「王者対覇者」 (Ouja Tai Hasha)
“The Monarch Versus the Conqueror”

Even in victory, Arslan just can’t catch a break for long.

The Folly of Attacking At Night

Here’s something we modern humans tend to forget: attacking at night used to be fatally difficult. Before light bulbs, spotlights, and infrared goggles, darkness wasn’t a cloak we could wrap around us to allow for a stealthy assault. It was chaos incarnate. Ancient battles were fought in the daylight, because to do otherwise was to risk your entire strategy breaking down even quicker than under the usual stresses of combat. It wasn’t a battle so much as a blind roll of the dice, and few commanders were willing to risk that. Not on purpose, at any rate.

(Yes, history nerds, I’m sure there are exceptions. My point is that it wasn’t common or wise.)

This episode shows a portion of why. While the danger generally came about more because of chaos and panic, being tricked into attacking your own side isn’t outside of the realm of possibility. For all this show falls short on a pure history nerd point of view (which is fine, it’s not trying to do that), it sure gets it right sometimes.

Singing Arslan’s Praises

“Daryun, when it comes to His Highness, you seem to be impressed by everything and anything.”

I laughed out loud when Narsus called Daryn out on his fawning of Arslan. It’s like the script writers were listening to some of the commenters here from last season! The reason for that line, of course, had more to do with what was to transpire shortly thereafter, but it made me think of the praise runs somewhat counter to Arslan’s actions this episode. He charges in like a headstrong fool, acting more like his father than himself (the altruistic reasons for his charge aside), and is only saved a quick death by Gieve’s well-timed return and Narsus’s plotting. Which, to be fair, look who they’re used to dealing with. Arslan could piss in their mouths and come out looking better than his father. The praise is a little over-the-top at times, but I think it does fit the characters and their culture (historically it was wise to praise the monarch, so getting in the habit is probably smart). Arslan is just lucky he has a good eye for people, since they’re there to save his ass while he learns on the job.

A Swift Coup

I expected a coup as soon as they showed the Tuuraanian prince’s frustrated back, standing amidst the retreat, but I didn’t expect it to come so quickly. Rather than removing Tuuraan as a problem, the nature of the problem has changed, though likely not in Tuuraan’s favor . . . is what I originally thought, but in light of Andragoras’ return, that’s true of both sides. Looks like two idiots are set to keep each other busy while Arslan embarks on a side quest.

Reward What You Want To See More Of

I definitely want to call out Arslan’s killer management philosophy. Instead of praising Gieve, who saved his life, or Daryn, who killed an enemy general, or Narsus, who masterminded the plot that won the battle, he chose to praise Tuus, a man whose squad did the boring work necessary for Narsus’s strategem to work. There’s a lesson in this: reward what you want to see more of. Instead of rewarding martial valor, Arslan decided to reward diligent, selfless teamwork for the benefit of Pars and the army as a whole. Were he not about to lose said army, that would have led to more behavior like that from his soldiers. I doubt they’ll forget when he reclaims his men in the future, though.

Arslan’s Exile

No two ways about it: Andragoras is a dick. The unyielding old bastard refuses to see everything Arslan has done for him, and instead alludes to him committing treason (for violating the king’s right to lead an army) and all but exiles him until he can raise 50,000 more men to retake the country. Raises them from where, I might ask? Any troops coming from Pars would undoubtedly default to Andragoras’ banner, short of a full-on coup by Arslan (unlikely at this point), so he’s gotta recruit from somewhere else. Now the change of scenery from the OP/ED makes sense. Arslan just can’t catch a break for long.

Lusitania should have killed Andragoras when they had the chance, though it might have inadvertently been to their benefit that they didn’t. Arslan might be green, but I’d much rather go up against bullheaded Andragoras than Arslan and his team. What a bastard.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Arslan saves Pars again, & even incites an enemy coup. His reward? Exile from the returned Andragoras. What a prick #arslan s2e2

Random thoughts:

  • I like that there’s a red-haired Tuuraanian. That’s not as strange as you might expect for steppe nomads. Some sources even claim that Genghis Khan himself had red hair and blue/green eyes. We have no idea for sure, but steppe nomads like that did exist.
  • For all I called Arslan a fool for rushing out there, it was nice seeing the meek lil kid take a stand. It was a good look on him in a way. Too bad his father returned to knock him down a few pegs.
  • I wonder if Jimsa is going to stick around? I wouldn’t be surprised if we haven’t seen the last of him.
  • Oh Gieve, still after Farangis. (Kubard is the roguish man? Hah! Pot meet kettle.) Though she did smile when he showed back up. She doesn’t seem to mind his presence so much, even if anything further isn’t on her mind (who knows).
  • Another lesson: Daryun will fight anyone for Arslan, even Andragoras. And I’d put my money on Daryun in that duel. Hopefully it’ll happen someday, because even if Andragoras isn’t a villain, he’s standing in the way of history, and of Pars’s freedom. The backwards old prick.

My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: I love sales jobs, Good realism is character realism, Dying idols, and Frictionless routines.



End Card


    1. Yes, the whole episode didn’t really come through to me because of the audio other than the voices was too loud. Either they messed things up at the studio, or Crunchyroll FUNimation messed stuff up. Latter is more likely

    2. Kuma no Miko had the same audio problems in some episodes, i think someone wrote that perhaps the “translation” company done something wrong with the Audio codecs. something like AAC into MP3 where the Background music got then boosted to loud and over cover the actors voice. So perhaps here is failure

  1. Arslan practically did all the work, recruiting loyal subjects, making treaties, being the face of the Pars Army, and raising the men’s morale, just so Andragoras can take it all? Yes, he’s a badass but Andragoras was simply a jerk. On a more positive take, it was great to see Gieve being awesome 2 episodes in a row. First, going up against Silver Mask and now making a grand re-entrance by saving Arslan’s life. And it was equally great seeing Arslan righteously angry. It did make Arslan look a bit rash to charge in but it showed he can be a badass when the situation calls for it. This isn’t the timid kid Etoile kidnapped and dragged around Ecbatana anymore. Also…


  2. You know despite how supremely dickish it is for Androgas to exile Arslan he probably made the right move if he wanted to remain the king of Pars. Given the fact that his last military campaign was a disaster (I doubt the rumors started by Hilmes have completely gone away) and that Arslan has just come off of a string of victories there was no way Androgas was going to be able to restore his authority while Arslan was around. Furthermore while Arslan is loyal to his father few of his retainers are and Androgas would always have to be fearful that one of them might try to put Arlsan on the throne by force.

    So yeah a dick move from the perspective of our morality and our time but probably a great move if all you care about is the throne. He might even have put Arslan to death if Daryun’s loyalty hadn’t made it look like a really bad idea.

    1. Nah, the best he could do would be putting Arslan under house arrest. Trying to execute Arslan in Peshawar, which is practically Arslan’s most loyal area by now, could end in him suffering an accident… not that it would otherwise be so easy to do either. Heck, if he could have killed Arslan so easily, he probably would have by now seeing how much he hates him.

    2. I have to agree, this was the correct decision for Andragoras. He’s quickly establishing himself as one of several major antagonists in this series, but… well, antagonists tend to have reasons for doing what they do. Arslan without a doubt already has the popular support of Peshawar, and Pars as a nation would probably not be far behind that. The idea of “King Arslan” was already seeded on the assumption that Andragoras was dead, but even with his return to the throne the popular support won’t stop going Arslan’s way. Frankly Andragoras is fighting a losing battle (being on the wrong end of the plot, after all), but within that context the best thing he can probably do is exile Arslan and hope the people of Pars forget about him sooner rather than later.

    3. That’s true, just he could have used a better excuse than “you are leading my armies and that’s terrible”.

      It would be too easy to find justifications for Arslan in that regard: last time they’ve met, Arslan was one of the high ranking officers in battle, so “technically” he was using the prerogative of his initial command. And doesn’t the kingdom have rules to keep the chain of command working when the king is sick, captured, indisposed or believed dead? As in any other country whose rulers have suffered similar fates? Or is Pars just that awesome that this is the first time such a occurence happened?

      A better excuse would have been that of Arslan claiming a legislative power that didn’t belong to him (as long as his father wasn’t declared dead) and making promises that weren’t his to keep. I’m talking about his pet project of ending slavery, of course.

    4. That is a good point. I was only thinking about how clearly loyal Arslan is to his father, making him less of a threat—but the same is not true for Daryun, Narsus, and the others, who clearly realized that Andragoras’ return was bad news even before the old man dropped the hammer.

      Still, there’s that old saying about keeping your enemies closer. With Arslan exiled, he’s out of Andragoras’ reach, and I have a feeling any assassins he sends after his son won’t have much success with the kind of company Arslan keeps. And what happens if he does return with 50,000 troops? Arslan’s legend would grow, and Andragoras would have even more trouble keeping his subjects’ loyalty without something drastic.

  3. Personally I got more fun out of this episode thinking about the nomads than thinking about the tactics 😛

    After these past two episodes, it looks like that the Tuuraanians are based off of Herodotus’ Scythians or the Huns rather than Mongols (as may be some individuals’ first thought). The murder of the Tuuraanian king is the big indicator. Mongols would never kill kings like that, spilling the blood of royalty was a grave affront to Yeke Moengke Tengri, the Great Blue Heaven; this is part of the reason why poison references are plentiful in Mongol history, especially the Secret History. Furthermore open violence was never committed inside the Ger (the felt hut the Tuuraanians sat in here)–conflict was always settled outside, preferably from the saddle of a horse. Also the Mongols conquered for the sake of conquering, plunder and wealth were byproducts used exclusively to subdue conquered sedentary peoples and keep them placid–acquisition of monetary wealth (money, jewels, fine clothes) was looked down upon as it was seen as going soft and weak (read up on Khubilai’s problems with Moengke Khan, Ariq Boeke, and Khaidu to see why).

    Not surprised too by how well referenced the Tuuraanians are either, the Japanese have a noticeable fascination with the Mongols and steppe nomad history–they were the ones who launched the largest expedition thus far to find Chinggis Khan’s burial site a few years ago after all.

    1. They’re definitely more Scythian than Mongol, for the reason that they’re losing if nothing else. (The Mongols didn’t make a habit of losing for a long time.) There’s also the fact that they’ve been a consistent power on the edge of the settled societies, whereas the Mongols blew the hell in and conquered everything.

      I’m pretty sure the Mongols were fine with pillaging, though. They did enough of it. True, they had problems with going soft, Kublai had to keep rotating his warriors back to the steppes to keep them from going native and losing their edge, but I always thought that was more of a new problem than anything. They were supposed to all be decked the hell out in fine clothing and armor by the time they were doe pillaging the middle east, even the common warriors.

    2. @Stilts

      The fine clothes thing comes from John of Plano Carpini (and Marco Polo IIRC) who mentioned how every Mongol was decked out in silks and expensive armours (specifically light iron plates similar to oversized chainmail). This image, however, is due to the ubiquity of silk in China and its military use. Unrefined, gritty silk was used to protect against arrows, with silk having the same effectiveness as the heavy armour worn by knights. For European and Arabic observers this made the Mongol army look rich because of the scarcity of silk for them.

      The best example I can think for the Mongol distaste of sedentary wealth too is the execution of the last Abbasid Caliph. One of the popular ways is from Hulegu Khan locking the Caliph in with his gold and jewels and starving him to death, with Hulegu telling him basically “eat your gold if you’re hungry” (personally I prefer the rolling him up in a carpet and tramping him to death version :P). Wealth for the Mongols always revolved around horses, herds, and women–if it could not be rode, eaten, or f*cked, it had no value. You’re right the Mongols were fine with pillaging, but it was the variety always meeting their needs for those three aforementioned resources (i.e. they never pillaged just for the sake of it). The Tuuraanians here, however, appear to focus on pillaging and the acquisition of wealth, which really screams Scythian to me for (as you indicate) they seem to want material goods more than ruling over a foreign land.

      Also even though it’s further off topic, it wasn’t only Khubilai’s warriors who were at risk of going soft, it was Khubilai himself, beginning with the management of his first appanage, the construction on Shangdu (Xanadu), and culminating in his rushed khuriltai where he was sworn in by Chinese subjects. Ironically going soft wasn’t a new problem for the Mongols either: their Manchu relatives the Khitan and the Jurchen experienced the same issue, resulting with them being assimilated into Chinese culture. Khubilai’s flirtation with China scared traditional Mongols for the same reason and is pretty much the main explanation for the disintegration of the Mongol Empire.

    3. One reason for the Mongel success is they would honor the terms of their surrender demands on cities and thus receive constant support instead of one time looting, sometime acquiring troops as well. Not needing to satisfy their troops with massive amounts of loot allowed this.
      I’m sure the Mongels needed the loot they were getting, running a war and especially a spy program in targeted area takes assets, yes less than other armies but still need a fair deal.
      I do recall a story where a woman killed herself and her kids before the Mongels sacked her town. Her town was given as part of the demand to give ten percent of the women to the Mongels and the town refused that part. I don’t know if the towns that did meet their demands also supplied women or in this one town’s case the Mongels really wanted to kill some people so they made a impossible demand.
      I like how the first two significant defeats of the Mongels were by their enemies borrowing a page form them and staging fake retreats and other deceptions.

    4. @RedRocket

      The Mongol’s employment of pillaging and troop conscription is a little more complicated than that. Beginning with Chinggis Khan (IIRC during the fight with the Merkit) all Mongol pillaging became strictly regulated in order to maintain troop organization. Furthermore as alluded to pillaging was limited only to towns which refused to surrender. Those towns which submitted simply had to pay taxes and provide soldiers when asked. The Mongols quickly learned from Oegedei Khan on that more was obtained through taxation than pillaging and looting.

      You’re correct Mongol spying and administration required a lot of the wealth which was obtained from looting, this was the distinction I was trying to highlight. The Mongols used their monetary loot to placate their subjects, buy off those non-Mongol leaders getting restless, and acquire important materials they did not produce like metal, silk, and agricultural goods through trade. The Mongols never sought wealth for its own sake, it was just a conquest byproduct which made running an empire easier. For the Mongols wealth was how many horses you had, the size of your herds, and what grazing ground your family/tribe possessed.

      Also one correction, the Mongols were not supported so much as feared, especially to the west. Pillaging, razing, and massive slaughter were constant threats to everyone involved with the Mongols, warnings to what would happen should a city refuse to surrender, stop paying taxes/supply troops (see Khara Khitai), or rebel (see Balkh). Fear and peace is what allowed the Mongols to rule as effectively as they did.

      Somehow I think we can tie this discussion back to the Tuuraanian and pretend we are still on topic 😛

    5. I think we are using a very narrow pool of historical examples for the Tuuraanians. In fact, the first time their name and location was know, I could only think of another steppe tribe: the Turks.

      People remember them better for the role of Seljuk Turks in the Crusades and the foundation of Turkic states in Anatolia, but long before the Mongols dominated popular culture’s idea of nomadic empires, and long after the Scythians disappeared, Turkic khanates were the ruling power in Central Asia. Without Genghis Khan, the Göktürk Khanate and the Ashina dynasty would have been remembered as the largest and most powerful steppe empire in world history.

      They had indeed a history of harassing China and Persia for loot and resources. In the matter that interests us, the Western Turks allied with the Eastern Roman Empire to attack Persia from two different fronts (sounds familiar?). They were also sadly known for their inner power plays and civil wars (sounds familiar again?) which ended up weakening the Turks and let Tang China control the Silk Road. But for centuries, and especially for Persia and China, the “steppe people” were the Turks, not the Mongols, and it was the Ashinas who popularized the title of “khan” (which the Mongols later borrowed, as any self-conscious nomadic tribe trying to emulate the Turks did).

  4. Love that this show is back.

    Had no problem with last weeks attack on the fortress other than improper wall use by the archers on it and the straight on shooting from the horse archers. The horse archers should have been riding along the wall firing up. The assault was a rush assault hoping to take the undermanned fort quickly by accepting heaver casualties. The Mongels would have brought up their siege engines and broke the walls but this is earlier and it takes awhile to get your slow moving siege train from place to place. Was confused only with where did the 2nd column come from to be attacked by mistake and how did Daryun know a enemy force was on the way to get attacked by mistake. I assume scouting reports but like to actually hear some of that.

    This fortress is not protected as best it should be. There should be a ditch in front of the walls with a draw bridge helps prevent the fast ram attack. Don’t need water to get most of the effect of a moat.

    Franangis is still good to look at, plus I love how her outfit would give outrage to the religious kooks they been fighting most of the time.

    1. To be fair, the Mongols were fairly unique among steppe people in their use of siege engines, mostly because they took them (along with the engineers) from the Chinese. If the Tuuraanians are more like Scythians, I doubt sophisticated siege engines are in their repertoire.

  5. Well the narrattor of this story has told us over and over that Arslan will be king but this sure is blow to everything he his merry band of companions have acomplished so far. Andragoras is a menace to his own kingdom! First he creates hostile “diplomatic” relations with every country nearby using war as the only means of negotiation; second he dives head first into the disaster of Antropatene and loses the entire Kingdom to a bunch of zealots straight out Warhammer 40K; and now sends into exile the only person that can save Pars from certain destruction just when the Parsian Army has the upper hand!!!! This guy could give Jeofrey Baratheon a run for his moneay! and that´s something guys!.

    1. To be fair, waging war on all your neighbors was just the done thing back in the day. That’s not unusual. It just happens to be a bad tactical decision if you’re too pig-headed to keep good strategists around (Narsus) or listen to the commanders you do keep (Daryun). Live y the sword, lose your kingdom to the sword.

    1. He’s asking something like “Was there anyone here who could swim?”
      I think (based on the opening)that Arslan and co. will be heading to the seas
      and the author just realized that he hadn’t really thought about whether any of his characters could swim.

  6. This episode covered the events of the last episode of the previous anime adaptation. These 2 episodes have covered an entire novel.
    Things from the novels that the anime didn’t cover:
    Show Spoiler ▼

    Very important change the anime did:
    Show Spoiler ▼

    Stilts edit: Info from the source novels counts as spoilers too.

  7. Can’t Farangis go with Arslan? Technically she has her vow to protect him as the crown prince. And Narsus doesn’t work under Andragoras so he should go too. Now that I think about it, the whole group should just get exiled together and leave the old fart back there. It’ll be like starting from the first couple episodes again.
    Once Arslan comes back, his dad can eat his words later.

    random viewer

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