Altair: A Record of Battles – Eps. 1 & 2 (First(ish) Impressions)

I’ll admit that maybe I should’ve included Altair: A Record Battles on the “Summer 2017 Preview”. It didn’t really interest me all that much but I did start to notice some hype within the anime community surrounding the series and the manga is considered to be very good. If there was a glaring omission from the preview, it’s probably this one.

I think Altair starts on the same level as another big Summer 2017 premiere, Welcome to the Ballroom. Not mind blowing but there’s a lot of potential in the plot that it’s hard to say this show won’t be on my radar. This a pretty complex story with our young lead, Mahmut, working as a high-ranking official caught in a serious web of conspiracy and political sabotage. I’ll admit that maybe there is way too much to follow in a given episode and it doesn’t help that there’s a ton of dialogue and the show paces extremely quickly for something this dense.

Still, I found myself quite engaged with how Mahmut is able to think outside the box and while that lets him unravel what’s really going on, it makes him naive and vulnerable to the enemy. There’s potential in where Mahmut’s character can end up over the course of the series; either he remains resolute or he is forced to make compromises he never thought he had to make. I’m not sure about the other characters but so far, it’s mostly Mahmut at the spotlight.

There hasn’t really been a ton of action and chances are, Altair is more interested in the politics and decision making than actual fighting. I did admittedly like Mahmut’s eagle buddy, Isekender, and how it aggressively claws at foes but I’m getting the impression that Mahmut uses his animal friend a bit sparingly (in fact, Isekender is barely in Episode 2).  Nevertheless, the show does a very good job at setting up tension without action. In the first episode, there was a neat personal stake where Mahmut’s old friend Sehir offers to take responsibility for an attack which leads Mahmut to deduce the real culprits to save his friend. Episode 2 takes it up a notch. Here, you have Mahmut’s friend Ibrahim framed as the leader of a rebellion, the real masterminds threatening to kill Ibrahim’s people, and Mahmut’s Zehir preparing to storm the village to eliminate the rebellion. There’s a lot of angles going on in the conflict and it effectively paints Mahmut’s goal to fixing the misunderstanding as extremely difficult. The way the second episode ends has me seriously wondering how he could possibly solve the dilemma.

That’s certainly a good sign that a show is keeping me invested enough to keep watching. There’s a slight chance that Altair might be too dense and fast-paced for my liking but so far, I’m intrigued enough to keep going for now.


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