「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
- “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.
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.