Image source: アニプレックス on YouTube
It’s great seeing a main character with power and influence in an anime—at the end at least. But we want to see them earn that power and influence over the course of the series. And Altair: A Record of Battles shows us why this is important with the main character Tuğril Mahmut.
The young man Tuğril Mhamut has ascended to the high position of Pasha in the Tükiye Stratocracy government. But, his brash and selfish actions quickly led to his demotion. Now, on the advice of his mentor Şehir Halil Pasha, Mahmut is traveling Tükiye to understand the people he’s trying to protect when he reclaims his position of Pasha.
When the series opens we’re treated to Mahmut’s coronation as a Pasha and we’re essentially told he has a great deal of power and influence. But, this a very dangerous game to play narratively because it can remove an important factor in a character’s development: the main character’s overarching mission—the conflict the major character faces in the story. For Mahmut, this conflict is his desire to prevent wars from starting. Yet, since he has a position of influence, it could be argued he could just throw his power around to get what he wants. For a story that has an underlying thread of the delicate balance of diplomacy, this just doesn’t work. The reason is we won’t get the proper tension in any given episode if we already know Mahmut’s just going to fall back on his position.
Image source: アニプレックス on YouTube
This was how the first three episodes of Altair felt. But, the end of the third episode did the unexpected by stripping Mahmut of his power and influence. As viewers, we couldn’t ask for anything better. What this does for Mahmut and the story is give it even more direction. For one, it gives him one more goal: attain the position of Pasha again.
It’s a very large undertaking, but—for viewers—the bigger the goal, the more interesting the story becomes. This is because we want to root for the main character as they achieve the small victories on their path to their ultimate goal. Remember, Mahmut is a character who had a high position within the government. And now that he’s trying to attain that position again, we’ve become invested in his story. For instance, in the fourth episode of the series we see Mahmut make some new allies. It’s a very small step in the process, but one that’s both important and fun to watch.
Image source: TVアニメ「将国のアルタイル」 on Twitter
There’s also the fact that, by demoting Mahmut, the events in the background become far more engaging as well. Because Mahmut has no direct influence anymore, placing him in localized conflicts we actively see him turning the tides of the larger events. The fourth episode is a great example of this again. We see the antagonist Virgilio Louis’s network of spy’s working to undermine and assassinate Tükiyen informants and spies. Yet, Mahmut is able to stop one such plot. It’s a very small part of the series, but these small actions have larger ramifications in unknown places within the story. And we get to see some of the effects Mahmut has on those events in short scenes, generally of Virgilio Louis, throughout the series.
However, if Mahmut were still in a seat of power, we wouldn’t necessarily see these sorts of things happen. This is because the position of Pasha doesn’t allow him the mobility that a lower post would. Thus, by forcing him out of power we actually get to see multiple conflicts play out and the immediate, and to a degree the belated, consequences. And from that Mahmut will grow as a character and endear him to us even further as he reclaims his original seat as a Pasha.
With Mahmut working his way back up to the position of Pasha, Altair has really picked up some steam. As viewers we really want to see him attain his position again, but what will make it all the more worthwhile is seeing him earn it back.
Altair: A Record of Battles is streaming on Amazon Anime Strike.