My thoughts on the fifth episode of Arslan Senki.
We don’t make much ground with Arslan and company this episode (due to Kharlan’s men) however a good many things do happen elsewhere. So far as pacing goes, I think things are still moving along quite quickly and each scene feels purposeful (sans perhaps the recap scene at the beginning of the episode).
Last episode, Arslan won over the service of Narsus by offering him the position of court painter rather than coming to some agreement concerning the slaves (a significant problem and topic raised in the episode). In part this was to further establish a levity of character on the part of Narsus however it gives us insight into how Arslan, a young prince who knows that he lacks knowledge and the right to make decisions, shirks away from committing to the manner in which he will rule in the future.
This is a good thing. It shows that he is wary of what he does not know and that his opinions – for he does share the same view as Narsus concerning the slaves – are only his and no matter what he does there will be subsequent consequences. This episode we see this trait return as Narsus describes the way in which Andragoras rules (ruled) – a king that never knew defeat and who had no interest in politics. Narsus himself says that if Arslan follows in his fathers footsteps that he will resign immediately. Rather than outright agreeing with him, Arslan takes his words into consideration, again showing his depth of understanding or more aptly, admitting to his ignorance on the subject.
There were a couple of moments in the episode such as the poor CG used to represent the Lusitanian cavalry or when the Lusitanian archpriest stood behind Shapur but then the camera rotated and he was again in front of him where I noticed a few things that felt a little off. Otherwise the show continues to be beautifully animated.
Lastly, concerning the final conversation between Arslan and Narsus which was juxtaposed to the uprising of the slaves – it felt a little odd to me that the slaves were what came most immediately to mind when the two characters speculated as to how the Lusitanians could overcome the walls of Ecbatana. It’s a perfectly reasonable assumption and the scene itself was well done however I would have thought that the more immediate threat would have been those behind the walls who could/have turned traitor like Kharlan. Neither of the characters nor us the viewer, know the full context of Kharlan’s betrayal or how deep it runs. So when I think of ‘opening the gates from the inside’ my mind focuses firstly on the obvious presence of traitors rather than that of the slaves. Nitpicky stuff.