9 CommentsMaoyuu Maou Yuusha / By Inushinde /

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha Episode 6: Giant Fucking Walrus

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The thing that unerringly kills even the most brilliantly constructed of stories is a lack of investment—or making a fight with a giant walrus boring. No matter how tragic or pulse-pounding certain moments are supposed to be, there needs to be some reason to care about what happens, even if it’s only because a pair of boobs stapled to a sentient pole is in danger of getting smashed into giblets—or the best character, a giant walrus, is stomping about, thwacking people with a harpoon.

While Maoyuu has always struggled with this to an extent due to a certain level of detachment that comes with using its world as a tool for education, its flaws are especially glaring when it tries to channel that creativity into battle. When you could splice in the Battle of Minas Tirith (and a walrus) without much of a change, something’s a bit off.

Make no mistake, a good amount of development happens in this episode—just none of it related to anything that we’re supposed to care about. It certainly doesn’t help that Female Knight, the main focus of the battle, isn’t the most compelling of characters to follow when compared to Giant Fucking Walrus, not having much of a personality outside of fighting beyond wanting to permanently adhere herself to Hero.

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The geopolitical landscape of the demon-human war has shifted decidedly in favor of the human side, but the way it happens is of virtually no consequence to our characters, even if they did provide help. No matter how the conflict turned out, Maou would still be peddling her knowledge around the human realm, and Hero would still be doing missions off-screen per her request. They wouldn’t be harmed or persecuted or anything of the sort if they failed, they’d just be carrying on with their lives as per usual. The stakes aren’t just low; they’re less existent than walruses on glaciers on the sun.  What’s worse is there’s a genuinely interesting power dynamic here that’s severely under-utilized in favor of two less than stellar battle sequences. Maoyuu makes an attempt to justify this by stapling on a slapdash explanation of humanity’s draw to conflict, but it mostly dies out by the time the credits roll, making virtually no impact on the narrative.

This would all be tolerable if the series fell back on its previous excuse of lecturing the audience about economic or military matters. There’s a tiny one given by the Winter King that explains the symbolic and economic significance, but it adds even less than the navel-gazing conflict talk. As much as I appreciate that it respects our intelligence enough not to repeat earlier lectures, if it’s not going to give Hero or Maou a real reason to be in the moment beyond vaguely hinting at plans, it could at least delve a bit into the military tactics of the late middle ages and how they translate here. Really, anything to remain consistent with previous episodes in terms of content would have been nice.

Seeing a protracted (and explained) siege against the fortress, guerilla tactics in the caves, or the crossbow/spear equivalent of pike and shot given some attention and explanation would have at least allowed for a sense of purpose beyond simple spectacle; the two don’t necessarily need to be detached. There’s quite a lot at play here that could be shown, and I don’t think it’s asking too much for a fight against Giant Fucking Walrus to not feel token. He deserves better than that.

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And speaking of the glaciers on the sun remark from a few paragraphs ago, what’s done with icebergs here to create a land bridge to the island is really fucking cool. It’s not only clever, surmounting what should have been an impassable obstacle on the part of the Winter Kingdom, but it’s the only use that Maou has in the battle itself, rather than in the events surrounding it. It should’ve at least had her speak walrus or something.

I will admit, I am curious how the series will explain the repercussions. Will the northern realms just cut off the Winter Kingdom from all aid now that it’s no longer on the verge of collapse? Will it encourage in-fighting among the human realms? And what will this do to the politics in the demon realm now that Giant Walrus Demon has been iced? Ultimately though, I’m kind of hoping that the aftermath is only explained in passing, and Maou goes back to whinging about another aspect of high medieval society while clinging to her Heromakura.

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9 Comments

  1. edromeoto
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    You’re just not paying attention. Demon King and Hero were both critical to making their objective happen, the objective being breaking the stalemate at Bright island by weakening the most stubborn factions on both sides: The Ice General’s fortress on one, and the Gate City crusaders on the other.

    Hero Scooby-Doo’d the Crusaders out of the city and into the spears of the Ice General’s army, while Demon King both gave the Winter army a way to establish a beachead on the island and using Lady Knight to kill off the Ice General, who would’ve resisted to the death, either through guerrilla warfare or some kind of last stand.

    No one else but Hero could have scared the Crusaders out of the city (and if need be, destroy the army/armies with ultimate magic), and conveniently no human is smart enough to have come up with the solution Demon King did for giving the Winter King an opening. No one else could have done it.

    As a result, the Winter kingdom can now slowly move away from the handouts from the Central Nations and benefit from controlling the sea trade routes.

    Gate City, now out from under the thumb of the bigoted Crusaders, has declared itself an open city, a Jerusalem or Constantinople where Demons and Humans can interact. They did this because the human commander had no way to hold the city anyway and chose to protect the civvies by opting for peace.

    Now the center of power has shifted from the channel to Gate City, which will likely become a hub of trade between the human and demon worlds. Trade, real, sustainable trade (as opposed to war economy crisis trade) is most benefitted by stability, and peace is the best way to stability.

    TL;DR Both protagonist laid the groundwork to break a military stalemate and eventually establish a trade-based detente.

    Caveat: This is just my interpretation. I’ve not read any other source material.

    The show’s definitely at fault for not going into enough details. If this were Legend of the Galactic heroes this winter war would have lasted 3-9 eps, and not 1.

    • Inushinde
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      I’m not so much bothered by the lack of detail. The significance is pretty well explained, they just don’t make the actual execution all that interesting.

      I did say (or tried to get across, at least) that they played a significant part in giving the Winter Kingdom more equal footing with the rest of the human realm, but the way that it focused more on the conflict rather than the details that led up to and surrounded it was clunky when it’s much more suited to examining said details. Maybe that’s what’ll happen in the next episode, but it should have been done here.

      It makes more sense than I’m giving it credit for, I just didn’t find it engaging. There aren’t plot holes abound or a lack of sense, it’s just way more prosaic than anything that involves a giant fucking walrus and gaming the system should be.

  2. Posted February 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Indeed, the problem is not really about proper explanation.
    This anime is unable to make me care about the characters.
    I care for them as much as I care for slimes and blobs and worms.

    • Inushinde
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Precisely. Honestly, that approach isn’t necessarily the worst, but constructing the plot in this way needs a certain level of engagement that the series hasn’t even tried to grasp.

  3. R1CK_D0M
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    lol what happened to ep5?

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Probably skipped because it’s totally a snooze-fest.

    • Inushinde
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, couldn’t think of anything to write on it.

  4. Posted February 13, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    The show needs an antagonist, and Maoyu to get outsmarted for once. More ultra realistic detail won’t be enough to save it

    • Inushinde
      Posted February 14, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      From what I skimmed, there is a sort of antagonist coming up. At least there’s a clear sense of purpose though, which is something I can’t deny.

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