「騎士の素顔」 (Kishi no Sugao)
“The True Face of a Knight”
Dude looks like a laaaaady! No, wait—dude is a lady.
Narsus’ Demotion, Lucian’s Promotion
The dissension within the Parsian ranks is no surprise. There would be that even if Arslan were a thoroughly typical crown prince—there’s always friction when you suddenly throw so many people together, especially horny medieval soldiers and scheming nobles. But his unorthodox actions certainly aren’t helping. I wasn’t surprised to hear Narsus opine that many of the nobles are supporting Arslan in the hopes of getting him to rescind the Decree to Free Slaves later on—he is a fourteen-year-old boy, after all, so they’ll hope they can influence him. Plus, Arslan is better than Lusitania, no matter how you cut it.
What I didn’t expect was for Narsus to offer himself up for a demotion, nor for Arslan to take his advice. Not that he’s not correct—for the irreverent strategist who was thrown out of Andragoras’ court to suddenly be the Satruyp, the analog of a Grand Vizier, is a hard pill to swallow. The question is, is his replacement, Lord Lucian (Rikiya Koyama), going to be an asset to Team Arslan, or could he spell their downfall?
I’m pretty sure he’ll be an asset. Though maybe that’s just because he’s voiced by Rikiya Koyama, which I realized just a few hours after watching the Sore ga Seiyuu! episode where he guest starred. How could Kiritsugu / Azazel-sensei / Klaus / Jack Rakan backstab them?! But in all seriousness, he hasn’t shown any duplicity so far, and it doesn’t feel like that’s because he’s plotting or anything. I think it’s just a non-issue. I think he’ll be a good ally … probably.
Dude Looks Like A—No. Dude Is A Lady!
Some people called it, and I’ll admit it—during the first episode, I didn’t suspect that Étoile was actually a girl. Looks like I was wrong. I have to question the wisdom of her keeping her hair long, though. Even if you’re wearing a helmet all the time, why risk it? It did come in handy here, though. She didn’t need a wig, which could have complicated things. A minor point, but a fumble nonetheless.
I’m glad Étoile made a reappearance, and I hope we see more of her. And not just because I’m now shipping Arslan x Étoile like no other, though that’s true as well—they’re the first couple outside of Alfreed x Narsus or Alfreed x Elam (or a devil’s OT3 thereof) with any chemistry. Plus, this line?
Marry her! Marry her right now! Or, maybe win the war or something first… But after that! MAKE IT HAPPEN, ARSLAN!
Arslan’s Weakness (& Resolve), Étoile’s Help
I have to wonder whether Étoile did more damage or good to Lusitania through her conversation with Arslan. My gut instinct: Good for Lusitania (she found out about the attack, when it was coming, and about the Decree), some good for Pars (helping Arslan find his resolve), and a net negative for Prince Hermes. The former is pretty self-explanatory, but the latter two could use some prodding.
I know some people see Arslan’s kindness as a weakness. It’s not … usually. Kindness and empathy make him a far better leader, a far better ruler, and a far better person than most of the cast. I’ve always felt it strange how many people caution their children to turn the other cheek, to not resort to violence … only for, when it comes to international affairs, those same people to jump straight to violence. Empathy will keep Arslan from making that same mistake … and yet, sometimes violence is the answer. It only becomes a weakness if it prevents him from doing what must be done.
Which I like. Arslan’s strengths aren’t always strengths, and you can easily see his weaknesses leading to something terrible. Even if it would have “made things right” vis a vis Andragoras’ crimes, turning the throne over to Hermes would be a disaster. Which is why it was good that Étoile was around:
“But, as for taking action for the sake of your country and her people, your parentage has no bearing on that. It’s a most noble thing.”
I love how she said it for a completely different reasons (a commoner as opposed to a noble) than he heard it (not being the true heir doesn’t matter). It’s also exactly what Arslan needed to hear. Seriously, Arslan, don’t fuck this up. Marry her. Tahamenay may have had beauty worth going to war for, but Étoile has a spirit that glows far brighter. One you, Arslan, might one day be able to match, if you have a little more confidence in yourself. It’ll come with time.
Looking Ahead – If Gieve Leaves, I’m Gonna Be Pissed
The preview is hinting at something to do with Gieve, and let me tell you—if Gieve ends up leaving (or dying), I’m going to be mad. That said, I’d very much like a Gieve episode, because I was just this episode thinking how odd it was the Gieve has stuck with Arslan’s company for so long, when we’ve seen no outer indication that his opinion toward nobility, even in this particular case, has changed. Maybe we’ll get that next week.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Lord Lucian joins Arslan’s inner circle, & Étoile is—surprise!—a girl. SHIPPING FURIOUSLY! #arslan 20
- I don’t know how much Hermes is like his father, but he’s definitely like Uncle Andragoras. He loves to get in the battle and do the fighting himself. Hearing that would probably piss him off.
- I loved how Étoile thought Narsus was forcing Alfreed into being his lover! Normally, she would be right, but not this time, nishishi!
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: Rejection, the secret place, & fundamentals, What are your two skills?, Passing the Bechdel Test, and Absence (from work) makes the heart grow fonder.