Shoukoku no Altair Episode 2: [The Citadel City]
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This week’s episode opens with a flashback sequence of the time when Mahmut was training to become a pasha. Although this backstory part is not very subtle and a bit bland, it allows a better understanding of Mahmut’s character as we see he is a protagonist who is determined yet unsure about himself. Furthermore, this part develops the friendship between Ibrahim and Mahmut, thus giving a greater impact to the current events. Indeed, Ibrahim Vali, current ruler of the city named Hisar, seems to have betrayed the government by allying with the Araba Tribe and declaring their independence.
Because Hisar is under his jurisdiction and an important commerce hub, Zehir Zaganos does not lose any time and immediately leaves for Hisar in order to suppress the rebellion. Mahmut tries to stop him but Zaganos explains very simply why stopping the rebellion is crucial for Turkiye and why Mahmut’s rambling about friendship, trust and whatever he says does not matter. It also appears Zaganos pasha already knew about the rebellion and planned things ahead making him the coolest character in this show so far.
But because Ibrahim is Mahmut’s freaking tomodachi and since one shall not abandon a tomodachi, he decides to go help him. By doing so he probably breaks a lot of rules and does not like a Pasha at all but heh, power of friendship it is. It also appears that Mahmut still fails to see the importance of separating political business and personal emotions, acting like your typical shounen hero. It would seem he learned nothing from episode 1.
Anyways, turns out, Ibrahim was still a good guy because it was the Araba tribe that took all the civilians hostages and forced him to stop Turkiyean troops, pretty convenient huh.
Zaganos pasha was right to quickly leave for Hisar because as he predicted, Balt-Rhein’s minister Louis had the same idea and had “coincidentally” an army near Hisar, ready to attack the city. Moreover, the idea of Araba tribe taking Hisar’s people as hostages and forcing them to rebel against Turkiye was the Empire’s idea. Which is, I’ll admit, quite a clever idea, but unfortunately for them,Turkiye’s people and especially Zaganos pasha, are not dumb.
While Ibrahim is having and existential crisis about whether he should allow Zaganos’ troops to enter the city or not, Mahmut is telling the Araba people that they are freaking stupid and that the empire is just using them in order to take control of the city. Then, he gets cornered by the big eye-patch bad guy in a dark alley and will most likely have to fight to defend his life and what he believes in ( aka: his friend).
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The parts were the characters were speaking that “araban” made up language, sounded sooo awkward to me… It kind of pulled me off and broke my involvement in the show for a bit. I also think Shara is a bit unnecessary. I’d rather much more watch Lady Lelederik doing war things than Shara dancing… She appears more relevant to me.
While I think Shoukoku no Altair still fails to completely immerse its viewer within its universe and to present some a likable cast, this episode showed us it’s capability when it comes to offering “politics and tactics” drama. This episode showed us a good political machination, although still a bit “manichean” in its essence but addressed with a realistic approach thanks to Zaganos pasha. Because Mahmut still acts like a irresponsible brat, so far only Zehir Zaganos is worth of any interest. He upstages Mahmut and appears as a pretty badass guy. Sure he is Machiavellian character but in a historical/war anime… I like it. However, Mahmut shall get better. I have always found quite pleasant beginnings with reckless main characters, who act like they know it all and do not think twice about their actions. Witnessing their changes and development becomes thus far more interesting in my opinion and I believe it is the case of Mahmut, although I can’t say much things because it would be considered as spoilers.