Maoyuu Maou Yuusha 03 – Wealth, Status and Power
January 21, 2013 Leave a comment
While tradition is arguably the biggest obstacle that Maou has to overcome, it is not a simple case of traditional views or attitudes, rather it is a complex collection of ideas, knowledge and status that help to create this notion of the ‘traditional way of things’. As we are quickly finding out, getting a single village to change their growing habits and ways of approaching the job of farming and production may be simple in nature, but it comes with an increasingly complicated set of jobs and ideas that must be dealt with. Maou has already pointed out the true nature of this ongoing war between the human and demon worlds, and has demonstrated that through this war the countries and its peoples can prosper. Furthermore, it is arguably due to this war that the human and demons worlds are currently at peace with no interstate wars and an increasingly prosperous trade network that allows central countries to become rich, while other, poorer countries are provided with essential aid that allows them to survive. In Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, demons and by extension the Maou are easy scapegoats that humanity uses to blame for all of their problems rather than take responsibility. But in doing so, various rulers and other nobles are able to prosper from the war and reduce the possibility of popular uprisings due to commonly held beliefs about the nature of demons and what they have done to this world.
We know that war is devastating for those on the front lines, but as Maou has also pointed out, this war allows for countries to feed themselves through the money that central government provides for their war effort. Furthermore, because of the war, central kingdom maintains a strong control over industry and distribution, with the war effort driving this industry and the wider economies of other outlying kingdoms. But as Maou further explains in a previous episode, despite this vast accumulation of wealth there has been little change in the level of essential commodities. The war has made certain people wealthy, but there remains a lack of food, clothing and other essentials, with entire communities and parts of nations forgotten about due to their lack of strategic importance or buying power. Because of the war however, these problems have been forgotten about, but at the same time, such a world can only exist due to the war, something that Maou wishes to change. By introducing the potatoe to winter village Maou was able to push forward her new crop rotation method, while allowing the village to produce enough food to see them through the winters and even enough for export. Apparently simple changes such as changing the way you rotate your crops and what you plant can have a significant impact upon the local economy and way people perceive their lives and what they are capable of doing. Maou has effectively made the village self-sufficient, a place where, at least economically they no longer need to rely upon the war effort for food or money and can effectively produce these things for themselves.
But, this is a single case, one small spec on a vast continent with a variety of people and ideas, and while it may be an important starting point, it is merely that, a start. To realise her dream of ending the war Maou must look further afield and engage powerful organisations and people in talks to try and push her revolutionary approach to farming (at least for this area) to wider society. By engaging the church and attempting to get their support for her own ideas Maou is tapping into a powerful and highly influential organisation that has the capability of organising vast groups of people for its own aims. The church has always been a powerful force throughout European history, and even during its most fractious moments we still see an organisation that is often willing to change the way it does things in order to continue its existence. The church as an organisation has significant funds available to it, and in many cases had direct control over the production and consumption in certain areas. We can see numerous cases through the medieval period for example where the church had more power and wealth than individual countries. There are historical accounts of the Vatican army rivalling every other European army in manpower and technology, thus demonstrating that the Catholic Church in particular had significant military, political and economic power.
While the church that Maou and Yuusha visit doesn’t necessarily had this sort of power, it nevertheless has the influence necessary to build convents or churches where it sees fit. Furthermore, through their help Maou can start to push her ideas surrounding agriculture further afield, taking them away from the confines of Winter Village to the country as a whole. Without their backing it is unlikely that Maou could do this – she is one voice, and could simply be viewed as an eccentric scholar – the church however has the power, influence, and above all, wealth to push her plans ahead. In this respect Maou has to use traditional ways of pushing her plan forward, and by using the church she further demonstrates the importance of using all the tools at your disposal. This is however the easiest organisation that Maou and Yuusha have available to them, helped slightly by the presence of Onna Kishi (Female Knight) and her knowledge of Yuusha. Getting the church to help is relatively easy due to their mandate of helping the poor, but getting those in power and with the wealth and influence to push her plans through will be significantly harder. As with all societies it is the merchants who arguably hold the ultimate power since they are the ones with the knowledge, networks, and above all capital to bring in essential or luxury goods to each country.
Without their help it would be impossible for Maou to truly push through her plans of ending the wart, but they may also be the most significant obstacle in her way. Such merchants are only where they are due to greed of one form or another – by controlling their trade networks and accumulating vast amounts of wealth the ‘Economic Alliance of Free Merchants and Southern Independent Cities’ are able to control the economic fortunes of numerous countries and city-states. But, Maou’s plan is in direct opposition to the way this Alliance works due to its ability to allow individual villages and even broader communities or collective’s to manage the land themselves and take control of their own economic fortune. In doing so such communities could become economically strong and also rivals to the Alliance, with the ability to take control over their own economic and social welfare. Maou must therefore confront them, while also appeasing their desire to monopolise trade within their region. By sending them a revolutionary compass, one that could easily be put on ships and allow for better navigation, Maou is directly confronting them with her own knowledge. Chuunen Shounin (Literally ‘Middle-Aged Merchant’, the merchant with the big beard) talks about the Alliance’s need to control the production and use of such a revolutionary device. Furthermore, they are also suspicious of Maou’s deal with Lakeside Convent, and what that might mean to their own economic wellbeing. Maou is deliberately challenging their power and greed by sending a new compass that only she can make, and in doing so is both forcing them to take her seriously and making them interested in her knowledge and abilities. In order for Maou’s plan to be a success she must first have the Alliance on her side due to their vast wealth, power and the all important trade routes – and without such a compass they would have arguably ignored her as a silly, idealistic scholar.
This is part of ‘tradition’, a human creation that people follow, often without truly understanding why they are following it or why it is significant or important. The power structures within the human world have been in existence for hundreds of years and are currently essential for the wellbeing of broader society. However, they are also the biggest issue that Maou has to deal with, because tradition, while important, is also arguably one of the greatest problems in the way of new ideas and advancement. People make money or gain power from tradition, tradition is also what allows rulers to stay in power and drives industry, but there are times when tradition gets in the way of change. But, because tradition exists and in the public imagination it has always existed, it becomes significantly harder to work against it. In this case Maou must use the existing systems to her advantage while surreptitiously under cutting them and changing them as her plan progresses. In fact it was tradition that Yuusha was following when he went forward on his quest to slay Maou. Throughout the series so far we have seen Yuusha’s original vision of the world was little more than a mirage, a thin-veneer that is easily destroyed once he begun to question his position within society. He is a legendary Hero, but he is also disposable, a figure that kings and those in power can use for their own aims and then throw away when he has outlived his usefulness.
We see how The Alliance used him for propaganda in order to boost their own trade and social standing, only paying him a mere fifteen gold pieces despite his apparently important role and position in society. Yuusha was, and perhaps still is naïve and innocent of the world, but during this propaganda speech, we see how the Alliance used pretty women to gain his trust and participation, along with promises of a victory parade when he finally returns. But, Yuusha and his companions were the only ones dispatched to destroy Maou instead of a full army, as you would expect given the apparent danger that Maou poses to human society. Furthermore, as Onna Kishi points out, many of those in power have been circulating the rumour that Yuusha sacrificed himself in his battle with Maou and had rewarded all of his companions. His position as Yuusha has no meaning, and if he had killed Maou it would have been hushed up, with another demon taking her place and continuing this mutually beneficial, if farcical war. Through this relatively simple flashback and gesture of money and fame we also see how easily the Alliance can manipulate the situation to their advantage, and by using Yuusha for their own ends they are able to further increase their status, wealth and power.
Through all of this we also have the relationship between Maou and Yuusha, one where both characters are slightly innocent and are so focussed on their own goals and missions that they often forget about who they are with. Their relationship is innocent and at times quite subtle, with simple glance and small gestures that help to show how close they are, but also rather complicated due to who they are and what they are trying to accomplish. Their mission often gets in the way, and as Maid Chou points out to Maou, by locking herself in her study for two months whole she was creating the compass she was also locking herself away from Yuusha. Because they are so focussed on making this plan a success they are also pushing their own feelings to one side. This doesn’t however mean that they are oblivious to the others presence, far from it, in some cases it is arguable that they are almost too aware of the others presence, and perhaps too aware of who they are supposed to be. Yuusha and Maou put others before themselves and think about the bigger picture of a world without war while also ignoring the essential fact that they are a perfect example of demon and human working together in harmony. This doesn’t however mean that they are oblivious of each other, and watching Maou become jealous of Yuusha’s reaction to Onna Kishi and the news that Onna Mahoutsukai has gone to the demon world in search of him at least demonstrates that she is aware of his presence and her own feelings for him. It is at one and the same time a complicated and unbelievably simplistic relationship.