「李代桃僵」 (Ridai Toukyou)
“Sacrifice the Plum Tree to Preserve the Peach Tree”
Well, that went more or less as expected. Rebellion? Dealt with. Traitors? Put on notice. Hotel? Amidonia. It was the conclusion which effectively wrote itself, though if I’m to be honest it’s also and ending which probably could’ve been handled slightly better.
In line with how Genjitsu has been set up, the question for any of its major developments isn’t whether Kazuya winds up winning but rather how he wins. Like all good isekai leads he’s going to barrel over the competition, and no matter how much Castor and Carmine may disagree, it’s going to be a process with only one assured outcome. It is this scenario where I coincidentally draw my greatest criticism: yes, Carmine and Castor were inevitably going to succumb to mental fortitude of Kazuya, but did it really have to be this way? And by way I’m referring especially to Carmine. Say what you will about strategizing, but Carmine’s roundabout idea really stretches at the suspension of disbelief. In a realistic – i.e. politically realistic – world one does not simply make such a sacrifice. You may favour a particular side or lean towards a specific outcome, but letting yourself get trampled under in support of it goes against every principle of survival as we know it. Carmine after all could’ve easily done this manoeuvre through backroom channels similar to how Excel swore her allegiance – just get a sworn subordinate to pledge loyalty and you’re off to the races. It’s stuff like this which (at least for me) shows the narrative weakness of Genjitsu, and how a bit of writing change could’ve gone a long way to improving overall impressions.
Such statements, however, do distract from where some major impressions were formed this week, especially in terms of rebellion aftermath. Quite impressive for example was the use of slave collars; seeing such ruthlessness on the part of Kazuya was not expected for such a tale, but is typically how one deals with the defeated opponents of any domestic struggle. You raise arms against the state and deign to overthrow its vested ruler? If lucky enough to keep your head your life as you knew it is over and firmly at the beck and call of the victorious party. Having Kazuya tackle this aspect through such a ubiquitous fantasy concept is a nice change of pace and shows that this kid isn’t as wishy washy as appearances may indicate. For all the nitpicks I might have regarding the ways Genjitsu is concluding certain events, there’s plenty going exactly how I hoped, enough that I have my hopes up regarding how it intends on wrapping up this arc.
After all, there’s still an opportunistic opponent in Amidonia to take care off, and if Kazuya’s latest actions are any indication, it and its future ruler may not like the results the future peace treaty are going to inevitably yield.
Man I love this episode, had me frothing out of my mouth.
Looking back at the back at the meeting between the Dutches and Kazuya, I realized how there really was only ONE enemy and that’s Principality of Amidonia. Principality of Amidonia has been the most vocal if you compare them to the Dutches who pretty much been docile. That Gaius Just wants to rule a kingdom with good resources, typical commander wanting to be King…
Gaiuses daughter, though has making of much better ruler in the future. She takes “whole of the government” approach not just brute army strength. She might yet become either strongest ally or strongest enemy to Souma, depending on how both play their hands. She ahd been smart enough to predict how Gaiuses little wwar will end (in complete defeat) and took precautions of laying low somewhere well away from capital. Much of what she does will depend on how Souma will act as victor in war. Will she setup friendly government after relatively benevolent peace, or will she lead vicious insurgency if Souma goes for brutal conquest?
As I predicted, Air Force was taken under control by Kazuya prior to engaging Carmine in full… Though I did not predict that Carmine himself was double-agent of sorts. Note that Soviets did fund more than one anticommunist organisation during their years in power to lure dissident to their doom, both abroad and in conquered countries. So strategy was sound.
As I suspected, Excel was under Souma command for much longer than anyone knew except both parties and her middlewoman singer/spy granddaughter.
I am interested in how Souma will handle those traitorous – and fake-traitorous – dukes.
Machiavelli would definitely call for harshest possible penalty…. And this might strain his relations with Liscia, who is quite idealist for a royalty.
“Carmine after all could’ve easily done this manoeuvre through backroom channels similar to
how Excel swore her allegiance – just get a sworn subordinate to pledge loyalty and you’re
off to the races. It’s stuff like this which (at least for me) shows the narrative weakness of
Genjitsu, and how a bit of writing change could’ve gone a long way to improving overall
Actually this is specifically explained later in the Novel (the manga too, I think), why they
couldn’t just work through backroom channels and later announce that Carmine was working
per the King’s orders all along.
Sound slike the author apparently noticed the flaw in his setup and tried to fix it later on. That’s a good thing, it means that he can grow.
For now (from what transpired in the anime) he seems to write te solution first and then start to think how to explain the problem it should’ve been solving. It might be less noticeable in the LN of just a flaw in the adaption but it really sticks out.
I have the same feeling. And it’s not unexpected, because the political themes and morals of this story are really not that different from other Japanese LNs and manga.
While not exclusive to them, there is a trend about idealizing absolute central rule and painting nobles (beyond the royals and those who support them, that is) as corrupt and obstacles to progress. This may be a result of Japan’s own history and their many internal conflicts that only ended when a strongman united the nation, but it represents a gross misunderstanding of feudal politics. The king was never, ever supposed to have the absolute power, and any local power (from nobles to cities) didn’t look kindly on the crown’s attempts to encroach on their rights.
What Kazuya was doing here (and explicitly so) was to upend pre-existing checks and balances to increase the crown’s power at everyone else’s expense. While we know it’s for the good of the country, you don’t need much imagination to think how badly it could turn out if Kazuya aims to become a tyrant… or if his eventual heir becomes a tyrant. Feudal societies are about preserving lineages, so ensuring your line’s power and freedom would be enough to justify opposing the king.
But noooo, only evil nobles would try to oppose a centralist king. And since Carmille isn’t evil, it had to be part of a ploy, no matter what. Hence the “think of the solution first, explain the problem later” vibe you mentioned.
IMO that’s a major problem because it shouldn’t ever be the case. Such a strategy can work, but for major plot points like this it’s a bad way of writing because it yields issues like this where we get something that doesn’t really seem to fit with either the characters or the current situation. You always (ideally) want to have a framework for your story before putting words to paper to keep things consistent.
If Carmine was working for Kazuya all along it really needed to have been teased earlier.
To be honest, that is one of the reasons I felt out of love with the manga. I wanted to see if the anime would folllow… and it followed.
There is a lot of fetishization and justification of slavery tropes throughout Japanese fantasy stories, so it was a disappointment to see it happen in this one too. And while it was justified better than many others, it was in the context of a conflict that left a bitter taste in my mouth, particularly for a story so focused on politics.
As I mentioned in my other comment, there’s a trend about idealizing absolutism in many fantasy (or sci-fi) LNs, manga and whatnot. There is little regard to checks and balances, and as long as the “right person” is in charge, everything is justified. Kazuya fits that political fantasy to a T, and his goal justifies his means. The problem? While the means may be depicted in some negative light, nobody questions the goals.
The king is trying to break down local power and destroy balances created explicitly to ensure stability and racial equality? Sure, go ahead, Kazuya is such a great guy! Who wouldn’t want to submit his forces to him for the good of the nation. But what if Kazuya was a tyrant, or if he becomes a tyrant later, or his heir happens to be a genocidal psychopath tha tuses the crown’s newfound absolutism to enact the kind of purges the current system aimed to prevent? No, no, we must not talk about that. Only corruption or a convoluted ploy like Carmine’s would explain why someone would oppose Kazuya’s actions.
Personally I don’t see much of slavery itself being emphasized in this specific case as a decent example of control being exerted. The scenario of getting the dukes under full control could’ve been handled differently, but for a fantasy setting having slavery collars serve the purpose was enough. The key as always is how Kazuya treats them after peace is secured and we haven’t seen that point yet in the anime.
I do agree with the absolutism bit though; these stories always seem to trend black and white when in reality there’s never a perfect ruler. This isn’t Plato’s Republic where philosopher kings exist, it’s basic humanity where even the most idyllic of men have selfish desires and dangerous faults. Tack on issues of trust, past experiences, and simple human irrationalism and it’s hard believing everyone immediately falling in line with Kazuya’s every whim.
Probably why I don’t try to think about these stories too much and just enjoy them as popcorn entertainment. You can only dig so far into them before you realize they’re a mile wide and inch deep.
It would be very hard to continue this discussion without revealing any spoilers, but let’s just say that Kazuya acknowledges the possibility that he could turn into a tyrant in the future and takes a countermeasure against that too later on.
Who is Kazuya pretending to be, Batman?