「月下佳人の舞」 (Gekka kajin no Mai)
“Dance of the Moonlit Beauty”
Chopsticks, guns, and wickedly smart beauties. Err, other beauties. Altair might be all about the politics, but it certainly doesn’t stray far from the quintessential anime tropes. Sure it was mostly a week of international political economics (which is actually a thing) and figuring out what variety of Red Wedding is best suited to the circumstances, but never doubt Altair for lacking a sense of humour. You might find that belief sorely tested.
The key development this week of course lay with Mahmut’s newfound role as head of a rebellion. This is no real surprise in the greater scheme of things, the kid is completely expendable in his current state and very loyal to his country—refusing an order which could prevent Turkiye’s destruction is entirely out the question for him. Sure it might seem like a losing proposition, but Mahmut’s leadership serves two functions. First he now has a position suitable to testing his mettle and seeing how far his previous learning can take him. As revealed throughout this episode, Mahmut has very much become a realist and accepted that states have no real friends, only occasionally aligning interests—he just lacked a means of employing his new mindset. Second the kid, if successful, will have redeemed himself and—most importantly—set himself up as a serious powerhouse in Turkiye. Becoming pasha again? Oh Mahmut will get far more than that. When it comes time for accolades and promotions, Mahmut will reap the lion’s share for being the one who actually led the operation and recruited its most important members (i.e. the new sultans). Zaganos may have formulated the plan and provided it supplies, but he will have a hell of a time keeping Mahmut’s exploits hidden from Turkiye’s government—a few guys (and gals) will make sure of that. I firmly bet Turkiye’s main schemer is not going to like what happens if Mahmut proves the victor.
Obviously though this requires Mahmut to succeed, and so far that is no sure thing. No matter how culturally attached each of the Turkiye states are to one another, when someone like Balt-Rhein rolls up and promises you better rewards for your goods, you don’t just turn your nose up at that. As Mahmut is starting to divine, a state’s interests are always aligned towards its survival, and survival is best guaranteed by economic independence. Sure it may come from an untrustworthy source who in this case may or may not use that fancy new road as a military invasion route, but there’s also no guarantee Turkiye can keep providing a similar level of security. The talk of federation (read, centralization) and Turkiye’s unilateral dismissal of the dependencies’ sultans shows a state unwilling to share power, and from there it’s only one small step to outright annexation and assimilation—it’s not wrong thinking the four minor sultans have significant concerns about their future geopolitical positions. As mentioned last week, no matter how much Zaganos is correct regarding Turkiye’s own survival, he conveniently ignores how he is pursuing the exact same goal as Balt-Rhein’s Louis, just on a smaller scale. Turkiye may be this story’s good guys, but Altair has made no qualms about applying the less appealing aspects of international relations to friend and foe alike.
Next time, however, it’s back to the scheming as we get down and dirty into the details of marriage, manpower, and the usages of guns. Little weird seeing Altair explore the world of technology when its political clout arguably does the job well enough already, but I’m not complaining too much. With a rebellion at hand and a 500 lb gorilla eagerly awaiting nearby, I’m not about to turn my nose up at some tasty military tactics.