When White Night Country launches a surprise attack against Iron Country, A demon army approaches from the south. The Winter King and Onna-Kishi lead up the defense against White Night, while Yuusha heads south to deal with the demons. He encounters the Mage, who tells him to destroy the gate after she teleports the entire demon army back home. Yuusha discovers the demon world is merely deep underground, and blasts into the central castle where he finds the head maid has been maimed by Maou, who has been corrupted by evil demon kings of the past.
Like Spice & Wolf, Maoyu hasn’t been content to just tell the story of its small cast of characters, but lay out in great detail the mechanics of the world in which they live. Here in Maoyu, though, the hero and demon king aren’t just two people trying to find their way in the world, but are crucial players who will shape its future…especially now that we know the demon world and human world aren’t even separate realms. The series has also been very stingy with the female Mage, but now that she finally has more than a few moments of screen time, she doesn’t waste any time establishing that she’s properly badass…and has multiple personalities to boot!
Yuusha is now faced with the same situation in the first episode: crossing swords with the Demon King (or at least catching her scythe in his palms). But as that goes on, the gears of the world keep turning, with everyone’s favorite alliance merchant making a counter-move to Central’s reissuing of currency. Wheat is used as a food, a currency, and a weapon of war (when Onna-Kishi taints some to prevent a cavalry attack). We also get a peak at three of the “students” Maou, Maid Chou and Onna thought They’re all making names for themselves. One on the battle lines, one negotiating with the merchant, and Maid Ane spreading the truth in print.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Yuusha has been away from Maou for a year, planning to take Gate City. The Holy Capital and church launch a massive fleet of ships to retake Bright Light Island from the demons, but are defeated at sea, causing the death of the Winter King. The Winter Prince takes the throne and chooses Onna-Kishi as his commander for another attempt at the island. Before she leaves, Maou confesses she’s the demon king, but Kishi already heard it from Yuusha, and is fine with it, and agrees to be friends. Yuusha visits Maou in the night and they dance to the music of the New Years festival.
This week, after a whole year, Maou and Yuusha finally meet and touch, at it was about time. Both were on the edge of doubting their own wills, and their courage was failing, but the power each exerts on the other, if only briefly, was enough to recharge their batteries, so to speak. Bottom line: the power couple can get more done if they’re apart than if they’re both chilling in the same village. So rather than constantly hang off each other, they’re more ships passing in the night. Their faith in one another sustains them, and when it doesn’t, well, they meet again, exchange a few barbs, and try to see who can blush the most.
Yuusha, bred from birth to be a hero to mankind, sees the suffering of the demons and doesn’t like it. It’s clear to him that Maou’s way is better: if there was a clear victor, that victor would believe they could treat their defeated foe however they like, and a vast number of living beings would suffer. Yuusha isn’t on board with that. At the same time, some battles apparently have to be fought even in the service of ending war, so it’s better for such battles to end quickly than get drawn out. Myriad game pieces are being moved about the world, while Yuusha and Maou continue to dance to their own beat, fueled by one another.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Maou decides to begin agricultural experiments and education in a small village. Yuusha meets Maou’s longtime Head Maid. One night two serfs – sisters – break into the stables. The Maid is ready to turn them in, but Maou and Yuusha let them spend the night, and the maid eventually offers them jobs as maids. Maou begins enriching the land and educating the village youth, the first small step in her and Yuusha’s crusade.
Whenever characters have such well-defined traits and limitations – be it a queen, hero, maid or serf – there’s the risk of them becoming mere allegories in service of the plot, at the cost of emotional connection to them. Indeed, every character here is a manifestation of an idea/worldview first and foremost. The Maid is cold, logical, and unyielding, but tempered by her master’s authority. While she may sound cruel in making no distinction between serfs, slaves, and insects, she knows no other way to express these concepts. Her role doesn’t require her to distinguish between insects and humans who can’t or won’t determine their own fate.
But there’s something very weird and cool going on here: despite the characters being such strong archetypes, the sense of order that ensues is comforting and reliable. And Maou and Yuusha remain a cute, warm, and surprisingly witty couple; even if Yuusha doesn’t seem to be doing much yet, it’s clear just his being with Maou lends her emotional and moral support. We like how she gets into the nitty-gritty of agriculture and illustrates just how much careful, intricate preparation will be required to achieve their ultimate goal of peace.
On top of all that work, Yuusha isn’t even sure what peace is and where his place will be in that peace, other than by Maou’s side. After all, who needs heroes in a perfectly resolved world with no enemies to defeat or battles to win?
Rating: 8 (Great)