「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!