Arslan Senki 4 – METANORN

Arslan Senki – 04

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Don’t make me get between you two!

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Well, after all that bloodshed and death, I think that we needed a break just as much as our two broken and defeated heroes did. We basically begin, where we left off, with Arslan and Daryun arriving at the house of a friend after having escaped from the bloody battlefield. It is a dark day for Pars, and things are not looking good right now, the two are on the run from the Lusitanians that are quickly overrunning and invading the land and the prince and captain have to find refuge. Arslan has become overwhelmed by what he has seen and gone through, but also worry over the days ahead are weighing harshly on his mind. He has never been ignorant of his future duty as next in line to the throne to become leader of Pars, he knows what this kind of invasion can mean for his country and people. The status of the capital and his mother and father is unknown, and he knows in the very back of his mind that if anything has actually happened to his father, that he is effectively now the king and sole leader of Pars, and that everything is now resting on his shoulders. That’s a lot for a sheltered 14 year-old to take in one day, especially after everything he’s seen and experienced on that battlefield that would make even more seasoned fighters hurl.

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However, thankfully as of right now, Arslan has a strong shoulder to lean on for support in Daryun, a warrior known far and wide to be without peer, and one who has proven his devotion and loyalty time and time again. However, while having an amazing warrior on your side is a great asset, in the end that warrior is nothing but a tool, a living weapon that a ruler can use against his foes. You need to have someone that can also guide that tool, tell it where to go and what to do in order to win the battle. King Andragoras had hundreds of thousands of “living weapons” at his disposal, but not one loyal planner or architect (that he would listen to) to guide him in how to utilize them.  Thankfully, his son is not about to make that same mistake.

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And thus we meet two new characters in our ever growing supporting cast: Narsus and Elam.  While Elam will probably be a more important character later, and his dry wit and experiences as a former slave will probably be influential as the series progresses, it’s Narsus that both I and the episode want to concentrate on. Narsus has actually been mentioned or alluded to in all three of the episodes previous. We finally get his official introduction here, and it doesn’t take long for us to see that this will be quite an important character as the story plays out.

A noble by birth and raised in the ways of Pars upper class, Narsus is quite the Renaissance man. He is an expert scholar, knowledgeable in all things from literature, to science, to history, to astronomy. He is an expert swordsman and a silver-tongued politician. Also happening to possess allure,  grace, wealth, and a gallant character, indeed, his only flaw according to his best friend, is that he’s quite inept at art for whatever reason (but don’t tell him that, or he will argue it to the grave).

However, of all those talents and gifts, it is his skills in strategy and tactics that are the most widely known, and they are the ones that Arslan needs. The problem is, how exactly is he going to get Narsus to agree to help him?

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Time for backstory! Despite being a polymath and genius, or maybe because of it, Narsus is a man quite ahead of his time in many things, and his ideals, such as his distinct dislike of slavery and his belief that brains is more important than brawn, don’t go over very well with present day Pars, and especially King Andragoras. It wasn’t always so, as on his very first day to court, Narsus proves himself to the king in quite a wily scheme that tears apart three invading nations from the inside.  Narsus eventually becomes court secretary for a couple of years, before his good favor eventually runs out.  Eventually Narsus’ outspoken ideas on politics and slavery draw the king’s mercurial temper and the nobleman was banished from the court and stripped of his land, title, and holdings.

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Now living as hermit in the mountains, you can tell that Narsus has basically lost patience with the world and decided that a tactical retreat was in order. The loss of money and position doesn’t really faze him, but he’s tired of a world that doesn’t understand, and therefore is quite fine with living alone in peace, surrounded by his “art”. But destiny has a way of delivering just the right kick, to throw you back into the mix you thought you wanted no part of again. This comes in the form of a war that is about to touch every part and corner of Pars in big way…and from the actions of the man’s best friend, Daryun.

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One thing I really liked in this episode was that you can plainly see the deep friendship the cavalry captain and the world-weary strategist have for each other. From the moment they reunite, even though it’s been years, the two are at complete ease with each other, passing quips and barbs back and forth between each other, and getting on each other’s cases with utter comfortability and familiarity. And it is because of this friendship and the concern that comes with it, that Daryun can’t stand to see Narsus waste all of his many talents hiding from the world in the woods. He even knows that the man will have none of what he’s trying to say, and so hedges his bets by purposefully drawing Kharlan’s men to his trail and thus Narsus’ house. Though, while this does give the man a chance to show that his ingenuity, intelligence, and sharp tongue haven’t dulled at all in his years in isolation, it doesn’t move him at all into deciding to come out of retirement.

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And this is where our young prince comes in. Arslan has been interested in meeting Narsus since he was 11, and he’s not disappointed in the man that goes with the name. He recognizes quite quickly that Narsus possesses something that he lacks, and that he will need such a man at his side if he is to take up the fight to get his country back. He recognizes his father’s own failings and does not wish to repeat them. Much more open to and actually desiring advice and guidance, Arslan asks rather than commands for the man’s help. And in the end, he ends up offering the man an offer he never expected, and couldn’t possibly refuse.

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I’ve heard many comment that they thought that actually Arslan would offer to end slavery in exchange for Narsus’ help, and I have no doubt that the man had been expecting such an answer after the obvious non-options had been dealt with. However, such a deal would have been a double-edged sword, and one that Narsus would have probably turned down. Arslan has a small bit of growth this episode as he is faced again with the issue of slavery.  But it’s actually rather refreshing that he doesn’t all of a sudden decide that slavery is actually bad. It’s much more believable that he’s still undecided about the issue considering his upbringing and culture. Arslan needs to make such a conclusion and decision for himself. For him to offer it now as a bargaining chip would ring hollow, and not something that he truly believed in and really desired.  Also, if you’re going to compensate someone for the use of their talents, you probably want it to be important to them personally and not simply for their ideals.

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And thus, this episode also shows Arslan’s uncanny ability to observe and analyze. During this short stay, he’s been able to get an idea of Narsus’ character. Despite already knowing the man’s background from multiple sources, he feigns ignorance and asks for Narsus to tell him the story from his own point of view. He also took note of the things that were said and the importance of them. During his time in the man’s home, he has heard Narsus comment on three things he’s been offered as a reward for his services: gold (from his father), power, and status (from Kharlan). However, none of those things seemed to put even a trace of excitement into the man’s voice; instead, he listed them off as if they were nothing.

However, the one thing Arslan noticed, the one thing that Narsus has spoken of with passion since the moment he arrived, is his love of art. No matter how bad his paintings may be, he defends them with fervor, and it causes such animation and happiness about him that no other subject will. If you hope to convince someone to join you, it helps to know what it really is that they desire. For some, money is enough for them, but for others, it means nothing. Arslan realized what Narsus’ true passion was and acted on it.

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There’s a difference between what you are good at, and your passion. Many times they can be the same thing, but sometimes not. Narsus is an excellent strategist and tactician, but what did he spend his days doing while he was alone? Painting.  Analyzing situations, forming strategies and making up tactics are Narsus’ talents, art is his passion. One is something he’s good at doing and does well, but the other is something that makes him happy.

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Ya know? unlike you, he gets me.

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I for one, am glad we didn’t see Narsus’ supposedly horrible paintings. Art is one subject that is pretty much totally subjective. How bad or good it is, is based on the opinion of the beholder. What one would think of as “great”, another could deem as “horrible”. Here, they only allude to how horrible his art is based on everyone else’s reactions, but they don’t show it. Allowing us as the audience to be able to imagine our own brand of horribleness for ourselves. So, Arslan has now added two more allies as he tries to make his way back to the capital. He’s gotten a chance to take a catch his breath and get some rest, and he’s going to need all the fortitude he can muster in the days ahead as things are changing in Pars…and not for the better.

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What have I gotten myself into?

About

A Chicagoan biochemist, teacher, and an aspiring virologist, with a love for science only rivaled by my love for movies, animation, and anime. Both a lover of action/adventure and romance, I'm a girl who walks the entire spectrum. Mecha, Sci-Fi, Psychological Thriller, Romantic Period Piece, if it's has a good story, I'm there.
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30 Responses to “Arslan Senki – 04”

  1. Di Gi Kazune says:

    From the smexyness exuding from all the screencaps, I bet Internet Rule 34 applies; though I dare not actively seek it out.

    • IreneSharda says:

      Yes, the bishies were plentiful this episode and will be throughout the series. 😀

      Elam however, just so happens to remind me of Inaho, and is voiced by the same VA to boot! Its rather funny that both main VAs from Aldnoah.Zero are playing characters that look very similar to Inaho and Slaine in their particular new series. With Natsuki Hanae as Elam in this and Kensho Ono as Mikaela in Seraph.

      • Di Gi Kazune says:

        This time, I hope Inaho dies a slow and horrible death. Let Justice be done though the Heavens may fall! (I *think* I got it right sorta.)

      • BlackBriar says:

        You do realize it’s the second consecutive time Kensho Ono has played a character in servitude to a female royal. The difference is that in Seraph, Krul has her hooks deeper in Mikaela than Asseylum ever did with Slaine.

        • IreneSharda says:

          Really? To me, it seems like Mika hates Krul just as much as all the other vampires, and why he’s constantly on his own. Maybe that’s just how the series presents it.

          Slaine was unfortunately completely devoted to that witch, Asseylum until he came to his senses at the end. And even then….UGH! Don’t make me remember that ending! It still infuriates me! AHHHH!

          • Di Gi Kazune says:

            There is always Rule#34 – Although I’ve yet to see where it’s extreme hardcore with the witch… I still cannot believe her naivety after all that has happened.

          • BlackBriar says:

            You misunderstand what I mean by that. It’s not the kind of relationship Slaine and Asseylum had. Because she made him, Mikaela is literally bound to Krul and because of a refusal on his part, he’s had to unwillingly carry on like that for the past four years. The specifics on that will be elaborated later in the anime. What happened afterwards was never shown in the manga but based on the specifics of what is to come, he turned down that girl who offered her blood as a token of gratitude for saving her life.

        • Di Gi Kazune says:

          I’ve seen bits of Seraph…

          MY SHOUTAS!!!

          Shoutas should be treated the same way skyLOLion treats LOLis – With CARE.

          • IreneSharda says:

            It’s okay, the shoutas grow up into loud-mouth shounen leads and silent emo teens. They’ll be okay…at least until the vampires just get some more…

            You know, the military should really think more about getting those kids out of there rather than fighting between each other about whose family is whose. I mean, if you take away the enemy’s food supply and cut out their access to more, you’ve doomed them. Why is this so hard to understand? And there’s the future of humanity right there, they’re being held captive by the vampires. Take it back, remnants of humanity!

            • Di Gi Kazune says:

              Because… they do not have me as their superior tactician and analyst. :3

            • BlackBriar says:

              I think what you suggested had already crossed their minds. Plus, the humans are on the defensive. Not only against the vampires but the demons that rose up after humanity’s presence in the world waned. The entire human population is reduced to 1/10 of what it was so rushing into the vampires’ domain, even if they knew where it is, is tantamount to suicide and they know it. Besides, if you can’t get your own house in order, how can you take the fight to the enemy who greatly outrank you by numbers and sheer physical strength and agility? Doing that would be the work of someone who’s considered nothing. And times of crisis are often used by ambitious dirt bags trying to usurp the throne. The real problems lie within.

            • IreneSharda says:

              They really just made it over-complicated.They really didn’t need all that. The whole military angle is one of the greatest weaknesses of the series thus far, simply from how much they are trying to do with it.There’s a good simple, yet deep story in there somewhere that’s trying to get out. Right now the series is spinning its wheels, and hopefully if all goes well, by episode 7, more than halfway through the season, things can actually get started.

              It probably worked better in the manga, but whoever’s doing the adaptation of this should have adapted it better and cut a lot of the fat off.

            • BlackBriar says:

              Yes, they do go outside at episode 7. That’s why with episode 6, Yuu, Shiho and Yoichi are going through their trials to get their Demon Gear. And Yuu’s demon will have a lot of interesting things to tell him.

              It probably worked better in the manga, but whoever’s doing the adaptation of this should have adapted it better and cut a lot of the fat off.

              I don’t know if I’ve already told you this but the manga author is heading the adaptation and WIT Studio is already known for its page by page work. Already, word is the anime will cover parts of the story that even the manga hasn’t touched upon yet. Right now, there are 32 chapters and the 5th episode ended halfway through chapter 6. Mika’s scene was anime original, though.

            • IreneSharda says:

              I sometimes think a writer trying to adapt his own work is good, and then sometimes it just doesn’t work. I know that as a writer I would be loath to cut anything of what I had written, because I know the purpose of that character, scene, or moment and why it’s there. However, because of the change in medium, what works in a book or manga won’t necessarily work in an animated series.

              I think they should have taken all these training/meet-the-team episodes and condensed it to maybe two or at most 3 episodes. The classroom shenanigans, the tests that go nowhere since none of the extras are promoted anyway and all of the main cast got in regardless, and the constant spiel about the need for teamwork and friends is getting repetitive too.

              I think that many of the anime-only audience and I are staying because we realize that there is a good story and anime in here, we’re just being made to wait of it. I really want to see Mika and Yuu meet again. Yuu was actually more likable when with Mika, and I hope that he can save him from the lonely life he has now.

              I really feel for Mika, he’s been turned against his will, is effectively still a slave, and no one to talk to except evil loli vamp queen and his family’s murderer. I really wish we could hang more with him, even though it would probably break my heart. 🙁

  2. BlackBriar says:

    Good episode for the introduction of Narsus. With his exploits laid on the table, he’d indeed be an indispensable asset to a cause and it’s clear everyone sees it (Daryun and Kharlan). All that’s needed is tempting him with something striking his fancy. There’s one amusing hitch to his character, though: his exaggerated and extravagant talk of art. Now any time the word “art” is mentioned, I can’t help thinking of Deidara. And if the story shuts us off from seeing his paintings, then they must be really questionable.

    The fifth episode is out but I’ve yet to see it so I’ll put something out to think on. With Elam reserving his inner thoughts, Arslan, Daryun and Narsus must be quite confident for what lies ahead. Vahriz was basically the kingdom’s right hand man and royal bodyguard and is now deceased. If he’s fallen, what makes them think King Andragoras’ odds of survival are any different? Especially when one wouldn’t doubt he’d be at the king’s side in a heartbeat should anything grim come to pass.

    • IreneSharda says:

      Hah, totally forgot Deidara had a thing about art too, and he was also blond with violet eyes. What a coincidence! 😛

      As for the king, I think that the possibility that something might have happened to him is in fact in the back of everyone’s minds. As I wrote, Arslan more than likely has this worry himself as he knows what it means and what responsibility will have fallen to him if so. However, it’s not something any of them want to actively think about until they have more information.

      And honestly if the king had been killed, you would think Lusitania would be declaring and boasting that far and wide. The fact that they haven’t could be meaningful.

  3. zztop says:

    Narsus’s only flaw according to his best friend, is that he’s quite inept at art for whatever reason.

    Bad art still has its uses. They could try use Narsus’s works as scare tactics against the Lusitanians and break morale. And if they ever capture an enemy soldier, it’ll be useful psychological torture material. (。・`ω´・。)
    “Tell me what the Lusitanians are doing, or else we’ll lock you in Narsus’s art shed again!!”

    • BlackBriar says:

      If Narsus’s art is as bad as Daryun makes them out to be along with Arslan’s first hand reaction, then using them for torture is cruel and unusual punishment. So it should be very effective.

  4. zztop says:

    Some viewers have noticed that all the end card mangaka thus far currently contribute manga to Bessatsu Shonen magazine, which serialises the Arslan manga. (Some also contribute to its parent magazine, Weekly Shonen.)

    Just to note notable mangaka serialising at both magazines include Oshimi Shuzou (The Flowers of Evil), Isayama Hajime (Attack on Titan), and Akamatsu Ken (Negima!, UQ Holder).

    • BlackBriar says:

      I’ve been meaning to ask. What are the most popular manga in Shounen magazine? Particularly surrounding those that are being animated this current season.

      • zztop says:

        I’m not too sure myself, although I know Assassination Classroom, Souma, and My Hero Academia are the most popular Shonen Jump serialisations.

        • BlackBriar says:

          What about Seraph and DanMachi?

          • Di Gi Kazune says:

            Puts a Ribbon around BB. 😛

            • BlackBriar says:

              Okay, enough with that ribbon nonsense. It’s gotten old real fast.

          • zztop says:

            Not sure on Seraph, but Danmachi is very popular. Mostly because of Hestia, although they have been pushing some Bell merchandise too.

            • BlackBriar says:

              Yeah, after what Hestia started, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

  5. skylion says:

    I’m really hoping the show can branch away from the “ally fetch quest” angle. But all in all, this was an impressive ally to gather.

    Goodness, but the ships came into the dock this episode.

    • IreneSharda says:

      I can tell you with a bit of confidence that we should have the whole group in the next 2 or 3 episodes. The next member was introduced this latest episode and the last should be the episode after that.

      After that, well, they’ve got a war to fight!:D

    • Namika says:

      Well, for a character introduction episode, it was quite fun. 😀

      • BlackBriar says:

        Mainly because the characters did well to keep you watching.

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