Maoyu (DVD) Review

I'll say one thing for Maoyu, if nothing else – it is certainly unique.

It's not a giant mecha story. It's not a magical girl story. It's not a harem anime, an urban fantasy anime, or a cyberpunk anime. Instead, it's a narrative primarily concerned with breast jiggles, internal politics and ecology. Lots, and lots, and lots of ecology.

The premise owes a bit to the Italian commedia dell’arte form of drama using particular stock character types to tell a story. Instead of named protagonists we have people like Hero and Female Knight, and instead of a grandiosely-named villain we have the Demon King; the latter is a double-misnomer being that she’s not a demon and not a man.

The story opens with a war between humans and demons winding down as Hero goes into the Demon King’s lair to do final battle, only to find the aforementioned double-misnomer who’s actually taken the Demon King’s mantle as a ceremonial title with detachable demon horns. Also she has rather large breasts, a fact the anime keeps throwing into very sharp relief with the ever-present sound effects and boob-jiggles you would not expect in an anime concerned with the horrors of war and how to grow crops.

No, you didn’t read that last part wrong; once Hero and Demon King work things out, Demon King explains the real enemy are actually the humans inside the decadent ruling class city who have been propagating war for so long as to make a ton of money from it. She then proposes ways in which to stimulate the economic and ecological makeup of the kingdom by providing food and safe harbour for those devastated by the war’s effects.

Following from that is a very, very in-depth guide of how to grow crops and have them fertilised by pigs. No, seriously; where Maoyu’s utter uniqueness enters play is through the excruciatingly detailed outlines of ecology and harvesting. In Episode 3 there’s a section detailing a quartered barley harvesting square that I swear took up a good half of the episode all on its own, and I’m not even exaggerating. If ever you wanted an idea of how to manage a farm and food during wartime, Maoyu might be the anime you didn’t even know you were waiting for.

While I do like the spin on classic anime fantasy tropes and the subversion of having things like the big, bad, evil Demon King actually be a very self-aware and curvaceous young woman, I have to say Maoyu was disappointing overall. The constant uses of shonen humour in regards to the Demon King’s breasts and the Hero’s naivete got boring, the story kinda got subsumed by pointless digressions after the first couple of episodes, and I extracted no entertainment whatsoever from being shown an illustrated guide on how to cultivate turnips and potatoes. For a moment I even forgot I was watching an anime series and thought I’d stumbled into an animated episode of Burke’s Backyard with the amount of gardening detail Maoyu had.

As I said, though, it’s certainly unique, and it deserves a look based on that alone. The animation is pretty gorgeous, with great use of colour, though faces occasionally are missing lines connecting tops and bottoms of eyes and lips which can make them look like partial burn victims. Music was pretty good, and the Japanese-only voice acting was well-executed.

But on the whole, I was not a fan of Maoyu. It’s apparently gangbusters popular in Japan, so take my word for whatever it’s worth, but I guess I don’t really fit in the niche this anime’s trying to target. If realistic wartime ecology and growing potatoes appeals to you in an anime juxtaposed with battles and heroic archetypes, then Maoyu may scratch your itch.

- Chris
Maoyu is available on DVD from Madman now!

1 comments :

This series is absolutely amazing and unique. I was so drawn into it when i started watching, then it went on about ecology and politics a bit. the 6/10 rating might be because it wasn't as action(y) as some thought but my take on it was, even though a little slow i was always captivated by the wit and intelligence of the characters. The hazards the demon king faced later in the series had me on edge for a bit and unsure of what the hero would do kept me peaked until the end of the series. These characters are quite memorable for me as an anime i cant stop thinking about sometimes. 7/10

18 August 2014 at 03:18 comment-delete

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