Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Banquet of Kings

The Twelve Kingdoms more or less set my idea of how leaders should behave and for reasons I want to revisit it  (and it's one of the few anime titles I have a complete DVD set of) but before I got to it I kind of got sidetracked by the Banquet of Kings which is one of the best, most thought-provoking scenes in television anime I've ever seen. So let me get that out of my system and then I'll get to The Twelve Kingdoms.

The premise of the Fate series is that it's basically a battle royal with various mythological figures. There is a lot of backstory and character stuff about who's doing what and why but that's what you need to know. We're living in a world where Cú Chulainn and King Arthur go at it.

In Fate/Zero three of those figures are kings, Arthur, Alexander, and Gilgamesh and they all kind of hate each other. In an interesting turn rather than doing the obvious they decide quietly sit down and discuss their differences over wine and see if they can get each other to yield the macguffin without bloodshed.

And dear god is that one interesting conversation.

Gilgamesh's point is interesting if a bit convoluted and hard to understand. He's an arrogant demigod and arguably the oldest legend upon whom all others are based.

For him, kingship is not a mantle. To be king is definitionally to be him and to be him is definitionally to be king. Everybody else is a usurper. It's hard to wrap your head around but he's basically arguing divine right. The gods made him king and so he is king. It is that simple. There are no other considerations or qualifiers. He is king.

This is Gilgamesh.

And he comes off as an asshole because of it. But that's kind of the point Gilgamesh is kind of a dick and that he refuses to acknowledge both Arthur and Alexander kind of rubs them the wrong way but his self-interest is an anathema to Arthur especially.

This is an Arthur who exists after the battle of Camlann. It gets worse in the sequel series but she ( oh yeah this version of King Author is a woman) ain't happy about how her life ended. Eventually it gets so bad that she contemplates a complete do-over where she never removed Excalibur from the stone, but for now, she just wants the moment of her greatest failure to be undone and for her people to have remained in the safety and prosperity of Camelot.

To her that's what kingship is, serving the people whom have entrusted thier faith with her.  And she fundamentally can't stand Gilg-I-do-whats-I-wants-mesh.

Alexander, on the other hand, views her position as kind of pathetic. For Alexander it's the other way around. What makes a king a king is that he has people who serve him that are willing to put their faith in him. His view is that that only happens when a person is self-motivated, when their goals and desires are intrinsic to who they are.

He is troubled that Arthur has allowed herself to become an empty vessel for her people's hopes and dreams and wants to shake her out of it.

Despite Arthur being the flagbearer of the franchise, the series ultimately sides with Alexander who is a nice compromise between the other two.

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