Arslan Senki – 12

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Well…  Seven is a more auspicious number than six, I suppose.

This was a pretty important week on Arslan Senki, it seems, as several events of considerable importance took place even if the immediate plot wasn’t advanced all that much.  On the latter point, we’re nearly at the end of the first cour and the show is unmistakably still in the setup stage – natural enough given the length of the original source material but slightly unsettling given that it’s announced at 25 episodes.  Even at that it’s going to outstrip the manga adaptation it’s more directly based on.  Somewhat surprisingly the anime looks as if it might do decently on disc and the manga continues to be a blockbuster – but will the production committee be inclined to produce more when it doesn’t have manga to directly promote?

Well… There’s not much point in worrying about that aspect for now, and taking the story as it stands, the biggest watershed moment of the episode was certainly the indisputable confirmation that magic is a factor in this world.  Arslan Senki treats it in a very interesting way – the characters acknowledge its existence in a manner that suggests it’s an accepted (if unsavory) part of life, yet there are no direct references to its source, governing rules, limitations or the extent of its powers.  Be that as it may, the arrival of the Earth Mage turns what had been a circumstantial case into an ironclad one – magic exists, and Silver Mask is using it.

Meanwhile, Narsus has arrived in the lands of the Zot tribe – who seem like bandits (as Silver Mask calls them) more or less.  Narsus thinks they’re after him, but in fact the Zot (Zots? Zotters?) are after Hermes and his party (who are after Narsus).  After a skirmish, every one of the Zot party is dead – except the 16 year-old daughter of their chief, Alfreed (Numakura Manami).  Interestingly, Narsus chooses to reveal himself just as Hermes is about to finish her off rather than use the ruckus to flee.  Is he genuinely moved to save the girl, or simply too intrigued at the notion of another chance to take on (and study) Hermes to pass it up?

Whatever the reason, it’s enough for Alfreed to feel a debt of gratitude to Narsus – and maybe a lot more.  She gets him to reveal his age (he’s 26) and declares that she’ll be joining forces with him, which of course means she’ll eventually be joining forces with the rest of Team Arslan.  Alfreed’s role within the party and her impact on the interpersonal dynamic remains to be seen, but it’s clear she’s set her sights on Narsus now that she’s not feeling any reason to remain in her own lands.

As for Daryun, he’s about to enter into a rematch with Xandes, who’s persistent if nothing else.  And Arslan and Elam are still in the midst of their budding bromance, talking of the legendary cities to the Southwest and Elam’s desire to one day explore them.  But their worlds are about to be rejoined again, as we see Daryun really put to the test by having to take on both Xandes and the Earth Mage.  I believe this is the first time that Daryun has heard the reason for Kharlan’s treachery stated flat-out, and it does seem to throw him a bit.  But there’s no time for that when the mage appears just as he’s barely holding off Xandes, and it’s only the arrival of Arslan that – for a change – saves Daryun’s life.

Daryun is a simple man, in the main – not especially interested in politics or adept at strategy – but he’s no fool.  This is a matter of personal loyalty to him, but when Arslan returns to save his life he begins to see the conflict in a deeper way.  Whether what Xandes (after Daryun stays his hand yet again, Falangies seems to finish him off this time) claims about who the rightful king is true or not is irrelevant – even if Arslan isn’t the ruler by birthright, Daryun comes to believe he should be the ruler by merit.  This is a bit of a watershed moment for Arslan Senki, and a very interesting potential arc for Arslan.  Perhaps he’s a protagonist about whom his enemies claims are true, and he has no legal claim to the Pars throne – yet by his nature, he’s most suited to it.  It could be a fascinating musing on the question of legitimacy if Tanaka-sensei decides to go down that road.

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End Card:

Arslan Senki - 12 -40


  1. F

    I also was quite surprised at the appearance of the outright show of magic … it had been hinted at before, but what we saw in this episode cannot be reproduced with smoke and mirrors or alchemy/chemistry or whatever else. The earth magic assassin was something to behold, and I also thought the "proof" thereof was really a big "reveal".

    Good stuff – even if moving "slow" I am continuing to enjoy it!

  2. N

    Watch Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Same author. If anything, that series was further ahead than Arslan is right now. Arslan asks: "what makes for the rightful king?" LoGH asks: "why even have a king at all?" Of course, a representative democracy is not technologically feasible in a feudal agrarian society.

  3. Y

    I was genuinely disappointed by the poor-quality animation this week (it has to be the worst we've seen on the show thus far), but aside from that, this was a pretty solid episode. I particularly enjoyed Narsus's interactions with Hermes and Alfreed; and props to the animators and voice/sound director(s) for portraying the mage/cultist as the mysterious creeper he's supposed to be. Speaking of magic, was I just seeing things, or did Daryun and Arslan also demonstrate some sort of inclination towards the supernatural? First there was His Highness nigh-magically "sensing" the grave situation Daryun and Farangies were in (is his intuition something out of this world? or did he smell danger on the wind? lol), and then we had Daryun, who quite literally went Superman on the Lusitanians' collective arse as soon as Mr. Cloak-and-Cackle threatened to lop Arslan's head off. Both cases seemed pretty inhuman to me. I mean, I guess I wouldn't have a problem with them possessing such capabilities, but I'm not nearly far enough into the novels to claim anything with any degree of certainty.

  4. E

    Definitely wasn't the worst, looked better than the last episode imo, especially since we had quite nice shots this time round even when they weren't moving. If it stays at this quality I'd be quite happy actually, compared to the bumpy ups and downs of Baby Steps this is a godsend.

  5. Y

    Hmmm… perhaps I have abnormally high standards when it comes to the quality of the visuals, then; but to each their own. And yes, some of the landscape/background shots looked quite nice indeed, though when I pointed out the lackluster animation, I meant it chiefly in regards to the characters/battle sequences. And what do you make of the magic? Do you think what Arslan and Daryun demonstrated were actually abilities of "magical" character?

  6. E

    I guess it's true that despite bad animation during the talking scenes the series has generally had much better animation during its fights.

    Arslan sensing Daryun might have been the djinn but Daryun's crazy charge was definitely real, probably the fault of bad animation, attempts at comedy or something but it reminded me of gouda takeo…

  7. C

    I suppose the full-blown, in-your-face magic was maybe a little too abrupt? There had been somewhat ambiguous foreshadowing, like the mist and the djinn… am I missing anything else?

  8. Well, there was the wizard with the crystal ball back at the palace in Lusitania. That was pretty much unambiguous proof that some important people believe magic exists here.

    This idea of magic as only an occasional factor is common in epic fantasy – look at stuff like GoT and the Moribito series. They're fantasy, but most of the drama isn't connected to the fantastical elements. What's unusual here is that we're getting no attempt to contextualize the magical elements – they're just sort of an unspoken presence.

  9. Y

    You know, I've been wondering for a while now about whether or not Hermes's and Xandes's respective swordsmanship styles are actually magically-enhanced, since that would explain the latter's super-strength and the former's super-speed. But aside from that (as well as the djinn and that freakish mist, which you already mentioned), I don't think we've encountered any other instances of magic.

  10. C

    Is Daryun's super musou-rage burst also magical or something? I hope so 'cause otherwise that really bothered me.

    I mean, what really surprises me is not the magic in itself, it's the fact that only Faragis reacted to it. When Arslan & the rest showed up nobody went "what the fuck is this shadow earth travel jutsu?" so I guess it's not that uncommon to see magic?

  11. I think you're reading too much into that hyperspeed thing. It's just a special effect, I don't think it was designed to be taken literally.

  12. c

    Well, this got immature and silly (in bad ways) real fast, for me at least.

    I tend to only watch 1-2 per season at most as a casual viewer and mostly seinen and/or different-than-average and this episode just killed most of my interests on it with this childish stuff. It's not that seinen (or serious shows) can't have magic nor this show was ever advertised as seinen, but just put stuff like this in episode 12 out of nowhere? C'mon now.

    Yes, indirect signs were there with this magic stuff, but it is too bad the way this show has turned out now. And I already had slight issues with this whole one-guy-takes-hundreds-alone-thing, but that alone was ok. But adding this to that is a bit too much for this viewer. I do wonder whether this was from the original novels themselves or just this particular version of adaptation… I suspect that it is the latter.

    To be sure, if this was advertised as such show from the get-go like “shin sekai yori” a while back, I wouldn't have as much issue with this sudden development. And it's a shame since the story itself was strong enough with politics, class system, etc that it didn't need this thrown in after 11 eps. I felt the same way about "yowamushi pedal", which prompted me to drop it in the middle when it got real silly. That show also sold with some serious bike stuff initially before it got real silly with all those special moves like some Dragon Ball.

    Not dropping this just yet, but it’s not the same now. I guess I will have to wait until "Boku Dake ga Inai Machi" comes.

  13. E

    I don't know , the scene never felt as off tonally as that one episode in GOT where skeletons rose up from the ground and were blasted with fireballs…

    Definitely not yowamushi pedal standards though, that show was ridiculous. Abu!

  14. C

    Yeah I was gonna bring up Game of Thrones too. You'd think that's just a normal medieval setting, when suddenly there is the whole Melisandre's shadow scene as late as season 2.

  15. N

    Now that the Archbishop broke away, I can happily cheer for Guiscard 😛 The whole "Holier-than-everyone" aura around Arslan and his gang had started to feel way too obnoxious.

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