「征馬孤影」 (Seibakoei)
“Journey Horse, Sad and Solitary”

Exile doesn’t seem so bad when your friends come along.

More Than Just a Rageaholic

It turns out that Hermes is more than just the rageaholic he appears to be. He’s still mostly that, but a little delving into his past shows that his unbridled ambition isn’t out of spite alone. Mostly, but not entirely.

Enter Irina (Kayano Ai) the blind princess of Maryam. It’s clear that her introduction is meant to humanize Hermes, to show that he’s capable of love, or at least sympathy for another human being. That transparent plot purpose doesn’t entirely prevent it from working, though Arslan Senki’s often shallow approach to character development does mean we’re going to need more time with her before she’s more than just a message received. Basically, to be continued with Irina. She does humanize Hermes, but she feels too firmly ensconced within her own tropes to excite me so far, like the petty villain who immediately began groveling when the tables were turned. I look forward to seeing more of her, to see how she can add to the tale.

You Are (Not) Alone

As much as people complain about clichés, and even I pointed out some clichéd character development in the previous section (though that was an observation, not a complaint), sometimes the obvious thing is fine, because the obvious thing works so damn well. Would it have been surprising if Arslan’s cadre didn’t break out from under Andragoras’ thumb and help their young prince? Yes, but it would have sucked. That’s not what Arslan Senki is about. Not having Daryun, Narsus, Farangis, Gieve, Elamn, Alfreed, and Jaswant would have made the story suck. And Azrael! Can’t forget Arslan’s loyal mascot. I expect him to be the one to claw out Andragoras’ throat personally.

If anything impressed me, it was that they walked the fine line between having Kishward side with the king (or Pars, really—loyalty to the state, not a man) without ruining his likability. I’m not terribly surprised, once Arslan Senki establishes a character the story usually uses them well; it’s only in introducing new ones and enriching minor characters that it usually cheaps out. Nonetheless, I appreciate how Kishward maintained his loyalty to Pars, to the point of locking weapons with Daryun (I’d like to see that fight for real!), while still making it clear (to us) that he doesn’t much mind Daryun and Farangis giving him the slip. Good man.

All of this culminated in another moment that proves why Arslan deserves the loyalty he’s earned. First was when he was determined, even now, to avoid hating Andragoras—that’s moral character uncommon in modern humanity, much less people in a more barbarous time. Then, when his companions reunited with him, he refused to reprimand them. Arslan knows when to stand on ceremony, and when to ignore it to reward the loyalty and love of those around him. He’s going to make a good king, once Azrael claws his old man’s eyes out.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – A blind princess adds depth to Hermes’ character, while Arslan’s cadre breaks out to help their prince #arslan s2e3

Random thoughts:

  • Irina raised up on her tip-toes to kiss him, HNG~! That’s undoubtedly my favorite kissing trope, in fiction and in real life :3
  • With Bodin exploiting the toppled nobles and royalty of Maryam, it feels like swallowing Pars is shaking Lusitania apart. That both makes a lot of sense, and will justify it when Arslan takes his country back.
  • I appreciated the mention of Vahriz. It reminded me of how responsible that wise, wily old bastard is for enabling the events of this story. His foresight made the whole thing possible.
  • Only 49,993 men to go. Nearly there already.

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.



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  1. There was one thing that annoyed me about the episode.

    He is apparently Narsus’ father’s elder sister’s husband’s cousin’s son. What the hell!!! Distant relatives? I almost dont know my father’s elder sister’s husband.

    It was as… What!!! O_o

    P.S: Is that the person that Narsus’ mentioned when he told Elam that he knows somebody that have a ship?

    1. Knowing your relationships as far as you could take them was a key thing to know if you wanted to play politics in the days of Nobles. Scholars would be employed just to research even further. And part of the education of Nobel youth would be memorizing the whole massive list and being able to say what the relationship between any two people on the list was. Currently all the royal families of Europe are related to each other thanks to intermarriage making all of them somewhere in the line of succession to all the current Kings and Queens and who would be ruler in each area if they restored the Monarchy. I believe the line of succession for England goes into the thousands. Some common families in the US have either continued a tradition or started a tradition of family reunions that can get into the hundreds of people and thus have to pick this type of information up as well, I’d think maybe I’d like to be in one, I think it would be more accurate to call these clans but I not heard the term used.

  2. The anime took a bit of liberties with the flashback, Irina should have been introduced last season, she didn’t because the anime made Kubard join Arslan too soon.
    More information about Maryam and what season 1 should have adapted with Kubard, Merlane and Irina but chose to skip:
    Show Spoiler ▼

    1. Interesting. I don’t think that was a bad decision to change, to be honest, at least provisionally. It would have been another plot thread they couldn’t do much with before the end of the series. Glad she’s getting in on the plot now, though.

      1. Irina must have seen that there is some humanity left inside Hilmes, the problem is that this guy is a selfish arrogant bastard. He must truly be inlove with her but he chooses to extract his poinless revenge instead because at the end of the idea he thinks it´s all about him and Irina has only seen the gloommy boy but not the monster behind that mask so she still belives in him. I wonder how she would react when confronted with the fact his beloved Hilmes destroyed his own country and helped Lusitania, the monsters that kulled her whole family.

  3. The mark of a true king is one who deserves more but he himself doesn’t think so, and instead of outright demanding it, thinks he should earn it. Arslan is more than that. Arslan is someone who thinks differently all together of everything and everyone around him, hence why his followers’ loyalty to him is unbreakable.
    I wonder, is Andragoras aware of this? Is he afraid of him, hence the banishment? Andragoras did talk once about a certain prophecy. Is this action perhaps the result of him trying to fulfill that prophecy? I don’t know what to think anymore of this guy, but I do know that even if Arslan succeeds in his endeavor, Andragoras will simply find another excuse to keep him away from any chance he might have at leading a country, though the reason is anyone’s guess at this point.

    If only Irina is aware of the dark soul of vengeance that has engulfed Hermes. I kinda doubt Hermes was being humanized in the right way, because his unbreakable desire for revenge as well as his will to free Irina from her shackles are both selfish IMO, even if he sees them to be the right thing to do. Seriously, when we look at it from a comparative point of view, Hermes isn’t much different from Andragoras. They’re both a want-it-all kind of selfish and arrogant rulers, at least that’s how I see it, and otherwise don’t care about progress and development the way Arslan does. My point is, I still see no good coming from either of them.

    Great episode as always. Next stop is summer land Gilan.

    P.S.: “Truly, courtiers are pitiful creatures. To think that you are forced to forsake even your innate sentiments for the sake of formalized loyalty and duty.”
    Farangies accurately summarized the entire second half of this episode XD. Unmatched wisdom as always.

    1. Andragoras is definitely aware of it. Maybe not fully, but he knows Arslan is a threat. He probably only made the kid the crown prince to avoid a scandal (Tahamenay won’t give him a child of his own—how embarrassing) and making everyone in Pars worried about succession. He didn’t want the whelp to be a threat to his power while he was still alive. And he’d definitely rather plunge Pars into chaos after his death due to lack of heir than lose control of power while he’s still alive.

      Luckily offing the crown prince would be a scandal itself, so he doesn’t seem (so far) willing to do that. Arrogant old bastard.

      1. Sending him off with no escort at all is sort of don’t care if he lives or dies move, if he wanted him alive just in exile he would have at least sent some escorting troops even if not the ones the one loyal to the prince.

      2. It is clear Andragoras sees Arslan as a threat but at the same time he understimates the boy, the order to create a new 50.000 strong is an excuse to get rid of the boy with little scandal as posible, he clearly thinks he will fail and will not be back. The thing is that, not only Arslan´s nakamas are angry at such an injustice but many people in the Parsian army, people with power must be very worried because of Andragoras actions because at the end of the day it was Arslan who rised the army from nothing and has put Lusitania in a very tight spot; most of all Arslan sees his subjects as people, not livestock and that fact has not gone unmotice by many so Andragoras better watch his back and keep an eye open at night because he´s making a lot of people unhappy.

        P.S.: 50.000 soldiers! who the hell needs that when you have Daryun and Narsus in your army!? Daryun could take head on 50.000 men and I have the feeling he could win that! And Narsus has manipulated larger, stronger armies to destroy themselfs!. Seriosly, I´m starting to think Narsus is the reincarnation of Lord Vetinari ands that´s sying something!.

      3. @RedRocket

        Oh, I’m sure Andragoras wouldn’t be sad if Arslan died. I just doubt he’s going to lower himself to do it himself. Assassins in the night doesn’t seem like the style for a man who burns his brother to death and then stands nearby to watch the flames.


        Vetinari is an entirely different beast. Narsus can command armies to destroy themselves, this is true, but Vetinari reorders the world to make wars and armies vestigial. Narsus operates at the top levels of the world he finds himself in, while Vetinari creates the world he wishes to exist. That’s several levels beyond what Narsus is capable of.

      4. You have a fine point there Stilts-san, Narsus just kind of reminds me of Vetinari somehow (reincarnation might have been a little ecaggerated XD) because his strategies go beyond the battlefield as we have seen countless times by now, just like the advices at how handdle the slaves, the nobles and the ranks of the army have shown. It scares me to think what Vetinari could do in this kind of setting considering Arslan´s world is nowhere near as crazy as Discworld.

      5. @haseo048
        P.S.: 50.000 soldiers! who the hell needs that when you have Daryun and Narsus in your army!? Daryun could take head on 50.000 men and I have the feeling he could win that! And Narsus has manipulated larger, stronger armies to destroy themselfs!. Seriosly, I´m starting to think Narsus is the reincarnation of Lord Vetinari ands that´s sying something!.

        More like the reincarnation of Zhuge Liang, the great strategist from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

        The tone and the style of Arslan’s tale has a striking resemblance to the old Chinese epic story, which is very popular in Japan. And Zhuge Liang and Narsus could be twin brothers, so similar they are in their roles and positions, including people singing their praises time and time again. Even Arslan’s extreme filial piety and “benevolence” (Dynasty Warrior players will remember that word a lot XD) seem more at home in RTK China than in fictional Persia.

        The Romance of the Three Kingdoms was basically a propaganda novelization that tried to justify why the kingdom of Shu was the rightful heir of the Han Dynasty, with their leaders being painted as the embodiment of Confucian virtues, like Arslan is here. The supreme irony was that the tale ended with the unification of China by the most ambitious, ruthless and backstabbing family in the realm, with the more “heroic” factions being crushed like bugs, because historical reality doesn’t care about moral fables.

  4. Love bringing some depth to Hermes making him more of a tragic villain, unable to let go of his revenge when there is a women he could run off with and love. I would say he would have a duty to take the throne but only if he cared about his people, to Hermies his people mean nothing, revenge is his only goal. Perhaps if Hermies won he would make decent ruler if all his enemies were dead as pride seams to be a secondary driver and he cares little about luxury so he might do some good things to make the Kingdoms look good in others eyes unfortunately probably wars of conquest. Still with the countries official histories he might looks ok as the thousands of his own shoulders and civilians he got killed to grab power would not make the official histories. Unfortunately for Hermies his enemies historical records would include at least part of the truth. Yes victors get to write the history but surviving enemies also get to write theirs and the enemies might also protect neutral scholars. Example Peter the Great, foreigners papers and diaries are a major source of things Peter would not have allowed to be printed in Russia. Peter was a Great leader and great for Russia but he did not tolerate dissent. (probably could not it was not the modern world yet he had a medieval values country he was going to drag into what was then the modern world)

    1. Let’s be honest: if Arslan didn’t exist and the story weren’t on the more idealistic side of the balance, Hermes would be the hero, of the Byronic or Anti-Hero kind.

      Fictionland is full of tales in which the last survivor of a wronged family looks for rightful revenge, and the story expects the audience to cheer for them or at least understand their point. I still remember Code Geass, where the protagonist was basically a Hermes with Narsus’ strategic mind, a mecha and an evil eye.

    1. I dunno if they’re siblings, just that he’s of the Zot clan and is acting chief. Probably ’cause most everyone else other than Alfreed is dead, and she went off gallivanting instead of taking control of the family business.

    1. I reaaally hope so. Etoile/Esther/Estelle is my favorite character in Arslan Senki so far.
      Show Spoiler ▼

      Murasaki Hiruza
  5. ep 03 “villain in love”
    Hermes getting his share of humanization aside, Arslan’s entourage realy shines as they to various degree rebel against the King.
    49993 to go? that will be easy.
    Can’t wait to see the cousin of the court painter in action , he looks like interesting man to meet…

  6. I have to kind of question why Andragoras thought it would be a good idea to send Arslan away to raise an army. Surely he doesn’t think Arslan is THAT loyal to him, to the point that he would raise an army loyal to his father – Andragoras should have seen that Arslan has completely different ideas from him. Wouldn’t that make Arslan a threat to Andragoras, if he eventually does come back with an army of 50000 people? And anyone he’d recruit would probably have similar interests and values, which is to say completely opposite to Andragoras’, and would constitute a pretty big threat to Andragoras’ power. Surely he can’t be that stupid…

    1. he underestimates Arslan, and probably doubts he can raise that army in the first place…
      plus, he thought he can keep Arslan’s retinue from following him.
      Andragoras isnt wisest of rulers, anyway…
      otherwise he would have Narsus with him at Atropatene and avoided defeat

  7. Showing the last two episodes to one of my friends, I noticed a thing that I didn’t notice the first time (or I did the connection. ^^U).

    People had been complaining about Narsus’ strategies being perfect. But here he wasn’t only surprised, but the said that he didn’t expected this and that this ruined his plan to free Andragoras to increase Arslan’s power.

    I found it very funny, when I realized it. XD


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