Maoyuu Maou Yuusha 02 – Idealism and Tradition
January 14, 2013 2 Comments
The single biggest issue that Maou has to deal with in her quest to end this war is (arguably) tradition, this coupled with the idealism of those who continue to believe in the righteousness of this war make all of her plans worthless, at least for now. Before she can ever get around to solving basic problems such as crop rotation, food shortages and by extension the wealth and wellbeing of society, she must first educate everyone on the basic principles of war, economy and social responsibility. Yuusha claimed to be a righteous warrior, one bent on the destruction of Maou, thus freeing his country and continent from war and oppression. His claims are not merely his, but a product of commonly held beliefs and ideals surrounding the nature of the demon realm, and how it pertains to the prosperity of their own nation. Ideals are dangerous, especially when they are linked to warfare and the trade that goes on around it. The ideals of Yuusha are particularly dangerous and easily manipulated as we saw in the last episode when Maou pointed out that he was the only one dispatched to kill her, when the best course of action, assuming those in power wanted to end the war would be to send a well equipped and powerful army.
Through this we see how easily Yuusha, and the noble ideals that he lives by are easily manipulated and used by those in power to maintain their current status and wealth regardless of how they got it. Furthermore, war is often the only time when a country comes together as a single unit, it is the basis of mobilisation and an ongoing war effort that a countries population comes together under a single cause. Without this any war effort would be meaningless and there wouldn’t be the sort of production or industry to continue with it. In fact, wars have been lost precisely because countries haven’t come together and worked for that single purpose, which results in a lack of equipment, food and other necessary provisions. In the world of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, the war between the demon and human worlds is essential for maintaining the human worlds current peace and prosperity, because without everyone would be using their military power for their own ends and those countries that are utterly reliant on war funds from central kingdom would ultimately be left to cave in and die. The problem is that the war has been going on for so long that apart from those at the centre of the war effort, the people in power with the political and economic might to truly rule this world, everyone else continues to believe in the central idealism that drives the war.
As Maou, now going by the name Kurenai no Gakushi (Crimson Scholar) finds out, the children of the nobles firmly believe in the central ideals of warfare, without having any knowledge of the realities of life in general. This makes things difficult because they will ultimately become leaders of their communities and by extension of being of noble birth become the power that leads their country or nation. But, because they lack a central understanding of the realities of life for others who are not in their position, coupled with the dangerous idealisms that noble families often live by, they are therefore dangerously ignorant of the necessities of life. When teaching the local nobles children Maou must contend with these idealistic visions of the world while attempting to teach them the realities of agriculture, economy and social practices. One student (known as Gunjin shitei – literally, ‘military youngster’) talks about ‘fighting to the last man’, and further claims that you cannot fight war with an abacus, and that only those who are weak use starvation and the lack of proper supplies to stop fighting and think. Gunjin here demonstrates how little he understands about the importance of logistics when feeding an army or broader society, and that in reality it is logistics that win wars, not the prowess of an individual soldier or army. Furthermore, he idealistic attitude that ‘we fight to the last man’ shows us a brazen foolishness, one that has been bred into him through countless tales of heroism. He is naïve, and understands nothing about the realities of war and of the importance of food, clothing and good supply lines, his attitude can only exist because he has never been at war and doesn’t understand what ‘fighting to the last man’ actually means. Gunjin is instead simply repeating the supposed ‘heroic’ attitudes that his family and social class live by, rather than truly trying to understand what they mean, he is therefore a dangerous idealist.
One of the other students, Kizoku shitei (literally ‘noble youngster’) talks about how the people are protected by their lords, and further suggests that it is ‘impossible’ for them to ever truly starve. In this particular statement, Kizoku shitei reinforces the notion that lords and the wider noble classes are utterly ignorant of what happens in society, particularly to those at the bottom, they are apparently protected by the generosity and great gifts of their lords and therefore have nothing to complain about. Whereas Gunjin shitei is reinforcing the dangerous ideals of nobles and their reasons to fight, along with their (apparent) lack of understanding about the importance of a good economy and healthy population, Kizoku shitei is approaching the same problem from a different perspective. His attitudes suggest that lords and the broader noble class in their generosity allow the peasants, or serfs to live on and work the land, and in doing so allow them to have a pleasant and well-fed life. His arrogance at the position of lords, coupled with his ignorance as to the realities of life further reinforce the difficulties that Maou has to deal with. The third youngster on the other hand Shounin shitei (literally ‘Merchant youngster’) hasn’t said much, but from his general bearing he seems to be the only member of the ‘noble’ households who at least understands, or is beginning to grasp the central importance of what Maou is trying to teach.
The final member of Maou’s lessons is a particularly interesting character, and is arguably the only one to truly understand the plight of those who work the land or are forced to work the land by the noble families. Maid Ane (as far as I know, her name or title actually translates as ‘Big Maid Sister) and her little sister (generally translated as Little Maid Sister) are ‘Serf’s, a particularly type of peasant under the feudal system, someone who is tied to their lord, and are allowed to work the land but own very little. They are in effect a form of modified slavery, those who do not own their land and are only entitled to work on it and receive their lord’s protection for as long as the lord sees fit. These sisters have dealt with hardship and in an effort to escape from their current lifestyle have run away, only to be found by Maou, Yuusha and Maid Chou (Head Maid). The attitude that Maid Chou exhibits is harsh, but also fits with the commonly held attitudes in society, it is however a damaging attitude that further reinforces social inequalities and goes against the central ideals of Yuusha. By suggesting that they simply report these sisters Maid Chou is demonstrating her central loyalty to Maou, because as she sees it, any escaped Serf’s could potentially damage Maou’s position as Kurenai no Gakushi in the human world. Through her harsh treatment, and way of describing Serf’s as ‘bugs’ Maid Chou is however teaching these sisters an important lesson about life and how they can improve things. Their ideals and passion, coupled with the dream of ‘living together’ wont get them very far in this society, rather it is likely to lead to their deaths.
But, by acknowledging that in their current state they are worthless, and by wishing and putting in the effort to become more than slaves, to become ‘human’, they can earn their place in the world. Maid Chou is in effect teaching them that they must strive for better things, and instead of living off of ideals and dreams, put in the effort and not be satisfied with being Serf’s. It is a harsh, but arguably necessary lesson to teach these sisters that dreams and idealisms are not what allow you to live, although they arguably remain important in some respects. But because these sisters have come from the lowest rungs of society, they are arguably the best place to understand the central importance of what Maou is trying to teach. As Maid And points out after Kizoku shitei has given his little speech on the generosity of the lords, he has clearly never been starving, or had to deal with the struggle fro a basic life. The problem is that these nobles and the ones with the power and control over resources, and it doesn’t matter how much Maid Ane understands about the central importance of proper distribution and agriculture, she ultimately has very little say in how things are run. It is because of these traditional ways of agriculture, and of distribution, coupled with long held ideals and beliefs about how society should be run and what it means to be a noble or a peasant that Maou is having so much trouble.
Through all of this we have the central relationship of Maou and Yuusha, one that can look very simple, with two innocent individuals learning to live with each other, but is far more complex in nature. Maou wishes to accomplish something special in the human world, but, by merit of being ‘Maou’ she has to keep up appearances, and despite her best intentions there are those in the demon world who would quickly usurp her throne if they thought she was weak. The story she has weaved her battle with Yuusha and subsequent wounds should provide her with at least a year, at least according to her own calculations, but it will likely become difficult to maintain such a charade as time passes. On the other hand Yuusha has finally begun to realise how little he really knows about the world and how little he has contributed to the way his own nation runs. He may be ‘Yuusha’, but he has no skills or expertise other than in the use of the sword, whereas Maou is intelligent and understands the workings of economics, agriculture and the broader impact of both in society and culture. He must therefore find his own place in the world and come to terms with what it means to be the ‘Yuusha’, he must also reevaluate his ideals, and while he shouldn’t lose them at least must learn that they are not necessarily the things to live by.
At the center of all of this however is a fairly innocent relationship between two individuals who are supposed to be on opposite sides of the fence but find themselves together in a relationship that is both a contract, while also something more. Maou in particular may know an awful lot about economics and other such things, but she is surprisingly cute and innocent when it comes to romance and being together with Yuusha. The way she tries to explain a simple request such as ‘lay your head on my lap’ through her own curious language, even quoting ancient records and trying to justify this simple action to herself and to Yuusha shows that she is still rather new to this sort of human interaction. This central relationship is fascinating, not least because they are apparently archenemies and are also stuck within a series of political and economic plans that could potentially shake the very foundations of their societies. But Maoyuu Maou Yuusha arguably needs this central relationship within all the economics and politics to push things forward. They are in a very real way living proof that demons and humans can coexist and even be romantically involved, further debunking the common myths that Yuusha until meeting Maou had believed in.