We finally catch up to the flashforward in ep 1, but the smaller moments outshine the battles.
Considering how little time they had to develop Titus, I applaud how sympathetic they made his character by, ironically, avoiding complexity. Being a clone of Scheherazade, Titus has to deal with the fact he is a puppet of Leam that’s destined to die. But seeing for himself what joy there is to living makes it his one wish he cannot give up on. It’s a selfish desire that leads to conflicted loyalty, but they never make it seem like he’s changed into a desperate villain. His freedom to value life is easily identifiable, and finally getting the help he needs from those he trusts is a touching moment. I’d definitely like to see more of Titus, because he’s definitely developed enough to join of the main cast.
Also it seems that no matter how harsh his methods, I continue to root for Mogamett’s revolution. Aside from being caught between the Kou x Leam power struggle and cutting his ties to Al-Thamen, Mogamett doesn’t really start his attack until Titus explains his inevitable death. Ironically he sees the inhuman Titus to be more human than the goi, and states that he won’t give up on him even if it means facing an empire. Even if he’s done some horrid things along the way, this really brings credence to the fact Mogamett really cares about the value of human life(at least to those he considers human).
But this is still essentially Aladdin’s arc, and that leads to some mixed results. His magical skills are definitely stronger, and he’s finally making his own decisions rather than acting as support. But aside from his occasional boob dives, his character is so inherently good-natured that we rarely have him be the subject of dramatic conflict. The only time we see him make a mistake is when hiding the dark prohecy he has from Alibaba, and even that’s not brought up until the end of ep 20. He’s the character you know you can trust and brings the most exposition, but he really doesn’t grab your attention unless paired with another character. So thank god he’s reunited with Alibaba.
Returning to an arc with big stakes also has its drawbacks. I love seeing how massive these battles can get, and each display of combat reflects how their empire is structured(Magnostadt=magic reliance, Leam=human force). However, the lack of screentime given to the opposing factions makes it hard to root for anyone but Magnostadt. The Kou empire at least has their power hungry image from previous arcs, but we don’t even get Scheherazade’s true motivation for conquest until the battle is over; a limited time to remain in power. It doesn’t help that their army has such a simplified image, especially the blood-thirsty Fanalis corps. Admittedly Scheherazade’s decision to free Titus does win some sympathy before the Kou begin their strike, but by that point it’s too late to be invested.
While certainly promising as a return to climactic arcs, the two issues I mentioned really hold it back. I want this to hit me like the Balbadd arc, but it always seems one step away from getting there. But considering how good it’s been so far, I have faith that A-1 pictures will not f#ck this up like they did to the Zagan arc.