「楽園の檻」 (Rakuen no Ori)
“The Cage of Paradise”
When all is said and done and Altair finally reaches its conclusion, there’s no doubt in my mind that this show will have set the bar for geopolitics in anime. Altair is certainly cruising through its material and has a penchant for rapid fire character introduction and development, but the ideas it espouses and the themes presented make for some wonderfully meaty material. Case in point being this week, where ideals are tuned to meet the circumstances.
I’m surprised it took this long for a character like Mahmut to appear, but it is a fitting spot to introduce one, especially one who seriously prods at Mahmut’s morality. Carvajal, besides looking like Mahmut in 20 years, possesses a similar mindset in seeking peaceful existence and doing what is right for the people. He wishes no harm on anyone…and yet immolates over ten thousand souls with no hesitation. It’s a viciously ingenious scene, showing how violence and pacifism can coexist and work towards similar goals. Stories and real life often see peaceful idealism as a virtue to uphold against all (and many stories often feature struggles to reconcile such belief with countering circumstances), but Altair questions the need to always uphold it. If the enemy is unwilling to follow the rules, what obligation do you have to do the same? It may feel good obeying the principles taken as ultimate good, but how well will they serve if you are dead? This is a dilemma with a different response from everyone, for every individual alone will know at what point personal morality must be set aside in favour of other objectives. Mahmut has previously indicated his willingness to do what is necessary to save his country, but Carvajal is the first real test of that resolve. Can Mahmut, if required, kill unremorsefully to see his dream reached, or is that one step too many? It’s a question he must answer soon, for quite a few lives are resting on his choice.
Where Altair will likely start seriously playing this dilemma up, however, is in matters to come. For example we have already seen the technology angle before with the muskets, but Halil Pasha’s blunt rejection of another wonder weapon (and the designer’s retention of a blueprint copy) suggest Altair is just getting started in this theme. Whatever the device is (likely cannons or explosives given the mention of using it for reconstruction), if it can slaughter armies and exterminate towns, someone will eventually use it in that capacity (*cough* Balt-Rhein), and when that happens, there’s no putting the genie back in the lamp. As Balt-Rhein has repeatedly shown, this war is a matter of state survival, and Balt-Rhein (at minimum) places no limits on the pursuit of that goal, no matter the consequences. Halil Pasha’s moral stance may be commendable, but I fear he is only setting himself up for one hell of a fall against an enemy caring little about honour. With Balt-Rhein not only numerically outmatching the alliance forces, but also willing to do anything for victory, I don’t think it will take long before Turkiye’s first expeditionary force is sent home in pieces, and very likely without its general.
Something tells me Mahmut’s personal struggles (and discovering the true reach of this war) are only just beginning.