Maoyu, as Maoyu Mao Yusha (Demon king and Hero) is more commonly known, is an anime that also takes the time to teach its viewers some real world concepts, and as such this post will be the first of the three “Mind Expanding Anime” posts, and all three happen to have Fukuyama Jun portraying a main role in. Maoyu at its base is a tale of changing the world through technological and mercantile advancements, about the side-effects and benefits(!) of war, and is a romantic comedy show, of sorts.
(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that have risen in my mind as I’ve watched it. There will be major spoilers in this post. I will also make predictions as to what I think will happen in the future in the story, not based on certain knowledge.)
The first episode is one of the better first episodes I’ve seen. The Hero storms the castle of the Demon King, ready to kill him in order to stop the ongoing war between humanity and the demons. It turns out however that the Demon King is a buxom young-looking woman, who tells the Hero that she loves him, doesn’t want to fight him, and wants to enlist his aid in bringing peace to both humanity and demon-kind.
That’s certainly not what the Hero expects, it throws him off balance, since it’s not the expected script for the meeting between the Hero and the Demon King. It’s important to note at this point that we are not given any character’s name in this show but rather their “titles” – Hero, Demon King, Little Maid, Head Maid, Winter Kingdom’s King, etc. they are archetypes and not just people, this along with the visions the Demon King had when going to commune with her predecessors in order to renew her license made me think of The Matrix when Neo goes to meet the Architect – He’s not simply “The One”, he’s the 6th “One”, which makes him not exactly the one to begin with.
Likewise, it seems the cycle of Hero and Demon King had happened many times before, and it is this exact same cycle that the Demon King wishes to break. As an aside, I also got the feeling The Demon King was actually in the past The Earth’s Spirit – the one who gave birth to humanity, and the deity whom they worship.
So, if both sides do not wish for war – The Hero after all wants to kill the Demon King to end the war, an the Demon King admits to not wanting the war – then why not just end it? Turns out that neither side can let the war end because it will lead to economic ruin. This is actually something I’ve been thinking of and learnt of in the past – should a country’s economy be in recession, then war might be the easiest way to get out of it – there’s a lot less unemployment, you need to produce more things, including weapons, other equipment for the soldiers, and war also serves as a good catalyst to technological advancement. I’ve seen the argument that The Big Recession only truly ended as a result of War World 2, and you can see the advancements to computers, atomic energy, flight, and space as a result of war to get an idea of what we’re talking about.
So, should the war end, it’ll lead to an economic catastrophe for both sides, leading to massive famine. Not only that, the rich get richer off of the war and have no desire for it to end to begin with. As such, the Demon King (Let’s just call her Maou) enlists the Hero’s aid in trying to combat hunger, because if they’ll be able to eliminate hunger then they could also stop the war. So we’re introduced to topics such as crop-rotation, and Maou brings to the very European setting the demon-world’s seeds of potato and corn (I wonder if that makes the Demonworld the Americas, from which these crops had been brought over to Europe in the real world).
But, it’s not easy getting the people to trust her and change their ways, so we also get to see them educating kids of promising families, we get to learn of trade agreements, of dual-coin monetary systems, of economic wars. The anime does spend time introducing us, albeit quickly, to such concepts, so if we try we can leave it more educated than we’ve entered it, especially should we actually spend time researching the show. To me, Maou is a visitor from outer-space. There are many science-fiction books or time-travel stories where we get to see a human with modern technology (or even more advanced) is thrown onto a less advanced setting, and so they set out to bring them to “our level”. This is very much a show of the sort – so even though there are no Science Fiction elements in the show otherwise, it still feels like an “Advanced Visitor from another planet” kind of show.
Change is going to take a while, and it’s really nice to see that things take their time. This is the antithesis to The Hero’s archetype, which is “I’m going to solve everything magically right away!” – the Hero is ridiculously powerful, but his powers can only be used in combat, so he can’t bring about the desired change, there are no shortcuts of the sort here.
The show’s production quality is good, the animation is good both in style and in execution, and especially in the first episode the colours of all the different schemes are very vivid. The voice acting cast (which shares many names with Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere) does an amazing job in portraying their roles. The relationship between Maou and the Hero feels a lot more natural, a lot more mature, than the high-school relationships we see in most anime. While they suffer from the same issues of “Should we? Do we?” it still feels more mature. It certainly helps that the two roles are portrayed by Fukuyama Jun and Koshimizu Ami that had played very similar roles in Spice and Wolf and also played mains together at Code Geass.
There is one more thing I want to discuss about this show, and that is the speech given in episode 9 – “I am human!” – this speech is given by the Older Maid after Maou who passed by as a human scholar is accused of heresy by the church, and is more or less a six-minute speech about her life, her beliefs, what it is to be human, and being true to yourself. This speech is good on so many levels – it’s a good speech, it’s rare to see an anime actually allow a single speech to go on for so long without action. Watching this speech time and time again now brings me to tears. After watching the ridiculous Armin speeches in Shingeki no Kyojin, where emotion is judged by how much someone bobs their head, I had to go and rewatch this speech again. Everyone owes it to themselves to watch this show, if only just for this episode.
Score: Maoyu receives 8/10 out of me. I want to see where they take it. The acting is good, the art is good, the plot is a bit sparse but you can leave this anime slightly more educated than you’ve gone in. It also has the single best speech I’ve seen in an anime thus far.