「風塵乱舞」 (Fuujin Ranbu)
“The Dance of Dust Clouds”

The dust clouds dance on one hell of a cliffhanger.

Parsian Royalty’s Bloody Past

For a character so seemingly bereft of self-awareness or introspection, it’s revealing that Andragoras does not deny the dirty, duplicitous, and bloodstained nature of his fucked up family. Where Innocentis seems to truly believe that he’s Yaldabaoth’s vessel on Earth, Andragoras may have a more sensible philosophy on why he rules: because he does. He rules because he’s the biggest bastard who killed his way to the top of a family of bastards. At least he doesn’t lie to himself about the nature of his reality, even if so many other elements of his person and leadership are blinded by pride, ego, and short-sighted ambition.

Kishward, though. A part of me wishes Kishward had read the letter, while a larger part was worried he was going to tick off ‘ol Andy and get his head lopped off. I’m glad he didn’t. As for his thought that Arslan’s lack of blood ties to the royal family, far from being a liability, are actually to Pars’ benefit, just goes to show his worth as a general, and the existential folly of blood succession. What are the chance that the best guy (or gal) for the job is going to be your kid? Even with an edge in preparation (money, time, proximity to great teachers and the current ruler), taking a roll on the monarchy dice is an uncertain proposition. It’s rare to follow a Philip II with an Alexander the Great. Maybe it’s better to widen the pool, and escape the bloodstained waters Pars has become mired in.

Rukhnabad Recovered, or: Shoulda Killed Bodin When You Had the Chance

Speaking of bloodstains, Hermes. Very rarely will you see me rooting for the murderous bastard, but just kill Bodin already! Letting that zealous bastard go is going to end up hurting damn near everyone, mark my word. As is Arslan taking his eye (via Gieve) off the prize of Rukhnabad and letting Hermes reclaim it. Symbols are powerful, and Hermes just grabbed one helluva useful one. Three Parsian armies, all with a different potential ruler at their heads. It feels like Arslan is going to this battle as the underdog, with only his stellar companions to perhaps tip the scales in his favor.

That oughta do. Especially when he has the sympathies of nearly all the major players on the other two Parsian sides. That means he won’t have to win as much as Hermes does to take it all.

The King Everyone Wishes Him to Be

“I do not know just who I am. However, now, I do not think that is important. I am a vessel. I can become anyone. If so, I shall become the king that everyone wishes me to be!”

This season has been the one where Arslan has come into his own. Gone is the uncertain boy, and in his place is a fledging ruler who has begun to really demonstrate the promise that Daryun, Narsus, and all the others saw in him. He’s thinking, and deciding things for himself, based on his own morals and ideas rather than the dogma of his father and country. That his decisions are leading him to openly speak of opposing his father to break the cycle of violence and retribution shows that all the praise that was heaped on Arslan through the first two cours wasn’t coming from nowhere. In some ways it’s about damn time, though the timing doesn’t feel late, and I could see another story taking even longer.

The point, though, is that he’s there, and he’s realized something that all us regluar, non-blue blood people have to learn eventually: it doesn’t matter who you are, it just matters what you do. Andragoras is aware of the the bloodstained nature of his family and his rule, but he did nothing to stop it—rather, he fed it. That’s yet another cycle Arslan has a chance to break, and looks set upon doing.

One Helluva Cliffhanger

I’ll talk more about the eight-episode-season elephant in the room in the final impressions below. For now, let me just say that, even more than last season, his ending is screaming for a continuation. It’s going to be a total dick move if we don’t get more Arslan Senki anime. Don’t fail me now, anime industry! Or I will cry and cry and cry, and nobody wants that.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Kishward avoids being executed, Hermes should have killed Bodin, & Arslan listens to Étoile and sets out to stop his father #arslan s2e8

Random thoughts:

  • “The one who holds power has no self-awareness of his responsibilities, and the one aware of the responsibilities has no power at all.” Sounds familiar. Arslan may have more power than Étoile, but their stories continued to echo one another’s.
  • “Zealotry and prejudice, more than anything, bring harm to the people of that land.” I wish some people would realize that today. The more things change . . .
  • Andragoras stole his queen. It’s shaping up like Arslan is going to save a country for his.
  • Author update: I promised I’d update y’all when my new book is out in paperback, and that day has arrived. Freelance Heroics is now available in print! Plus, if you haven’t gotten the first book and wanted it with the sexy new cover, that’s been updated as well. Thanks again, and remember to leave a review if you pick either up.

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for a FREE prequel short story. At stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Freelance Heroics in print, and other matters, Freelance Heroics is available NOW!, I love sales jobs, and Good realism is character realism.


Final Impressions

Anime fans are greedy creatures.

We want the best stories, but we also want a ton of episodes, and we’re always up for another season of our favorites. These desires are sometimes in conflict. Often it’s best to have less of a good thing, if it means the studio has the resources and focus to do it well. Less is more and all of that.

Case in point: Fuujin Ranbu. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I want more Arslan Senki. Why couldn’t we have had another 25 episodes, instead of a measly eight! And yet, the eight we got this time were, on balance, far superior than the 25 we got before. We can argue about whether the plot was better or the events of the first two cours cooler, but it’s hard to argue against Fuujin Ranbu as the better executed of the two. There were no animation dips, no pacing flaws, and no ad hoc endings that just screamed “anime original!”—even if I maintain that was as good of a way to end the first season as was likely available. The Arslan Senki crew showed they could do it well, given enough budget and focus, and when not forced to stretch the material over a number of episodes that doesn’t fit their needs. Eight episodes, it turns out, was just about right for Fuujin Ranbu. More would have likely been to its detriment. More, sometimes, is less.

But that cliffhanger, man! We definitely need more of this. I hope Arslan Senki returns before long. Maybe the extra four episodes would have been enough to polish off the next book’s worth of source material, I don’t know. All I know is that I quite enjoyed what we were given, and it whets my appetite for more. Hopefully that was the intention.

Speaking of whetting appetites, I’ll likely intro the Nanatsu no Taizai mini-series that will take over Arslan Senki’s time slot. I don’t know if I’ll blog it, because it would be weird to blog a four-episode anime original mini-series when I didn’t blog the original (outside of the monthlies), though I do regret that since I enjoyed Nanatsu no Taizai an awful lot. So, we’ll see what happens there.

For now, let us bid farewell to Arslan Senki once again. May we not be apart for long.

End Card


      1. Mmmh, I think that she mentioned it sometime but I don’t remember when.

        With Narsus asking if she had to go to rule the Zot clan or something, and Alfreed saying that she had decided to marry Narsus. Or something similar… Pretty sure that I read something… More or less… ^^U

      1. To be fair, I doubt it’s a zero-sum game. It’s probably some combo of them only wanting to do eight episodes of Arslan and only wanting to do a few of Nanatsu no Taizai, and a bit of serendipity working out—though I have a feeling Arslan was the driving force, since an original can be any length it needs to be.

  1. Including Season 1, the anime’s adapted the first 6 novels. Vol 7 will cover the battle for Ectabana, and some rather Game of Thrones-esque reveals.

    For example, Arslan’s actually Show Spoiler ▼

    1. Have you read the books? One question:

      Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Show Spoiler ▼

  2. “As for his thought that Arslan’s lack of blood ties to the royal family, far from being a liability, are actually to Pars’ benefit, just goes to show his worth as a general, and the existential folly of blood succession. ”

    I don’t think this has anything to do with Monarchism and anti-Monarchism. As if was suggested several times in the series, the royal family of Pars seems to be literally cursed. (not to mention that all governments of old, be they monarchies, republics or oligarchies, are prone to the same amount of dirty intrigue and internal bloodshed due to people wanting to be in power)

    Lord Nayrael
    1. The same theme is more clearly showed in LOGH, where Yang Wen Li thought if it’s Better a corrupto democracy or a benevolent dictartoship.

      Mmmh! I have to check for news about the new adaptation. :3

    2. Aye, I was mostly just riffing. I wasn’t talking about democracy as opposed to monarchism, though I quite emphatically support the former over the latter in real life. I was actually thinking of a Darius I of Persia. After a great roll on the monarchy dice with Cyrus the Great, the Achaemenid Persians got Cambyses II, who may be unfairly maligned by history (as is Xerxes), but almost certainly wasn’t up to Cyrus’s caliber. Then, after a bit of a shuffle, the Persians got Darius I, who was not of the royal bloodline, but was the second truly great king of Persia, and might be one of the big reasons why Persia was so damn successful (a couple of good rolls on the monarchy dice at critical times can be hella useful).

      I was also thinking of a Freakonomics radio episode titled “The Church of Scionology,” which specifically used the line (paraphrased) “what are the chances the best person for the job is your child?” Even if it’s a monarchy or a corporate succession, blood isn’t likely to be the way to go. And even if you get lucky once or twice, that luck is liable to run out before long.

      1. “what are the chances the best person for the job is your child?”

        True enough. However,in the nature versus nurture of leaders, we are forgetting another important point: in medieval times, only a very small minority could afford a high-level education. And guess what? Kings could afford it, but only for their children (obviously).

        An education that included not only scholarly matters (like languages, history or just knowing where the other countries are in the map), but also war and combat. It was a minor plot point in the previous series: Arslan was surprised when he found out that former slaves recruited into the army didn’t know how to fight. On the other hand, the very first episode of this anime adaptation had him learning precisely that.

        The benefits of inheritance for a ruling position are not just about bloodlines and titles, sadly.

      2. @Kinai

        Haha, it is!


        True enough, but royals aren’t the only people with access to an education even in this kind of society. Darius was from a noble family, so he got a proper education well before he worked his way to the throne. Even if only a few hundred people in the entire society are educated up to the levels to make them potentially competent in a leadership role, what are the chances that your kid will be the best candidate?

        One in hundreds. And there are probably more’n a few hundred educated people in most societies. The kings like to have nobles to talk to, if nothing else.

      3. You’re right, Stilts, but then there’s another issue that makes even having a hundred likely candidates a very serious problem: succession.

        As RedRocket points out (and any playthrough of Crusader Kings II would teach), succession crisis can be a bane for the country (in a way, that’s what is happening in Pars now). Bloodright guarantees that fewer people will complain. We like talking about personal skills, but sovereignty being recognized is a plus. When there are too many candidates to choose from… well, either civil war (too many to count) or the weakening of central authority (HRE) are to be expected.

        People like to praise the Five Good Roman Emperors for choosing the best heir instead of it going to their children (the one who didn’t do that failed hard), but they forget an important point: none of those emperors had children to begin with, and their heirs were adopted into the family precisely to ensure some kind of acceptable succession.

        In fact, we haven’t changed a bit from that. Democracy exists to ensure legitimacy (by popular vote), not to ensure that the best leader possible in the country will be chosen. It’s one of the reasons Plato wrote his Republic, to criticize that.

      4. You’re bringing up arguments that don’t have a thing to do with what I was saying. What I’m saying is that when you have a small pool of choices, sometimes you’re going to get a bad roll and it’s going to be catastrophic—see kings like Darius III, who probably lost the empire to Alexander because he was a regular ‘ol chap who blinked when a great big bastard charged at him with a sword, or Wilhelm II, who was simply mediocre and therefore squandered an army better than any Hitler had to work with.

        I’ll widen the point. It’s not that any system always gives you the BEST leaders. What’s important is that it generates acceptable ones. Democracy, usually, does exactly that—and if a democratic leader dies, someone within ~5% of that person’s effectiveness usually steps up. And if they don’t? That particular democratic system needs some tweakin’.

        Monarchy doesn’t do that. It’s pure chance. Sometimes you roll diamonds, sometimes you get an insane inbred syphilitic leper who can just barely be corralled by the nobles. The process of succession is vitally important, it’s just not particularly my interest right here.

      5. On the contrary, I’m bringing arguments that have a lot to do with the “roll on the monarchy dice” you mention. It’s just that far from widening the definition of “acceptable leader”, narrowing it down again to skills and not including legitimacy is a mistake. That the process of succession is not your particular interest doesn’t make it less vital.

        “It’s not that any system always gives you the BEST leaders. What’s important is that it generates acceptable ones.” Indeed. But in ancient monarchies, the definition of “acceptable” doesn’t mean “praised in history books”. A king that doesn’t need a civil war to rule, doesn’t lose the throne and keeps the kingdom more or less as it started would be acceptable enough. And that requires legitimacy more than any particular skills (for them, any king could name ministers to do the job).

        For example, you first mentioned Darius I as a great leader. Prior to him, there was a civil war for succession in Persia precisely because of lack of clear succession. For the people who died in that war, was he such a good king? Isn’t that the same as Hermes’ case? As for Darius III, he lost the throne, but the immediate division of Alexander’s empire and the subsequent wars are proof of how important legitimate succession was for any ruler to be acceptable enough.

      6. ADDENDUM: There is a reason even Arslan’s friends want to keep his likely lack of royal blood a secret. In democratic terms, it would be as if it was discovered that the upcoming president rigged the election. Even if they were the best candidate possible, would the citizens happily embrace them as their leader? Probably not.

  3. What a cliff hanger with a battle of 4 Armies coming up.

    I look forward to Étoile in armor ready for battle as a girl although I rather see her with her hair lose but a helmet might actually be better when your wearing armor. (greatest violation of smarts on many characters on this show an almost all shows where helmets are used, they don’t wear helmets so you can see facial expressions better)

    Later of course I want Étoile something I hope Farangis has made for her telling her you’ve noticed that dressing modestly has gotten your women no where that only by showing the body that the god has made to be shown while acting regal and demanding respect does a women gain power. Well also want to see her in it 😉 and my desire to see women in little or nothing has done nothing to lower my desire to see women in positions of power maybe even increased my desire for powerful women.

    I think it is nice that a anime actually got to fill the space it needed by not being the normal number. Way to many anime have suffered from to many episodes or too few. I do prefer to many, I’ll take extra fluff to losing stuff that is important.

    Without a enlightenment and democracy a clear line of succession has a major advantage, less succession wars. I recall a long ago large number of players Renasonce war-game where the Muslem countries suffered more damage each time a leader died because there was no firm rule of who succeeded the title with the past ruler picking anyone they wanted (almost always from the extended family) to succeed them. Unfortunately the need to pick a successor resulted in more civil wars especially as they family would go into the same arguments that wills are contested with today.

    Having a blood successor does have some logic in that hopefully the heir gets some of the genes that made the first leader great, and with the Royal families of Europe having a fairly high intelligence seams to be the norm. The rules on how a nobel or royal ruler should act are often actually taught to the children in that system and at least in part many of them listen at least to keep with the propaganda being told to the population. This system of expectations and pear pressure of others in the system is why kings do better than dictators most of the time.

    Arslan when are you going to tell Narsus to marry Alfreed and tell her to take over the Zot clan for the good of the realm. Arslan needs a leader he trust running the clan and he needs that leader to have a great spouse that shuts down competition for her hand in the clan. Arslan needs to tell Alfreed that he had to follow what he was called to do and he expects her to do the same. Only problem Narsus may be gay or asexual as he has shown no interest in any lady so far. (historically not that much of a problem if he did his duty and then the couple kept a lover or more each more to their tastes)

    The good part of Hermes showing up with the sword is it will damage Andragoras claim making Arslan’s claim based on being the right person for the job have more of a chance. I still wonder about a national symbol sword being left in a crypt on the border where grave robbers were sure to get to sooner or later.

    Paperback ordered look forward to reading it. Like the new cover on the old one but liked the old one as well, nice sign that you got a new cover. Maybe someday I’ll see you at the Miami Book Fair as featured author speaker shown on cspan. While there even if you can play a instrument or sing, does not have to be too well, you can play in the Rock Bottom Remainders the author band that plays not particularly well every year 😉 Steven King has. The audience seams to enjoy them hack up a few songs must be book fans 😉

    1. I agree. I can’t even count how many times Bodin should have been ripped open and cut into pieces by anybody. Hilmes was too soft there.

      Nice cute face by Etoile indeed.

  4. You know, I’d never root for Hermes per se, but boy was I glad he crashed Bodin’s party and disgraced him yet again. I’m also glad he got the sword for himself, because it’d be incredibly stupid if Arslan got it for himself and people acknowledged him as future leader just because of an object. What happened this episode, from people who answer to Andragoras leaning more towards loyalty to Arslan, to him genuinely considering going up against his own father for the sake of ending the cycle of rage and destruction; that is way better and more believable. I have no doubt he’ll make a wonderful leader some day.

    As for the prospect of a future season, I don’t know what’s gonna happen next, but I also don’t want it to drag. More is always wanted, but I doubt that’s gonna be for the benefit of this show. I kinda want it to end soon, just for the sake of ending it as a great story through and through. I mean, look at Fullmetal Alchemist. IT ENDED! And now it is forever remembered as one of the finest stories anime has to offer. But like I said, I don’t know what’s gonna happen after this. It might be better, if might be not. And now I’m just rambling.

    Anyway, Arslan Senki has been a great ride from the beginning. This season felt kinda more like a filler season compared to the last in terms of story, but it nonetheless developed Arslan further, and for that I’m glad. Etoile also got her fair share of development, and it’s always a pleasure to watch these 2 help each other grow. She’s just as much important to the story as he is.

    And that’s that. Here’s to another glorious season to come soon and give us more of what we loved about this story. But for now, see you later Arslan. You will be missed.

  5. So much about Arslan not being like other Parsian royals and breaking the cycle… Wrong! In this episode, Arslan kept a well-known Parsian tradition: risk everything to impress your future queen. If it means destroying the ruling king and taking the crown for yourself regardless your actual rights to the throne, so be it! XD

    It has been a trend that Arslan acts, thinks and makes decisions by himself more often when Etoile is around. This time it was a showdown between Arslan’s two biggest influencers: Etoile herself and Narsus. Even Daryun saw it: “You have been outwitted, Narsus”.

    1. You might be in the right there, Etoile is the most influencial person in Arlan´s life as she was the onbe that showes the twisted nature of his country when he was still an innocent child and put the seed of what later will become his main ideology. That´s one hell of a Queen!.

  6. Watching this made me want for a Horizon On The Middle of Nowhere season 3 even more…just because how deep it can go. ;-;
    Save you from anything has already gone for so long, lol.

    Rant aside, I’m wondering how much longer the manga is going to go on, before it gets the ax.

  7. aaah the cliffhanger!
    Anyway the stage is set possibly for the final act, with all players ready
    we need more of times to see Narsus being outwitted, though I’d say he was out-hearted.
    Etoile is natural fit for Arslan due to the straight-arrow honesty nad goodness in her.
    Zot clan family matters were hilarious…

  8. 32 episodes after this war started and Bodin still lives!!!! Danm it Hermes! You had one job!!! One difficult is to kill that old goat!? He´s not even a godd warrior for the love of all the gods!.

      1. What he meant is that Hilmes only had to kill him when it came down to a 1v1 fight, and yet he didn’t bother trying to finish him off. That’s the disappointing part.


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