「漆黒の公女」 (Shikkoku no Kimijo)
“The Black Princess”

Once again, this is an episode of two sides. One of them, lovely, the other—thought-provoking, at least. And more than a little infuriating, though it’s because of the character’s actions as much as anything, which is the best way for a storyteller to infuriate.

First was the meeting in Villar’s throne room, followed by the walkabout by Theo and Siluca. Villar continues to puzzle me—he could have had the Union, if not for his own ambitions than because Alexis is a bad wartime leader, but he not only threw that away, he missed an opportunity to stymie Marrine and add to the Union’s power even more. Of course he’s hamstrung by the Union’s ill-timed attempt at peace, but if he’s not playing the crappy hand he’s dealt himself all that well. Unless that look he gave Theo was what I hope it is. Was that him asking Theo to take care of Siluca? Or, even better, was that him asking Theo to act against Villar’s orders and go rogue, so that he can act to fix this problem where Villar cannot? I hope it’s the latter. That would make Villar a much better leader and strategist. If he was just asking Theo to take care of Siluca—well, Theo was going to do that regardless. That’s a waste of time.

As for Theo and Siluca themselves, hoo boy that moved into full-on outspoken romance territory quicker than I expected. Which is great! It felt a little out of nowhere, since this anime is still hamstrung by too quick a pace; we could have done with more foreshadowing that Theo reciprocated Siluca’s feelings, or at least that he was sufficiently fascinated with her prior to his giving up his court rank for her initially. It was there, but it was more told than felt. Still, wandering is a good look for Theo, and being open and forthright about his feelings is as well—as it is for Siluca, when she makes sure that they’re both clear about their feelings for one another. Crystal clear. Did we just see romance, in an anime, that doesn’t involve a ton of misunderstandings? That involves a girl who admitted her feelings without tsundere antics, and a guy who suspected them but wasn’t sure enough to make a move until now? These are relateable, even ordinary actions and feelings as their relationship comes together, despite the extraordinary setting they live in. That was really good, and really sweet. I think I may have applauded when they kissed!

Then comes Marrine’s battle against Lord Pavel, and oh man do I have a lot to say. Chiefly: Marrine is shit at this. I don’t know why she didn’t just siege the fortress—maybe the Alliance has a shit navy, we’re never told—but cruelty is liable to do more damage than good. Going against their version of the Geneva Convention, and not accepting surrenders, does not make her strong. It makes her barbarous, and it will also make her more enemies. Right now she faces a Union that’s foolishly suing for peace when it ought to be pressing its advantage. May gassing a lord and slaughtering all of his warriors will break their will, but more likely it will galvanize it. These tactics turn doves into hawks, and bystanders into enemies. It does not show strength. It’s dumb.

Not that cruelty is entirely without worth as a strategy, if we want to get all realpolitik here. The Assyrian Empire made good use of cruelty, and it ruled for nearly 2000 years (though that was at a more primitive technological state than in Grancrest Senki). Cruelty and a lack of mercy can be useful in war, if you’re thorough enough about it. It’s just that Marrine is using it too soon. If she used her magical mustard gas to break Altirk, that might have value, since Altirk seems to be the bulwark of martial strength among the Union. Cruelly shatter Altirk and then the rest of the Union might fall easily. (Or it might galvanize.) Use it now, though, while Altirk still remains, and you might give Villar what he needs to rally the Union back into a war footing and repel your eventual assault—or help Theo recruit the scoundrels he needs to go rogue and disrupt your plans. This early, your main enemies can respond.

You only break rules like this if there are huge dividends to be won. Why do you think the Germans kept invading through Belgium when they knew there’d be an international outcry? Because defeating France, then considered arguably the greatest land army power in Europe (the Napoleonic Wars weren’t that long before WWI), was worth the price. Here Marrine is knocking off a piddling lord in order to cow a couple others. That’s low value for the potential backlash. The other time to use these tactics is if both sides are doing it, but that’s not the case here. Only she has violated the Lords’ Code. Not a good plan, Marrine.

The final piece of this episode was Milza’s alliance with Marrine. And by alliance, I mean unpleasant sex. Which was exactly the right tone for this scene, because it’s not like they were making love. There was no love. This was fucking, and not even the fun kind. The raw kind, the type that looks like it hurts. It stands in stark comparison to Theo and Siluca’s delicate kiss. It does all sorts of character-building things, most chiefly showing again what Marrine is willing to sacrifice in order to achieve her goal, in comparison to Villar who did not sieze his chance. The whole alliance between Marrine and Milza—the military one, I mean—just further cements Villar’s failure, because even if Theo does go rogue and pull the Union’s ass out of the fire, Villar will still have lost a valuable ally. Infuriating indeed, even if it remains somewhat compelling.

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  1. Upcoming LN Vol 10 of Grancrest will apparently conclude the story, according to Kadokawa’s website:

    It’s possible the anime could fully adapt all the LNs, hence this rushed adaptation.
    Vol 10 releases this 20th March 2018, enough time for the anime to cover it all.

    Vol 10’s synopsis says Show Spoiler ▼

  2. Re. Marrine’s actions, user Agent355 on the ANN forums had this to say:

    I wouldn’t read Marrine as “selfish” as much as practical(ity of the times), reflecting her born-to-rule upbringing and education in ways that understandably take issue with Alexis’ Flower Child ideals…
    …(W)hy didn’t anyone try to convince her that going through with the marriage after the assassination would have been the most politically expedient move? Don’t let the anti-peace terrorists win! That’s probably the most tragic part…their union was likely opposed the most by people who benefit from continued wars between the Union and the Alliance, and those assassins are now getting exactly what they want because Marrine feels that she has to uphold her late father’s pride above all else.
    You can tell she feels bad about it, in the close-ups of her facial expressions, but that prideful political agenda that she was probably taught was most practical overwhelms her romantic regrets and (perhaps) moral doubt. It’s sad.

  3. the episode made me smile when i saw how Theo and Siluca cemented their relationship with a kiss, though something tells me they did more then just kiss….. afterall they confessed their love while being down to their undergarments. and with no fire lit you know how they are gonna keep warm….. but then to the end… Marrine and that milza he only used her as Conquest i bet to hurt poor alexis… the ending whole crap took away my smile.. to me it looks like rape. to gain a strong ally she had to let him use her.. rape her… grrrr I want Milza’s Head on a pike! he touched alexis’ waifu

    1. I have a feeling Milza did it mostly to test her commitment to conquest by any means. I very much doubt he gives two shits about Alexis, given that he said he doesn’t have any use for anyone who doesn’t have the will to rule the continent.

      It definitely wasn’t any kind of consent I can approve of; she might have said ok, but she damn sure wasn’t enjoying it. Enthusiastic consent is the goal, and that wasn’t that.

      Sad thing is that it’s probably period accurate. Also it’s bad because he touched her, not because she was one betrothed to Alexis 😛 No reason to center him in a story that’s all about Marrine’s bad options after all her bad decisions, as bad as the result.

      1. That’s what I thought as well, but right to the end I kinda expected (or probably more like hoped) that he wouldn’t go through with it.
        Will be interesting to see IF Villar actually does have a plan and whether Milza will see that changing sides wasn’t such a good idea after all.

      2. He said she will be his conquest. She agreed because she gains a potent weapon.

        As far as context is concerned, this is enthusiastic consent. It may not be the “YAY LET’S SEX!” enthusiastic, but as far as both parties are concerned, they got what they wanted.

      3. @boingman

        Milza does not seem to be a man who goes in for half-measures. Once she agreed, there was no doubt in my mind that he’d go through it.


        Enthusiastic consent actually does mean “YAY LET’S SEX!” If they ain’t both doing it because they want the sex itself, something’s gone wrong. You are correct that both parties got what they wanted, but that doesn’t render the act any more uncomfortable, violent, and foul.

  4. Such a stark contrast between the flowery Theo/Siluca kiss (looks like they didn’t even go further there) and the self sacrifice of Marriane out of political need. Reminded me of GoT and was not a nice watch. As intended indeed.

  5. You know I was under the impression that this series got 12 episode only but I just realized that its actually a 2 cour series…I also read plenty of spoiler on this series so I might put it on hold….I’m not sure how true those spoilers are though

    Anyway Marinne is really an idiot…Does she think she can use Milza just by having sex?

  6. ” The Assyrian Empire made good use of cruelty, and it ruled for nearly 2000 years”, Could it be that you meant to write the “Roman Empire”? The (Neo-)Assyrian Empire existed for a much shorter period of time.

    The French lost their status as the foremost army in Europe in 1870-71, they won it back after bearing the brunt of the combat on the western front against the Germans in 1914-1918 bleeding themselves dry against an enemy that was both superior in numbers, armaments and skill.

    1. @Gars

      No, I meant the Assyrians, though I was referring to the entirety of the Assyrian Empire, not just the latter phase (the Neo-Assyrians). They were the especially cruel ones though, so they’re probably a better example to use.

      I definitely didn’t mean the Romans though. They didn’t use cruelty as a weapon in the way that the Assyrians (and others) did. They didn’t employ terror as a tactic, even if their armies were plenty terrifying to experience.


      Military commanders tend to have long memories, but you’re right, I had forgotten about the Franco-Prussian War. Still, they were considered a big enough threat/prize to warrant trampling over international mores in order to snuff out.

      You’re damn right about them earning it back in WWI though. Anyone who says the French are cowards just haven’t read history closely enough. They took everything Germany gave ’em for years on end, and gave it back. Fuckers wuz stronk. I’m glad those two countries have given up on beating the shit out of each other now, lol

  7. I’m just going to go ahead and grab that low-hanging fruit: Marrine and Adopted Siluca Daddy need to get over their needs for “instant gratification” and learn to think ten moves ahead instead of two or three. First she throws away her marriage because she’s scared–giving the assassin exactly what they want with more war and Chaos. Next, she turns away Theo because this might invite others to hop on the band wagon–which, heaven-forbid she do the political thing and meet each one and make use of them if she can, turn them away if she can’t. Not like she needs allies for a war. Then she throws a fit when the other side sues for peace–I could’ve given this a pass if there had been at least some form of dialogue between the sides, but instead she decides to try her hand at being a berserker and kill some allies. With basically a forbidden WMD, basically shouting that she doesn’t care what happens later as long as she wins now. Milza… Naive. That’s all I care to say. Before this episode I’d have been pissed, but she’s thrown away everything else for short-term victories, so why not her body.

    I thought the whole point of this war was to end the Chaos as fast as possible by uniting everyone? That means a fast and clean resolution, not whatever you’d call what she’s doing. Hell, she’s outright spreading it further. Unless all of this is her pulling a Lelouch, make herself as big a villain as possible and then lose to make Alexis the bright and shining emperor. I doubt it, though I feel like Villar is kinda doing that for Theo, setting himself up to fail so Theo can rally his own allies from outside, take back his court rank, and maybe even take over for Villar after he saves Altrik. That’d be a halfway decent way for Villar to give his own rank to Theo, cause honestly Mr. Constance just looks way too fed up with all the BS to keep caring about politics. Can’t blame him.

    1. That is the central problem of this series. They could have done star-crossed lovers with Marrine and Alexis, but once they led the series with the best possible solution to all of this—their marriage, something they were not only going to do, but were happy to do—every action that doesn’t bring that future closer is infuriating.

      If, instead, everyone BUT Alexis and Marrine are against their relationship, including their families? We’d have something. Though then they’d need to be the main characters. Really they’re fucking the whole damn plot up, and have been from the beginning. Tbh, woulda been better if Alexis had died, because then Marrine’s subsequent roaring rampage of revenge would make sense.

      1. If i remember correct this Anime here is born from an popular Card Game right?
        Then you see how difficult it is to fill an world around these gaps of the Cards

        But i also agree, i think they took the wrong steps, to connect the World around this Woman (i mean the Card Game). Someone are just exploit her fear

  8. Sidebar: “I guess they don’t approve of me yet.”

    Theo, for people to approve of the Lord, the Lord has to actually be there on occasion. I was glad how much time Siluca spent around Villar got called out, and maybe this is the adaptation’s fault, but Theo seems just as guilty as her. Go back to your strength of bonding with your people, son.

  9. I saw the pictures of them kissing and I thought to myself may be I shouldn’t have dropped this series on ep2. Little did I know about the last part of this ep. I regret my decision. It cannot be unseen…

  10. ok this epiosde has some surprising and some unsurprising developments:
    1.Villar either has a planm so cunning that you could stick a tail on it and call it a fox, or he is wasting chance after chance to defeat Marrine. I can imagine he is waiting for the inevitability of war to the decisive victory to sink into the eharts and minds of the peace faction of the Union?
    2.Theo and Siluca are so cute together! And no tsundere antics, and no being dishonets with either ones feelings… Am I really watching anime?
    3.Marrine is really lookign for win at all costs… But her relentless drive might bite her back as she violates all conventions of war, and allies with most dangerous of Scorpions…
    I will not comment on her way to convince him. The less said the better… though they fit each other with “by whatever means necessary” attitude

  11. https://randomc.net/image/Grancrest%20Senki/Grancrest%20Senki%20-%2009%20-%20Large%2035.jpg

    Wow Milza knows how to get a good deal.

    I disagree with your takes on Marrine tactics. Gating away with murder is the ultimate display of power. If she can pull the use of gas off and is not sanctioned, it shows that she is the strongest player on the field. This is especially effective if your enemy is hesitating, which is how the union behaves. On the other hand showing no mercy is indeed a poor policy, because the enemy will fight to the bitter end now.

  12. Marrine accepting that in the end is very disturbing but this also seems to be the case for most successful women today doing whatever it takes to be successful ending up with a lot of divorces. Are those women truly happy?? I don’t think so. They lose their relationship with their lifelong trustworthy husband just by creating mistrust by going too far to be successful. There are bad husbands out there not ruling that out but there are also a significant number that were good that were ended because of wife’s affair etc. Most of these women end up as single mothers always driven by money or marry someone else. If it stops there no problem but even the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th end up in divorce. Lesson is don’t be so overambitious that you lose your morals and ethics.

  13. The anime didn’t mention, but Theo worked hard in his own territory. The problem is the people there are either vampire or people tired of the outside world, so he adopted a policy where he exercise minimum control to keep the people happy. They accept him as their ruler since they took up arms at his call to defend the realm and help him retake the place later in the novels. It is sad that the anime failed to show Theo’s high EQ and political intelligence and awareness.

  14. https://randomc.net/image/Grancrest%20Senki/Grancrest%20Senki%20-%2009%20-%2030.jpg
    I get the feeling these two are the only ones who has ever given Marrine good advice. The others just whine and be negative or give rather questionable advice. I thought her mage has the wisdom to see things in the long run, but I just can’t see him that way right now.

    This scene gave me serious doubts about his credibility somehow.


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