「白亜の公子」 (Hakua no Koushi)
“The White Prince”

This ended up being a pretty good episode, since it didn’t rush (much). Not that things didn’t go Theo’s way a little too easily, but at this point that feels like a feature of Grancrest Senki rather than a bug.

I especially enjoyed the first part, where Theo squared off against Lord Ladvan Torius. I say they squared off, though it was only about half against each other. In truth, it was a three-way stand-off: Ladvan, Theo, and the crowd. At first I was prepared to scoff, because they were holding their negotiations in front of a crowd, and as anyone will tell you, serious negotiations never happen in public (or in front of the cameras). But I think both of them wanted it that way. They were both manipulating the crowd (public opinion) as a weapon against one another. Both thought they could use the crowd to win—and only one was correct. Or maybe both were. Ladvan openly admitted that he couldn’t win, and that he didn’t want to endanger his people, but behind closed doors he would have had fewer options. As things turned out, he left the door open for his people to beseech him to betray the Alliance, thereby saving himself and them. That he ended up pledging his loyalty personally to Theo was perhaps a step too far—too convenient and easy for Theo, as noted before—but the rest worked out well. Turns out that Theo isn’t a military hero (like Ladvan thought), but a hero of the people. It was a good look for Theo.

Then we got to the Lords’ Congress, and once again events moved too swiftly and easily in Theo’s favor, but everything else worked well. I enjoyed all the women swooning over the Marquis of Jalucia, Alexis (Iguchi Yuuichi), and Villar’s new head mage getting to dance with him, d’aaww! Lucky lass. It was also instantly clear that he’s a bleeding heart, so it was no surprise when he showed up at Theo’s accommodations later on—though in this case, the lack of surprise was good. That at least didn’t seem like it stemmed from Theo’s luck. That decision stemmed from Alexis’ character.

The other major player was Pederico Rossini, who is a full-on conniving bastard. He’s so very punchable, which makes for a one-dimensional if satisfying villain. (As opposed to Marrine, who is a more interesting antagonist, albeit still in the early stages of development.) I liked how well Theo kept it together when he was speaking to Rossini, and how it was instantly clear that Rossini is the kind of ruthless tyrant who wouldn’t hesitate to order an assassination of a potential obstacle to his continued rule—so once again, no surprise when it was Theo who was targeted later on. My main complaint is that, once again, events turned too quickly in Theo’s favor—Rossini is going to be accused of trying to assassinate Alexis, which will get him punted from the Union and make him fair game for Theo’s assault. Maybe theo earned it because his earlier actions led to Alexis wanting to speak with him, but he didn’t plan it, so once again. Too easy.

Still, maybe I ought to start considering that a feature of the story, since it happens so often. I at least appreciated how quick and decisive the battle was, and how much Theo’s words made Siluca blush when they were speaking with Alexis. Villar and Alexis might be the total bishies, but Theo is a ladykiller where it counts—with Siluca. D’aaww!

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  1. I feel like Marrine is going to do things that’ll make me feel really, really bad for Alexis. Not sure yet if she was playing him all along or if the Archdukes’ deaths turned her into a “victory at all cost” defeatist, but I can see her breaking this poor puppy-boy’s heart in so many ways. He’s there to get back his love, she’s there to kill people; pretty easy to see this isn’t going to end well.

    Still, for some reason I kinda like how naive he is.

  2. I think Marrine and Alexis both want the same thing, to unite the world but he wants to do it with hugs while she is following the more practical way of doing it with large piles of bodies.

    Also I wonder how much control she actually has? She let herself be talked into turning down Theo by Siluca’s father against her better judgement and she had very little influence on her own troops when she went to war to kill Theo and friends. She might have a bit more control over her knights now after they screwed up, almost got her killed and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory but that is not a way of establishing authority that I would want to keep repeating.

    1. That’s actually a really good point. Marrine hasn’t been on the leader for long, so it would actually be surprising if she had fully cemented her control over her alliance. Not impossible by any means, but difficult, and she’s not showing a great deal of outright control. Not that it isn’t a good idea to listen to your advisers—I have no problem with her listening to the mage dude—but she clearly wasn’t excited for those soldiers to run off and attack, but she let them do it anyway. That doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence. She might still be consolidating.

  3. Did it never occur to you Stilts that Villar introduced Theo to both Alexis and Rossini because he figured such an event would occur? It seemed to me more like Villar making moves to get rid of a minor lord that opposed him, and also whom one of his subordinates had a personal grudge with, without getting his hands dirty at all. If it seems convenient and orchestrated, that’s because at least to my mind it was.

    1. Yes, that’s what I thought as well – why else would Villar introduce Theo to Rossini knowing very well that it will send sparks flying. Villar is not an idiot and doesn’t strike me like someone who does random stuff just because.

    2. Oh, for sure—from the Rossini side at least. I’m sure he had a feeling Rossini would go after Theo, and was assuming that Theo, Siluca, and the rest could fend off the assassins. Alexis being there at the time is more of a stretch—he may have assumed that Alexis would want to talk to Theo, but he could have been busy and put it off until the next day, or even came earlier in the night and the assassins attacked later on. Theo still got lucky. Even if Villar was hoping/planning for something like this, he probably got more than he expected.

  4. The assassination target might very well turn out to be Alexis. If I were to write the next chapter, Alexis would be killed on his way back by the driver of the horse carriage (the butler mentioned another ‘shadow’ lurking about) and the blame would be placed squarely on our hero’s shoulders, leading him on a quest to clear his name, fulfill his promise to the dead Alexis, and reclaim his island all at the same time.

    1. I wouldn’t bet on that. You’re right that Alexis could have been the target, but we don’t know of any reason why Rossini would want to kill him, whereas we know he has a motive to off Theo (to snuff out a threat to his power). A good author can slip foreshadowing in that isn’t clear until it’s happened, but we’ve spent so little time with Rossini that there’s not really another option. Theo was the target.

  5. I think we have a full spectrum of heroic attitudes shown by three-pronged Villar assault leaders: Theo being the idealistic hero, going to great length to ensure minimal human suffering even in war, Lassic being the pragmatic military hero, solving the matters with force but in a honorable duel, and the Desert Scorpion going full anti-hero with teasing enemy to attack him and then ruthlessly slaying them all with his m4d h4x skillzor.

    The Lords Congress is an interesting place to say the least. Intrigues run rampant, but most lords are hesitant to turn up the border skirmishes of Villar into an all-out war.
    And then there is the idealist Alexis who wants unification, but in a peaceful way. That makes him on same wavelength as Theo…

    Orsini is just a mobster that thinks only about safeguarding his lordship over Messina – and by all means possible. Though planting his banner on assassins sent is showing he is completely stupid. More canny opponent would hire independent professionals, and possibly frame third party under false flag operation… (Unless it is possible to plant false flag onto troops literally, in which case it might be not Orsini that sent the assasins squad)

    1. Yeah, making his assassins so clearly identifiable is total amateur hour shit. If I thought Grancrest Senki had enough guile to throw out the red herring, I’d assume it’s a trick, but it’s been straightforward throughout.

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