Arslan Senki – 19

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Meanwhile, back in Pars…

If “Why” is the keyword of the moment in Gangsta, in Arslan Senki I think it’s “Should”.  As in, should Hilmes be the king because he has the stronger legal claim, or should Arslan be the king because he seems to be the better man?  I’ve always felt that was the central question behind this story (or at least the most interesting and difficult one) but it’s been on the back burner for quite some time as the show’s eye has remained fixed elsewhere.  Well, that changed this week.

The question of if and when we’ll ever see that resolved in anime form is a good one, because Arslan Senki has such an unusual bloodline.  It’s technically an adaptation of a manga, and since it’s already caught up to that manga it would seem we’re out of luck for a sequel for now, despite the manga being a blockbuster and the anime selling quite well so far.  But technically there’s a ton of source material, because Tanaka’s novel series is at 14 volumes and counting.  So what this means for the anime is hard to say – my suspicion is that the production committee would rather let the manga regain a large lead because it’s manga sales they want to promote.  I hope I’m wrong, especially because Arakawa-sensei is hardly a speed-demon in producing new material in recent years.

It’s already looking obvious that the anime is going to end at a frustratingly compelling place, because it’s really starting to get interesting in recent weeks.  The close of the Sindhuran arc was excellent, and this check-in on Silver Mask and the goings-on in occupied Pars was likewise very well-done (and overdue).  When we last saw Saam, he was apparently killed defending Ectabana from its Lusitanian invaders, but he survived – and not only that, ended up in the service of Hilmes.

Saam paints himself as a simple man, but it was already obvious in his first appearance that he has a wealth of common sense.  Therefore, when he looks at the facts before him and decides it’s appropriate to back Hilmes for the throne (despite almost being killed by him to boot), I think we should take it seriously.  This is a reasonable position to take, even if it’s contrary to the interests of the hero.  As for Hilmes, he’s dancing a waltz of deception with the smartest Lusitanian in the room, Guiscard, who wants him to take out the rebel priest Bodin (hate the fanaticism, love the bread), who’s holed up in Zabul castle with 30,000 zealot priest-knights.

Much as we saw with Rajendra, this is a case of two “allies” whose eventual betrayal of the other is an open secret.  For Hilmes, (as Saam advises) this is an opportunity to raise an army he can later wield against Lusitania, and to score some capital of goodwill with the Parsisn people.  For Guiscard it’s a chance to set an enemy and a future enemy off against each other, hopefully with great damage to both of them.

The wild card in all this is Kubard (a superbly roguish Miyake Kenta), a powerful ex-Marzban who’s been living in the countryside saving peasants from bandits and bedding their women in payment.  Saam has in mind to recruit him into Hilmes’ (who tells Kubard his intent is simply to “bring peace t the kingdom and reclaim what belongs to him”) service, but while Kubard does join in the initial attack against the rebel priests (still absurdly stupid) with great valor, he’s not interested in getting caught up in the war of succession he’s smart enough to know is coming after the Lusitanians are kicked out of Dodge.  He is, however, fascinated to hear that “court-hating Narsus” has hitched his wagon to Arslan’s cause.  It’s clear we haven’t heard the last of Kubard as a factor in the civil war to come.

There’s almost no Arslan in this episode, but what we get is important – he signs a declaration officially urging all loyal Parsians to rally to his cause at Peshawar Citadel.  And another proclamation officially declaring that once he takes the throne, King Arslan will free all the slaves in Pars – thus earning himself the future nickname, “Arslan the Liberator”.  It’s game on now in every sense – Arslan has made both his location and his intentions known to friends and enemies alike, and the war of Parsian liberation has in effect officially begun.  We surely won’t see its end in this season, but hopefully we will see it one day fairly soon.

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  1. M

    It seemed to me like Kubard's bullshit detector went off when Hermes gave his reason (peace) for trying to take the Pars throne.

  2. g

    Right? If he wants peace the most, why has he brought Lusitanians in the first place?

  3. F

    He said he wanted "peace and to take back what's rightfully his". In other words he wants to unite Pars under him which is the way it would have been if Andragoras didn't get a hard-on for Tahamenay (and whatever other things were happening behind the scenes). He wasn't bullshitting in the slightest.

  4. e

    But the "peace" one is an obivous lie, right?
    I am more surprised at the fact that this Bodin priest can live this long.
    How could someone who's so stupid, hot headed, and uncalculating; amass a large troop and trick people into his religion?

  5. M

    You should also mention about the words that Andragoras said in the episode too. "The royal family of Pars is filled with blood and lies" sounds very GOT-ish to me. It will be really nice to see what happened 14 years ago.

    I highly doubt that Arslan doesn't have royal blood. I don't think Andragoras just pick any boy to be the future king. My money is that Arslan is the son of a disgraced princess.

    On the other hand, I am starting to doubt Hermes's claim. We haven't seen Tahamine in the flashbacks, he was sent to the far-eastern fortress for schooling, and we see that King Osores was in bed during the last day of his reign so it makes me dooubt that there was a violent take over.

    It will be fun if Hermes is actually the usurper and Arslan does have a legitimate bloodline o the throne.

  6. C

    I have so many things to say about this episode:

    1. I liked it better than all the not-India episodes. The Shindura arc felt like a big waste of time, yeah yeah it really wasn't, but all Arslan & team got out of it was a nice guy who will openly betray them later on.

    2. It's nice that we got some characterization for Hermes besides I HATE ARSLAN, I'M GOING TO RIP HIS HEAD OFF.

    3. I don't understand the whole logic behind Sam's survival and recruitment. Hermes went at him with the intent to kill him. He drove a spear through his body. When Sam was lying on the floor dying, what made Hermes change his mind about him? Why did he suddenly decide to save his life? I dunno but it seems to me like he would have died had he not been treated almost immediately after getting skewered.

    4. Kubard is great, but did we really need to hear that he likes wine and women repeated over 5 times in the span of one minute? lol.

  7. C

    Oh yeah I forgot.

    5. Xandes being alive after getting shot and fallen off a cliff. But then again this is the same show with flying horses, Daryun putting Sonic to shame and horses jumping on top of elephants.

  8. e

    Don't forget the magic guy who can freely moves through soil and rocks.

  9. N

    As someone who has been slowly pursuing a graduate degree in history I sincerely hope this series is given a second season.

    I actually just took a course this past Spring about the History of the Crusades, so this series has been doubly fun to watch against that historical backdrop. One thing I'm both curious about and fond of is the seemingly syncretic fusion of Byzantine and Persian cultures in Pars. Cultural diffusion between the Romans and the Sassanids actually made the ancient rivals more similar than ever during the period prior to the Muslim conquest, so it makes a strange kind of sense that they've been combined into one civilization in Arslan Senki. A further wrinkle is that Pars seems almost like a Byzantine-era Hellenized Persia, with Greek Seleucid names like Andragoras floating around alongside Turkish names like Arslan (both of these names are taken from real historical figures).

    Speaking of names, we have similar allusions to real history on the Lusitanian side. I chuckled out loud when "Guiscard" was first spoken on-screen – a blatant and fun nod towards Robert Guiscard, the Norman conqueror who created the first iteration of the Kingdom of Sicily (which would unite Italy centuries later), and his crusading son Bohemond.

    The only group that are seemingly absent from the story are the Arabs, though I would be pumped if an Arab-inspired group appears at some point (perhaps with an equally zealous religious motivation as the Lusitanians?) Then again, that would complicate the present story a lot, so it would have to be somewhere down the road.

  10. M

    It’s a shame that such an entertaining series as this one is probably going to remain unfinished (standard fate for long running fantasy stories. Just look at Guin Saga, Berserk etc). I wish we could get a couple of seasons of this, but it’s probably just a long and expensive advertisement for the manga.

  11. R

    Sadly we as viewers likely don't care at all about Hermes' blood right claim to the throne, and we know he cares nothing for his servants so we'll still be rooting against him regardless.

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