Shoukoku no Altair Episode 1: [The Golden Eagle General][First Impressions]
The story takes places in March 75 of the Turkiye rule and follows the journey of Mahmut Turgil who has just become a pasha of the Turkiye Stratocracy. Aside from being a military prodigy, he is also a full time adorable dork who would rather sit alone in a corner writing poems than enjoying the company of other human beings. When he is not doing politics he is catching thieves with the help of his eagle Iskender. Seriously… HOW MUCH COOLER CAN HE GET?
In this fictional historical setting, two empires are facing each other. The Turkiye stratocracy, based on the Ottoman empire and the Balt- Rhein which is said to be based on the Holy-roman Empire. As explained in this episode a war broke out 12 years ago, after Balt-Rhein’s surprise attack against Turkiye, and ended several months ago. However, relations between the two entities are still tense and the assassination of Balt-Reihn’s prime minister at the Turkiye boarder might become a casus belli. The Turkiyean council reunites to discuss which attitude they shall adopt. Should Turkiye declare war immediately and thus benefit from the advantages of a surprise attack or shall they follow Balt-Rhein’s demand to send a general to their capital as a sacrifice in order to avoid war. Mahmut tries questioning the possibility of going for a third option but he gets rekt by Zehir Zaganos, another pasha with apparently much more experience. Sure Zephir is quite an ass, but he is right. I love characters who have a realistic state of mind and who are not afraid to tell the truth even if it might hurt people’s feeling.
Also, he is hot
So, because Mahmut was personally affected by the war 12 years ago, he refuses the idea of war happening again and decides to go investigate the “crime scene”.
Surprise, surprise, it was a Balt-Reihn’s machination from the very start. They were the ones who organized the assassination and tried to frame Turkiye for it in order to start a war with them. Moreover, they actually planned to eliminate the general sent by Turkiye to their capital to negotiate. Such bad, bad people. Unfortunately for them, the brigands sent to assassinate the general ended up attacking the hero of the show and you cannot win against the hero when you are a nameless character in black. So by summoning a horde of eagles, Mahmut defeats the bad guys and goes in front of the Balt-Rhein king to prove the assassination was not Turkiye’s fault. Although the Empire sure knows it, it is a nice reminder that Turkiye and some of its dirigeants are not as stupid as they wanted to believe. We thus learn that those events were only the start of what will become the Rumeliana war.
I like the fact they decided to include a narrator. It gives a little Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu vibe, especially at the end when the narrator announced the events we had witnessed were just preliminary events, leading to an upcoming war. It sounded a lot like every Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu episode’s end, reinforcing the “historical” vibe the anime has. Anyway, I’m a sucker for historical anime and big political machinations. I’ve heard people comparing this anime to Magi or Arslan Senki. Unlike Magi, this one does not have a “magical side” to it, so I guess it is more like Arlsan Senki... although I’ve only watched the 1991’s anime version.
The opening was a bit underwhelming for me. It’s far from being bad but I don’t know…The visuals don’t really fit? However, background music was very fitting, especially during actions scenes.
As for the voice actors, heh I guess Ayumu Murase is really everywhere. I would have liked a more serious voice for Mahmut since I think it would fit the character better. He is 17 years old in the manga, which means he does not necessarily has to have the voice of a young boy. Sure it fits his appearance but not his personality.
It is sad to see the anime art style does not do the manga’s justice. I mean… Mahmut does not look like Mahmut anymore… He had some sort of fierce look in the manga that the anime was unable to reproduce… And I’m just talking about character design, I’m not even speaking of the general atmosphere, backgrounds or even clothes that are a lot simpler in the animated version. Take a look:
I know it is nearly impossible for an anime to match the manga’s art style but still… Ballroom e Youkoso for instance, did a great job. I’m not angry since I knew from the PVs this would be the “Anime Altair”, I’m just sad my worries came to be reality. The ending did reproduce some of the manga’s wonderful cover art tho. And furthermore if I think the art style isn’t good, the animation in itself is legit.
The first part of the episode relied a lot on comedy aspects as the beginning of the manga does,
although they changed the order of some scenes but that’s not really important , the main plot taking a bit of time to get into motion. I’ll assure you, the rest of the anime shall get more political.
Other than that, this first episode felt a bit messy and rushed. It went back and forth, alternating background elements explanation, presentation of the characters, and finally character development but without a real continuity nor logical order. The pacing was also a bit off, with explanations being told too quickly for the viewer to clearly understand what is going and how important each piece of information is. They did not even explained what a Stratocracy was and how is organized the political order in that country. Moreover, I believe it is quite important to explain what a pasha is, if you make the main character one.
Honestly I still think the show has potential, I’m willing to bet on the fact that this rushed start was only a first episode’s mistake due to the directors trying to fit all they coud in the first episode in order to quickly start the main plot. So yeah, I’m sticking to this one. I like the manga and I know the story is good. Rushed pacing is our only enemy here.