Following the Older Sister’s stunt last episode as the Crimson Scholar, the relationship between the Central Nations and Southern Nations break down. Honestly, I’m not too surprised at this. The Central Nations have long been exploiting the Southern Nations for the war effort against the demons, allowing them to sit back and grow rich. It’s high time the tables turned. What’s interesting though, is the driving force behind this change. That is, the Merchant is responsible for putting the Central Nations in a tough position. And this is done not on the behest of Maou’s plans. Instead, the language he uses suggests that he’s testing the abilities of Maou’s gang. I had always thought that the Merchant would be the most difficult to control out of all of Maou’s “pawns”, and this is made apparent with his independent actions here.
Of course, his actions aren’t intended to counter Maou’s plans. If the Winter King can pull the Southern Nations through the impending war, the Southern Nations will be established as what is likely the closest thing to the ideal world of Maou’s dreams. All that’s left would be to integrate the demons, which is already in the works at Gateway City. But again, the success of all this hinges on the ability of the Southern Nations to survive the impending war and retain their food supply from the greedy clutches of the Central Nations. That said, we really do get a feel for the power that the Merchant holds over the human world. It’s always merely been a stated fact, but this is the first time we’ve actually seen him do something with a very significant effect on the power play of the nations. Futures in foodstuffs aren’t all too shocking in our modern world, but I would imagine the concept to be rather unheard of in the Maoyuu world. In fact, this might be the first time someone has come up with a game-changing concept aside from Maou herself. Truly, the Merchant is a force to be reckoned with. Not many people can single-handedly induce a war between two groups of nations. I’m just glad he’s in cahoots with Maou.
The war situation aside, we also get to see some very fascinating development on Maou herself. One half of the two titular characters, she’s been almost jarringly absent for the past few episodes. We don’t exactly see her presently this episode either, but some much-needed elaboration on her past is given. In the flashback, we see her surrounded by the source of her knowledge: a massive library. Lining the shelves are countless books that no doubt detail everything from crops to mechanisms. The obvious question is, where did these books come from? How was all this information documented? Moreover, who did the documentation? From the brief moment in which Maou talks about her future meeting with Yuusha to Head Maid, we see that the books do have some sort of magical aspect or origin. Last I checked, our books don’t glow and project images from the words on the pages. Could this have something to do with the Light Spirit? I’m sure gathering all the information in the world would be a simple task for what is essentially the god of the Maoyuu world. And if Maou really is some sort of avatar of the spirit, and there’s some typical limitation preventing the spirit from interfering directly, creating a library of books for Maou to read would be the perfect way to get around this.
Going back to Maou herself, it is also revealed that the ceremony of succeeding/renewing the title of Demon Lord does in fact involve the candidate being possessed and influenced by the spirits of the previous Demon Lords. In fact, it’s entirely possible for the previous Demon Lords to overwrite and alter the personality and character of the candidate. This explains Maou’s cryptic warning to Head Maid before she stepped into the chamber, yet Maou reassured Head Maid that she would still be herself in the flashback. The reasoning she used back then was that the alterations would take time, so perhaps it’s just that whatever the previous Demon Lords have done to her will finally come into effect in this ceremony. But I still find it hard to believe that Maou might become an obstacle to her own plan. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, as foreboding as the OP of the show is.
Finally, another important detail sort of slipped in during the flashback is Maou’s apparent age. That is, I’ve always wondered what sets some demons apart from humans. Maou and Head Maid certainly look just like humans, and some others (like the Dragon Princess and that one blue demon girl) come close. Here, we see that even when Yuusha was just born, Maou and Head Maid look like they’ve been around for a while. At least, they definitely weren’t infants or little kids. An effort is made to make the two demons look a little more youthful than they currently appear, but honestly I’m not very convinced. Just giving them different hairstyles (both had twin tails, at that) isn’t particularly indicative of their being younger. Granted, they’ve unquestionably aged since the flashback since time has obviously passed. But just how old were they at the time that Yuusha was born? There really is no way to tell, but perhaps this is a hint that demons do age differently from humans, which would certainly set the two races apart.
The Central Nations are the bad this week. Turns out they are the ones manipulating the church. More accurately, the nobles and the clergy are exploiting the name of the Light Spirit to benefit themselves. I’m pretty sure this itself is blasphemous, so the previous accusations against the Crimson Scholar are especially ironic.