Shoukoku no Altair – 06

It seems as if Shoukoku no Altair is fast slipping into the realm of the forgotten and ignored, at least as far as the Western fandom goes.  A relatively modest start is no doubt partly to blame for that, along with a rather serious and dry tone which roughly lacks anything resembling modern-day anime tropes.  Still, there was a fair amount of hype for this series among fans of the manga, and their silence now doesn’t bode well for the reception the anime is likely to continue to receive.

I haven’t read enough of the manga to draw any real comparisons (I’ve been told that it incorporates considerably more humor than the anime does) but you know, I consider this to be a pretty good show.  Not great or anything, but quite dignified and consistently entertaining.  And I think it’s rather refreshing in portraying its hero as being quite fallible, despite his prodigy status.  Mahmut is believably naive for a boy his age, skilled in combat but limited by his physical immaturity when going up against stronger opponents, and too compassionate for his own good.  If anything a lot of viewers seem frustrated that he isn’t more powered-up, but this way is more interesting as far as I’m concerned.  A bildungsroman is structured around a journey of growth, after all.

In that sense, Phoinike is a kingdom a lot like Mahmut.  It’s too naive and idealistic for its own good, certainly – in this case too wedded in past glories to adapt to present limitations.  Both the Magistros and Mamhut are ill-inclined to believe that Phoinike’s longtime ally Venedik would desert it at its hour of need (as it seems it very much has).  Mahmut, in fact, plans (with Kiros’ help) to sneak away and sail for Venedik to hurry things along, but those plans are waylaid when the firth Imperial attack begins.  It follows on the heels of an attempted surrender by one of the Balt-Rhein ships, which concludes with Gralat’s ship managing to sneak past the harbor chains on its heels.

Even that ship, though, is part of a larger ploy – a distraction so more of Louis’ troops can attack overland and set fire to the city.  We’re seeing a very distinct contrast between the Balt-Rhein and other regional powers – it’s a much more modern operation, and much more calculating when it comes to the assets at its disposal.  Phoinike is mired in the deep past, and that leads to its seeming downfall (on Mahmut’s horrified watch) – it remains to be seen whether the same can and will be said about Turkiye.  Perhaps the upshot of Mahmut’s journey is not just growing as a person and a leader, but educating his country about how to survive when going up against an opponent who thinks differently than any other they’ve faced.

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11 comments

  1. I

    Original comment:
    Still watching but personal opinion, constantly lamenting which anime are not popular with the masses is about as pointless as pre-peeled bananas in plastic wrappers. Its not going to change anything. A much better use of time would be making an EoY list of good anime readers should consider watching.

    Acting nice comment:
    I’m still watching 🙂

  2. K

    I am quite enjoying this series so far and I think there is a palpable weight to the consequences of the actions of the ppl who weld power in the show. I watch too many tv shows so my first instinct is to kill the most capable person in a war and even when captured….plus i am incapacitating them by breaking a few legs and arms as well :-)….but that’s just me perhaps…

  3. I’m following this series diligently. It’s one of the better ones this season. That said, I am not part of Western fandom, I am part of Asian fandom. The interest in this show in Asian fandom is by my estimation as bad as (or possibly worse than) the Western fandom’s interest in this show.

    Let it be. Being concerned or lamenting about it does not do anything. Continue your write-ups so that people who are curious will have your write-ups to use as a guide when they do searches of reviews for the show.

  4. Z

    I’m still watching, but . . . I can’t pinpoint the reason, but this anime really isn’t keeping my interest. I’m at the point where I’m watching it more for completion, rather than care. It’s certainly better than my first opinion of it, but I find my mind wandering.

  5. N

    Its not a show or story for everyone. Even the manga. Its shounen, but I think with the shota Mahmut, its actually josei. Similar to the much more popular Kingdom, but based in a country that is commonly not talked about, or known much about. Like you said, its for history buffs and I think those tired of China or British centered historical fantasy anime and manga. But a story like this with 0 magic, dragons or robots is hard to keep general attention.

  6. Enzo, did anyone tell you that two episodes would be released this week? I just found out myself.

  7. Nope, did not realize that – thanks for the heads up.

  8. I don’t know, I thought that was a pretty great episode. When series like these reach a certain realm of plausibility, I find that my investment gets raised to a whole new level. Really refreshing compared to something like Game Of Thrones where people teleport around or wear faces to disguise as someone else.

  9. I’m a big fan of the manga, and when I first read the news that it’s being adapted to anime I was so happy. But then Amazon Strike got the overseas rights, and all my anticipation was gone. I haven’t watched a single episode of it, but I’m still keeping with the manga. So yea, I think manga fans are not talking about the anime because of who’s streaming it.

    Altair is one of those stories that keep being better as the narrative develops. In my opinion, the arc that comes after the Venedik one is one of the best arcs in shonen.

  10. Yeah, the Amazon Strike issue is one I hadn’t considered, but it could very well be a factor – that’s hurt many series in the West. But I also get the sense that a lot of fans of the manga who are watching the show aren’t that happy with it.

  11. s

    I think a lot of manga readers are frustated with this show because the anime skips many scenes in the beginning and the story itself feels rushed. They also changed some things (like the tughril village massacre) that added to the character growth and/or world building in the manga.

    They also didn’t include the funny moments in the manga, because I think they determined to make the anime have a more serious tone. Funnily enough, manga!mahmut is more serious than his anime counterpart. Maybe you could try reading the manga after the anime is over. They give better explanation than in the anime, also the art is much more gorgeous.

    The art is lost cause from the start. Actually it’s okay, as long as the story and characterization is good, but… they didn’t do a very good job for the first 5 episode. Episode 6 is the only eps without much change from the manga. Eps 7 they have some change, but the pace is not rushed so it’s still good.

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