Maoyuu Maou Yuusha – Episodes 7-8

Episode 7

Thoughts as I go…

I’ve just finished burning through Nisemonogatari (which I really need to start a discussion on the brilliance of), so when they showed that super-gratuitous full body shot of Female Knight in her soaked shirt, my first thought was, “jesus, I thought Hero considered her something like a sister, is that really his perspective on her?” Then the camera shifted to Hero, who was showing no embarrassment or reaction of any kind, and I realized that was just good old-fashioned exploitative fanservice from a director who doesn’t really care about respecting his story or characters. Bleh.

The true sign of a civilized society: Orange Soda.

The scene with the crusade counsel is interesting to me. On the one hand, it’s nice that up till now, the show has been careful to portray most characters not as villains, but merely as people with differing goals, since a truly “evil” person has no inherent motivation and is normally just a symptom of bad writing. However, there have certainly been characters with no nuance in their portrayal – the man being sentenced to death here, as well as the commander that led the sea forces to a rout, come to mind. Meanwhile, I can’t think of a character with substantially different goals from the protagonists who hasn’t been convinced to join their side with relative ease (the merchant is the best example here). This seems kind of troubling to me as far as the future of the show’s conflict is concerned, but I could see the crusade continuing to act as a character/force similar to Heath Ledger’s Joker – a force so unreasonable and unconcerned with the protagonist’s value system that only extreme measures by the protagonists can counter them. I had a conversation in last week’s thread regarding whether the intentional setting of the crusaders against the island demons was an example of those “extreme measures,” and my personal takeaway from that was that it was quite possibly the intent, but if so, should have been more directly addressed in the show itself. If the crusade continues to be extremely relevant, it’ll give the show an opportunity to do just that.

Kinda depressing that the issues Demon King raises about the nature of education still undermine the progression of human knowledge, culture, and equality today.

Hm, love triangle stuff. I mean, it’s pretty silly to have this stuff taking up so much space… after all, anyone who was only watching this show to see a generic romance has probably long since left at this point. But this scene at least was pretty funny to me – Knight and Demon King have a great rapport, and Demon King uses her very mediocre negotiating skills to get the bed is a good gag. Eh, whatever.

Oh my god, could that ending have been any worse. The last fucking thing this show needs is a cartoonish cabal of one-note villains cackling madly. ANTAGONISTS DO NOT NEED TO BE DISNEY VILLAINS. WHYYYYY.

Episode 8

This wasn’t an “I like the little things” style of episode – this was just a damn fine half hour of television. It pushed all the major plots forward, developed several major characters, bounced personalities off each other in new and believable ways, and was entertaining throughout. A few more episodes like this, and Maoyuu could become one of my favorite shows period.

I was particularly happy to see the silly love triangle resolved almost immediately in a way that really fit for the Knight’s character. Not only that, but her sadness and desperation about being left behind mirrored the Hero’s own early fears about his place in the new world – and these fears are far from unfounded. The dwindling importance and prestige of a dedicated warrior class is a truth of the post-feudal world that has inspired countless great stories, including my personal favorite film Seven Samurai. Tying that evocative fear to Knight’s personal story is a mark of great storytelling.

I loved the last scene; I think this might have been the moment when Hero fully came into his own as a character. He’s not supposed to be dynamic – he’s the rock who holds everyone together. I loved the song as well, and the fact that their immediate instinct was to minimize the collateral damage of the church’s actions, not directly fight against them. The foreshadowing of Older Maid’s distrust of their new stability also made her immediate resolve both believable and poignant.

I think they’re using the church fairly well, and am relieved the maniacal laughter of last episode didn’t result in any absurd supervillain shenanigans. Though the church in this world is less insidious of an institution than the actual medieval church (which mixed its scriptures with cannibalization of native stories and real, demonstrable technological advances to help the medicine go down), its actions are still understandable, and will still present huge obstacles for our heroes.

This show is getting really, really good.