet with Arslan. Did they allow them to set camp just outside the citadel? Did the citadel actually provided some shelter or at least rations for the frenemy/ally army while the banquet was ongoing?

    It’s kinda hard to travel to a frenemy capital when you know that your frenemy’s army escorting yours still has the number advantage and there’s probably some ill-will lingering around knowing that you did a number of things to them in your own territory. Hopefully, Narsus knows what his doing. There’s a lot ways for this “state visit” can go wrong.

    Also, if Narsus and Daryun were confident to leave Arslan in the citadel alone knowing that Hermes might try to kill him again means they probably made some preparations to thwart it and even capture Hermes. And Hermes doesn’t want to take any chances. It pays that Hermes knows Narsus’s reputation which Narsus probably took advantage.

    Hermes would have probably sneaked in again if Daryun was left behind as it means that their not confident enough with their own defenses for Daryun to personally see to it. But it casted a shadow of doubt in Hermes when he saw all of Arslan’s trusted men left Arslan alone telegraphing somehow that their confident with whatever defenses or trapped that they’ve laid down for him within the citadel. Damn epic mind games.

    Or it could be what Stilts said. That Hermes was still shaken for killing his very own teacher.

  • July 15, 2015 at 11:45 amewok40k

    Regarding the alliance with Sidhurans, it is a risque move by the Narsus, but after securing his second front he will be able to get concentrated on Lusitanian troops entrenched in Ecbatana. Even he can’t afford the risk of a 2-front war…
    Thats where the friendly treatment of captured prince comes in. By not only treating him nice but helping him rise to throne, they will create an indebted ally, who will be too busy cementing his grip on power to try and backstab Arslan.

  • July 16, 2015 at 3:13 pmSatsuki

    Gieve’s jealousy is just so cuteee