WAS it ever used as a historic form of torture or execution? As the page quote implies and the length of this section proves, this is a common situation in anime, especially for female characters. Also subverted later on.
They traveled to Sirmium west of Belgrade in order to distance themselves from the seat of power. And barring genetic resemblances, the main villains do not have look-alikes anywhere else in the series, while the heroes all resemble each other. In the first volume background characters were featureless silhouettes.