「花のように可憐な彼女/瓶詰めの幸せ」 (Hana no You ni Karen’na Kanojo / Bindzume no Shiawase)
“The Girl as Pretty as a Flower / Bottled Happiness”

These past few episodes, I won’t deny that alongside many other commenters, I had also been wishing for darker more substantive themes out of Majo no Tabitabi. Especially since it had been relatively happy go lucky up until this point. As if our minds had been read, the series took a stark turn – plunging us into darker narratives, that left me in quiet contemplation long after the episodes ended.

We were given two self-contained stories. The first one demonstrated to Elaina that even trivial actions can have terrible consequences when she doesn’t think things through. She meets a young girl in some flower field, and brings a bouquet of flowers to the nearby town. Only to discover that the flowers are extremely toxic to non-magical entities, keeping people addicted and parasitically leaching off them until they die and transform into a plant. This bouquet catches the attention of a young man – whose younger sister had gone missing. And he rushes into the flower fields to try and save her – only to meet a horrific end himself. My gripe with this story is that we’re teased details about these plant zombies attacking a village at night. And never get to discover what that was all about.

As for the second story, it was perhaps even darker. Even the kindest of intentions can have horrific ramifications. Emil had only intended to collect happiness so that Nino could be happy. But if the implication wasn’t clear enough, the master’s wife had died a long time ago. He called Nino a beauty and kept groping her throughout the episode – not to mention they left the same room together at the start of the episode with her clothes ruffled. So she’s living this horrible life, as a sex slave for a nasty, abusive man.

Yet she’s been shown all the happiness she can never have again – causing her to weep tears of sorrow. And Elaina’s narration towards the end was beautiful and hauntingly foreboding – where she recounts a tragic tale she’d read while refusing to speculate Nino’s fate. It’s pretty obvious that Nino committed suicide, and that was indeed her fate in the original novels. In both stories, kindness and good intentions culminated in death.

It would be easy to subject Elaina to moral judgement. After all, she did nothing to help the people in both of these stories. She’s an incredible magic user. Surely she can leverage her power and authority to change these outcomes? I suppose the case with Nino is complex. There are two other people involved – Emil and his father, who we know are rich and wield considerable political power as town mayor. So we don’t know if it’s as easy as running away with Nino. And perhaps he would have taken out his anger and abusiveness onto Emil. But part of me does condemn her for choosing to remain uninvolved.

For example, she could have burnt down the entire field so that towns and cities nearby would become free from the terror of parasitic plants and plant zombies. But again, we don’t know if that could have solved the situation, or if further meddling would have made things worse. And if she could have cured the townguard and his sister, she definitely would have. So I’m fine with giving her some benefit of the doubt, even though I do feel troubled.

Anyway, consider me impressed by Majo no Tabitabi. I will be picking it up for seasonal coverage and look forwards to bringing people more insights regarding its episodes. Take care and see you all next week!

28 Comments

  1. The 2nd story I can understand why she chose not to meddle because it is a conflict between humans, not mention the political implications. I appreciate how the series dove into the matter that not all MCs are heroes and it is not their place to decide what us right and wrong. HOWEVER, the 1st story is unforgivable in my opinion. I know the point of the story is that helping doesn’t always lead to the best outcome, but the 1st story is NOT the way to portray this. Basically, 2 people (or more) are being eater by plant abominations and she chose to do nothing. It’s like watching someone being eaten by rabid dogs and saying “not my place to help” because it is just course of nature (after people all over the world are probably infected). @Zaiden mentioned that we should give her benefit of the doubt that it was too late for her to save the siblings, which I tried (honestly it’s hard to believe since she used time magic at least a few times). But I think the episode made it clear that she chose deliberately not to help the siblings (or she couldn’t at least mentioned that it is too late to help them which would have made me feel better). Even if it is too late for the siblings, she couldn’t tried to get rid of the flowers (you know, like calling 911 or animal patrol after watching a rabid dog attack). It’s not meddling, it’s called being a human (for the 1st story). The 1st story made me so mad lol. Anyways, thanks for hearing my rant.

    Anime Watcher
    1. The point of the 1st story is that a “decent” person would have tried to put a stop to it. Elaina is not a “decent” person. She realized the scale of the battle if she tried to exterminate the field and the field fought back. She lacked the confidence, charisma, and leadership to rally the town to defend themselves, and she definitely could not bear to shoulder their lives on her back. So she ran.

      Her mother’s warning was for this purpose: to tell her that she isn’t an awful person for making these choices. Just not a good one.

      cryum
      1. Yes that’s so right! She’s not a decent person. But the first few episodes at least built her up to have a likeable and strong personality. She endured her teacher’s chores for a month without complaining, and when she found her friend stole her brooch, she chose instead to forgive and even comforted her. So that’s why I thought she’d jump to have the chance to help others when there is really no consequence for her (it was clearly mentioned that the plant monster doesn’t infect witches like her). But she just walked away and continued with her travels because she doesn’t want to delay her journey. Obviously, her journey is more important than some human lives she barely met. I mean she even chose to write her journal when she learnt that the girl is in danger in the monster flower plant field by herself. I get that she can’t help everyone on her journey. But when human lives are at stake, a moral person should at least try to help. In my opinion, it’s not just a matter about being a decent person. It’s about being a moral person. Too bad, because I really like her love to travel, but now I can’t just look at her love for travel the same way.

        Anime Watcher
    2. Looking at just the story in context of what we know about Elaina at the moment, sure, you could say that she should of helped, but you are missing a lot of context here.

      These plant monsters have existed long enough that there is procedures in place to prevent them getting into the city, and people are given warning not to go near them.

      We have no idea what is already being done about them.

      We also know that Elaina is strong compared to other young Witches, but we know there are potentially hundreds of others, a lot of which will be more experienced than her and potentially more powerful than her. If you say she should have done something, why hasn’t every other witch been contacted to do something about it already?

      The fact is, we don’t know if she could do something, and my take on it and the reason she choose to do nothing, isn’t that she didn’t want to, but simply because she isn’t able to.

      With what we currently know about the magic system, can you say for sure what happens when you use magic on a giant field of magic with no preparation? Can you say for sure that it wouldn’t just explode in her face and make things worse? You should not blame Elaina for choosing to do nothing when we do not know all the fact, and cannot know all the facts when this show doesn’t allow us to know the reasons for all the goings on.

      Elaina is a young simple wanderer, she isn’t special, she isn’t all powerful and she isn’t a hero. It is made perfectly clear in the first episode.

      Tegual
      1. That’s a good take on it. Thanks for sharing. I agree that there’s nothing she could’ve done. However, it’s her reactions that kinda bothered me. When she saw the siblings being eaten alive by the plant monsters, her feeling basically said “ewww, that’s kinda gross. I don’t want to get involved in this mess”. If she had showed more empathy or regret that she wasn’t able to help, that would have her seem more likeable. Also, if it’s her home town that was under attack, or her mother or friend that was taken, would she have hesitated to use her magic to help in whatever way she can? Or if she was the one infected and a powerful person walked by without helping whatsoever, what would she have thought? I understand where the episode is trying to go with the stories, but it just missed the mark and made it kinda distasteful in my opinion. I get that she’s not obligated to save anyone just because she has amazing powers, but she is obligated to at least try to help others as a fellow human.

        Anime Watcher
        1. I dunno, the only thing i could see her being able to do would be to kill the brother. This would be a mercy for him, but as Elaina is could she really kill someone?

          I see her as an Egotist, and if it will benefit her she will try, but at the same time, given that i am pretty sure she has traveled a lot and experienced a lot she knows her limits.

          It would have been nice to see her try, but i guess, that is not her role in the story. She isn’t a simple observer, but an observer is about as close to what she is.

          Tegual
      2. There is a difference between being a hero and leaving people to die in front of you. If she had turned around at the gate and went back to check on the girl to see if the story was true and failed at using magic on the flowers before she left then that would be not being a hero. Letting people die in front of you without lifting a hand is being scum.

        It is like an Olympic swimmer letting someone drown while they stand there and watch.

        Magewolf
        1. Pretty sure that as a Witch, knowing the field is full of magic, she just didn’t want to mess with something that was likely beyond her control.

          To be honest, a better way of wording the choice would be, There is a bomb, she doesn’t know how to disarm it and touching it could make it go off, but magic MIGHT work. She could wait for someone who knows what they are doing at let them or it or risk potentially it blowing up in her face, potentially killing her, the townsfolk and who knows who else.

          A swimmer leaving someone to die is not an appropriate comparison because the swimmer can do something, whereas in my example it could do either way, and why risk hurt/killing or making a situation worse when things are already being done about it.

          Misusing her powers could have far worse consequences than just leaving. I believe the only choice she could have made in the situation is whether to kill the brother or not.

          Tegual
          1. My initial reaction was that Elaina should have burned down the flower field as a public hazard. The feeling broke down on second thoughts – an analysis which Tegual describes well. We wish Elaina could have done more. The tension as she leaves the flower field … I think she probably wishes she could have done more too.

            I’ve had mental echoes of Terry Pratchett’s books and his witch characters while watching this show: As Granny Weatherwax has said, the hardest lesson in magic is knowing when _not_ to use it.

            Hanover Fist
    1. It’s total Kino’s Journey vibes but not as dark. And like Kino, Elaina is not about intervention; she’s more of an observer/commentator who leaves the audience to draw their own conclusions and ruminate over the moral contradictions. I’m looking forward to more episodes to see how Elaina will use her magic as she encounters new characters and scenarios.

      Masurie
  2. I thought it was made quite clear that it was too late for the siblings in the first half. Plus if the flower field is the same one Elaina remembers from her storybook then there was a possibility of it absorbing her magic which would have made the situation worse. I do think there was room to have returned earlier to prevent disaster, but nothing shown was explicitly her fault.

    Arche
    1. Yes, nothing is her fault (except maybe how she brought the zombie flowers to the city). However, just because she didn’t cause it doesn’t make it ok to let people die. It’s like watching a person fall into a ditch and not helping because well, she didn’t dig the ditch. And her lack of sympathy when she watched the siblings getting eaten bothered me too.

      Anime Watcher
  3. Wow, I found the 180 darker turn quite jarring. I had watched this episode after a long week at work, naively expecting another relaxing episode, so these two mini episodes were a punch to the gut. Regardless, I’m still intrigued by this series.

    1. It should be pretty clear by now that this show has dark twists at the end of every mini-story, so ye old slave rape is just another day in Majo no Tabi, this was fairly common in
      Kino no tabi, only Kino did something about it, while Elaina just bails with words “nothing to do with me, i just want to forget this”

      John
      1. I wouldn’t say every story, last weeks didn’t have a dark twist. I would say just like Kino no Tabi, some of them have dark twists, and Kino really didn’t act unless she herself was in danger, she would definitely done exactly the same thing as Elaina in those situations.

        Tegual
  4. People keep making excuses for Elaina, but if the story wants us to understand that she’s supposed to be an impartial observer, or that she wants to help but can’t, then it needs to actually show us that. “Kino did it, so it’s okay!” is not good enough justification for her actions in this episode. The storytelling needs to actually address her motivations.

    This show seems like someone said, “What if we took Kino no Tabi but made the main character a super stylish, powerful witch and set it in a storybook fantasy world.” Elaina isn’t Kino. She has privilege, she has formal training, she has magical powers. She has connections with other powerful witches. She’s also stuck up and vain. This is not a sympathetic character. People are saying that Elaina isn’t supposed to be a sympathetic protagonist, but that’s not exactly how she’s been framed in the previous two episodes. Right now it feels like the show is trying to have its cake and eat it too.

    Marmot
    1. Yes that’s exactly why this episode bothered me so much! I’m ok with neutral and even immoral MCs. But the series isn’t trying to set Elaina as such. Even though we all know she didn’t study to help others out, the first 2 episodes clearly depicted a strong and likable character. What’s worse, this episode is trying to show that what she did (or didn’t do) is very complex and rational. Instead, what was shown to us is a character who just didn’t care.

      Anime Watcher
    2. Pretty sure her motivations are clear, To Travel.

      There doesn’t really need to be more than that, she is a young inexperienced witch, who was above average as an apprentice, who promised not to get involved in things she could handle and that it is okay to turn your back when you can’t help.

      She is Egotistical, but it doesn’t make a bad person, i have never sympathized with her either. She is telling the story of her journey, which has both its hard moments where she cannot help (like both the slave and the forest of flowers) and moments where she can do something (like episode 2 where she tutored the girl).

      Tegual
  5. Wow this ep is an eye opener for discussion. TBH there’s just too much we don’t know about the first story. It’s just too short and nothing much is explained. These poisonous flowers looks to me as if it has been there for ages and the townsfolk are aware of the danger and looks like even the best or most experienced witches has done nothing about it. I would compare this to maybe a minefield. Yep it’s dangerous so don’t go there but if u do then there’s no helping u. Up to today there are still minefields and it takes a massive amount of effort and manpower to clear one.

    As for the second story I would say it’s complicated. Not too sure about slave laws and what the master is entitled to but AFAIK in our society back in the dark ages, slaves have no rights whatsoever so I’m inclined to think in Elaine’s world it would closely match it. The most she could do is to advise the boy to look not just superficially.

    seancorr
    1. I didn’t consider the point that many powerful, more experienced witches have done nothing about it. Which would suggest that nothing can be done about it, at least through witchcraft.

      It looked like Elaina wanted to help, when she pointed her wand at the master with an angry expression. But she decided to restrain herself. Perhaps a charitable interpretation of what most people consider as indifference. She has helped people where she can – fixing broken objects and healing injuries with magic. So I feel inclined to give her some benefit of the doubt.

  6. Okay, let me put my 2 cents on the episode’s dual stories…
    fFrst one left me with impression, that maybe burning the flowers inadverently released the poison in the air, leading to multiple people becoming enchanted, and then zombieified
    thus Elaine burning entire field could possibly have made thing thoroughly worse
    if this thought passed my mind, certainly it could have passed thru Elaine’s mind
    second one is a truly tragic story, and again, Elaine could have possibly made things worse by intervening… escaping was one option, and straight ought going to kill village chief was another, but again they would not have solved deeper problem of slavery even existing in the first place – escaped girl could have possibly ended up caught again by other slavers, or pursuing village forces, while killing the chief would almost certainly bring even more determined pursuers, besides of orphaning his son who had best intentions, though not much wisdom…
    Part of me wishes that eventually either growing young man confronts his evil father, or finds a way to release the girl from slavery, but i am afraid this story will end badly for both of them…

    ewok40k
  7. Damn. This episode fucked me up, especially after reading about the disgusting abuse featured in the 2nd half as I had missed the room the girl left actually being that bastard’s bed room. Call me naive, but my hope while watching it was that he hadnt laid his hands on her…yet, Still ‘only” grooming her. But nope, that hope has been shattered.
    Anyways, while this half was more depressing, I’ll have to agree that Elaina’s options were limited in what looks to be a world still in the middle ages and where you could rightfully purchase slaves and do whatever you want to them.
    As for the 1st half, while her trying to actually burn the field or do anything else magic wise might have had consequences I’m not convinced why she couldn’t at least try to investigate a bit more, possibly trying to ask for help from other witches. Instead she just…left. That didn’t sit right with me.
    There’s a reason why I haven’t watched any of Kino: I don’t like sad/depressing stories, so I’m not sure whether I’ll continue watching this.

    boingman

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