「恋する王国」 (Koisuru Oukoku)
“Kingdom of Love”
Was it just me? Anyone else a bit disturbed by this episode? At least a little? Thus far Hisone to Masotan has been mostly comedic, positive, look-at-this-cute-dragon fare with some drama sneaking its way in now and then, but as the plot starts to rear its ugly head and come stomping onto the scene HisoMaso seems to have taken a turn for the sinister. We’re finally starting to learn what this enigmatic ‘Ritual’ is about (well, mostly that it’s unreasonably expensive) and none of it looks good. Somehow, all the fun and games about getting to pilot a dragon-jet of your very own has become an unaccountable government conspiracy. What’s worse, they’re not even doing anything cool like hiding aliens or building a Death Star. It seems, instead, that a whole lot of effort is being devoted to destroy a bunch of women’s self-esteem. Sure, much of it is still being played for laughs, but still not enough to cover for the fact that the plan is literally to seduce the D-Pilots and break their hearts to ensure that they never love again. I’m not sure if it’s more malicious than it is stupid, but in my head every scene came with an evil cackle and a moustache twirl.
Generalising, though, this is more or less a modern variation of the old myths where where women need to be sacrificed to some deity/monster/tyrant for the prosperity/survival/pleasure of some kingdom/village/family. And it’s almost always women, and if not it’s children (bonus points: daughters) because these are also often the story of some man swooping in, rescuing the damsel and saving the day. Which is to say, a lot of women back then apparently had it pretty rough. This typecasting does not seem to have changed in the modern myth of HisoMaso, unfortunately. The whole ‘a woman’s job is to love’ thing is not only insulting to single women everywhere, but also speaks to a rigid set of gender roles that is more pervasive in Japan today than those of us raised on more Western values may find tasteful. On my part, I was most offended by how unethical the entire operation was. Only one person seems at all displeased at what they are being made to do, and the rest seem to be cool with abuse of power and casually selling out their friends and colleagues. If this was just a cultural thing then I would make an effort to understand them, but if this Ritual really was of such long-standing importance they would have created special facilities where they psychologically torture orphans from birth for the sake of creating the perfect D-Pilots. Instead, they have this nonsense. How is the OTF programme still a secret? Surely someone must resigned out of protest and made a stink about it by now.
My only solace is that Minister Guy is being painted as something of an antagonist (or even a banal kind of villain) and seems unlikely to get his way. I’m assuming that HisoMaso is trying to, in its own way and at its own pace, make a point. Sometimes a story will have some implication that I find objectionable with (like the state-sanctioned repression of women in HisoMaso) and I usually chalk that up to the writer not thinking things through enough. Here, though, I must assume that every implication is deliberate. The whole setting with the OTFs and the D-Pilots and the Ritual are completely contrived, so there must be some purpose to it. Not a very subtle way to send a message, perhaps, but I’m sure there will be one in the end.