Technical issues meant no post last week. If all goes well from this point, regular posting on this series should resume as normal.
The 5th episode of Spiral Labyrinth focuses on the early stages of the 2nd Battle of Tiamat. The Imperial forces prepared a much larger force than normal for the battle, but concerns about the effectiveness were already established. For Ashbey leading the Alliance forces, Ashbey was dogmatic in his approach, but would it have consequences?
A Question of Motivation
The dominant theme of this episode was the motivation for the battle which was established early on in the episode. In the buildup, Ashbey told the press that he intended to become a Fleet Admiral after the battle and with no ladders left to climb he would do something other than Limpao and Tparl, who each retired quietly without entering politics. His apparent use of the Allied forces for personal glory was causing fractures within the 730 Mafia, which was not helped by his refusal to provide anything other than minimal explanation for his tactics in the coming battle to them.
The narrator then explained the feeling of the general Alliance soldier over 100 years into the war with the Empire. They had been repeatedly been told that they were fighting a war for peace and justice, but it had gone on so long that the idea of winning seemed alien. What kept them going was the thought that any defeat could see them lose everything.
On the Imperial side, the reason for fighting was fairly clear. Mückenburger wanted revenge for his fallen uncle and personal glory for most everyone else. Steiermark saw right through this and knew that commanders fighting for individual honors on the battlefield reduced cooperation between them. It also showed little concern for the common soldier.
These concerns were also echoed throughout the main OVA series. The Alliance had issues when going on the offensive and questionable support from the political establishment. The Empire always fought for personal gain through the bitter end. Neither side was willing to admit that they needed structural change until it was forced on them.
In the early stages of the battle, the focus was on how cooperation held up on each side. Ashbey’s results had earned him enough respect from the rest of the 730 Mafia that they begrudgingly accepted his orders without an explanation. Cope and di Bertini were sent forward early in the battle, while Jasper was sent to reinforce the left flank only because Ashbey thought that the information that was provided to him would give a small fleet an advantage in that position. When Cope ran into trouble, Ashbey ordered Warwick’s fleet in as reinforcements. When Warwick ran into trouble trying to act on his own initiative, Ashbey chose not to help him believing that the Imperial fleet would withdraw if the main fleet stayed put.
On the Imperial side, Mückenburger’s incentive of giving the one who killed Ashbey whatever they wanted did not prove enough as his fleet was demolished by the combined efforts of the fleets of Warwick, Cope and di Bertini. On the other hand, the only one who seemed to have a sense of cooperation in the battle to this point, Steiermark, sacrificed the opportunity for personal glory and a communications shuttle to withdraw then explain why to Fleet Admiral Zeiten.
With the battle advancing to the next stage, the Alliance has the upper hand despite the fact that morale will be low amongst most of the 730 Mafia. The Empire has the larger force, so it will be interesting to see how exactly they mess this up.
Thoughts: An actual battle for the first time in 4 episodes made this interesting. Ashbey is a surprisingly fresh breath of air in the Alliance military as his mannerisms come off as very Reinhard-ian. I would guess that with his death quickly after this battle, his legend would inspire many imitators without the talent.