My thoughts on the twentieth episode of Arslan Senki.
The beginning of this episode left a bit to be desired in respect to last week’s ending however I think the overall theme of the episode and the purpose it served was executed fairly well and while not a great deal took place this time around I think this lays the final groundwork for Arslan as a character about to confront his ordeal as we move into the final act of the show.
Though the beginning wasn’t perfect, they did speak somewhat to the decree that would free the slaves and its potential in lowering the turn out of supporting lords and followers. The reason they gave was good enough for my tastes however there was no further insight into the far more important act of freeing the slaves in the first place which even now has been completely undermined by the events of the last episode. Given that we addressed one of the problems with this action starting off this episode, I don’t think that we will see a return to the complicated issue of how to handle the slaves and I find that unfortunate given how much time they spent sowing the seeds for it early on and making it one of Arslan’s chief concerns moving forward up until he dismisses it without visibally coming to terms with the implications of his actions. Something akin to what happens to him this episode would have been great for bringing him to a point where he could, in good conscience and understanding of the act, decree to free the slaves however having another episode like this one would have slowed things down a great deal and it already feels like we are more than stretched for time as the whole of the Pars, Hermes, and Lusitanian conflicts will be dealt with over the next 6 episodes.
The theme of this episode was very much ascertaining what Arslan wanted to do with his rulership and to bring him to a point of conviction concerning his right to rule which he had been suffering doubts about of late. Two good things the show did in this area was one, allowing Arslan to finally vocalize what the show has been point out for a good while – that if Andragoras acted as Hermes says he did and if Arslan’s lineage is proofed false as they think it may be, then he has no natural right the thrown outside of his own abilities and beliefs. Furthermore, he wonders if he even has a right to impose upon Hermes causing Narsus and Gieve to later remark that he may very well surrender the throne to Hermes after dispatching Lusitania. One sentence of Narsus’ stood out to me this episode and I found it especially pertinent in relation to the subject matter at hand: “What is the throne to His Highness? Is what His Highness hoping to achieve such a paltry thing that he can give it up to someone else?”. This spoke so directly to both Arslan’s lack of conviction thus far and also to his lack of an apparent end goal – he wishes to seize back Pars from the Lusitanians and thwart Hermes however beyond that the both the show and Arslan himself have remained tight-lipped about what he wishes to actually accomplish by coming into power… outside of freeing the slaves… which has been damaged significantly due to the recent events. While we don’t see Arslan begin to speak concretely about what he would like to do, his conversation with Etoile was a good one and his moment of realization and clarity was well executed.
Hopefully the show does a bit more work on the part of Hermes in order to make him a more complex opponent for Arslan as his relationship with Sam would seem to suggest. I would hope that the coming conflict at least stands up to Sindhuran one as so much more work has been done in Pars and we’ve known most of the characters involved from the get-go.