Wow. This episode of Maoyuu sure is packed. Let’s talk about the four main events that take place. First, we have the Merchant’s continuing endeavor to manipulate the economics of the human nations. It turns out his grand plan is to establish the Alliance as a sort of massive trading company in the Southern Nations, using wheat as a currency. With all other trade subject to tariffs through the borders, the Alliance will be essentially hold a monopoly in trade between the human nations. And that’s not all. The Southern Nations being at the border between the human and demon realms, the Alliance will also be in a position to explore the new frontier of trade with demons. Truly, the Merchant has an all-encompassing vision. Where there’s a profit to be made, the Alliance will be there to snap it up.
Moving on, we have the two “wars” between humans. I say this with quotation marks because one of them might not even happen, while the other was more of a minor skirmish. The first is, of course, the war between the Central Nations and Southern Nations. First introduced at the end of the previous episode, the war hasn’t even begun yet by the end of this episode. And if all goes well, it may never begin at all. When Knight told Yuusha to leave the matter of avoiding casualties to her, I was a little skeptical. No matter how good you are at fighting a war, you can’t avoid losing life completely. But I hadn’t even thought about avoiding battle in the first place. I guess technically Knight is fighting a sort of biological war with her providing tainted food to the enemy. But the food isn’t meant to kill; only to immobilize. This is obviously a far cry from armies simply marching up and slaughtering each other, and I have to commend Knight for being able to delay hostilities for at least two days now.
Third on the list is the other “war”. The battle in this one actually did take place, and there have been many casualties (mostly on the “bad” side). This war originates from the enticement of the serfs to move to the Southern Nations (recall the bards). The disgraced general who managed to escape prison attempts to lead a surprise attack on the Iron Country at the behest of the White Night King, who is enraged at the loss of his working class. Unfortunately, he fails just as badly here as he has done with all his other endeavors. Thanks to the strategic planning of another one of Maou’s students, the Iron Country is able to hold its ground against the more mobile cavalry of the White Night Country, who uses archers, traps, and even the terrain to deadly effect. Despite the Iron Country soldiers making short work of the White Night forces, however, the disgraced general is able to slip into the city. I’m sure we’ll see more trouble from him in the future, but I fully expect him to fail again at whatever dastardly schemes he’s cooked up.
Finally, we have the highlight (in my mind) of the episode. While the Winter King is discussing his plan of action with the Maou gang, they receive word that an army of demons is approaching. Yuusha immediately volunteers himself to take care of this threat, as the Southern Nations cannot afford to fight a war on two fronts. As he travels towards the massive force of blue demons, he comes across none other than Mage-Girl, who sends him on ahead to find Maou. Up until now, we’ve not seen very much of Mage-Girl. We see her in one of the very early episodes (perhaps the premiere), and then again more recently when Maou finds her in the library. And I was under the impression that she travels with two other mages. But now it’s suggested that the two other mages might just be alternate personalities? Or perhaps something else entirely is going on that I don’t understand? When Maou confronted her in the library, I thought that there were some magical/dimensional shenanigans going on as the other two mages were only present as reflections. Here, we see Mage-Girl completely switch out with the others one at a time as she lays the law down on the demon army. Just what is going on? The show has completely lost me here.
In any case, the main point is Yuusha’s confrontation with Maou. While everything has been going on in the human realm, Maou emerges from the ritual chamber. And our worst fears are confirmed; she has been completely possessed by the spirits of previous demon lords. Actually, the language that Head Maid uses is “corrupted”, but I digress. Head Maid is sharp enough to catch on pretty quickly, as she observes the images of the evil spirits in Maou’s reflection. Unfortunately, she is no match for the powered-up demon lord and loses an arm during the skirmish, fulfilling the scene that we’ve all been wondering about in the OP. She is able to buy some time though, by luring Maou back into the chamber and trapping her temporarily before Yuusha comes bursting in and destroys everything in his path. And thus Maoyuu very deliberately leaves us off with one cliffhanger of a showdown.
I’m going to go ahead and say that it feels like Maoyuu is really rushing this ending. So much has been going on that it’s getting difficult to keep track of all the events. While it’s obvious that the show has had a clear direction, the presentation of it is such that things appear to be strung together almost randomly. Not having read the source material, I can’t say if the problem lies there, but I’m willing to give Maoyuu the benefit of the doubt since ARMS doesn’t exactly have the best reputation. It’s always a shame when good source material goes to waste thanks to a bad adaptation.