This show tries really hard to evoke the idea that things are not always what they seem. Maybe a little too hard. But the biggest problem at the moment is that the show has so much material to cover with so little time. It’s clear why none of the characters seem to have any personality. The story just doesn’t really have any time to get inside their heads. Who has time for that when we’re busy introducing even more characters. And the only way for these characters to stand out is to exaggerate a particular quality about them. You’ll see what I mean.
Of course, Arslan Senki is far from being the worst that the spring season has to offer, but it’s unfortunate that it’s also hampered in many ways. Last week, we discussed how a 20-min episode is hardly enough to allow the viewers to settle themselves into a war epic. At the same time, however, it’s clear that this series needs more episodes than what it’s going to get. I have never nor will I probably ever read the novels that this series is adapting. Nevertheless, I suspect quite a bit of nuance and depth have ended up on the cutting room floor.
— It turns out that the devout and perhaps even fanatical Lusitanians are ruled by this corpulent bastard:
— In any case, he takes one look at Tahamenay and wants to make her his queen. Is she really that beautiful? It’s hard to really tell with anime. Characters don’t really look all that much different from each other. Anyway, she has the reputation of ruining men, but the fat bastard is undeterred. Well, he’s done a good enough job ruining himself, so what”s the harm in a cursed queen?
— In any case, we’re two for two on shitty kings. Neither of them have any redeemable qualities. Like I’ve said, with so much plot to get through, I suspect we can’t do much but portray these men in such a one-dimensional fashion.
— Not surprisingly, the Lusitanians are ruthless. Sadly, the slaves are hardly doing better under their rule, but honestly, what are the chances that one warring monarch is any better than the previous one?
— Likewise, Kharlan finds that his station in life has hardly improved. Not only does everyone now see him as a traitor — the Lusitanians included — he’s also an outsider to both sides. He’s not really a Lusitanian, and even if he tries to convert to their religion, they’ll never treat him as one of their own. So two possibilities come to mind. Of course, Kharlan can simply accept that he fucked up, and try to become a better man… but that’s hard. So instead, he can double-down and go to great lengths to prove himself to the very people who don’t seem to care too much about his fate. Gee, I wonder which path in life he’ll take.
— Meanwhile, now that the Silver Mask has one victory under his belt, he’s already planning to stir more shit up. He suggests to the king’s brother that the latter is more fit to rule. Well, I wouldn’t doubt that either, but what’s the end game for Silver Mask?
— In any case, the king’s brother shudders at the thought of the king and Tahamenay having a child. Rest easy, my friend. I’m sure the logistics behind such a feat are far too insurmountable.
— Oh hey, it’s the blond kid… but he continues to look rather feminine even now. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a male character looking feminine, but now I wonder… In any case, he attempts to free some Lusitanian slaves, but he has no luck.
— Near a procession, a soldier tries to lure a young maiden away into an alley. These guys claim to be devout followers of their religion, but it’s clear they don’t extol any of the virtues they are supposed to embody. Besides, it’s an unfortunate fact that rapes often occurred during and following wartime. We just don’t see it prominently here because it’s an anime. But had this been an HBO series…
— The blond kid tries to save the girl, but it turns out that the girl is no ordinary girl!
Hell, it’s no girl period:
Elam is a boy of many talents. Not only is he a fighter, he’s a master of disguise apparently. The blond kid also reveals his name: Etoile. I guess he’s no guy either.
— Their duel is short-lived, however, because a bunch of slaves swarm Etoile and demands to know why they have yet to become free men. Etoile may have the kind heart to free her (yeah, I’m sure it’s a her now) own people, but what will she do for these people? Oh well. As long as they don’t shoehorn in some lame romance between her and Arslan…
— The story finally returns to Arslan, who is dismayed to hear that Kharlan and his men are on the march. Narsus accurately predicts what Kharlan intends to do: burn villages after villages down in order to flush our prince out. As we can see, Kharlan has decided to double down. But more importantly, I get that Narsus is the brilliant strategist, but isn’t he a little too accurate here?
— Needless to say, Arslan shows that he’s not an asshole like the two kings we’ve met, so he will confront Kharlan to prevent unnecessary bloodshed. Pretty much expected of him, really.
— Take a deep breath. This is almost over. It’s not that the show is bad, but like I’ve said, it moves so briskly, it can be a little tiring. You never get to pause and appreciate the characters. It’s like the extreme opposite of those mundane character-driven shows. While I do prefer a show like this over the other end of the spectrum, this adaptation isn’t perfect. It just feels like it’s trying to squeeze too many events and so many characters into each episode.
— Anyway, we introduce yet another character to the cast. This lady here is not only a priestess, she’s amazing with the bow. Where do these characters find the time to be so good at everything? Makes you wonder why Narsus is (supposedly) so bad at art, too.
— In any case, Gieve is smitten with her. Ferangis, however, couldn’t care less. But she is looking for Arslan. As a result, our wandering bard will probably end up joining the prince’s party as well. Oh what fun.