12 Days of Something III: Maou-Economics

maoyuu05bThis was a strange year for the fact that there were three series with a very strange common element. Yes, judging by the title of this post, they all have to do with demon kings venturing over to a different world and having to deal with the economic consequences of their actions. Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, Hataraku Maou-sama and Yuushibu deal with this concept in different ways even as they are filled with light-hearted moments throughout. For the purpose of this post, I’ve decided to evaluate them on how deeply they get into the realm of economics.

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha began way back in January coming off the back of a completed light novel series. The setting for the series is very much feudal, but in a very much politically unstable world. The feeling I got while watching this in an economic sense is that it did do a good job of illustrating what the individual actors were motivated by; money. In that sense you had a powerful elite who were making money on the existing system while those who wanted to find additional sources of revenue had to pursue unusual tactics to get it.

I did like how much of the political change in the series was economically motivated. The demon world was indeed a new market that could be exploited by human traders. It only took Young Merchant as the first to exploit it to see the great potential gains. On the downside though, as these changes are taking place in the Maoyuu world, it does feel rather distant from the day-to-day life of the ordinary citizen. The maid sisters were supposed to portray this angle, but the very fact they were whisked away into this new world under Demon King meant that they had become part of the elite. Ultimately, I have to see it as a lost opportunity.

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The second of these stories was Hataraku Maou-sama! which aired in the spring. The setting for this series was modern day Japan and it is a story that makes the lives of the heroes and demons who were forced into normal jobs in their new land a central part of the story. From an economic perspective there are a couple of things I did like. The protagonists of the series are forced into taking jobs in this new land with no job histories. The hero Emi has to lie about her age just to obtain her call center job while Maou can only get a fast-food job.

I think the series did a good job in portraying the lives of the working poor here. Maou is conscientiously aware of the need to save money where possible, but he doesn’t exactly make the best economic choices. He lives with 2 roommates that do not have jobs, but he keeps them around out of loyalty. This leads to a lack of money available for Ashiya to seek treatment for his various stomach ailments. On the downside is a lack of examination of the choices that Maou makes. Also like Maoyuu it is focused too much on a specific subset of people to get a larger picture on Japanese society. Even with that caveat I think the series is worth watching as a partial examination of the life of low-wage workers in Japan even if it is too idealistic.

yuushibu12aFinally, there is Yuushibu which just finished airing in the current season. It is set in a world of swords and magic only after a war in which the Demon King has died. Despite this being a series that is heaviest on fanservice out of the three, I think it does the best job economically. The primary emphasis is on low-wage labor just as it was on Maou-sama, but there are characters at different levels of the economic hierarchy that come into play with corporate managers and the unemployed heroes of the old economy having their motivations come into play at the end.

That is where I think this series does its best work. It’s very much a transitional economy as far as the labor market and in production. The cast of characters are all victims in a sense of that transition. They were all trained to be soldiers and the skills picked up in that experience are not as useful in a consumption-based economy that replaced the war economy of old. The intention to bring war back is itself profit motivated by Amada trying to be the first to capitalize on an economy they changed. The downside is the fact that the viewer has to endure lots of frankly ridiculous fanservice to get to the good stuff.

2 thoughts on “12 Days of Something III: Maou-Economics”

  1. So interesting question. Must a series explore a topic from every angle for it to be a successful exploration of that topic? The other two demon king shows both happened to have alot more depth and focus in terms of their exploration of how economics work. Yet, neither of them have a full spectrum view. Is that truly to their detriment?

    1. I think it just has to acknowledge the major angles and any global impact it may have. I don’t think it has to cover literally any angle or give them equal time or weight to be successful. The first 2 demon shows were excellent in how they portrayed the economic plight of those involved, but their plots dictated a limited scope. They are the better series for sure, but not wholly successful explorations of a topic that was a small part of their stories. That probably clears up nothing.

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