Maoyuu Maou Yuusha 06 – The Curse of the Strong
February 13, 2013 Leave a comment
The reasons for war are never really clear, partly because there are numerous reasons for a country or nation to go to war, and these reasons largely depend on the time, place and society. Also, even when war is declared it is important to note that different social and political groups may support or advocate for war for numerous different, and often contradictory reasons. Then of course we have the tricky area between the public perception of war, with state propaganda and the real reasons that a state or nations leaders will choose war over other courses of action. If we look at wars during the Middle Ages and beyond they happened for a number of reasons (at least according to historical documents, that are in many cases highly biased and must be taken with a grain of salt, even if the grain is pretty big) ranging from religious to economic. The crusades for example happened not just because of religious beliefs, but because of economic and social issues in Europe, with the crusades themselves acting as a means with which European rulers deflected attention from their countries problems by focussing on the apparent need to destroy ‘infidels’ in the Holy Land. While the conflict, at least in historical records is framed in terms of the religious significance of Jerusalem and other neighbouring territories, there are also elements of the states involved responding to political and social movements within their own countries, and the church itself.
The Seven Years War during the 16th century was fought for almost as many reasons, and largely resulted from overlapping interests in the countries colonial and trading empires. This, much like other wars was fought for political, economic and social reasons that all seem to intermingle and make it very difficult to differentiate between one of the other at times. The same can be said for WWI and WWII, with different nations going to war for their own specific reasons. For example, recent evidence has shown that during WWI, America wished to continue the war and completely obliterate Germany, and in doing so they could take control of the Rhine-land and all of Germany’s impressive production and technology. As these brief (very brief) examples perhaps suggest, the reasons for war are varied and complicated, and it is unlikely that war starts simply because you don’t like the person on the other side of the fence or river. The problem with war and wider conflict in Maoyuu Maou Yuusha is that there are very few indications as to the real reason that the war started. We know that the humans view the demon world as a place of destruction, and to them it’s a case of strike before they inevitably get obliterated. But, apart from this weeks and a few occasions in other episodes, there seems little open-hostility coming from the demons, and instead the humans are shown to be bloodthirsty and destructive.
Maid Ane asks Maou why conflict exists, a question that Maou cannot entirely answer, although she does talk about the varying degrees of conflict, suggesting that conflict exists all around us. In a sense she is entirely correct because conflict on a more local or private level does exist, however, these sort of small-scale conflict or disagreement aren’t necessarily representative of the sort of global conflict that is currently happening between humans and demons. Maid Ane expresses an almost blind optimism at the possibility of meeting new and different people without ever arguing or that meeting resulting in conflict. On the one hand she is absolutely correct in out ability to meet new people without immediately arguing, but when we try and transpose this idea onto a much larger scale it suddenly becomes far more difficult. This is partly because conflict and war are never about a single act or disagreement, and as already mentioned the reasons for going to war are often highly complex and range from economic to political and religious. It is therefore not simply a case of getting on with everyone, but about looking at what these countries can gain from the war, thus leading to possible reasons as to why it was started in the first place. We know that war is destructive, and devastates peoples lives, especially those living on the front lines, but as Maou has pointed out before, this war allows countries to feed themselves through the money that central government provides for their war effort. Furthermore, because of the war, central kingdom maintains strong control over industry and distribution, and uses the war effort to drive its industry and by extension its economy.
The strong economy of central kingdom, along with other kingdoms involved in financing this war effort also allows for other kingdoms and states that are closer to the war front to boost their own economies and industry. Through this, central kingdom and its allies have accumulated vast wealth, power, and prestige, things that would be lost were the war to suddenly stop. Also, many other kingdoms and states are currently dependant on the money, food and production that central kingdom and its allies provides them for their part in the war effort. As Maou has pointed out, the war has made certain people exceptionally wealthy and powerful; but there still remains a lack of food, clothing, and basic essentials for living, with entire communities and nations forgotten about due to their lack of strategic important of buying power. There is also the issue of those countries and groups who have made their fortune off of the war effort. The Holy Capital and The Church, along with other central nations quite clearly benefit from the continuation of this current war, and it is in their interest that new reasons for fighting are found. As Seinen Shounin in lasts weeks episode points out, without the continued conflict with the demon world, The Holy Capital and the Churches power as a unifying force would wane, which would effect their economy and overall position within the human world. They are a country and organisation that is utterly dependant on the continuation of this conflict to maintain their current power, status and prestige. However, if this war were to become to bloody and dangerous, they may also lose their power because other countries and nations may ultimately rebel against them, while also questioning the meaning of the current war. The re-conquering of Bright Island takes on another element here, with The Holy Capital and The Church arguably using this small conflict to maintain profitability, while also bringing together the nations and reminding them why they are fighting.
Through all of this we have the figures of Maou and Yuusha, working behind the scenes and using their abilities and expertise to help Winter Kingdom in their goal to retake Bright Island. Her plans have already helped Winter Kingdom to have an increasing amount of autonomy from other kingdoms (at least, that is the suggestion), with the potatoe crop and new methods of crop rotation clearly having an impact. But, as we see at the beginning, and throughout the episode, her genius isn’t limited to farming practices, but in the creation of new ways to wage war. The presence of fire arrows with explosive charges suggests another more dangerous use for her knowledge, although she appears to clearly understand the consequences of such inventions. Maou provides the technology and means with which the human army can invade Bright Island, and in doing so condemns some of her strongest subjects to death. The look on her face as Ice General dies to the applause of the human army shows her pain and sadness; Maou remains the ruler of the demon world, but in her efforts to bring about a resolution to the conflict she is condemning others like Ice General to death. Up until this point Maou and Yuusha have worked in a small world of their own, seemingly distant from everyone around them due to their nature and powers, but at this particular point we see the realisation of what they are accomplishing. Maou’s pained expression clearly demonstrates that this war will be painful to stop, and that in doing so she is likely to condemn numerous other generals and soldiers on both the human and demons sides to death.
This then is similar to Yuusha’s realisation that his actions were being controlled by those in power and that his naivety, innocence, and unwillingness to really investigate claims of demon destruction had lead him to truly believe in a crusade that was arguably created by The Holy Capital and The Church so that they can maintain their power. As we see in Gate City, humans are arguably far worse than the demons, with the cities residence terrorised by those who conquered them, with little hope of being saved. Through these recent episodes it has therefore become abundantly clear that while neither side is in the right, the humans are portrayed as far more destructive and selfish than any demon (at least at the moment). What is particularly interesting is how easily Yuusha gets on with demons, taking on the persona of the ‘Death Knight’ in order to frighten those in Gate City. In a very real way Yuusha is more of a demon than Maou, and is someone who, because of his power and abilities is alienated from society. As Maou and Onna Kishi are celebrated for the parts they played in the capture of Bright Island, Yuusha is looking down from a distant balcony. This simple action further reinforces Rou Yumihei’s (Old Archer/Butler) words when he describes Yuusha as being too strong, something that is arguably correct. As Rou Yumihei points out, Yuusha is so strong he could easily take on an army of thousands all by himself, but, because of his strength, and in a way, his purity, normal people cannot accept him. His strength is that of a demon and as such he is shunned by the very society that he had originally sworn to protect, he, like Maou lives in another world, one where no one else can tread.
His strength isolates him from humanity and casts him as that special individual, one who doesn’t need others to help him, and is strong enough to take on whole armies. His decision to face Maou alone perhaps comes from this isolation, with Yuusha wanting to deal with everything himself and caring about his companions so much that he believes his absence will help them. However, Yuusha is no longer entirely alone like Rou Yumihei suggests, he is now with Maou, Maid Chou, Maid Ane and Maid Imouto, he has a goal to achieve and someone who he can support. At the same time, he still has an element of the loner in him, with Yuusha willingly spending months about from Maou in order to act as her shadow and carry out what needs to be done in the demon world. In a sense, while Yuusha may have a group of companions again he remains distant from the human world because he could never fit in there and ironically fits into the demon world. His relationship with Maou, and his ability to support her are therefore essential to tie Yuusha and his extraordinary powers and abilities to the real world. Without these characters he truly would live in his own world, one where no one, not even his old comrades could reach.