Mistakes, battle, and a real test of our heroes’ skills.
Stilts here, taking over for Pancakes because fantasy is my jam (I-I’m not the ecchi blogger!), even when the series in question has its share of issues. Lighting summary of my feelings on episodes 1-3: Grancrest Senki is managing to both not explain itself enough and explain too much, which, combined with underdeveloped characters and factions, gives me a constant low-grade feeling of being off balance. That said, the epic fantasy scale is super fun, the key characters are getting increasingly fleshed out (Theo & Siluca especially, but Aishela, Priscilla, Irvin, Lassic and others getting there), and they’re giving us a map-changing battle every episode, which rocks. So, how’s episode four fare?
While part of me wished for a keikaku doori smile from Siluca when her adopted father and Marrine refused her alliance, the other (larger) part of me is glad that she’s making mistakes. I wish the execution was better, but it remains that Theo and Siluca are portrayed (rightly) as highly skilled but otherwise inexperienced players on the world stage who are more than capable of getting in over their heads. That’s good because, as we found in Arslan Senki, the infallible strategist comes with the risk of overshadowing his or her ruler. Of course there are in-universe reasons why Siluca or Narsus can’t rule, but it’s hard for modern viewers, who do not live day-to-day under absolute monarchies or chivalric orders, to avoid bridling at a seemingly weak ruler. Arslan Senki got by this (in my estimation, and not in the estimation of others) by showing Arslan’s growth and the areas where he excelled. Grancrest Senki gets around it more swiftly by making Siluca less awesome.
Which is good! Tension requires there to be a sizeable chance of defeat, which is difficult to deliver with an infallible strategist on one side. (You’ve generally got to face them off against an opposing infallible strategist, or else give them a situation so hienous it taxes even their brilliance.) Having Siluca just make mistakes allows for more tension, will make her more humble next time, and provides for more tense battles.
Speaking of, this was the first battle where it felt like the protagonists were in real danger of losing. The Knights of Valdrind are on a different level entirely, and I like that they were defeated not because the protagonists suddenly powered up, but because someone else came in and kicked them around; they maintain their fearsome reputation, at least as compared to our crew, until next time they appear. It was Aishela’s injury that really upped their menace level, along with them shredding the castle, though the way they so clearly fell into the Earl of Artuk’s trap was laughable. Not because it didn’t make sense, even for their (collective) characters. It was just too easy to anticipate that this level of arrogance would be punished. Maybe listen to more morality tales, you stupid knights. We tell ’em to our kids for a reason.
Jumping back to my references to Arslan Senki, another element these two senkis share is in their relatively inexperienced main leads, though I think Theo unjustly suffered for being opposite Siluca from the beginning, especially when she (early on) appeared if she was going to be an infallible strategist. Seen after this four episode arc, the two of them come out looking much more even: she’s wicked smart, conniving, and magically gifted, he’s naturally honorable, chivalrous, and charismatic (plus something of a charmer), but they’re both inexperienced and capable of mistakes or weaknesses. That’s good, because they feel more like co-equal leads. It also means that Theo might become of more interest, since he’s still more ensconced in his tropes than Siluca is.
Priscilla was the most intriguing supporting character of this episode, for the potential ramifications of her more-powerful-than-expected healing powers and her suspected identity, which is all that keeps her from being a tiresome case of “I guess she just likes him for reasons so she’s here.” She comes off more as having a mysterious ulterior motive, which I can get behind. The other star was undoubtedly Lassic. I just like that big lug. I hope he sticks around, now that Theo is back to being a wandering knight.
Our heroes didn’t end up getting punished for all of their mistakes, at least not by fate. They did get punished by politics, which would be much more galling if not for those mistakes. I can’t deny that I loved the episode ending off on Siluca’s not-so-subtle wonderings of whether she’s falling for Theo (or that’s how I choose to interpret it, give me my shipping dammit!!), and I’ll even admit to being swayed by the Earl of Artuk, whose masterful political maneuverings made it so that he saved face, Siluca got out of trouble, and he got the services of the talented mage he was originally to contract with, mostly. Plus, forgiveness is always a nice thing, even if he’s still apparently a mamacon. Now that Theo and Siluca are no longer tied down, I’m excited to see where they go next—as long as they keep most of their crew with them, and start fleshing them out even more.
- The oomph in the OST when Lassic was fighting the old king was excellent. You could really feel the weight of their strikes. More of that please. I guess we need less battles against mooks, more against real characters.
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