My thoughts on the eighteenth episode of Arslan Senki.
I had thought with Rajendra’s ascension to the throne we would be closing the book on the Sindhuran arc of the story however it turned out there was one final installment this episode which I felt did well by the story.
The first thing I will say is that I am glad that Arslan did not protest when it came to Gadevi’s public execution as to have done so would have been problematic for a number of reasons. A good deal of this arc has been spent reinforcing that, while he has been helping Rajendra, these are not his people and he has no right to interfere with their internal struggles and so I am glad that tone has been upheld consistently. Furthermore, between Gadevi’s groveling at the feet of Rajendra and his rage-fueled assault on Arslan the story tried to push him beyond any possible redemption before delivering the verdict of his character – although in my eyes he was pretty awful to begin with so this may have come on a bit strong. What beneficial side effect of Gadevi’s nearly inexorable demise was that it provided an instance where Rajendra got to act somewhat cold and unforgiving before he is later revealed to be the traitor that he is. This softly sets the tone for his character as the story moved into his latter scheme and I thought at that the way the plot handled everything in this regard was well done.
That being said, I do wish that Arslan had done more than smile knowingly at Rajendra upon foiling his plans and making him sign an act of nonaggression. By this point we’ve seen Arslan be both merciful and understanding both in the treatment of his allies and enemies as well as in what he can and cannot do however I still think he hasn’t yet to make any truly harsh decisions and I felt that his handling of Rajendra was a missed opportunity for this development. Arslan became quite enraged when Daryun’s life was in jeopardy and he openly threatened Rajendra and so we know how much that moment meant to him. To have Rajendra then betray him directly dismisses what Arslan and Daryun did for him and so I feel it would have been more in character or more realistic if Arslan had punished him in some way rather than going along with Narsus’ plan. Rajendra’s betrayal alone should have been enough after receiving help from Arslan to upset their relationship however his subsequent actions, including that of throwing a knife at his head, were met with the same merciful outcome we have grown so familiar with. While Arslan states that ‘ I simply cannot move myself to hate that man’ or some such line, it doesn’t quite excuse the wrongs he suffered at Rajendra’s hand and at the very least his character should have been further condemend in the eyes of Arslan’s followers if not Arslan himself.
All of that aside, a pretty decent episode without too many art flubs and with the induction of Jaswant and the dismissal of Rajendra and Sundhura we move back towards a Pars-centric story to finish out the show. The one thing this episode that somewhat got on my nerves (outside of a potential mishandling of characters) was that once again the outcome of Narsus’ tactics border on the unbelievable. It makes perfect sense that they would be ready to apprehend the Sindhuran forces however to actually do so is another matter. We go from one scene where Arslan and his company are surrounded by Sindhuran cavalry and then in the next they falsify the burning of the camp and upon Rajendra’s arrival the whole of his 3000 men he sent with Arslan have been detained before the battle starts. This was all a bit ridiculous and the pacification of all of Rajendra’s men in a discrete and timely fashion is beyond the bounds of realism the show attempts to sometimes uphold and so while the subsequent scenes and episode as a whole were fine – I felt that the way this was executed was quite poor.