「シンドゥラの黒豹」 (Shindoura no Kurohyou)
“The Black Leopard of Sindhura”

Can Arslan continue to do what Andragoras could not?


This episode was rife with traitors, but the only man who was explicitly called as much was the only one who wasn’t. Take Rajendra—he’s currently a traitor against all of Sindhura, though his is a treachery that can be washed away with victory. The same went for Gauvin & Taara, who could have elected to betray Sindhura (and Gadevi) in the hopes that Rajendra would win—though they did not, and ended up paying for their loyalty. And of course, there’s Rajendra’s attempted betrayal of Arslan by splitting their forces, though that was so inevitable as to be utterly unsurprising.

Actually, let’s talk about that one. I like how everyone rightly sniffed out the betrayal, and counseled against splitting their forces. That shows a good grasp of human nature and an average grasp of tactical theory. Once again, Narsus is leagues ahead. His advice was the right choice, because it’s the one that Rajendra won’t expect. That is, instead of A) splitting their forces in ignorance of Rajendra’s planned betrayal, and B) refusing to split forces for fear of said betrayal, they instead chose C), splitting up in full knowledge of Rajendra’s planned betrayal, while setting plans into motion to counteract it. Rather than falling into the trap or backing away like frightened animals, Narsus’ path is to play along with the trap in order to lure their enemy in, and then defeat him utterly. It’s the same thing he does with his Trojan supply convoy. Layers within layers within layers.

The Loyal Betrayer

In contrast to all these actual traitors, Jaswant, though the only one actually called a traitor, isn’t really one. Sure, he attempted to lead the Parsians into a trap, but that’s because he was never on their side in the first place. Less a traitor and more a double agent, he was always loyal to Mahendra.

The more twists and turns we go through with this guy, the more I wonder how he’ll end up on Arslan’s side. He obviously respects, and is more than a little confused by, Arslan, after the prince spared his life for his loyalty to his adopted father. But his loyalty seems such that I can’t imagine him abandoning Mahendra, unless the Grand Vizier abandons him first. Perhaps that’s what will happen. Alternately, perhaps neither Gadevi or Rajendra will take the throne, and a third son(?), or even Mahendra himself, will ascend instead. This intrigue too has layers within layers. That, plus the drugged-up war elephants who are on their way, have me enjoying with Sindhuran campaign.

His Blood Doesn’t Matter

For those who still suspect otherwise, further proof: Narsus and Daryun both suspect that Arslan isn’t the son of Andragoras, as does Arslan himself. The beautiful thing is that, just like I suspected, they don’t care. Compared especially to the treacherous rage-monster that Hermes (Silvermask) has become, Arslan is the best choice for Pars. Beyond that, there’s little else to say, save what Daryun said at just the right time. With friends like that, Arslan is a lucky future king.

Looking Ahead – Operation Dumbo Stomp

“That only counts as one!”

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Rajendra, Mahendra, Jaswant, & Narsus–who’s the better duplicitous bastard. Easy answer. Always bet on Narsus #arslan 15

Random thoughts:

  • Gieve was undoubtedly the star of this episode, from delighting all the Sindhuran ladies to holding back against Jaswant, only to kick his butt later on. Just don’t act like he does with Farangis, lads. It’s clear she isn’t interested. Gieve only gets away with it because it’s fiction, and because it’s funny.
  • Even Narsus thinks Arslan was being too soft. He probably is. But to reward loyal service, even if it’s an enemy’s service to your enemy … that’s not so bad. Pars could use a king like that for once, as well.

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: If you find yourself using buzzwords, STOP, How to save Twitter, The secret to enjoying a long life, and Story Review: Mad Max Fury Road.




  1. Another great episode. I love the introduction of Jaswant and what kind of man he is. And I think what Arslan did for him will eventually be one of the seeds that will make him join Arslan’s side.

    Narsus is the best, Andragoras should be shot for having thrown him away. He even realized that Jaswant was a spy, even if the guy didn’t really give himself away that much.

    Sigh, I really wish Alfreed and Elam would just get together already, they can’t make it any more obvious if Elam just angrily kissed her out of nowhere while they were making Narsus’ dinner. lol :p

    As for Arslan, he’s been holding all this pain inside in regards to everything he’s learned about his parentage. And Daryun does come at the right time to reassure him that whatever happens, he’ll stick with him. He’s probably the best big brother/servant a prince could ask for.

    As for what could be the truth behind his parentage? I don’t know. They are pretty sure Tahamenay is the mother, but she’s been distant from him. Why would Andragoras be okay with naming a bastard as his heir rather than just having his own child with Tahamenay? And Arslan can’t be just some random bastard either. And why did they hide him away for so long? If they were trying to hid his parentage, waiting only a few months at most would be enough to cover up if the birth was a little early or late. But they had him away until he became an adolescent. It’s a strange situation indeed.

    1. At this point, nobody can be sure about Arslan’s parentage. Not just about his father, but also about his mother.
      What we have right now is only speculations and assumptions.

      1. In this case, I’d apply occam’s razor: The simplest answer is usually best. Add in a little storytelling savvy, and the answer becomes pretty obvious.

        It has been heavily insinuated that Arslan isn’t Andragoras’ son. Both from Vahriz’s letter and words, and because Arslan doesn’t look a damn thing like the king. However, it has been noted that Arslan looks like Tahamenay. It’s also logical to assume that Arslan is the son of ONE of them, otherwise why pick him?

        That’s more of an assumption though. In the real world, it would be more debatable, but conservation of detail makes me strongly suspect that people wouldn’t have remarked about how much Arslan takes after his mother if that wasn’t important. As a red herring, that would be epic-level dickishness, lol

        Combine those, and he’s likely Tahamenay’s son, not Andragoras’. As for why he became the crown prince? Likely because Andragoras is sterile or otherwise unable to have kids. Once that became clear, they dredged up the bastard child and claimed him as their son, to avoid the kingdom disintegrating upon Andragoras’ death.

        Also, him being neither the king or queen’s son would be narratively muddy, though perhaps that’s getting too meta again, haha

  2. Gieve x Farangis were funny enough first couple of episodes, but that has been overshadowed by Alfreedo and Elam vying for attention of Narsus!
    “Some traps are meant to be sprung” – and, accordingly, turning enemy trap into counter-trap. Narsus definitely is master of this as showed wthfake supply train packed full of archers (plus Farangis!)
    I eagerly await to see how Narsus will deal with the elephants, because I am 100% sure he has not only studied history of conflicts involving them, but has devised a way to counteract them.
    Also, I am waiting to see what faction will end up on top of the Sindhuran civil war – either of the 2 princes, or maybe the Vizier will make his move for the throne? Whoever it will be, I bet Narsus will play the kingmaker for his own goals…

  3. Today’s endcard features text by NisiOisin, light novel author and creator of the Monogatari series. Titled “The Knowledge Of Appreciating Art”, the text in the blue and red boxes translate as follows.

    Blue box:
    Show Spoiler ▼

    Red box:
    Show Spoiler ▼

  4. For me, the real hero of this episode was Jaswant. As Stilts says, he’s a loyal Sindhuran. He’s trying to stop an ambitious usurper and a foreign invading army, almost on his own, surrounded by enemies. That’s brave.

    On the other hand, I’m worried about the lack of self-consciousness from the Parsian side. Especially from Arslan. After listening to Jaswant, doesn’t he realize that they have become the Lusitanians? Invading another country, supporting an ambitious usurper, killing soldiers that were fighting to defend their country and taking their castles… No, he was only moved by Jaswant’s “I didn’t know my parents” part.

    1. You’ve got to understand why they had to “invade” Sindhura, instead of just repelling Rajendra’s force.
      Arslan and his company was about to move tens of thousand of soldiers out of Peshawar to fight back against Lucitanians. But do you remember why they said weren’t those forces utilized when Lucitanians came in? Because there are 3 potential invaders in the East of Pars, all very dangerous ones, and they would be very happy to take Peshawar and Eastern side of Pars if Arslan’s soldiers vacates the citadel. Narsus is of course fully aware of that, and thought they better have at least one ally in the East, no matter how bleak that alliance could be, given Rajendra’s personality. And say, Rajendra wins and becomes a king, then what happens? First and foremost, he has to stabilize his country. That process could take months, or even a year or two, so he probably wouldn’t be interested in ditching the alliance and invading Pars, at least for a while.
      That’s my guess.

      1. I understand the need and it’s a pretty sensible and advantageous move. I’d suggest the same in Arslan’s situation. What I’m worried about is the narrative. I don’t mind if they fight “For Parsia!” and do whatever it takes; but please, don’t try to paint it as if they are fighting “For Great Justice!” when they are not.

        This series reminds me a lot of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, for good and bad. One of the most common criticisms about it is the character shilling of Liu Bei, a leader who is claimed to fight “For Benevolence!” and considered the best hope for China… but once you start analyzing his actions, he’s no better or worse than the ambitious Cao Cao or the family-oriented Sun Quan.

      2. At the very least they don’t think they are doing the right thing for everyone, unlike most Lucitanians. Most Lucitanians truly believe they are doing the right thing when they do genocide. Arslan and his friends only care about, and are supposed to be responsible for the country of Pars and its people. They would try almost anything to save their country and its people. And this expedition is one of the ways how they defend their country. At least they believe so.

        And they are not really invading Sindhura, but helping out one side of the civil war. Gahdevi would say he was born first, so he has the right to get throned. Rajendra disagrees. He thought his older brother was not good enough to have the crown, but he was. It’s a classic type of domestic warfare, and you can’t really say which side is more right.
        Arslan’s friends don’t care much about blood linage when it comes to who should get throned, so naturally would care much less about who was born first.

      3. In this case, I agree with Saburau. I don’t think Arslan and his crew give a damn about who is more righteous, them or the Lusitanians. They just want to retake their country and drive the invaders out. It’s not a matter of good guys or bad guys, to them. It’s their guys vs the other guys.

        To put another way: There are no good guys. There are only bad guys. Some of the bad guys are just on their side.

    2. The concept of someone who does not have a right to conquest but who really is the best by far for the job is one of Dr. Yoshiki Tanaka’s major concepts both in this and the masterpiece “Legend of the Galactic Heroes’s” with Reinhard. Reinhard even states to others that he has no right to try to overthrow the Emperor and become Emperor himself even though Reinhard will clearly have “The Great” added to his title if he succeeds for all the wonderful things he will do for his people. Same here Arslan clearly will be the best ruler even if he has no right for the job. DR. Tanaka loves to make you very conflicted over what is really right in just and leaving the question open. The French really love Napoleon even though he had no right to take power for all the reforms he did. Laffeate yes the same one from the American revolution could have take power instead but refused because of his democratic principles is not much respected in France I hear probably because the chaos of the Revolution needed to be ended.

      I’m one of many who consider “Legend of the Galactic Heroes’s” anime’s War and Peace. And unbelievably it is actually being licensed here now even though it’ a 90’s show with 162 episodes and 4 movies, if your curious watch Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Overture to a New War first to see if you like it before the series it replaces episodes one and two way better. Arian Senki is more a classic adventure tale. Legends is more grand strategy with Admirals making up most of the important characters although there are many bloody axe fights (it does make sense in the story) along with the million’s dead star fleet fights.

      Stilts if you hear the remake of “Legends of the Galactic Heroes’s is being faithful to the books you must kill to blog it.

      1. Ah, yes, that series is great. It takes its time to explore the setting, and its values, and its philosophies, so it’s the one of the few cases I can accept without problems the “Imperial nostalgia” style.

        “Imperial nostalgia style” is when empires are presented as the most powerful and cooler faction, and a good choice of government as long as the “right” person is in charge, while democracies are either corrupt or incompetent, or both, despite the efforts of some good samaritans.

        I’m sure everyone can remember instantly two or three anime series that follow this style. It’s especially common in the mecha genre.

      2. Imperial nostalgia-style. I’d never thought of it like that, but it fits.

        Reminds me of the old Churchill quote: “Democ­racy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” A dictatorship would ideal, provided you have a superb leader. The problem lies when you remember that not every monarch will be a Marcus Aurelius, and that some will be a Caligula. Put another way: Every country that turns to autocracy, they hope they get a government like China’s, not one like Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. The fun thing is that the latter is more likely, and the former isn’t all that great.

        I’ve heard good things about Legends of the Galactic Heroes. If I ever find myself with several weeks to burn (note: It’ll never happen), maybe I’ll pick it up! XD

      3. It’s a fascinating conceit, though the series has to go through some fairly rigorous hoops to make it work. First being the idea that democratic governments would never do anything to stop corruption even if that corruption was just everywhere and well known. The leaders of the democratic government in LoGH are just ludicrously evil and incompetent.

        To go to the autocracy vs democracy thing. I’ve never felt that absolute power makes it more likely for people to be evil (maybe a little). Personally I feel that much power simply makes it more likely for people to be extreme in one form or another. Democracy mitigates that and most leaves you with normal people. Confused, contradictory, self-absorbed, well-meaning normal people. You’re probably not going to get a mass-murdering dictator cause no one has enough power, but you’re unlikely to get a saint either cause everything is too bureaucratic and political for anyone to hold off the cynicism.

        Arslan is an interesting case that I’d say doesn’t go quite as far as Legend of Galactic Heroes in making a political point, though obviously it has shades of one. Given the situation they’re involved in, they could simply NOT TELL ANYONE that Arslan isn’t actually in line for the throne. No one would know since that lie is already in place. And it’s not like Hermes represents a huge threat on the legitimacy front since he already betrayed and attacked Pars, allowing it to be conquered. The only way Hermes’ claim goes through is if he wins the war, and once he’s won the war who cares anyway because the right of conquest seals the deal. Arslan’s parentage is a fascinating story element but I’d say the show overstates its political implications (at least above and beyond the simple matter of to the victor go the spoils).

      4. To this interesting discussion of autocracy vs democracy, I must add that it might have different connotations in Japan than in other countries. After all, they are officially an empire and they were in the past a militaristic and expansionist power… until they were stopped in WWII and nuked by a democratic country which, oh the irony, is the current global superpower. I wonder if there’s a bit of “that shouldn’t have happened according to our historiography!” in that trend.

        That would explain its popularity in anime and Japanese video games, even if “Imperial nostalgia” style is not unheard of in other media. Bonus points if the Empire in question is vaguely German.

      5. Side note the nuclear attacks on Japan have made most outside of Japan forget that we did way worse to Japan, having learned how to start firestorms like in Dresden, we incinerated many Japanese cites before the atomic attacks. More people in Tokyo died 100,000 plus in one attack than either atomic attacks and the two atomic targets would have already been incinerated by the atomic attack time except we saved them to demonstrate the bomb. Not using atomics weapons all the people in those cities would have still died it just took hundreds of bombers and more than one raid. The US destroyed all 6 of Japans largest cities and bombed more than 100 cities. 300 plus in the other cities died estimates up to 900,000 but deaths from burns, injuries and starvation, and radiation in the atomic targets, are hard to break out.

      6. @Mistic:

        Japan is not “officially” an empire. They are very officially not an empire. This was one of the stipulations of surrender. The official title of the country was changed. They have an emperor, but he has no actual authority of any kind. I don’t mean like the Queen of England who functionally has no authority but is still a part of the government of the UK, I mean actually he has no anything. He’s the ‘symbol of the Japanese people’ and that’s it.

        That said, I do think that there’s an element of nostalgia for this sort of thing in Japan; it’s the same sort of thing that drives their ‘hawks’ and can be seen in other anime such as GATE. But to be fair, benevolent monarchies are a fairly common trope in Western fiction as well.

        This is all true, but I think the important distinction is people understood fire. It was a tactic that had been used for millennia just on a grander scale. Nukes on the other hand were something different and new and must have felt like the hammer of God (or the devil) coming down upon them. Shock and awe.

      7. Yes fire had been used in particular London but not the recent at the time discovery of the Firestorm, a discovery almost as good as nuclear weapons for mass killings, and how to make one. London would have been destroyed in short order if the Germans had known how to make one. I recommend reading up on Firestorms they are nasty and scary. I brought up the Firestorm attacks as I dislike the fact that most think the Atomic bombs were the only mass killing we did in Japan. People also assume that Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been spared if we had not used the bomb. No causalities would have been almost as high as we destroyed them with firestorms. The reason the casualties were so high in the atomic cites is that both cities were stuffed with refugees from destroyed cities the Japanese assuming the atomic cities not on the US targeting list. Unfortunately for them the reason the cities had not already been destroyed is we were saving them as atomic bomb demonstrations.

        I agree the bombs are key although if we had used them first I don’t know if the Japanese would have called our bluff or not. Our bluff was that we had more bombs to use, we did not and it would have taken awhile to get more bombs made and deployed. The Japanese seamed to be willing to lose all the cities but the atomic bombs made them think we could kill the majority that was in rural areas which was actually false for awhile as we did not have the bombs to use. And chemical weapons were being prepared to take what was left of the ruins of Tokyo if the atomic bombs failed to force surrender the US was going as evil as necessary to win.

  5. Arslan likes to stare up at the sky from castle battlements in the evening. It’s starting to get annoying how often enemies (Silvermask) and potential enemies (Rajendra) can just walk up to him at these times. Assign a squad of bodyguards to the kid already! Even if they can’t defeat an elite enemy, they can at least try to hold him off until Daryun or another elite fighter arrives.

  6. Fantastic episode, i was kinda starting to consider this a “detour” but now i take that back, this is quite entertaining and important, it’s good to see more interactions between the characters and seeing them develop and grow, but somethings never change like Daryun’s fierce loyalty to Arslan … except this is really the first time Arslan actually gets touched by it to the point of crying (being unsure about his parents and all), considering that issue, i say no one ever chooses who their parents are or choose to be bastards, the whole stigma related to bastards and orphans (specially in real-life and most medieval/fantasy stories like Game of Thrones) always got on my nerves, how could someone sane hold this against a person … people put really ridiculous weight on birthright and blood-relations it can feel ridiculous at time, i’m kinda glad that in our times this is kinda off waning.

    Oh, and i love Farangis’s new outfit, it’s still kinda sexy but makes a lot more sense than her first mid-riff and underboobs exposing outfit XD


    1. While you’re obviously right and the stigma attached to parenthood was a fairly terrible thing, you do need to remember that the idea that certain lines were special pretty much underpinned the entire idea of monarchy. Once you give that up and go with the idea that anyone might be worthy of being king, the whole edifice starts to crumble.

      Admittedly this was always a false truth since kingdoms were constantly changing hands, but it was TELLING themselves that this particular bloodline had a right to rule that allowed monarchy to operate.


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