「落日悲歌」 (Rakujitsu Hika)
“Elegy for the Setting Sun”
The bigger they are, the larger the countermeasure.
Standard versus Standard versus Tricky
To me, the realms of strategic conflict, whether it be in business, negotiation, or war, have always been fascinating. It’s a game of getting inside your adversary’s head, and figuring out when they’re getting inside your head, and accurately anticipating an opponent as wily as you yourself. Narsus, alas, doesn’t often get to have that pleasure. He’s too ahead of his time—his opponents are too shallow!
I was struck by this when, once again, Narsus employed decoys and traps to confound his enemies. It was the first one that struck me (the second was a clever trap, commendably so); if word traveled faster, I get the feeling that Narsus would have to up his game, instead of continually relying on decoys to get things done. I’d judge him, but it keeps working! Really, what I’d like to see if Narsus come up against a tactician who can actually challenge him. Since the Sindhuran campaign began, no one has even come close. Everyone is dancing to Narsus’ tune, and it’s only the paltry 10,000 soldiers at Arslan’s command that have kept them from wrapping this up already—and a little extra kindness from Arslan, in letting Jaswant live again.
Slaying The Elephants
Narsus gambit to take down the war elephants reminded me of two things. First: Age of Empires. Pardon me if that shows my age (you young whippersnappers, get off my lawn, etc), but it set me off trying to remember which cavalry units had a bonus against the war elephant unit. Ahhhh, good times. Are those games still around? No, never mind, it doesn’t matter. Wouldn’t have time anyway.
The other thing it reminded me of was the TF2 Meet the Engineer video. To quote:
I solve practical problems. Fr’instance, how am I going to stop some big mean mother hubbard from tearing me a structurally superfluous new behind? The answer … use a gun. And if that don’t work … use more gun.
I’m probably the only one who had that reaction, as I said in a southern drawl—one I have more right to use than the
Connecticotian Connecticutensian Connecticuter who voiced the Engineer, and yet am simultaneously much worse at—“How are we going to stop some big mean war elephants? Use arrows. And if that doesn’t work … use bigger arrows.” And so it was!
What? I was supposed to provide analysis here? Look atcha, witcha mouth on ye! Let me make my silly references and draw my weird parallels, why don’tcha! *grumble grumble*
A Man Riding a Horse, Riding an Elephant
That last section was pretty silly, right? Kinda goofy? Didn’t make a whole lot of sense? Well I feel justified, because Jaswant boarding an elephant with a horse was pretty flippin’ ridiculous itself! Honestly, it’s a rare misstep for what is otherwise a solid anime, so I’m not going to dwell on it long. It just happened to combine a little kill him already (trope!) from Daryun, who had Gadevi at his mercy, with a little logic-defying badassery that falters because it wasn’t badass enough. Look, we’ll follow along if Daryun kills 10,000 men by himself and swats arrows out of the sky, because at least that’s cool. But boarding an elephant with a horse? Too silly, too strange. Shake off the silly and get back to what you do best, Arslan Senki. There’s a good lad.
Princely Parallels, and the Way Forward
I keep wondering how Jaswant, who’s on Gadevi’s side—well, no. Who is on Mahendra’s side, will eventually move over and help Arslan. Finally, there’s a clear way forward. Mahendra is doubting whether he should have sided with Gadevi, and for good reason. The parallel between Gadevi and Rajendra, and Arslan and Hermes, is clear—the less legitimate but likely better ruler (Rajendra, Arslan) versus the ambitious, short-sighted rage-monster (Gadevi, Hermes); after Rajendra nearly surrendered to avoid a slaughter of his soldiers, whereas Gadevi would have gleefully thrown his away in order to secure victory, it’s easy to pull for Rajendra now. Plus, he didn’t betray Arslan! Ludicrous indeed, Narsus.
What was I saying? Right, the way forward. The way forward, then, is for Mahendra to realize that he backed the wrong horse, defect to Rajendra, and take Jaswant with him. Which is what I was expecting, right up until the king woke up.
Looking Ahead – Duel Before the Gods
I swear, my storytelling sense is off today, because I got it wrong again. As soon as it was announced that there would be a duel before the gods, and that proxies could be used, I expected a Daryun vs Jaswant battle—which, since we pretty much know both of them will survive at least until they can all be in Arslan’s party together, didn’t make a whole lot a sense. Unless the loser doesn’t need to die, and knocking him out would have been sufficient, but that doesn’t matter.
Next week looks like it’s going to be Daryun versus one of those hulking baddies from 300. And yes, I know those guys were Persians in the movie, but, just, m’kay? Right? *stares* Right?
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Narsus remains unchallenged in strategery, while the Sindhuran king pawns responsibility for his succession off on the gods #arslan 16
- Mahendra actually stuck with Jaswant instead of abandoning him. A Grand Vizier who’s not a slimeball? Le gasp! (Actually, Mahendra seems like a Vahriz type. Any kingdom is lucky to have one of those.)
- Not even a million-to-one chance of Gadevi losing? You know what they say, those crop up nine times out of ten (trope!).
- I get that Arslan wanted to save Jaswant. Fine. Shoulda shot the horse. (I mean, poor horse and all that, but it’s war. Wait—don’t hate on me PETA, I didn’t mean it!!)
- Hiroyuki drawing Farangis? That’s an odd style for her. Not enough va voom, if ya know what I mean.
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: The Kingsman princess joke, Be the anime blogger, If you find yourself using buzzwords, STOP, and How to save Twitter.