The value of strategy is in securing victory before you exhaust it. -Narsus
For an action-adventure anime, I’d say Arslan Senki isn’t one of the best on its league. It’s historical appeal was satisfying but the action scenes and drama weren’t that memorable to actually leave a huge impact.
Although to be fair, I don’t think the creators meant those to be the focus of the story.
More than the action, Arslan Senki gave more focus on character development – on Arslan’s journey to becoming a better king for his kingdom.
And along his journey came those valuable lessons, c/o the gorgeous, witty strategist who we all know lacked artistic talent but dares to call himself a painter – Narsus.
The mighty Narsus was the Sun Tzu to Arslan, and all the battles they’ve won wouldn’t be possible without the brilliant plan this mighty strategist put into action.
If an actual account of Narsus’ genius will be put to writing, his own version of ‘Art of War’ might look like this:
War Rule no.1: Lead your enemies to the place where you want them to focus.
Winning a war requires a vantage point. Narsus made sure they’re on the winning edge. He taught Arslan the importance of patience and deception as crucial factors in crafting an efficient strategy.
While they were on the run from Pars invaders, Narsus showed Arslan the value of laying low in keeping the enemies off their trail.
War Rule no. 2: Establish alliances.
There’s only so much you can do with power and logistics. Establishing alliances makes you stronger. It means more people, more supply and more brains.
Narsus didn’t completely trust the younger Prince of Sindura but was wise enough to recognize the benefit of teaming up with his majesty to boost Arslan’s own manpower.
War Rule no.3: Value your people.
A king will never be a king without a kingdom – a vital lessons Arslan learned while evading his enemies and meeting new comrades. The anime portrayed his character as naturally kind, a stark opposite to the spartan-like character of his father, who’s well versed in conducting war but had ‘little respect to politics’ (-Narsus).
Whereas his father saw soldiers and slaves as tools, Arslan treated his allies as humans – people he can trust. Narsus, who saw through his character was very open in showing his support.
War Rule no.4: Seek counsel.
There’s a limit to how much you can do on your own. At the young age of 14, Arslan’s already carrying a huge burden on his shoulders. Daryun, his loyal guard, knew this.
By seeking counsel from men known for their intelligence and wisdom, Arslan and his allies were able to generate possible options for their mission.
War Rule no.5: Know your area.
You can have more men and knights fighting on your side. But if you’re blind on the topography of the battlefield, you’re as good as dead.
The series clearly depicts this important rule every time Narsus sends out some scout to spy on an area.
War Rule no.6: Calculate the weather.
There’s no surefire way to stop a storm from landing. But there are few ways on predicting it.
In the battle against the Sinduran prince, Narsus showed Arslan how knowledge of the current weather – the wind direction, fog thickness and the like – could help trample the enemy.
War Rule no 7: Asses the harmony of the soldiers.
There is nothing so weak as a cavalry unit that has lost its morale. – Narsus
Throwing out intentional confusion towards soldiers on field has certain effect on their mentality. We see this on the battle against Sindura, where Narsus ordered two men to spread rumors of internal dispute to confuse the soldiers.
True enough, it worked.
War Rule no. 8: Avoid war based on emotions.
Arslan is a kind prince – a ruler in the making who has the tendency to get swayed by his own emotional upheaval.
Now don’t judge. We can’t blame a 14-year old to feel emotional after being driven away from his home, all the while remembering the faces of friends and allies who lost their lives protecting him. Of course he’ll get emotional.
If not for Narsus counsel, Arslan would’ve already launched a premature attack that would only claim more lives. Having Narsus by his side every step of the way taught him how to keep his emotions in check while looking at the bigger picture of their plan.
War Rule no.9: If you’re a king, hire a personal bodyguard – a Daryun caliber guard
A king is supposed to serve and lead his people. But more importantly, he needs to stay safe, something which Arslan can’t promise in his current skills in combat.
He’s not like his father, King Andragoras, who can wield swords just as well as his generals.
If you’re the king, stay protected. There’s one thing you say to potential candidates; ‘Get on Daryun’s level.’
NOTE: This isn’t an official list and there’s no actual Art of War manual introduced by Narsus on the anime series. I created the list based on what I saw so all violent reactions, complains and correction shall fall on yours truly.
I only listed 9 and there may be more! Feel free to drop the war rule you noticed from the Arslan Senki series! (I’m pretty sure I missed things.)
If the list can reach as far as 30, we might even start working a full ebook for it! ^_^