Arslan Senki – 23

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Flushing Meadows and the Kanto Junior aren’t the only places where it’s Showdown Sunday…

Arslan Senki had a resolutely discernible strategy for this episode – simplify.  There’s been a lot of preamble, politics and permutations building up to this point, but that was pretty much all stripped away this week, and the narrative laid bare in its purest form.  Not only was this all about the battle (much as a sports anime episode like Baby Steps was this week), but the battle itself came down to one-on-one matchups.  It may not be the most realistic depiction of military history but it makes very good television.

The game Hilmes is playing seems pretty transparent to us in the audience, but one has to wonder what the Lusitanian soldiers placed under his command think when he says stuff like “All things upon this Earth belong to Lusitania”.  It’s a fundamental flaw in this alliance that seems as if it has to bite back sooner or later – not only is everyone playing each other for their own gain, but none of them seem to be making much of an effort to hide it.  If you were a Lusitanian, would you willingly die for Hilmes?  And can an army of soldiers who wouldn’t do so for commander and cause succeed in a battle of this magnitude?

There are showdowns happening everywhere here.  On the plains, it’s Xandes and Daryun.  Beneath the city in the aqueducts, it’s Saam and Kisward.  In the Parsian camp it’s Arslan and Etoile.  And the wild card in all this is Kubard, whose arrival on the battlefield I can only assume means Gieve is somewhere close at-hand.  Narsus as usual has plotted one step ahead of the enemy, luring Xandes into a false camp after Arslan’s head.  But there are events transpiring here that not even Narsus has foreseen – though in his defense, they result from past meetings which he has no idea have taken place.

Xandes has already “died” once, fallen from a cliff.  But what I thought was a bit of sloppy writing may in fact have been anything but, as he appears to have importance to the shadow warriors who occasionally pop up in the narrative like an odd smell.  I’m not especially thrilled with the way this magical element is used, given that it’s largely ignored for almost the entire story and never gets any explanation.  But I do like the fact that Xandes’ survival may have plot importance – and while Daryun seemingly kills him again, I’m going to assume what we saw happen is what happened the first time.

As for Saam and Kishward, it’s a straightforward meeting of old allies who’ve chosen different sides.  By definition each is a traitor in the other’s eyes, but there doesn’t seem to be much malice in their fight – the simple matter is, Saam is a major inconvenience for Team Arslan.  Indeed he foils Kishward’s notion of taking St Emmanuelle’s via the aqueducts, and his reputation as a staunch defender or walls appears to be well-earned.  Their faceoff has to go down as a draw, but it seems likely to reconvene elsewhere before the battle is over.

Finally there’s Etoile, and her confrontation with Arslan is the most interesting of the episode.  I picked up a vibe in Etoile’s conversations with the chief librarian that there’s something afoot with her – she appears to be a person of some importance, whom the commander has been ordered to keep out of harm’s way.  Might she be a princess of some sort (lots of fascinating potential plot twists there), or a prominent figure in the church?  Whatever the case, Etoile insists on taking to the battlefield herself in the glorious cause of extremism that she’s yet to see for the farce it is.

Because Etoile recognizes Elam, she stumbles upon the location of Arslan’s true camp, and make a play for his head after Xandes’ has ended in disaster.  Of course a huge surprise awaits her there, and even when presented with the truth it takes her several moments to put the pieces together in her mind.  She’s obviously not going to walk out of that tent with Arslan’s head – she may not walk out at all – but I don’t see her dying here.  There’s been too much built up on this clash of ideologies, and while Arslan has seen past the hollow nature of his nation’s narrative Etoile has yet to make that leap.  Perhaps it’s as Arslan’s prisoner that she’ll be forced to confront the truth of what her belief system is – though as kind-hearted to a fault as Arslan has proved himself to be, I’m not ready to assume anything about how this is going to play out in the final two episodes.

Arslan Senki - 23 -9 Arslan Senki - 23 -10 Arslan Senki - 23 -11
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  1. I

    I love the last scene. I don't get tired to watch it time and time again. LOL :)

    And now we have to wait another week to know how it finishes. It isn't fair. :'(


  2. B

    I enjoyed the episode, although it was stupid from Arslan to approach those soldiers like that.

    He could be killed at any point, why would the soldiers even give him a chance to speak?

  3. I

    Stupidity and heroism, are extraordinarily alike.
    Perhaps they are waiting that their officer, Etoile, decide what to do. They will have to wait a long time. 😛

  4. C

    Why don't the earth wizards just attack when it's bedtime? Yeah I'm very disappointed as well in how the anime has handled these guys, Arakawa gives them more screentime in her manga and you understand them a little bit more.

    I'm kind of pissed they saved Xandes, he's an annoying character and I want him to be killed off already.

    I really want to like Etoile but I just can't. When an entire relationship with a character is based on a silly "I misunderstood who you are!" it's just… insufferable. It's like she's a dense harem MC.

    But other than that it was a very solid episode. Kubard is Persian Gutts.

  5. I

    I think that it isn't as easy as to give Arslan an harem.
    On the other hand, if you have lived all your life inside a culture, it's going to be very difficult that you change your point of view.
    Arslan could do it because Pars doesn't seem so fanatic as Lusitania.
    By the way, is 'caramel' a real eye color or a manga eye color?

  6. B

    I thought Arslan already had a solid harem.

    Elam, Narsus, Daryun, Etoile.

  7. I

    Yeah. 😛

  8. K

    Real life eye colors: Amber, Blue, Grey, Brown and Green. (Red and violet are caused by diseases and are not real eye colors)

    So, yeah those "caramel" eyes are fiction.

  9. G

    The Japanese must hate western religion's. Any time you see a non Shinto or Buddhism religion they are all crazy ass fanatics or perverts. In this case the Lusitanian religion seems very close to an Arabic one.

  10. I

    Well, I read that they are supposed to be based in the crusaders and the Byzantine empire. So, no arabic one.
    Sorry, no prize for you. 😛

  11. This is obviously a hugely dangerous topic to into. In general, I think you need to remember that this is in the context of the middle ages, so yes – Lusitania is basically the Crusaders.

    As for whether the Japanese hate Western religions, I can only say that I never found that to be true in RL. And I don't think that's the way it's unilaterally presented in animanga, either, though there are cases where it is the case.

  12. I

    I can't read the novels but, after watching the OVA's and the new serie of Arslan and all the episodes of the Legend of the Galactic Heroes, I think that the author want to point that good and bads are, more or less, scattered evenly.

  13. C

    If anything the history seems really close to the Muslim conquest of Persia despite how Christian Lusitania looks. Hell, they even worship Mithra in Pars. Notice how the Lusitanians have no graven images of their god?

    But unfortunately if you want an easy and one-dimensional Medieval villain in your Medieval story then the Crusaders are your best choice, given how incredibly misunderstood the Crusades are in our contemporary culture.

  14. I

    As Enzo said, it's a dangerous topic.

    The best thing that we can do is sit down and enjoy the two last episodes. :'(

  15. g

    I never really noticed much prejudice against western religions by japanese media and in this case in particular lusitanian religion seems like a more or less accurate depiction of medieval christianity to me.

    The context of this series seems to be a mix of the muslin invasion of Persia and
    the Crusades, with different actors.

  16. I

    I read that it was based in an ancient legend, lot of centuries before the crusades. Of course, perhaps the author has changed the characters.

  17. S

    I felt like Narsus was raising some death flags here. Or maybe he was just tediously repeating past lessons to Arslan, idk. I hope he dies though. Any battle with Narsus is of no real interest.

    The brawl in the sewer felt off to me. If you anticipate an attack through the sewers, why not just set an ambush and toast them all. Or just have 50 arrows pointed towards them? no, let's just approach and discuss for a while before attacking, why the heck not. It's a shitty plan( from Narsus !?) and they should've been wiped out.

    Etoile is the only character that resonates to me, the other characters are just so… boring.

  18. I

    I think that Narsus repeating his lessons was something as: Do you remember your lessons? That's how you apply them in real life.

    The brawl in the sewer looked strange to me too.

    For the record, what does happen with Pars' architects? Did they study in the 'Death Star's architecture academy'? The capital and this fortress have the SAME weak spot: the aqueduct. *Facepalm*

  19. That stronghold was built by Lusitania, actually.

    And the aqueduct being a vulnerable spot is pretty much standard in medieval architecture, so I call that realistic.

  20. I

    Well, yes. I think that Lusitanian rebuilt it.

    I am not an expert in medieval (or ancient) castles, but it seems a lil stupid in my opinion. I think that in reality they would make them narrow, not big enough so people can stand (and fight) inside them.

    Great episode anyway. The saddness thing is that there is only two left. :'(

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