「いろいろワケがありまして（エルマざんまいです）」 (Iroiro Wake ga Arimashite (Eruma Zanmai Desu))
“There Are Various Reasons Behind It (It’s Full of Elma)”
Corporate Would Like To Have a Word
Corporate overlords? Overwork? Not in Japan right? Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that is dialled past 11 in Asian countries. Especially in Japan.
You might ask, why would this be the case? Why do they refuse to fight back? Are Japanese people socially conditioned to not stick their necks out and complain? That’s definitely a huge part of it. Any indication of weakness is heavily stigmatised in Asian countries – e.g. mental health issues – so people are socially conditioned to bottle it all up to the point of implosion. It’s a sad state of affairs.
I recently saw one of my favourite Vocaloid composers post on Twitter about never talking about political/social/sporting affairs in public. And I challenged them on that idea – which they took very personally and pridefully, which is what made me realise this is their way of life. This is how they see it. This is how it’s baked into their culture. A conformism that doesn’t seek to publicly question those above. Honestly, I think that outlook can be very productive and admirable if the person above is a benevolent overlord.
However, when it’s a fierce market defined by cut-throat competition, every corporation has to maximise their own efficacy even if it comes at the cost of the worker. Also, workers will look around themselves and see everyone else working extremely hard long hours, meaning they will similarly seek to conform. While Maid Dragon uses the premise as a setup for a punch line – that Elma was solely motivated by the desire to queue up for a limited-edition sweet just before the end time of her usual work shift – I think raising awareness and getting people to ask questions without being confrontational (like I was towards my favourite Vocaloid composer) is a very good baseline to start from. KyoAni are also one of the few studios with clean hands when it comes to the topic since they are famous for having humane working conditions and paying their workers a fair wage, so they are in a unique position where they are qualified to bring awareness towards this issue without coming across as insincere.
Change will inevitably have to come from within Japanese society and while the steps being taken are extremely slow, it’s a process in motion and I’m curious to see how the work culture will continue to evolve across the next few decades.
Adventuring in the Mountains
Seeing the kids go adventuring in the outdoors made me smile. And it made me kind of wish I could have had the chance to go on explorations without adult supervision in wild expanses as a child. You can only be such a carefree child with a huge sense of wonderment once. It’s unfortunate that time has already passed for me. Not to mention it’s pretty much unfeasible in the 21st Century.
A previous episode conveyed how a dorogon’s common sense greatly differs from ours. This episode had another one of those examples, where Elma severely panics over losing the children in the mountains. An ordinary person like myself and yourself would panic over losing children in the mountains because there are all sorts of dangers at hand – threatening wildlife, difficult terrain, sheer cliffs, rock falls, etc. But with a frickin dorogon and fledling wizard being two of those three children, there’s absolutely no fear to be had regarding safety. Instead, Elma’s fears are completely derived from a fear of being looked down upon and mocked by a rival, in terms of being unable to carry out such a ‘basic and easy task’.
I’m far from being neurotic. But I think neurotic people would likely relate with Elma here. When something goes wrong, it’s very easy to panic about things. Even more so if the individual in question is accustomed to being on top of their job. I will say that losing children in a huge area of space is nothing like the typical fuck-up. But all I can say to those people is that you might be surprised at how forgiving or accommodating others can be when it comes to acknowledging that people aren’t perfect and will make mistakes. In all likeliness, no one will be judging or hating you. And in those scenarios you just have to forgive yourself, move on and resolve to avoid making the same mistake again.
As previously stated, I’ve been really loving the new season and its particular focus on characterisation. Everyone has had their moments to shine, and this episode was Elma’s turn. Behind her confrontational attitude towards Tohru, we’re actually keyed into the innermost thoughts of this endearing dorogon. That the time she spent with Tohru back in the days were the happiest of her life, and it fills her with grief feeling like she will never get those times back. That Tohru has left her behind to be with other people. I can’t really say I understand those feelings. I have always been a central figure that people gravitate around and to this day I stand by the same band of brothers I started with in high school alongside some university additions I’ve made along the way.
But what I can say is that I can’t imagine life without them and how lonely it would be if they all moved on from me at once. Anyone can really sympathise with Elma’s situation and be happy at the eventual resolution when Tohru finally comes around to connecting with her heart, assuaging her friend’s insecurities by reassuring her that they will always be friends. The lesson here is people aren’t mindreaders and there’s nothing to be ashamed about if you need to know something or get your feelings across.
Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. As always, thanks for reading this post and have a beautiful day!