If I were to ascribe an adjective to this week’s ep of Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu, it would probably be “routine”. That’s not such a bad thing in itself, because the base level for this series is pretty darn high. But with so little time left on the clock, I hate to see any episode go by without something exceptional happening, either dramatically or narratively. Treading water doesn’t qualify on either front (though the epilogue did suggest we may just have snuck in something by the latter standard).
It was no secret that the small-potatoes Viceroy of Gilan would be no match for Team Arslan and its big-city, battle tested wiles. The real threat here such as it is was always going to be Shagard, and I don’t think Narsus was blind to that fact. First things first though is sorting out Pelagius and the pirates. The former Narsus accomplishes by using Falangies as bait to get him to utter some state secrets, not to mention distract him while Gieve roots out the proof that he’s been skimming taxes to feather his own nest. The latter the pirates more or less take care of themselves, launching an ill-advised all-out attack on the harbor without even knowing who it was that had defied them earlier.
Needless to say, Shagard is not pleased when he finds out what’s happened. But his star is on the wane and Grahze is on the rise, because he’s in a unique position to help Team Arslan and has ample reason both to feel gratitude towards them and to respect their power. While Arslan temporarily takes over for the Viceroy – and Narsus uses the opportunity to return massive amounts of silver to the populace in an attempt to win their loyalty and trust for the slavery struggle ahead – it’s Grahze that Narsus has in mind to take over the city long-term. It’s rock-solid warfare politics, no more and no less.
Shagard isn’t going to take this lying down of course, but hostility between he and Narsus is more or less open now that Narsus has made it clear he knows Shagard was pulling the pirates’ strings. In any battle of strategy between Narsus and, well, anyone my money is on Narsus. No, the real happenings of interest here are after the credits (and before the end card by Hajime no Ippo‘s – 1148 chapters and counting – George Morikawa). We see Guiscard arresting Etoile for the “assassination” of “His Majesty” – has Guiscard taken Innocentius out at last? And it seems as if Lady Irina is about to be… burned at the stake? In 30 seconds we either get seemingly huge developments for about half the main cast, dwarfing everything that happened in the rest of the episode, or a massive head-fake. I don’t know if that’s good writing but it certainly leaves one curious for the next episode.