My thoughts on the tenth episode of Arslan Senki.
The beginning of this week’s episode took me a bit by surprise. One second we are debriefing around the campfire about the group’s recent infiltration of Ecbatana and the next we see them fleeing from a great number of horseman, leading them into an ambush just outside of Kashan Fortress. While I am quite happy with the way they progressed things – having Daryun move ahead and gain the support of Hodir beforehand and thus surprising both the viewers and the horseman, the scene came about so suddenly. I think it would have been quite beneficial if there had just been a short 10 second scene where perhaps Elam informed them that the riders had caught up to them or that their position had been discovered. Something like that that prefaced the event would make it feel less jarring while still maintaining the surprise factor of the ambush as we would still be uninformed of it in that scenario.
Between Hodir’s council and Arslan’s attempted liberation of the slaves, this episode served as another investigation into Arslan’s convictions and a fair amount of information can be concluded from the way he behaved. Again, I think Arslan exhibits an interesting balance of caution and naivety. On one hand he chooses to hold council with his followers concerning what he should do next after Hodir’s nighttime visitation rather than saying outright that he will stand by his beliefs and that he will not be swayed. On the other, he openly expressed his desire to free the slaves once he became the new king (something which he was somewhat unsure of previously) to Hodir and furthermore was ignorant of the way the slaves would react upon his telling them that their master was dead and that they were free.
This combination of traits I think defines Arslan quite well however one has to wonder at his methods given his foolhardiness in declaring his intentions to Hodir, who only just informed him that the ratio of slaves to masters in Kashan was greater than that of Ecbatana – There’s naivity and then there is blatant stupidity and that one action may have crossed the line. It was of course an important moment for Arslan’s progression to see what the slaves are like when they are liberated from their master however I can’t help but feel that, because of the otherwise low-impact events of the episode, that the only narrative purpose of visiting Kashan in the first place was to show Arslan this.
None the less, his knowledge know that slavery is not purely a bad thing, even for the slaves because of their desire for easy and simple lives, is important and it will be interesting how he utilizes this information in the future and how it affects his ideals. This kind of stuff is what makes Arslan Senki interesting to me because of its exploration of things that other shows might gloss over – the idea of slavery having positive elements for the slaves is in direct contradiction of Arslan’s understanding of the concept and so where he goes from here ideologically should be quite interesting.
Some very minor notes I would like to make are that I was happy with the animation and character designs this episode as they were more or less on-point throughout the entire episode (a drastic improvement from last week) and the plan to break or damage the bowstrings of the fortress’ archers was a good plan. The beginning of the episode was quite clear in its presentation of Kashan’s archers and it would have left a bad taste in my mouth if Hodir’s best form of betrayal invovled only footman when he had so many able bowman at his disposal. This plan both answered that potential qualm while also giving Esam some form of action which kept him feeling relevant.