Maoyuu Maou Yuusha 04 – Politics and Loneliness
January 31, 2013 1 Comment
Tradition and its many facets continue to play a significant role in the ongoing attempts by Maou and Yuusha to stop the war between the demon and human world. However, this week took a slightly different turn with the Seinen Shounin (Young Merchant) thus starting the next step in Maou’s plan, while also complicating matters. The problem with trying to bring such a plan to fruition is that it goes against society and all of its established ways of governing and methods of dealing with power and commerce. Maou effectively wishes to unite the land through shared prosperity, this would then allow the numerous kingdoms that are dependant on the good will of central kingdom in order to survive and maintain their current economy. As Maou has already explained, it is because of the current war that this unstable, and unequal relationship can continue but without it those kingdoms that are entirely dependant on the goodwill of central kingdom would likely collapse in on themselves. But, this particular way of working and the various networks, trade routes and other connections that have been created in the process of the war have their own strength and power. This relationship, while unfair, is also an established one and those in power, be they the merchants or other members of the ruling class would stand to lose a significant amount due to Maou’s proposed scheme.
This then is another facet of tradition, and, as with all such traditions it is merely a human creation, one designed to fit a specific purpose, in this case, the ability to generate wealth and control trade and therefore power. By introducing new crops that are resilient to the various problems that appear to have devastated certain nations crops Maou has provided a way for smaller communities to generate their own localised economy and take control of their lives on a more localised level. Winter Village is a perfect example of a village level economy that is no longer reliant on the handouts and ‘generosity’ of richer nations, thus allowing this single community to maintain a better standard of living. However, such an idea runs counter to the wishes of those in power, and in doing so could become a tremendous threat as these new crops and ways of crop rotation, along with other new technologies and ideas are adopted by larger and larger communities and perhaps even entire kingdoms. 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. 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. By meeting with Seinen Shounin Maou hopes to come to an agreement and get the Alliance on her side, however, her ideas surrounding the war along with her assertion that stopping the war is her aim run counter to the Alliance’s current ways of working.
We see in Seinen Shounin a dangerous mix of naked ambition, tact, grace, eloquence and idealism; his initial reaction to Maou’s assertion that she wants to stop the war is almost one of disgust, and he even suggests that she has committed treason against humanity. His small speech about the glory of humanity and its honourable fight against the demons is one of propaganda and idealism, and also demonstrates one of the biggest issues in the way of Maou’s ambitions. Maou may point out that such propaganda is merely what the Alliance tell the general populace, but such ideas have to come from somewhere, and it is arguable that despite everything else that Seinen Shounin is, he still believes in these ideas, if only a little. Their conversation and Seinen Shounin’s reaction to Maou’s statement also points to certain issues that the Alliance have with Maou and her knowledge. The appearance of a shadowy band of assassins, brought there as backup by the merchants demonstrates that while they may be willing to talk about various business deals, they are also after the knowledge of Maou. As Chuunen Shounin said in last weeks episode, the Alliance needs to control the production and use of Maou’s revolutionary compass, and perhaps even destroy the maker. Despite offering the Alliance a lucrative deal, Maou remains a figure that they cannot control, and she has already shown to be someone who is willing to use all the tools at her disposal in order to make her plan a success. Her willingness to create a partnership with Lakeside Convent and the continuing spread of a food substance that currently cannot be controlled pose a significant threat to the current power and prestige of the Alliance.
She is someone who cannot be manipulated by them and she is willing to share her ideas and knowledge with those who are interested, thus making it largely impossible for the Alliance to use her inventions and methods for their own ends. To counter this, Maou offers them a lucrative offer, giving them completely control over a future corn market, thus ensuring that they have the monopoly over an important food substance. She is effectively playing their game and using their greed and wish for greater wealth and power against them. This is a part of the traditional way of things that Maou must use if she wishes for her plan to be a success; she cannot fight against existing methods of governing or trading, and must use them for her own ends. 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. By getting Seinen Shounin on her side, while also offering the Alliance a lucrative trading partnership, she is using the most powerful trade network in the human world in order to spread her ideas and food, while simultaneously putting her own plans into action.
The problem is in a way that despite being a shrewd negotiator and someone with an immense amount of knowledge she also remains rather naïve of certain elements of culture and society. When Seinen Shounin starts laughing followed by his quick marriage proposal we see the carefully crafted mask that Maou had on during the negotiations fall away. Maou is rather innocent when it comes to love as is obvious in her clumsy attempts to interact with Yuusha, so the off-the-cuff marriage proposal clearly flustered and perhaps shocked her. It also helps to demonstrate how devious Seinen Shounin is, and how far he is willing to go for wealth and prestige. This then brings us on to the central relationship in Maoyuu Maou Yuusha and its increasing importance to Maou’s plans for both the human and demon worlds. Maou is putting all of her effort into creating strong links with the Alliance, but as she points out to Maid Chou she hasn’t heard from Yuusha in six months other than the letters that he sends about his adventures in the demon world. Naturally he has been coming back as we soon see, only he has yet to meet her and instead works through Maid Chou, asking her to deliver the messages. Yuusha is immensely important to Maou perhaps on an emotional level since her frustration at the amount of work she currently has is only exacerbated by Yuusha’s absence. However, Yuusha appears to be avoiding her, suggesting to Maid Chou that Maou doesn’t need him for anything and that despite their pledge she has never used him for anything.
To Yuusha she is deliberately keeping him from harms way, while also doing everything she can top stop the war as soon as possible. But he ha grown restless and feels utterly useless, so decides to go to the demon world and stop any civil war, thus using his marital prowess to help Maou in his own way. To Yuusha Maou cares for him too much and he wishes to be more useful to her plan, there is also a darker side to his willingness to use his own body as her weapon. Yuusha tells Maid Chou that he keeps thinking about when he might die, and sees Maou on the verge of tears; such a thought clearly terrifies him and he is therefore attempting to put as much distance between himself and Maou so that she never has to deal with that sadness. But perhaps he is missing the point, because they are essential for each other’s mental, physical and emotional wellbeing, Maou may be a genius, but she still needs Yuusha to support her quest for peace. They made a contract, but they are also bound together by something far more important, so Yuusha, in attempting to put as much distance between them as possible has already missed an essential element of that contract. He clearly knows of her feelings for him, but perhaps he is ignoring his own feelings, or rather is so scared of his feelings for her that he is using his excursions into the demon world as an excuse to avoid his own feelings and thoughts. Ultimately these characters are essential to the success of their plan, and Yuusha and Maou need to be together for it to work, especially considering the ongoing political struggle between various kingdoms for power and wealth.
Through all of this we are also shown that despite the successes of Maou’s plans, there are still powerful forces at work within the human world, and the war against the demons still persists. Countries still make alliances with Central Kingdom to gain wealth and power, while the border kingdoms remain dependant on the goodwill of Central Kingdom and its ability to provide food and money. All of this continues to come from the war effort and it seems that in order to maintain their current way of running things, Bright Light Island must be retaken from the demons in order for people to show that this war continues which would then reinforce the existing power structures. The relationship between Maou and Yuusha is fascinating because it is absolutely central to their current plan, but it is also a difficult relationship due to who they are supposed to be. Everyone that gathers around them has their own agenda and concerns, but through their continued work and participation on Maou’s grand scheme the hope is that they will somehow gain what they have been searching or wishing for. It is therefore essential that Yuusha can help out in some way so that less lives are lost and so that he can help support Maou who needs him more than he perhaps realises.