I love looking at scenarios through political lenses. If you happen to throw in some geopolitics, I’ll be even more on board. Needless to say, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first few episodes of Mayouu Maou Yuusha, and I truly am expecting great things from it in the future.
The interactions between the human territories and their demon counterparts are ripe with parallels to our own world. The actors involved are all easily recognizable too with familiar faces such as the Central Nations, the Southern Nations, the Alliance, the Convent and the yet to be named, “intelligence organization.” Maoyuu may be in its introductory episodes, but it’s already shaping up to a be a tense game of political intrigue (something severely lacking in anime).
The entire setting is very Cold War-esque in nature. We have the two superpowers–being the Central Nations and the Demon Realm–supposedly at war. Despite this formal declaration though, these two groups rarely engage in decisive battles, preferring instead to wage a low-intensity conflict through proxy nations on the border.
And what does each side have to gain from this arrangement? Simply put, stability. With citizens focused on the continuous war, a sense of unity “against the demon hordes” has become commonplace. All the while, pressing issues such as poverty and slavery are routinely ignored. It’s a perfect example of the dangers of uninhibited nationalism which anyone born before 1970 is probably all to familiar with.
We’ve also been briefly introduced to the the Alliance, a league of ruling merchants that have been profiting off the war since its onset. I find nothing wrong with businesses making a profit, but the unethical methods of the Alliance are a bit too much for me to bear. In this particular scenario, it’s become abundantly clear that the free market is not going to fix it.
Wars are virtually never good for maintaining a healthy economy, but I’ll admit that they’re sometimes effective stop-gaps during a production slump. They may provide essential spending to get cash flowing, but the items they produce are never demanded by the general population and so the production doesn’t provide any real economic gains. The Alliance clearly plays the role of the “industry” in the military-industrial complex. They’re collecting vast amounts of wealth thanks to the war so I doubt they’re ever going to intentionally help end it.
But maybe I’m giving the Alliance an undeserved bad reputation. I guess they’re more comparable to the World Trade Organization or International Monetary Fund than they are to Halliburton. On paper it seems like a genuinely benevolent idea. They take their wealth from the Central Nations and invest it in poorer areas that lack the capital to create sustainable industries. Unfortunately, this system has been subverted by certain groups in order to promote the ongoing war. Now the Southern Nations are being forced to fight in order to maintain the flow of cash into their budding economies.
Speaking of war, I’m particularly interested in the intelligence community that was hinted at in one of the earlier episodes. Yumihei is apparently one of the representatives of this order, and he is working with the Southern Nations to achieve some undisclosed goal. Is he trying to end the war? Or is he collaborating with the Alliance to see it continue?
Either way, the ambiguous nature of this organization has me drawing some strong connections to the CIA. If that is the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if this group was working independently of both Maou and the Alliance. I’d go as far as to question their allegiance to the leaders of the Central Nations. It’s not like the CIA has always been very fond of Americans. Adding another dimension to the story beyond just continuing the war or stopping it could be just what Maoyuu needs.
Finally, we have the Convent. Again, there hasn’t been a lot of information about this group so far. It’s pretty clear that it’s at least partially inspired by Christianity. The architecture matches, the monotheism matches, even the philosophy matches. As of now, they look like they’ve allied with Maou, but I’m not sure how long this is going to last. I get the feeling that the church probably isn’t too fond of the Demon Realm so their relationship is going to have some bumps in the road sooner or later when they realize they’re working with the demon king.
And what about the Demon Realm? I think they’ve purposefully avoided showing this group, and I think they’re going to keep it that way. To humanity, the demons are not individuals, but a malevolent force that they need to defend themselves against (see: commie scum). I think Maoyuu Maou Yuusha is going to mirror this belief and never give us a clear picture of what is happening on the other side of the border. Like the human nations, our information will be fed to us via bits and pieces of hearsay and rumors. I could be wrong, but I do believe this approach would be more appropriate given the context.
All in all, this will probably be one of my favorite shows this season unless it takes a serious wrong turn somewhere along the way. Sasami-san@Ganbaranai has been hit-and-miss, and beyond that there isn’t much competition. Eh, what are you going to do?