「莫逆の友と為る」 (Bakugyaku no Tomo to Naru)
“Becoming Good Friends Who Never Offend”
When you’re on the outside looking in negotiations could be considered the slightly livelier version of watching paint dry, but if you’re ever involved with them you know there’s often fun to be had. Whether that be verbally corralling your opponent into your desires, enjoying a good bit of strategic banter, or simply catching up on missed human contact (:P), there’s something for everyone as Genjitsu shows. After all, what better way to play matchmaker than in the hall of your current opponent?
Although there’s something to be said for Genjitsu largely spending another week of still shot back and forth, I have to commend it for actually releasing some interesting tidbits this time around. The demon-beastmen dichotomy for example might appear meaningless at face value, but it’s a nice fantasy-focused exposition on something we all already deal with on an individual level everyday: facial recognition.
Everyone after all is pretty familiar with the meme of Westerners in general being unable to discern between Asian faces when presented without any other information, and the reason is effectively down to that of “feeling” as espoused here. Often all it takes to identify differences is growing up in a culture where such differences are at play; Asian cultures have no issues telling who everyone is because environment coupled with basic human neurology to train general facial recognition towards that particular human phenotype and its subtler differences. Westerners on the other hand are more attuned to more striking phenotypic differences because, lo and behold, that’s what they grew up with and calibrated upon. Kazuya in effect is the Westerner in this tale, unable to discern between demon-beastmen because he currently lacks the experience to do so. He’ll certainly figure it out over time (as we all do), but whether it’s before or after someone sketchy learns of it will be interesting to see.
Just as interesting is the matter of Amidonia itself, and no major surprise it was all concluded without a hitch – at least so far. While I’m sad my dreams of plebiscite were dashed (that would’ve been a nifty development), forced reparations does serve a similar means to an end, especially when they’re required to be in what could be considered Genjitsu’s global reserve currency. Want to really hurt your enemy and send a message? Bankrupt them and effectively hand the economic fallout off to someone else.
Of course it doesn’t explain why Kazuya would then turn around and seek an alliance with the Empire, but that more or less answers itself. As Kazuya succinctly states signing the declaration would not see Elfrieden as an equal as the Empire effectively dictates and controls its terms; the only way to prevent the Empire lording it over the kingdom is to forge a different agreement with bilaterality baked in from the start. Do that and Elfrieden can then negotiate with the Empire as equals, negotiate as equals and others will soon start seeing Elfrieden as equivalent to the Empire (especially if Elfrieden is providing military assistance to boot to boot). And when that happens the Empire’s ability to unilaterally control matters starts dissipating. Jeanne may not know exactly what Kazuya has planned (as we all do), but I expect her or her sister to soon start putting two and two together once the pieces begin moving.
The only question is how they respond once the consequences of alliance become fully known. Something tells me it won’t be entirely peaceful.
Good to note that the Demon Lord Divalroi’s identity is not something which (spoiler alert) will factor into Genjitsu’s story anytime soon. The shrewd ones, however, can probably start guessing what Dival might mean (in terms of Japanese transliterations) when it’s recognized roi is French for king.