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Arslan Senki – 18

「ふたたび河をこえて」 (Futatabi Kawa o Koete)
“Once Again Across the River”

And so the Sindhuran campaign comes to a close.

Rajendra, The Faker

I find it fitting that I finally finished watching Unlimited Blade Works today, for I’m once again watching an anime with a consummate faker. (Yes, I just finished UBW. I’m really good at putting off the things I want to do. Sometimes way too long. I know, I know, I’m weird.) Yet unlike Shirou, Rajendra is a different type of faker. He’s an actor. A method actor, to be specific; he can create within himself the emotions he feels he should have to such a degree that it’s practically indistinguishable from the real thing. Which is a useful skill, even if it’s a dangerous one. How do you keep track of yourself when you’re constantly shifting, and the façade is as real as it’s not? Rajendra makes for an interesting characters, and I almost feel like, an underutilized one; it would be fascinating to see a character like him in another setting, where his relentless duplicity would be harder to sniff out. Alas, in this case he’s up against Narsus, and Narsus sees through everything.

The Quality of Arslan’s Rule

I feel like political situations are actually where Arslan’s strengths lie. When Rajendra all but forces the extra soldiers onto Arslan, he doesn’t let on that it’s a trick in the slightest, and I’m certain that he knew at that point. Arslan is a bit of a performer himself, but whereas Rajendra can play many roles, Arslan can only play the one: Arslan. But he can at least play (and deal) a mean hand ‘o political cards.

Likewise, I like how he calmly, and seemingly without reservation, revealed to Jaswant that he likely wasn’t the true prince of Pars. The understated fashion in which he said it belies how much that meant. That’s information that could ruin Arslan, and he calmly and unflinchingly gave it to Jaswant. It shows the volume of trust he was willing to put in Jaswant. I’m sure Jaswant got the message. That Arslan was willing to risk it all to be honest with Jaswant is … wow. Just wow. That’s how he keeps people like Daryun around. Because he does shit like that.

Rajendra’s Dirty Trick, & Pars’ Reply

Rajendra’s goal in his final dirty trick was to bend Arslan over a barrel (er, not that way. Hey, stop drawing that doujinshi! *slaps hand* Stop it stop it stop it!), just as Arslan and Narsus ended up bending Rajendra over. (*swats pen out of hand* No! Make up your own BL plot!) Which … well, to our eyes it seemed stupid. But then again, we have the advantage of knowing who the protagonists are, and knowing just how much the show has built Narsus up as unbeatable. It did seem like a bad play on the risk/reward axis, since Pars could have, oh I don’t know, killed him. But Rajendra is nothing if not ambitious. That’s exactly what helped him take the throne. For people like Rajendra, it’ll take more than a couple of whoopings by Pars to make him learn that lesson.

As for Pars’ counter stroke, like I said, we have the advantage of knowing who the protagonists are. Until Pars once again goes up against someone it feels like they can (occasionally) lose to, it’s not going to be a surprise when one of Narsus’ stratagems wins them the day.

Looking Ahead – Back To Pars

Speaking of, it looks like we’re heading back to Pars. Which is good, because Silvermask seems to be the only strategist who has a chance of matching Arslan. I also look forward to getting Kishward back in here. Twin swords are waaaay more fun when only one guy in the whole story has them.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Rajendra takes the throne, Gadevi loses his life, Jaswant joins the team, & Pars puts one last one over on Sindhura #arslan 18

Random thoughts:

  • Apparently, Arslan doesn’t think he’s Andragoras’ OR Tahamenay’s child. Which could be the case (it would explain why Tahamenay was so cold to him), could not be the case, or … no, there’s only those two options, I suppose.
  • The pre-execution banquet is bastardly! …I like it. You’re cold as ice, Rajendra.
  • I like how Rajendra called himself and Arslan brothers at heart. Yeah, real comforting, after Arslan just saw what happened to your real brother (even if Gadevi did push him to it).
  • Look at these smug, bishie sonsofbitches.
  • Loved the little bit of philosophy behind the three years at the end. It’s true. Too much and the human brain goes, “…fuck it!” If they asked for fifty, Rajendra would have been invading before summertime. With three, they just might have a shot of him keeping his word.

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

Full-length images: 35.

 

Preview

End Card

August 9, 2015 at 10:43 pm
34 comments »
  • August 10, 2015 at 12:44 amKabble

    Rajendra is a special kind of stupid….
    Not much more to say on this, everything happened as it should and it was a solid episode to end this arc with. Back to the important stuff!

  • August 10, 2015 at 12:53 amZhinvu

    I wonder if releasing Jaswant was also part of Narsus and/or Arslan’s plan in all this. Either way it proved helpful to them. Anyways Rajendra definitely had me fooled. I really thought after his first capture and being forced into an alliance, somehow over time he’d actually become genuinely friendly towards Arslan and his company. But somehow the way he was overly friendly with Arslan like he was in this episode didn’t sit well with me. It was like that Hodir guy back then who had ulterior motives. I guess after all this time, Rajendra never forgot that he wanted Pars under his kingdom.

    As for Rajendra being a good king it’s really hard to tell, but personally at least I think he’s going to be better than Gadevi. Like you said Stilts Rajendra is an actor so he definitely knows what face to put in public. He should also know by now that he shouldn’t be the same uncaring ruler Gadevi was. Even if it’s all going to be an act, he has to show he is opposite Gadevi in certain aspects. What at least is going for Rajendra now is that he has no competition for the throne anymore so at least Sindhura may not see any civil wars for a while. With no more internal conflicts, maybe that’s what Narsus meant by it may only 3 three years for Sindhura to flourish.

    • August 10, 2015 at 1:48 amStilts

      Releasing Jaswant was definitely part of Aslan’s plan. Narsus, I think, would have been happy if Farangis shot him when he was saving Gadevi in the elephant battle a while back (provided Gadevi got taken out of the picture too). It’s Arslan who has the talent for bringing people under his banner. Narsus just figures out how to use them once they’re there.

      Rajendra will probably be a decent ruler, at least as long as he cares enough to try. If he ever stops caring, though … well, that’s always a risk.

    • August 10, 2015 at 2:55 amMistic

      I think Rajendra did become friendly with Arslan. Heck, when they charged, he even ordered his men to capture him alive.

      In fact, he was right about Arslan needing that lesson: not everyone who is going to attack you is a convenient cartoonish villain like the Lusitanians or an obviously evil Darth Vader clone like Hermes. Rajendra may not have anything against Arslan personally, but political interests are political interests.

  • August 10, 2015 at 1:16 amHanabira.Kage

    Wait…is Arslan’s hair getting longer?

    • August 10, 2015 at 1:49 amStilts

      That does happen over time, lol, and he’s been a bit busy to sit down with a stylist.

  • August 10, 2015 at 3:07 amMistic

    I don’t understand: why is Arslan so sure now that the queen isn’t his mother? Andragoras I understand after what happened, but the queen? Why?

    And again, the anime can’t help but add “Narsus knew all along” even when they had Jaswant as a perfect plot device to alert the Parsians. Ugh.

    • August 10, 2015 at 10:56 amStilts

      To be fair, he’s probably guessing. It’s mostly that, in the context of the conversation with Jaswant, the important thing is “I might not be the real prince of Pars”, not the minutiae of which parent he may or may not be actually related to.

      • August 10, 2015 at 2:54 pmMistic

        Of course, but isn’t it strange? He doesn’t need to mention his mother in that case; Andragoras not being his father alone is reason enough not to be the rightful heir. So why did he mention his mother too when no clues have been seen so far about that?

        I ask because maybe this is a case of the anime overlooking some detail in the novels that could bring light to this issue.

      • August 12, 2015 at 3:34 pmhaseo0408

        Andragoras interacted a little with Arslan, he acted cold towards his son but he at least he recognizes his existence. Tahaminey has never beeen shown to speak to his son, she acted as if Aeslan didn´t exist and I think that was the clue that led the Prince to belive he is son the son of neither of the rulers.

  • August 10, 2015 at 4:27 amSaber

    I absolutely despise Narsus and how the writers keep shoving in our ace that he’s the greatest strategist of all time or something. He’s not a fortune teller, not a psychic, and the plot uses him as deus ex machina.

    “Oh he can see 7 possible outcomes”

    Okay, does he have the resources to account for all of them? As strategists, even though they know of possible outcomes, they still have a limited amount of resources (men) and must carefully pick which one is the most probable outcome.

    Sheesh. I can’t wait till someone puts him in his place.

    • August 10, 2015 at 11:00 amStilts

      While I don’t entirely disagree, I took that as much as a bluff as anything else. Reputation is a powerful weapon in and of itself. The more Rajendra fears going up against Pars, for whatever reason, the better it is for their purposes.

      Granted, it would be better if he feared Arslan, since Narsus’ death could imperil a reunited Pars even if the rest of the crew was still around, but, well, Arslan doesn’t really inspire fear, lol

    • August 10, 2015 at 10:28 pmRedRocket

      Just a great genus strategist quite a few of them in history that run up win after win for years until sometimes they lose. Alexander the Great never lost. But at any one time they can be quite rare or at least the people who have been lucky enough to get that amount of education. So the genus will run up a huge score against the typical not that smart leaders. Robert E Lee was so good that several Union Generals got paralyzed with inaction for months, but finally he lost maybe helped by having a cold that day. But this tale is not finished we already know of one possible equal or superior the author is just having the genus run up wins till a later climax when he may fail.
      I just enjoy watching the brilliance knowing it has happened many times in history wondering when or if the luck runs out.

    • August 12, 2015 at 3:38 pmhaseo0408

      To be fair with Narsus he shines so brightly because all of his enemies so far were igiots or so blinded by their emotions that they can´t what´s in front of them.I like his chracter, he´s indeed a man ahead of his time.

  • August 10, 2015 at 5:11 amzztop

    Today’s endcard artist, Fujimura Akeji, is also the artist of death-game themed manga Kamisama no Iutoori Ni/ As the Gods Say. The manga revolves around a high school student who is plunged through a continuous series of bizarre death games happening in real time throughout Japan.

    It’s gotten a movie adaptation directed by Miike Takashi.

  • August 10, 2015 at 5:36 amzztop

    Novel readers say the Sindhuran arc took place over the course of Vol 3 in the original novels and remains one of the most popular arcs in the entire series.

    The main point of the arc was to get Arslan to interact politically with other royalty and show that he, as king-to-be, could hold his own against a ruler as self-interested as Rajendra and not make disastrous decisions if not prompted by his men.(Though, there were cut scenes where he and Rajendra interact as rulers, which lessens the impact of this.)

  • August 10, 2015 at 6:58 amSnooSnoo (@ShinJiwon)

    So all they got from this expedition to Sindhura was Jaswant and I’m sure a whole bunch of dead Pars soldiers. #worth

    • August 12, 2015 at 3:42 pmhaseo0408

      In terms of military soppourt it was a failure but in terms of moral advantage Pars won, beacause now the legend of Arslan slaying the invensible war elephants will spread like wildfire and Daryun killing a monster will help too, now the lusitanian soldiers will belive they´re fighting againsta a real over the top demon, not a man.

  • August 10, 2015 at 7:50 amKling_Klang

    Why do Arslan and Narsus think that having Rajendra sign a three year non-aggression treaty will guarantee Sindhura’s non-aggression any more than Rajendra’s clap on the back ‘I owe you big time, Buddy’ statement? It’s not like there’s a United Nations around to enforce it.

    • August 10, 2015 at 11:04 amSaburau

      As long as Arslan and his friends, especially Narsus are there, Rajendra will hesitate. If he doesn’t feel his advantage against Pars is so overwhelming that he could absolutely win, he will very likely think twice. He got simply terrified to face against them after he got out-smarted by Narsus so many times.
      And Narsus also successfully reminded him that Turks are eyeing Sindhura, so now he realizes that before he even start to think about invading Pars, he should do something about the relationship between Sindhura and Turk.

    • August 10, 2015 at 11:06 amStilts

      It makes perfect sense to me. First of all, I doubt they consider it any kind of guarantee—what they’re trying to do is increase the likelihood that Rajendra won’t act against them until they can retake and shore up Pars. Already helping them is the fact that Rajendra needs to unify Sindhura. Then you have the fact that Rajendra has been whooped twice now, and they’ve been fanning Narsus’ in particular, and the Arslan Party in general’s, reputation, to make potential enemies think twice about going against them.

      As for the treaty, it just increases the likelihood that Rajendra won’t act against them by slightly more. There’s political capital in a politician being seen as trustworthy, as one who keeps the pacts he signs. Everyone KNOWS that they’re not iron-clad, but it’ll be easier for other rulers to trust him in future pacts if they can’t point to his very first one as king and go, “Well, you didn’t aide by that one, so how am I supposed to trust you?”

      Three years is little enough time that it will likely be worth it to Rajendra to maintain his “honor” (by keeping his word), thereby strengthening his hand in future political deals, rather than strike early and get dragged into the Parsian/Lusitanian morass. Especially when he has a kingdom to reunite.

  • August 10, 2015 at 8:46 amGinobi47

    I guess this is the difference between cultures….

    If I were Arslan, I would have chopped off Rajendra’s four limbs and force him to crawl back to his country. Better deal with the potential annoyance now rather than later.

    The japanesse seems to think that being a kind and compasionate leader is preferable…. I find it really weird, but understandable…. still weird though

    • August 10, 2015 at 11:13 amStilts

      It’s not that at all. Better the enemy you know than the enemy you don’t. They have turned Sindhura into a reasonably quantifiable threat, as opposed to a massive unknown that could bite them in the ass at any time (exactly as Rajendra did when he originally invaded).

      Why risk an even more dangerous ruler come to power in Sindhura—or worse yet, one of Sindhura’s neighbors taking over the country, and becoming vastly stronger thereby—when they have shown they can both work with, and semi-reliably put one over on, Rajendra?

      It’s an unnecessary risk. This was the right choice. I’d rather Rajendra at my back than chaos, or an enlarged Türk or Tūrān.

      • August 10, 2015 at 7:36 pmGinobi47

        Good point.

        I, on the other hand, actually welcome the chaos.

        Just hear me out okay?

        After making Rajendra lose his four limbs, Id do exactly what Arsland’s group threatened Ranjendra with, which means leaking information to Turk and Turan.

        Odds are, both Turk and Turan will bite the bait and go charging into Rajendra’s defenseless kingdom, effectively tearing it appart. Eventually, those two countries will meet in the battlefield at some point and start pointing their steel at each other.

        Now these is just my vague estimates based on my limited knowledge of medievil warfare.

        If we factor in the 2 countries going to war, the attrition warfare that will most certainly follow, the possibility of one of them winning, and the post-war reconstruction, it is safe to assume that this would last more than 3 years.

        Not only that, we also get profits in terms of 2 weakened countries, another country that ceases to exist and the further weaking of the country that wins the war (due to post-war reconstruction, population drop and the possible public hatred for their new invaders).

        We can expect atleast 5 years of unrest, maybe even longer. And this does not factor in the possibility of the loser trying to get back at the winner.

        Well, that’s just my opinion though. Take it with a pinch of salt

      • August 10, 2015 at 10:40 pmRedRocket

        Actually killing the current leader might unite Sindhura in revenge, the father was quite popular it seams. And the Sindhura might find someone smarter this time to lead, of course they could be worse but they know they can outsmart the current leader and they have him intimidated. I don’t think it had fully came to what by the Crusades was a rule that you just don’t execute the enemy king that kings are a sacred something. And even with the huge differences between Christians and Muslims the don’t execute a king rule was followed by both sides wether the fight was within the faith or with another. Now often you held the King for a King’s ransom but you did let them go eventually.

  • August 10, 2015 at 10:04 amMgMaster

    A 3 year peace treaty and Jaswant – I’m wondering if that was even worth all the trouble of helping Rajendra take the throne…They could’ve asked for some money & supplies at least.

    • August 10, 2015 at 10:42 pmRedRocket

      Yes you normally ask for Kings ransom. But right now they are not powerful to want war with Sindhura. And I think they would rather get home than wait for a send for supplies.

  • August 10, 2015 at 10:56 amRick

    Don’t forget that originally they went to stop the invasion in the end they accomplished that everything else they gained was just a bonus.

  • August 11, 2015 at 1:21 amewok40k

    I knew something was up the moment Rajendra insisted on larger sindhuran troops unit to be attached to Arslan’s army. I was also suspecting him of being able to betray Arslan since he broke the deathbed promise to spare his brother.
    Still he is kinda loveable scoundrel, and not entirely heartless as he did intend to take Arslan alive.
    I bet he will be back in 3 years with another dastardly plot, but as Narsus said, he has a country now to consolidate his power over, and some neighbours who will keep him occupied.
    Meanwhile, with his back front secured Arslan can get back to Pars and trying to retake the capital city. Silver Mask – or, should we rather call him by his rightful name, Prince Hermes – will certainly provide more challenge than both Sindhuran princes combined.
    Jaswant is one true bonus gained form sindhuran campaign, great fighter and not bad at gathering intel too. I wonder how the current Arslan’s companion will treat him, since some didn’t much like him at first… Arslan has endeared himself to another good man by treating him fair and being honest.

  • August 11, 2015 at 7:57 amlegwkio

    The anime is getting predictable though. Because every time the enemy has a plot or scheme against Arslan’s company, Narsus always sees through it and foils it.

  • August 11, 2015 at 2:05 pmMormegil

    Rajendra said he did that to teach Arslan a lesson. Yeah, right. What a jerk.

  • August 11, 2015 at 7:16 pmrandom viewer

  • August 12, 2015 at 3:56 pmhaseo0408

    To be able to win the hearts of people without manipulate like a bastard, with that skill alone Arslan will become the greatest King Pars ever had in its history. If only our world could have more people like Arslan.

  • August 14, 2015 at 6:27 pmgrayne

    Arslan would have been long dead if this were the real Persian empire era circa 6th century AD.

    War does not suffer fools lightly.