Episode 3 rides heavily on the heels of Episode 2. Arslan’s maiden battle has become a blood bath as the carefully laid plans of the Lusitanian army bear fruit.
I was really impressed with the Arslan’s display of character in this episode. In the last episode, Arslan was forced to kill a man for the first time and was wounded more mentally than physically. Knowing his character from the previous episodes, one would have thought that after such a traumatizing experience he’d sit in the dirt crying like a sad puppy. Instead of this, Arslan recovers from the experience enough to realize his life is in danger and he needs to do something about it as best he can. While he is nowhere near exceptional in his swordplay, his ability to absorb and parry blows from trained soldiers shows he has learned something from Vahriz’s teachings and isn’t incapable of defending himself.
Episode 3 delivers a great deal of narrative punch. Firstly, it showcases that while Pars is known to be unbeatable, Lusitania is not without its own clever tactics. The brutality they show against Pars to secure their victory is both brilliant and terrifying. A second impressive feat is that it gives us the chance to experience the more “human side” of Pars and Lusitania. Arslan’s father is shown to be an unfeeling and unreasonable man in previous episodes. When the battle turns sour and he is advised to retreat he refuses, until he is reminded by Vahriz that his wife is in the capital. When a misunderstanding occurs on the battlefield, some high ranking Pars generals side with King Andragoras III while others immediately slander him and seek to leave to find glory elsewhere. Lusitania is proven to be monstrous in their pursuit of removing “heathens” when two Lusitanian men at a fort contemplate having killed children (even infants) for the sake of religion. Morality is gray on both sides and we are left to ponder who is truly more evil.
At the end of this episode we are introduced to two new characters; one antagonist and one protagonist. Both appear to have large parts to play (the intro tells me so!!!). Moving forward beyond this tragic episode, we are reminded of the horrors of war and that Arslan has a great deal of growing up to do before he can be a king to any country.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan remains impressive and I am immensely excited to see how it progresses.