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Alderamin on the Sky
Episode 8

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Alderamin on the Sky ?
Community score: 4.4

So our worst fears coming out of episode 7 have been realized: Kanna does not survive the ill-fated military campaign. That leaves me with very mixed feelings about this episode, which I'm pretty sure was intentional.

The confirmation of Kanna's death in the episode's final scenes (she probably perished a day or two earlier) was nearly unavoidable, since she was in an exposed position with practically every factor – strategic, health, lack of support – against her. It was obvious that she was being set up as the tragic face of the incompetence of military leadership, which is apparently endemic to the Empire. In addition, she sets up a perfect Hero's Dilemma: both acting wisely with caution and carelessly with boldness can bear a cost. From both tactical and strategic standpoints, Ikta's call to idle his troops for two days was absolutely the right one; altitude sickness (sometimes also called mountain sickness) is a very real and unpredictable danger to mountain climbers that can be debilitating or even fatal, to the point that some guidelines recommend one night of acclimation for every 1000 m of ascent beginning at around 2,400 m (about 8,000 ft). Move ahead too quickly, and you risk crippling your army before they ever encounter the enemy (which is exactly what happened to the unit at the mountain fortress), losing even more troops fruitlessly. Still, I'm sure that I was far from the only one practically yelling “rescue the girl, dammit!” as Ikta made his fateful decision.

But that's also a sign that the series did its job well, making me care about Kanna and be saddened by her passing in a short amount of time. The portrayal of military incompetence isn't too heavy-handed either, as history is replete with cases of military leaders who have brought calamity by failing to consider environmental factors, the capabilities of their opponents, or just letting themselves be guided by prejudices and outdated tactics. (Case in point: the European generals in WW1 who initially refused to accept that the advent of the machine gun had made previous styles of warfare untenable.) Unlike some other series, this doesn't seem like a case where everyone else is written more dumb so the main protagonist's brilliance can shine; clearly Ikta has a tactical rival on the other side in this conflict, which should make future maneuvers interesting, but some of his actions are simply based on more specialized knowledge that wouldn't be available to most military commanders.

The technical merits remain strong into this episode, even keeping the graphic violence to a level that gets the point across without being needlessly gruesome. Kudos also to some very nice use of the musical score, especially in the end scenes, and for getting all of its knights at least somewhat involved this time. Overall, the series seems to be on an upward trend.

Rating: A-

Alderamin on the Sky is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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