「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

Random thoughts:

  • 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.



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  1. welcome to Narsus version of the pakfront
    I am starting to like Rajendra, first for caring for his troops, secondly for defying wisdom od the all Arslan advisers and NOT betraying him. Ludicrous indeed! Narsus could have actually got right pretendent to support…
    And last but not least… “I demand trial by combat!”
    Rajendra icking Daryun as his champion is also proof he has a good deal of comon sense!

    1. Love bring up things like the pakfront. As normal you can often find historical earlier uses of the same concept. The counter of the pakfront is indirect fire artillery, at that time the only ones with that was the Romans in the field, catapults to take out the ballista although maybe the Chinese foot bow would work. Artillery is why anti tank guns went out of fashion after WWII although the Soviets hung onto them longer, wire guided anti tank missiles taking the role as they go into bunkers and trenches faster. Lucky for the Germans and then the Russians only the American artillery was good enough at the time to do that regular. America was the best in one area in WWII on the ground and that was in the critical King of Battle the artillery, Us artillery was way more accurate, had invented the proximity fuse, could be deployed faster than any other, and was present in massive numbers.

      1. Nice to see another military history otaku!
        what US made up with quality, Soviets did with quantity (which as Stalin said, is quality of its own…)
        between 300 and 500 artillery pieces per kiloneter were set up on the breaktrough frontage of every major late-war offensive…
        Caught between precisely-timed VT-fused barrages of the US army and Soviet massive sledgehammer firestorms, Germans were doomed…
        Wasting resources on monsters like Karl and Dora didn’t help their situation either, though some of their SP guns like Wespe and hummel were template for most postwar designs

  2. Funny thing. I remembered all the methods to counter war elephants from history but forget this simple one although for a fan of Total War series using siege weapons against them (or trolls if you are playing Third Age or CoW) was the most efficient way.

    1. I, however, think the way the elephants were took down is one of the most unbelievable there is precisely because it seems to have been taken literally from Age of Empires or Total War.

      It’s not that it wouldn’t work, mind you. It’s the timing. At the beginning, there’s no trace of the Parsian army in the battlefield. Then, the cavalry arrives (trope!). Fair enough. After all, despite what the Lord of the Rings has told us, cavalry can be used effectively against elephants thanks to their superior mobility. Letting the war beasts pass through by creating openings in the lines, attacking them from behind, targeting the mahouts, etc.

      But no, Narsus instead makes them lead the elephants to a place where he has built siege machines. No, seriously, when did he do it? Was he telling Rajendra’s scouts “don’t mind us and don’t tell anyone we’re here while we build this heavy, large machines”?

      1. My first thoughts were the same on the Elephant counter. With Dr Yoshiki Tanaka though I suspect the multi ballista type weapon carts and use vs Elephants is drawn straight from history as that is his normal thing. Dr Tanaka does not come up most of his tactical and strategic ideas he steals them from History. And the Dr. shows his genus leaders draw their ideas from history just like real successful genus in war. It was a bit of trick on the audience that we were not shown the building of these weapons and their deployment probably before the main army left the castle.

        Now the small unit things like horse on elephant or blocking arrows on horse back in dim light are the type of things it seams he comes up with himself.

      2. Actually, we were shown them building something the day before. Elan was directing people while Narsus and Daryun talked. We just weren’t told what. They didn’t want to ruin the surprise, I suspect.

      3. Yeah, they were shown building something. In the castle. About to be surrounded by Sindhuran troops. Then the Parsians don’t appear until later in battle… and suddenly the big machines are already prepared at one side of the battlefield.

  3. You want Narsus like super genus vs Narsus like super genus and as time go by each super genus’s team of genus subordinates that the later parts of legends of the galactic heroes features after all the idiots have been trashed. Dr Yoshiki Tanaka for Legends and I’m sure often here does not come up with with these genus tactics he rips them directly from history. One of the fun thing so Legends chat is the noobs go no one can be that smart or their opponent that dumb, history buffs argue which battle the tactic was stolen from. Tanaka has been avid in Chinese and Persian history and knows his Napoleon as he steals a few things Napoleon did. Alexander the Great never lost.

    I find the horse on Elephant unbelievable, would not be too shocked if it’s actually been done. Blocking arrows with a sword is an actual Japanese sword technique. You can find video’s of that and people catching arrows fired at them on the web. But that’s standing on the ground in well lighted situations with not powerful bows. I could see a real battle use in the past but I’m sure it was not a sure thing and I think doing it on horseback in poor lighting stretching it too far.

    Minoan was a ancient culture based on Crete

    Minoan women had great political power and rights in Minoan culture, they ran the goddess centered sexually free religion. Minoan women also wore outfits that were deliberately done to show off there uncovered breasts. Women who have the right to show off there bodies and do so, and have sexual power tend to have the most rights down though history. There is a strong argument that the Amazons were a Minoan female fighting religious order. I find Farangis body exposing outfits actually showing her power as a women in a women centered religious group very appropriate. Now her first outfit she should have fallen out of several times in reality, not a bad battle tactic distracting the men, and even the current get up would expose at times which in her religion might be no problem. Half armor outfits although giving speed and flexibility but don’t work that good against mass arrow fire are dumb outfits when the men are in full armor in formation. But when your clothing only like several in this story even totally nude works good in battle, there are historical examples. No armor can be a major advantage to several fighting styles when your not in formation unable to dodge.

    I have no idea, maybe the Dijon in Farangis case, how she and Arslan don’t burn, if she was deeply tanned it would make more sense. Covering in the desert works but that partially a modesty thing, young children in some Arabian desert tribes went nude till a certain age and the tribes on other deserts often are nearly nude.

  4. Well, there was some reflection in this episode. Daryun does acknowledge the parallelism between Rajendra/Gadevi and Arslan/Hermes. And Narsus points out that despite everyone’s dissatisfaction with the idea of a duel to solve the succession crisis, it’s much better than solving it by making thousands of people die for them.

    But I’m discovering I don’t like Arslan. His role in the story is to be compared to other rulers or candidates (Andragoras, Hermes, Rajendra, Gadevi) and make them look good or bad depending on how much they look like him.

    1. Agree with you there. Kindness and sympathy definitely have a place in the good aspects of a ruler, as does the ability to unify the people. But I can’t help but feel that Arslan is lacking as his “strength” comes mainly from Daryum, his “wit” comes from Narsus, his “cunning” from the thief guy and his “spiritual aspect” comes from Farangis.

      He seems more like a puppet of a ruler rather than the main unifying force. I don’t mind that he isn’t the strongest, or brightest or most cunning or the one who can commune with the spirits, but the disparity is too great and he doesn’t have achievements he can really call his own. That’s something all of the other Princes’ actually have.

      1. Yeah, all Arslan has going for him is that he’s nice. He’s so nice that his men would gladly sacrifice their lives for him, no questions asked. Not because he’s their leader, but because he treated them well.

        He’s going to need to improve in some other aspects going forward.

      2. That part doesn’t bother me, honestly. I feel like that’s one of the themes they’re exploring. They’ve mentioned time and again that Arslan doesn’t need to come up with the strategies, or be the first into battle. That’s not his role.

        Most leaders are not peerless in everything they’re subordinates do. And when they are, you get people like some of my old bosses, who were great at sales (my job), but crappy at management (they’re actual fucking job). Arslan doesn’t need to do all that other stuff. He can if he wants, but if someone else is better, he should delegate.

        No, Arslan’s job is to surround himself with the best people, obtain and keep their loyalty, and guide the country in a way that’s most beneficial to its people. To use a stupid phrase some of you might recognize, he’s the decider. He doesn’t have to come up with the ideas, but he needs the wisdom to pick which one they’re going to pursue.

        Granted, he’s getting hella overshadowed in the last few episodes. It’s been a bit too much Narsus’ party, too little Arslan. The balance is a bit out of wack, even if I don’t think he needs to suddenly be as clever as Narsus or as strong as Daryun. Look how well going up against Daryun worked for Gadevi.

      3. Let’s be honest: what does Arslan really have? General politics? Narsus came up with ideas such as “free the slaves”. Strategy? Narsus again. Fighting prowess? Daryun is the best, and Arslan isn’t even near. Being nice? Narsus was the nicest noble in the land before it was trendy (and he didn’t need a convenient excuse such as “for some years I was brought up as a normal kid”).

        So why should Arslan be the next ruler instead of Narsus or Daryun?

        The ugly truth is that the only thing Arslan has is that people believe he’s the legitimate son of Andragoras. He isn’t good at anything else.

        From an in-universe point of view, it makes sense, because it’s better to have a nice fake on the throne than a legitimate jerk. But from an out-universe point of view, Arslan hasn’t done anything to deserve the position, yet the narrative expects us to admire his qualities.

      4. If you don’t see why Arslan should be king and Narsus and Daryun shouldn’t, the anime has completely failed in its most basic task. Reading the novels makes it clear why Arslan is suited to rule where Narsus and Daryun aren’t–he’s a keen judge of character and excels at inspiring loyalty in the best of men. He inspires people to want to do their best around him. Narsus rises to new heights of brilliance on the battlefield, in his service. Daryun’s prowess is unmatched, for his sake.

        Narsus is brilliant. He’s also arrogant, abrasive, and, at times, hypocritical. People (speaking generally) do not like Narsus as a person and do not want to give him their loyalty. He can accomplish great things, but the authority has to come from someone else. An army would not follow him on his own merits alone.

        Daryun is an amazing soldier. He’s clever on the battlefield, and is used to commanding men. He’s also stubborn, and prone to running rampant over people’s wishes when he thinks he’s right. He’s not a good statesman–his temper is too strong for that, and he takes disagreement too personally. Daryun can command loyalty, but he cannot run a kingdom.

      5. @ tokinokanatae

        Reading the novels makes it clear why Arslan is suited to rule where Narsus and Daryun aren’t–he’s a keen judge of character and excels at inspiring loyalty in the best of men. He inspires people to want to do their best around him.

        That, I’ve all seen. Then I read your other two paragraphs, and the rest of that isn’t as apparent. Especially with Daryun—we’ve at least had some examples of when Narsus rushed too much and was abandoned. Even though I picked up what the anime is putting down, sounds like it could have spent some more time fleshing out the negative aspects of the characters surrounding Arslan, instead of always focusing on the problem. Then his presence as a check to those negative aspects, i.e. the bringing out the best in people, would have been clearer.

      6. The nice thing about canon Arslan is that he also has his faults that the others “correct” for. You’d never know it from the anime, but Arslan has a bit of a temper and can get pretty self-righteous sometimes. This arc is also a good example of the “gambling” nature of his instincts towards people. Originally, Arslan didn’t know about Jaswant’s past when he chose to spare his life. I can’t really blame the anime for trying to make them “kindred spirits” as an explanation, though, it’s probably impossible to really depict through a visual medium how good Arslan is at picking up the things people value in themselves and want recognition for. (Like, oh say, Jaswant’s loyalty.)

        He’s also missing his sly sense of humor and natural insight. The scene they cut of him actually talking to Rajendra about Rajendra’s plan to split the two armies was a thing of beauty. Arslan picked up that splitting the army would put him at an extreme disadvantage right away and reminded Rajendra of that without being overbearing or saying “no” right off the bat (“And if we made it to the capital first, what would I get?”) and stayed firm in the face of a man ten years older than him basically implying he’s a weakling that would lose the respect of his men because he wanted to ask for their advice before agreeing to Rajendra’s idea.

        The series is probably a little too in love with Narsus at this point, which can happen with Arslan adaptations, since he’s very smart and and sort of has all those cool “just as planned” moments. The problem with that is that without the character moments in between, the story doesn’t have time to breathe and its easy to get a little fatigued because it feels like the characters are “doing things” but we’re not getting a good sense of their underlying motivations as to why.

      7. One thing to remember: This is based on the Arakawa Hiromu manga, and Arakawa has a tendency to use flat (sometimes comically so) characters at times. See: Innocentius for a while, the crazy Lusitanian priest always.

      8. They’ve definitely hinted at all these things. Daryun’s one-track mind is very clear. He has no interest in anything beyond hitting what he has to hit, ideally for the right reasons. Daryun as king would basically be Andragoras but likely a bit smarter.

        Narsus is a bigger problem in the anime, though they have established a few things about him such as his lack of desire for normal power. He focuses on odd things.

        That said, they could definitely do a better job of playing up Arslan’s special qualities beyond ‘really, REALLY nice.’ I feel like they’ve been doing a bit more of that in this half of the show with a stronger focus on him actually dealing with people. Before, his only real conversations were WITH narsus and Daryun about how he’s weak. He’s still not doing much, but at least he’s talking now.

  5. Ep 16’s endcard artist, Hiroyuki, is the creator of ecchi manga series The Manga Artist and his Assistants. You may remember it got an anime of the same name.
    He’s also the brother of Bloody Monday’s mangaka, Koji Megumi.

  6. Am I the only who thought about setting pigs on fire in order to make the elephants panic? (Rome Total War, anyone? No…? Ok :[ )

    Also, as for the parallels between the rulers, I would say Hermes is as much ambitious and rage motivated as Gadevi, but not short sighted. He kept pretending to be dead for several years, rose to the top of the Lusitanian ranks, played a key role in the pars invasion and his plan to take the throne are even now still unfolding.

    Actually I would say that so far he is the character with the most patience(lol?) and foresight.

    1. Hermes is patient in some ways, shortsighted in others. You’re right about how he planned ahead and all that, but he also marched a foreign godsdamned army into Pars and led to the death of a bunch of his would-be subjects. That’s something that could bite him in the ass later on.

      Of course, Hermes is the kind of would-be ruler who doesn’t much care what the people think. They’re subjects. They’ll do what they’re told, or else … same as Gadevi.

  7. Lol, the preview of Daryun’s opponent. He could very well be some kind of Hercules and he should still get wrecked. Not only because of plot armor, not only because Daryun is probably the better warrior, but because he goes into battle with like, zero protection, and a heavy weapon in a duel to boot! Look at Daryun: a sword & shield and some light armor. Granted, he could ditch the armor entirely as it’s not gonna do jack against that colossus’s swings, but if he can block it with a shield, then it’s enough. There’s like, so many places he could stab that guy 😀

  8. I agree, I was wondering why they didn’t just shoot the horse to prevent Gadevi’s escape.
    I’m also surprised that Rajendra didn’t betray Arslan. Hmm, things that I thought were most likely going to happen don’t seem to happen often. Also expected Jaswant vs Daryun, but then I saw the preview…
    I hope Jaswant goes to their side but I currently can’t predict how it’d happen. I like loyal people like him so I’m excited to see what he does from now on.

    1. Granted, they might not have gone for the horse since they’re liable to hit Jaswant in the process—especially if they were afraid he would move in front of the arrow to save Gadevi, since it’s not like Farangis ever seems to miss. But that all didn’t come through in the moment.

    1. I feel bad as well. Especially as the Elephants were drudged to get them to work in cold for the area weather. But Elephants doing a trample charge is something they do as a herd in the wild so they probably enjoyed the battlefield work in most of their battles until of course this one. I have to think that way to make it less painful to me.

  9. Yeah, is it weird that my main two reactions this week were:

    1. What kind of a Grand Vizier is not evil? That doesn’t even compute.

    2. Isn’t using Daryun in a duel sort of cheating? This is a guy that mused how he could probably take 50,000 men and we all thought it’s possible.

    Oh, and the horse on the elephant was ridiculous. There’s a hundred other ways they could have played that.

    1. 1. Hah. That took me off-guard too, especially when he looked like he could be a bit “evil” the first time he was shown. Still, Vahriz held a similar position in Pars, so I guess they’re going for competent officials in this story. And how maybe their talents are squandered depending on the sort of ruler they serve.

      2. Having someone duel in his place? My first thought was, “Is that really going to fly with the king?” but then I remembered he did the same thing … washing his own hands of personal responsibility by leaving the selecting of the heir up to “the gods” >_>.

  10. Urgh. Pressed submit too soon.

    It was only in this episode that showed one good aspect of Rajendra–his caring for his soldiers. Even with this titbit though, I don’t think he’d be a very competent ruler. He seems way too reckless, moving his army without a solid strategy in place. He’s overconfident in his skills, and a bit too enamoured with battle. Maybe he’d act with more discretion once he becomes king and doesn’t feel the need to show off and build his reputation to become the crown prince … but yeah … he doesn’t inspire any confidence in me as a leader.


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