Arslan Senki – 22

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Are we there yet?  Not quite.

Military epics share a common element with sports anime, and that of course is the setup episode.  Every big game has to have a buildup, a time of quiet reflection on what’s to come – and the big battles are no different.  It just so happens that this particular battle is the one that’s going to bring the season to a close, so it’s hardly a surprise that it would merit the most contemplative episode of the series so far.

The season?  It’s hard not to wonder what the future holds for Arslan Senki, given that the anime is not even a third of the way through the novels, but has already used up the manga it ostensibly exists to promote.  Sales of the first two volumes have been pretty good (better than Gin no Saji, by way of one comparison to a big-selling manga by Arakawa-sensei), but I don’t know if it makes financial sense to continue the anime before the manga leapfrogs ahead of it again.  My suspicion is that it’s going to be a few years before we see a continuation in anime form.

Even if that’s true, we’re not going to get an original ending – no way.  I suspect the series will stop with the story very much in flux.  It seems that Arslan and Hilmes’ fates are going to converge at the fortress of St. Emmanuel, fittingly a structure that has already passed through the control of both Lusitania and Pars.  Arslan is proceeding towards it with an army of about 60,000 men – Hilmes has marched to the fort with his own force of 100,000.  We may see a decisive result in this particular battle or we may not, but I certainly don’t think we’ll see anything decisive in the war.

At least we seem to be dealing with a situation where Narsus has a counterpart who doesn’t meekly play into his hands.  Guiscard is no fool – he sees through Narsus’ ploy to get him to underestimate the size of his forces, and realizes he needs a huge army to win the day.  The uneasy partnership between Guiscard and Hilmes is definitely an interesting angle to follow here.  I don’t think either is blind to the dance they’re engaging in – it’s only a matter of when the betrayal will come, and who will shoot first.  Hilmes has returned from his capture of Zabul castle virtually if not totally unscathed, and he persuades Guiscard to allow him to “borrow” 70,000 Lusitanian troops to join his 30,000 in meeting Arslan at St. Emmanuel.  For now Arslan represents a common threat to both of them, but each is thinking ahead to when that’s no longer the case.

Hilmes is troubled, and while it’s Andragoras that’s in chains when the two of them speak in the dungeons, the latter clearly comes out ahead in this encounter.  The deposed king’s talk of a prophecy obviously unsettles Hilmes, who seems more insecure in his conviction that his victory is inevitable than he ever has.  We don’t know exactly what this prophecy is, nor whether or not Hilmes does – but it seems likely he does, because it’s hard to imagine any reason why he’d keep Andragoras alive otherwise.

Meanwhile, Arslan is very much feeling the weight of the moment, the fates of the men he’s leading to battle haunting his thoughts.  Arslan being Arslan he tries to do what he can, insisting that the alarmingly green foot soldiers be given some training (why did it fall to him to do that, though?).  These scenes are painted in a somewhat humorous light, as we see that Narsus’ skills as a painter have clearly not improved and get an amusing farce with Elam and Alfreed as they try and avoid the suspicion of the local Lusitanian soldiers (get a room, you two).  But underneath that is a real sense that Arslan is going to be severely tested here – not so much by the battle itself, but the certain loss of men it will bring with it.  This will be death on Arslan’s hands on a scale we haven’t seen, and he’s going to have to show considerable steel to move past it and focus on the crisis at hand.

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  1. S

    Am I the only one intrigued at how horrible Narsus' painting of Daryun would be? Anyway, I can't wait to see how the upcoming battle turns out and how much of this prophecy we will be able to know before this anime ends.

  2. Nope, we don't do that here.

  3. E

    I'd be content with just a glimpse of his fruit paintings…

  4. I

    I dont think that we will see any Narsu's drawing, because it's more horrible if you imagine it.

  5. I

    By the way, 60.000 is the number that Narsus leaked to the enemy. I think that Arslan's army is near 100.000 too.

  6. I

    Actually, they were underestimating it even lower than that, at 30-40 thousand, so 60 thousand is probably where it really is.

  7. I


  8. C

    I can't believe Narsus has a plan that involves going into pitched battle with an army so green they can barely even use their weapons. Like, what? Why didn't anybody notice this sooner?

    Or was this just contrived writing so that later he could have a heartwarming moment where he can teach Arslan more about human nature.

  9. Honestly, I think it's hard (callous?) practicality on his part. He knows he doesn't have time to train up all these newbies in any meaningful way, and he's designed a plan that basically uses them as fodder, useful as pure numbers but little else. The business with training a few random grunts is really to soothe Arslan's fragile conscience and little else.


  10. C

    Yeah, it did cross my mind too that maybe he's gonna use them as sacrificial pawns in his grand keikaku. We'll see.

  11. I

    My thing is that it SHOULDN'T fall to either Narsus or Arslan to train these foot soldiers. They should be able to delegate these tasks to the warlords they have around to train their troops. Honestly if they go out with a bunch of foot soldiers that are that green, they are just asking to lose. These guys aren't disciplined enough fight or follow orders, they need more training. All that time they were in Peshawar, they should have been training those soldiers rather than having parties,

  12. I

    Guardian, do you think really that Narsus is going to use them as cannon fodder? Someone that free all his slaves?
    On the other hand, who said that they didn't train? Perhaps it's only a way to show that Arslan is worried about the soldiers.
    Anyway, about numbers:
    When they arrived to Peshawar, it is said that there's 60,000 Footmen and 20,000 Calvarymen.
    Taking in account that Hodir said that he 35,000 Footmen and 3,000 Calvarymen. At least four lords have joined Arslan, so I think that Arslan's army would be, in a moderate estimation: 160.000 Footmen and 40.000 Cavalrymen.
    It is probable that only the new recruits (the one recruited after Arslan signed the decret), are mainly untrained. But the most of the army would be veterans.
    So, how many did they leave in Pashawar?
    I don't remember if they gave any number, but I think that the army attacking the Lussitanian fortress are at least: 90.000-100.000 footmen and 20.000-25.000 cavalrymen. With a 10% being inexperienced troops.
    Silvermask have an army totalizing 100.000 troops more the troops inside the fortress.
    So I think that it's a total of: 110.000-125,000 in Arslan's army and 140.000-160.000 in Silver Mask's army.
    All of this is only a supposition.

  13. Listen, it could just be the reality of war. If you get 20,000 green troops and need to go to battle in a week, those guys are fucked. It's not nice, but I'm not sure there was anything Narsus could have done about it.

  14. I

    Yes, I agree with you.
    But one thing is that those guys are fucked, and other thing that Narsus 'uses them as (cannon) fodder'.
    They are fucked, yes. Narsus intentionally using them as cannon fodder, no.
    That's all that I said.



  15. I

    A good build up episode as all the pieces are getting into place. Also, I'm not so sure I agree with your theory that Hermes knows about he prophecy. He seemed pretty surprised to hear about it. Also, it's been pretty apparent why he's kept Andragoras alive. It's all about revenge for him. He wants the man to suffer more than die. He wants to keep him alive as long as possible while he dismantles everything the man has done. If he could he would chop off both Tahamenay and Arslan's heads and keep them in there with the man just to drive the knife in harder. He wants his uncle to suffer for the long term, just as he has had to suffer for 16 years.

  16. I

    "Military epics share a common element with sports anime, and that of course is the setup episode."
    He! You have to watch the Legend of the Galactic Heroes based in the novels of the same author of Arslan-senki. I think that you would like it. :)

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