Shit just got real.
This week started with Matoba praising Shinichi’s good work.
Yes. This week…I have been waiting for it. Mind, it wasn’t exactly the world shattering plan I hoped for. The simple version is: Japan wants to culturally assimilate Eldant. This…this doesn’t really work well as we’ve observed. What, is this the Manchurian candidate? Look at Africa, look at Asia. Just because they adopt the culture of another place doesn’t mean they will fall into line. There are so many more reasons that this plan isn’t exactly nefarious. It is doomed to fail.
Now mind, this isn’t exactly a conquest of a sort. It is more, Japan will exert a sphere of influence on Eldant, much in the same way China is doing with Africa and Southern Asia right now. By investing, by providing help at the top, and letting the peons of Eldant do the hard work.
While I am loathe to wave off child labor and slave wages that they are almost certainly planning in exchange for the rare metals and oil that are completely untapped in this medieval world, I also want to point out that this is a society that has magic and advanced hygiene technology that keeps their world spotless. The only real evil here is that Japan will have a monopoly on this world, and if this world ever gets to the point of advancing to an industrial era, they can’t use Human technologies to do so because the Japanese government will have almost undoubtedly strip mined the nation bare. Still, as I said, magic. There are elements here that we can’t possibly account in variables for the development of this society. So, while I can sort of wrap my brain around it, I think that there are simply too many blank points for us to truly say “This is wrong”. Which isn’t a weakness, mind you. Grey morality is the hallmark of the thinking mans story. But the show is trying to sell this as absolutely wrong, and the evidence is still somewhat lacking. It is certainly underhanded, it is certainly sure to repeat the history of colonialism on Earth in the near future. But the long term effects are unknown.
However, the reveal I WILL buy, is that Shinichi was chosen, not because of knowledge, but because no one would miss him if he died. That’s rather blunt and cold. It was a good moment, even if Shinichi’s reaction was a bit melodramatic.
So Shinichi shuts himself in. He just withdraws, it is the only defense mechanism he last left. But even then Matoba drops by to remind him that Shinichi isn’t irreplaceable.
One might ask, “Why not ask Petrarca for asylum?” Well this is certainly a temporary solution, but I think that’s what the dragon battle was for last time. Yes, magic is an unknown quantity in any war between Japan and Eldant. But if native Eldantans are amazed that the JSDF was able to drive off a dragon with seemingly a routine firing exercise, what real chance does the Eldant military have in resisting Japanese imperialism? So while he could go to Petrarca and ask for asylum and spill the beans, it would only serve to isolate the two nations. And, as we know, the more isolated you are from others, the more likely misunderstandings will occur, and the more Japan will see force as their only resort.
So while it might be the “moral” thing to do, switching sides is really not the “right” thing to do.
Enter Miusel, who completes her arc this episode. When we first met her, she was timid, broken, and completely innocent. Here, she delivers exactly the speech Shinichi needs to hear. It is her turn to lift him up when the world around him seems too large for him to tackle. She expounds the virtues of otaku culture, that it taught them the evils of castes, of slavery, of hate. Without Shinichi, these inroads into making Eldant a more beneficial state for all its people may never have happened. Minori earlier expressed the same opinion: While Otaku-culture may be popular in Eldant, it bears the unique mark of Shinichi. It is his influence, no one else. And there was some excellent directing in this scene with Miusel, where she is holding one of her drawn omlettes, when Shinichi (and the camera) looks over to the table. And sees that she has been at it all night. Various words and drawings decorate them (my personal favorite is the one that says “FIGHT!”), and they bring Shinichi back to where he needs to be.
The solution was never to “take back” the otaku way like a bad mistake that never happened. But merely to embrace it completely.
And the final scene, where Shinichi ropes Matoba into having to agree that instead of relying on Japan for their imports, Eldant begins to make its own otaku media.
Consequences? Maybe. But I rather feel this will end amicably with “Well, someone has to TEACH them how to do it,” so everybody wins.
Still, it was a pretty good episode. Not as good as the best of Outbreak Company, but still very effective.