「至誠の仮面劇」 (Shisei no Kamen geki)
“Masquerade of Sincerity”

Another city visited, another member added to the party. No surprise Abiriga would join up with Mahmut considering the intro has been teasing it for weeks, but it was certainly the elaborate ruse to bring it about. As has been the case with Altair for a while though, every piece has its purpose, and you can bet that every action has a hefty amount of thought behind it. Venedik’s modus operandi only proves the point well.

I mentioned last week how Altair uses realism as its foundation, and as expected Venedik largely obeys its will. The country performed as the best lawyers always do, treating language as exact and using its loopholes to find convenient escape clauses. So what if the Phoinike alliance mandates responding to a call to arms, there’s nothing specifying when said aid must arrive. It seems incredibly dishonest, but this is part of the reason why all modern international negotiations often take forever to hash out—the phrasing of a handful of words often dictates how an agreement will function day to day. There is never trust between nations, only occasionally aligning interests towards a common goal.

What makes Venedik’s position all the more fascinating is its stance on Balt-Rhein. Mahmut certainly not wrong the empire is a threat to all around it, but as the Doge cleverly points out, it does not mean they must be fought. Wars may be political as Clausewitz is at pains to describe, but they are always the rational nation’s last resort. Sure Balt-Rhein can (will) turn on Venedik later, but by that point the map will have changed and each state’s circumstances will be different. Enter the complex deception regarding Abiriga. By quietly forging contacts and friendly relations with upcoming rulers now, Venedik ensures when the inevitable comes that it has the strongest position possible to meet the new demands. The best strategists always think three steps ahead, something Phoinike forgot between the height of its power and its slow senescence into irrelevancy. This boys and girls is how the political game is played. Ruthlessly.

What keeps all the International Relations 101 above interesting though is how Mahmut responds to it. The kid never stops surprising me, first by earlier acknowledging the limitations of his idealism, and now by outright admitting his answers are not the only correct ones. Seriously, colour me impressed. As the Doge correctly states, Mahmut’s weakness is not his dreams, but his (gradually disappearing) inexperience. Idealism is an incredibly useful tool for finding ways of improving upon the preexisting, but quixotic naivety in the vein of Constantinos is what gets men and nations killed. I still stand behind my remarks about Mahmut being a scheming monster in the making, and it seems Venedik has also recognized his potential. By placing Abiriga in Mahmut’s party, Venedik ensures when the time comes to “update” the international order, Mahmut will be ready and able to make—and properly carry out—the correct decisions. After all to make money you first have to spend some, and Venedik has money to burn.

Next time, however, it looks like we’re back in Turkiye and get some more experience with the internal politics of pashas. It’s unclear how Mahmut or Balt-Rhein could factor into this little event, but with a coming clash of nations not far on the horizon, you can bet both will have their part to play.




  1. Thank you for your continued analysis on this series, very insightful. I despair in the fact that Mahmut will essentially get to that stage. Not a monster per say but that he acknowledges the people, nations are expendable for the overall ideal. The ideal which is essentially futile in its true sense. no war and true world peace. Venedik has achieved it of sorts but to the irk and justified anger of the Kulak. It goes to show that politically cold among within themselves there is compassion but they can’t bare all to be vulnerable, hence the small but significant gestures.

    1. Thanks for liking it! I get a blast out of writing on this weekly, and doubly so when people find it useful in some way.

      Although I keep talking about Mahmut reaching the “cold hearted” stage, personally I’m not sure yet if he will get all the way there. Altair’s main conflict is Mahmut coming to terms with this reality, which could as easily end with the kid choosing to keep his humanity once reinvested with authority as him turning into Zaganos or Venedik’s Doge. The end may very well be Mahmut simply accepting his ideal is impossible while striving to get as close as possible to it. Basically liberalism in action, and a fitting line of thought to explore after giving us a crash course in realism.

  2. I finally caught up with Shoukoku no Altair, and I have to say, it’s probably my favourite show that started airing this season. Mahmut receives a harsh lesson in international relations, getting a first hand taste of how shrewd leaders like the Doge can be.

    Personally, I don’t think Venedik are three steps ahead. Their neutral policy of sitting on the fence guarantees that they can choose the winning side in a conflict. But that kind of stance is untenable. Balt Rhein can only continue to become more threatening, seeing how Minister Louis is angling for an extremely aggressive expansionist policy.

    I’m very interested in the wider implications these events will have on Centro. Their land formerly constituted the ancient Phoinike Empire, and a successful conquest will mean Turkiye is enclosed on three sides. Balt Rhein Empire definitely have the area marked out as their next target. Each autonomous region is basically its own nation state, and if they were to remain scattered and divided, there is no chance that they can stand up to an orchestrated invasion. That’s not even factoring in how a focus on trade probably comes at the expense of military strength, in spite of possessing a powerful navy. They will topple like dominoes if they don’t band together to address the threat, which is why I actually find the Doge to be short-sighted. Even if an alliance with Turkiye is not on the table, he should be rallying the other Mediterranean countries to unite against a common threat.

    A minor complaint I would have about this episode is directed towards the ‘test’ that Brega made for Mahmut. It seemed pretty shoddy to me, especially how Mahmut managed to raise that much money from playing chess. That said, Mahmut is a peace-loving guy, so the non-violent resolution does a fantastic job of reflecting his character.

    1. Depends how we classify three steps ahead IMO. If in terms of knowing what will exactly happens then I definitely agree with you Zaiden, no way Venedik is that ready. Here, however, I mean by ensuring the best possible circumstances. Venedik is acquiring pieces to play later on, which any smart state will do because it’s better to have something and not need it, than need it and not have it. Mahmut is insurance that gives Venedik a good chance of mitigating any change in their current Balt-Rhein relations. No guarantee of course (i.e. Mahmut’s opinion on Venedik’s delay), but that’s what Abiriga is meant to handle.

      The thing to remember is war is expensive and most importantly unpredictable. Tackling Balt-Rhein now may look good, but even if all the remaining states banded together, one defeat could ruin what initially appeared to be a decent opportunity. Wars are always won before pulling the trigger, and Venedik likely knows that to some degree—it’s better off playing nice while making ready than preemptively alerting your opponent. For example we don’t actually know if Venedik is quietly courting the remaining Centro powers. Considering how the Doge handled the events here, I expect Venedik is. Everything right now on both sides is simply positioning for the inevitable showdown.

  3. Good episode. Still kinda rushed, but it sums up the Venedik arc. Too bad we can’t see more of Venedik and international politics 101 because the next arc is going to be centered around Turkiye.

    But finally we get Abiriga! He’s the the strongest character in the series, and with how many troubles Mahmut get into it’s good that he have an ally like Abiriga.

    You’re right that Mahmut is a scheming monster in the making. Unfortunately that part start right after the next arc (civil war), so we didn’t get to see it animated unless there’s season 2. Which focused more on international relations and where things start to get more interesting.

      1. Unfortunately, the civil war arc takes about 3 volume in the manga. I suspect the director want to expand the battle scene and end it with the conclusion of civil war. Not to mention the next part tied to the larger arc, where Venedik’s and other nations next move are explored. So unless we get 50 episode, it’s only enough to cover for civil war arc.

        With so many episodes left, I hope this arc would have a better pace than the beginning.


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