Rating: 4 (of 5)
Machiavelli’s The Prince was featured a little too prominently at the beginning of the first episode for it – and the intrigues associated with it – to not come into direct play at some point in the story. With the first eight episodes consisting almost entirely of world-building and foundation-laying (in some cases literally!), this seems like the ideal place for that to happen. Besides, the country’s largely autonomous dukes, and their lack of confidence in Kazuya, is something that would have to be dealt with at some point, especially after the rumblings a couple of episodes back about one of the dukes rebelling.
Kazuya’s latest scheme – i.e., centralizing Efrieden’s military control – is also the ideal method for bringing this building tension to a head, so much so that this may be a case of Kazuya and/or Hakuya deliberately forcing the dukes’ hands. It also brings up an interesting twist in the story progression: up to this point, all of Kazuya’s plans have been so beneficial that they are nearly incontrovertible in a practical sense, but this directive actually has significant gray areas. Kazuya is not wrong that centralizing the military chain of command would make the military more efficient and adaptable in the face of potential threats from many directions, but Duke Carmine’s point – that the military was deliberately decentralized as part of a system of checks and balances – is also valid.
In fact, the further implication that sometimes inefficiencies must be tolerated in the interest of protecting rights is a big enough issue that I wish that the series would focus on it more. However, all appearances here indicate that this is just a pretext for officially justifying the rebellion. The earlier scene with the meeting of the dukes already made it clear that Carmine’s main problem is not trusting Kazuya, both because he does not know Kazuya and because he does not understand the admittedly-very-odd circumstances which led to Kazuya being appointed King. Even if Albert wasn’t a strong king, Carmine at least knew him and knew what to expect from him – or at least thought he did, anyway. (That Albert was not a strong king may have even been a desirable characteristic.) Carmine’s point that Kazuya is sacrificing tradition for expediency is also a valid one, and feeds into Kazuya’s order about centralizing the military. Viewers know that a lot of the bureaucrats who lost their jobs were ineffective, but it isn’t hard to understand how that could look differently from the outside.
By comparison, Duke Vargas is far less interesting, except for the underling who is a good friend of Liscia’s and is sure to cause trouble since she does not know that Liscia is not being forced into anything and is genuinely falling for Kazuya. Duke (Duchess?) Walters has always been the most cautious and sensible of the three, and so comes over to Kazuya’s side because, unlike the others, she has investigated Kazuya’s character (via Juna) and confirmed that he is worthy of deference. The question now is whether Carmine and Vargas can be won over through defeat, or if they will have to be eliminated for the kingdom to moved forward. “The throne must be maintained by blood,” was something that the King of En said to Shouko in the early isekai title The Twelve Kingdoms, and Machiavelli was of a similar sentiment in our world. Will we see that play out here as well?
Meanwhile, the Principality of Amidonia looks like it is setting itself up for a fall, as it is badly misjudging the situation in Elfrieden and how much it might take advantage of the situation. When the smart people start bailing, you know a nation is doomed. The minor surprise here is that the enterprising trader seen briefly in previous episodes is actually the principality’s princess; I had just assumed that she was from a wealthy merchant family. She has already shown herself to be insightful, so I fully expect that we will see her on Kazuya’s side in the future. She knows where the good business opportunities are.
And my, was that a Tomoe sighting at the end? First time we have seen anything of her since, what, episode 4? Doesn’t feel like Liscia cutting her ponytail is going to make a big difference in her appearance, but it is still a bold statement nonetheless. Was where her loyalty lies what Kazuya asked her about, perhaps?
Thoughts on Other Titles I’m Following:
The Detective Is Already Dead episode 9 – This episode basically follows from episode 8, but it still feels like the series is being told out of order. Where did Charlotte (the blonde) come into the picture? The two leads speak about Cerberus as if they have met before, but I don’t think he’s appeared in any previous episode? And if this is how Siesta really dies, then how does Nagisa end up with her heart as a transplant? Too much just doesn’t make sense at this point.
Night Head 2041 episode7 – With the revelations in this episode about what’s really going on, the story and setting now make a whole lot more sense. This is very gradually becoming a more compelling series than it looked like at first.