「神前決闘」 (Shinzen Kettou)
“The Duel Before the Gods”

What a tense battle. For once, you don’t know whether Daryun was going to make it out alive.

A True Test of Daryun’s Skills

Daryun is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest warriors around, and time and time again, he’s shown it. Mostly by mowing over crowds of mooks who didn’t stand a chance. This was the first time in a while, and perhaps in the entire series, that I didn’t know how the unstoppable Daryun was going to make it out alive.

Bahadur was a beast. Perhaps literally. Farangis mentioned animals in human guise, and if there are any, he was definitely one. My first thought was that he was like an ogre, though at least he could talk enough to at least still seem human(ish). So he was clearly tough. But we still knew Daryun would win, right? Well, yes. He has only slightly less plot armor than Arslan, and more than anyone outside of maybe Narsus. So we knew … but that’s not the trick.

The trick to making a battle dramatic when it involves a character the audience knows won’t be killed isn’t to make them honestly think they’re about to die. It’s to make them doubt. Not for long! Their logical mind will still reject the idea. Just make them doubt it for a split-second, to wonder, “Man, how the hell are they going to get out of this?”, and that’s enough. And between Daryun losing his shield, losing his sword, and taking a shot to the head, and being driven to the edge of the pit of fire, they did that in spades.

Bonus points go to not taking the easy way out, i.e. Daryun somehow tricking Bahadur into running into the flames. How he still used the flames (and his cloak! It’s not just to look badass, people!) to open his path for the killing blow was great. A little misdirection at the end made it all the sweeter.

The Gods’ Mistakes

Gadevi’s refusal to honor the results of the duel was, if not a foregone conclusions, certainly not surprising. I laughed at Gieve talking about the gods making mistakes and foisting them off on humanity all the time. Perhaps true, Gieve, but once you submit to their ruling, you’ve got to live with the results! Which Gadevi should have done … he still maybe could have Andragoras’d his way to the throne later on, but this way, he totally screwed up his chance. No way he has the forethought to realize such a thing, though.

Looking Ahead – Choose Your Liege Wisely

The question still remains: How is Jaswant going to join Team Arslan? I thought it was through Rajendra winning and Mahendra becoming his adviser (taking Jaswant with him), but that’s off the table. It could have to do with Mahendra’s plea for Jaswant to choose his liege better than Mahendra chose his own. It all hinges on what Rajendra does next.

The preview is hinting at the Sindhuran crown prince being an Archer-level faker, or perhaps even more—of being such a liar that he fooled even himself. Is he going to betray Arslan? It would disappointing (to say the least) for Pars if they emerge from the Sindhuran Campaign with only Jaswant to supplement their forces. Of course, the king is still alive (for now), and he seemed wise enough. Perhaps Pars will still get its aid. Maybe Rajendra was lying to himself about being a good man, and believes it to his core. That seems too easy, though. We’ll find out next week.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Daryun duels an ogre, & nearly loses. What a tense fight! Plus an aftermath that ends w/ a win for Team Pars … hopefully #arslan 17

Random thoughts:

  • Daryun seemed pretty confident in his skills there at the beginning. Rightly so, in the end. It just reminded me … last episode, tokinokanatae mentioned some of the foibles of Narsus and Daryun, which have been largely absent from the anime, but present in the novels (not sure on the Arakawa manga). I wonder if they’re trying to slip more of that in, or if I’m just looking for it more now.
  • Hello, angry Arslan. If we didn’t (at this point) know better, I’d almost think he was Andragoras’ son from that alone.
  • Elam and Alfreed do get along sometimes. Now if they’d just stop fighting over Narsus, they could actually be friends! (Down shippers, down.)
  • I think it’s safe to say that it was only a matter of time.

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: Absence (from work) makes the heart grow fonder, The Kingsman princess joke, Be the anime blogger, and If you find yourself using buzzwords, STOP.



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  1. Personally, Arslan may not win more military support, but it is a great political victory. Before the campaign, all the surrounding countries thought Pars and Arslan could be easily invaded for a quick victory. Now Arslan has shown that he is stronger than his father (defeating the elephants) with barely 10k soldiers, and now there is another weaker and unstable country that other may take advantage instead of attacking Pars. Basically Narsus has secured the eastern border.

  2. Nice review like the point on making scared for a second. LOL on the boy who would be Queen.
    Narsus has always seamed ready for Rajendra to turn on them after all he knows they extorted him to their side in the first place. Have to see if Narsus was just taking a worthwhile gamble of getting help considering the low losses for his side, or if Narsus already has a counter ready.

    A good guy Visor, guess being a historian author who knows many were good makes that more likely to write.

    As I got here late another note from earlier episodes. Slaves were not a problem in cities too often as normally most were outside in the country side only rich family servants typical for city slaves and the free citizens greatly outnumbered them and could be used to put down a revolt, of course there were exceptions like in this story. You could have a major slave rebellion see Spartacus but the fortified cities would hold out against them.

    But serfs are just a lighter form of slavery and regular citizens could often feel oppressed and be a danger inside the wall. Roughly half of fortifications were taken by some form of treachery or ruse I have read. But serfs and citizens are more loyal to their country and fear foreign invaders compared to slaves taken elsewhere. Still internal unrest always a threat one of the major reason for the Keep to protect from uprisings and having less wall for the troops to defend as city wall often to hard to hold with number of troops available. But the threat to the gates resulted in especially in Europe of the improvement of the Gate House. The Improved Gate House was a fortress in all directions with gates facing in and out so that no uprising from with in, infiltrated forces, or troops that captured the nearby wall could open the gates without taking a hard to take fort. The gate house was also protected from the main gates being broken by inner doors not in the main gate path making a push of the invaders out easier. Towers on wall as all direction fortresses also got more frequently built so that lose of any one part of the wall does not allow the enemy to go down the wall taking the rest. Also often wall access was though a tower so the wall could not be attacked from the inside without taking a tower.

    As a area to assemble a large sally force often was useful, a two level defense with the outer gate house protected from fast capture and the walls and inner gate house also protected from people who had forced the gates at the first gatehouse. This assemble field thus would become for the invaders a area where they could be fired on from all directions, the outer gatehouse and walls and the side and inner walls and gatehouse. Thus the birth of the term Killing Field for the loses invaders would take trying to cross it to get at the inner gates.

    Also thus you get. “Once more into the breach” from Shakespeare. Making a hole in a wall still allowed the defenders to build makeshift walls between the houses making a second defense line and the inability to get on the wall could result in the situation from the story where the hole did not gain you that much and a unfriendly environment for those going though the breach with people on the walls firing down on you from behind.

      1. She was the one who did Yankee-kun to Megane-chan too?!

        I need to read Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo now. Also, I need to finish Yankee-kun to Megane-chan. I’ve honestly been like two chapters from finishing it for like a year. My ipad crapped out on like the last two chapters late one night, and I haven’t gotten back to it.

        …I’m a very strange guy, aren’t I? :X

    1. I wonder how different the series would be if Arslan had been a princess instead of a prince. Probably not much, except that by this point there would have been two or three shipping wars XD

      1. Can’t recall a women coming to power from a Arslan situation. At least this a situation a women could come to power with no male hair known. But of course she would have to be even better than the guy to break the normal rule of thought.

        Sindhuran with multiple wives and lots of sons it would be very hard there are very few Sultanas in muslim history. This is a pre muslim tale though. Sindhuran does seam to have the muslim succession rules where the ruler can pick any of his sons as successor and there is no set order of who takes charge after death.

  3. A good episode, very close to the original novel for the most part. There were a few minor differences–such as Arslan’s hand going for the hilt of his sword instead of grabbing Rajendra by the lapels–and a couple of added scenes but it was mostly everything I had hoped for when the series began. I liked that they even kept Narsus being so concerned that he didn’t even notice Alfreed’s hand on his shoulder.

    On the other hand, the one addition that I really, really didn’t like was Narsus calling the battle. It killed the tension (for me, at least) to have Narsus suddenly go “PAY ATTENTION, VIEWERS, HERE IS WHERE DARYUN WILL TURN THINGS AROUND” and smacks of “Narsus has to be the smartest in the room at all times”. It’s fine to have even a brilliant strategist be on the edge of his seat with tension when a good friend is facing a situation he, basically, has no control over.

    The biggest narrative flaw in the adaptation so far is how in love it is with Narsus, honestly.

      1. Ah, but Zhuge Liang wasn’t that good. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms painted him in a better light, but even if that story made his strategies flawless, at least they had to admit the evident:
        -A chessmaster can be a genius, but if his pieces aren’t good enough, he will fail.
        -Even if his pieces are good, if he doesn’t have a good number of them, he will fail.
        -Even if he has all of the above, the enemy is still a variable that can crush the best plan.

        Narsus, on the other hand, always has officials that carry out his orders perfectly; always has the exact number of troops he needs to win; and the enemy always behaves the way he predicts. I hope someday we’ll see his equivalent of the Five Expeditions.

      2. Well Alexander the Great is the only 100 percent winner over many battles in doubt I can recall fast.
        Narsus might have an equal in his masked opponent.

        But lots of the greats ran up huge winning streaks before running into a real opponent Napoleon until he invaded Russia comes to mind, and even after moments of awesome were to come. “Here I am. Kill your Emperor, if you wish.” to the troops sent to arrest him instead they joined him. Having everything go right for huge streaks happens to many of the greats at times. I love Napoleon’s key question on qualifications of an officer. Is he lucky?

        The authors “Legends of the Galactic” has what your craving once the genus commanders on both side have all the idiot Admirals out of the way it gets really interesting in genus on genus commander fights. And we might have that coming here later.

        I saw a post on another site complaining there would not be so many idiot commanders in reality. Unfortunately that person a history Noob the normal status of commanders is fair at best and bad common. In large part this is because for most militaries becoming a leader has little or nothing to do with how good a tactician or strategist you are.

  4. last episode, tokinokanatae mentioned some of the foibles of Narsus and Daryun, which have been largely absent from the anime, but present in the novels

    After reading what tokinokanatae wrote, I would say those bad quirks of the Narsus and Daryun have come up. Viewers aren’t hit on head with them, but their personality quirks do come off as pretty apparent to me. More so with Narsus than Daryun though, just like you said in your own comment Stilts.

  5. I agree with the review on that fight. Yes, I knew Daryun was going to win, especially when his opponent was an ogre-like, barely human monster. Yet, it was a very good fight.

    The preview intrigues me. So in the end, Rajendra will turn against the Parsians? I’d actually like that move. After all, why shouldn’t he? Why take part in a war he doesn’t have any interest in? Because of a promise? He invaded Pars against orders before. Then lost and was forced by the Parsians to start a civil war immediately (he probably would do sooner or later, but in his own terms), so his reasons to be loyal are scarce. Also, he could point them as the real culprits of the war to a populace that doesn’t seem to like Parsians very much.

  6. The only annoying element was the Sindhuran King just standing there like a dope during the Gadevi/Rajendra confrontation after the duel. These are supposed to be the Royal Guards, if the king yells “Stop fighting and arrest Gadevi!” will they ignore him? Instead Daryun has to give the speech.

  7. Holy shit…I know I said that that hulk was a fool for going to a duel completely unarmored but didn’t expect him to be so freaking huge – guess he looked smaller from the preview.

    Great duel regardless and a lesson that every warrior should always good to carry at least one spare weapon 😀

    1. I don’t think there is armor his size, and as a matter of fact they would be fools to give a monster like that armor, he could simply butcher everyone and be pretty much unstoppable, he also seemed to have confidence in his thick skin and muscles and the fact he feels no pain (Daryun’s slash didn’t do much).

    1. Luckily Daryun did not have the drive to get questions answered by his opponent. Darien’s opponent was actually tougher than the Mountan in that his attacks were so fast that he could not dodge them all like the viper did.

  8. “If you cared for your subordinates as much as Arslan, I’d appoint you the succesor long ago…”
    Sindhuran king might be old but he is not a fool. And he managed to defuse potential bloody civil war, with relatively few casulaties, plus actions of his sons made him only confirm the “gods” decision.
    Gadevi showed his true colors not only to the old king but also to his own soldiers resulting in his downfall.
    As for Rajendra, I think what Narsus has meant was that he was a true politician at heart – trying to become “image” of a good leader to the extent he starts doing right decisions just to make him looking good.

  9. I don´t envy the position the King of Sindhura was in, he had to choose between two son he clearly love but knew one of them was King´s material. I agree with Narsus, the duel was the easy way out but how could a father choose between his sons?.

    In the battle against the war elephants Rajhendra demostrated he was a good man when he was about to surrender to save his men, the idea of him being a selfish bastard does not make much sense to me after witnesing that. He has a lot in common with Arslan and I think the King of Sihundra saw that when he witness Arlan´s rage over the duel.

    1. Just because Rajhendra cares about his men doesn’t mean he won’t betray Arslan, in fact he might do it for the sake of his men, so that he doesn’t drag them into a long war in Pars that they will not gain much from (at least from his point of view), although it’s kinda stupid of him to make an enemy of Arslan and his gang after he saw what they can do and achieve … that will surely bite him hard in the ass.

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