「萌えなき戦い」 (Moe Naki Tatakai)
“Battles Without Moe”
Episode 11 of Akiba Maid Sensou ends on a climactic note with Ranko being stabbed to death in a public market. I feel a bit too shell-shocked by the events to give a standard summary of it, so instead, I’ll be discussing two different character trajectories: Creatureland’s head honcho Nagi and our main character Nagomi.
NAGI’S IMPOTENT WRATH
Nagi joins Okachimachi as yet another character who is spared thanks to the moral compass that Ranko and Nagomi mutually share. Nagi has consistently shown herself to want to push Ranko towards a much darker side. Having Michiyo killed and tormenting her into joining her line of thinking was purely under the idea that Ranko was too soft for the maid industry. And yet, she still gets pissed and constantly threatens to kill Ton Tokoton and the people around her as a trigger-happy reaction.
It gets a bit frustrating because Nagi constantly pushes Ranko to be ruthless, but most of her violent rampages only cause Nagi to seethe in anger as she places more demerits on Ton Tokoton. She’ll claim she doesn’t want to kill Ranko and spares them because their pacifism and self-sacrificial tendencies irritate her. Still, she grows even more irate when Ton Tokoton stands up for themselves and has every remaining maid cafe show up to try to murder them.
It muddies the waters even more with Ranko’s death. Was Nagi two-faced about wanting Ranko to be tougher, or was her death out of her hands? Was it really someone else who wanted revenge like the possible Wuv Wuv Moonbeam girl who had to chop off her pigtail in Episode 01? Nagi just comes off as an annoying antagonist because she’ll commit to making far more hazardous, risky decisions than going on a scorched earth campaign against her enemies.
Ranko is too soft, but she’s also too dangerous and elevates the wrong people. Ton Tokoton deserves to be excluded, condemned, and/or excommunicated, but we’ll wait a bit and give them enough time to survive the weakest death traps we can offer so I can be mad and have high-ranking people in my organization killed.
Contradictions can be a fun way to create a complicated character, but there’s nothing about Nagi that makes her seem like she was secretly rooting for Ranko to be as hard as she wanted her to be. “Oh yes, I’ll spare you if you join me and kill your other maids, but you’re soft enough that it wouldn’t be a tragedy if you were murdered by just about every other maid I throw at you”.
A NEVER-ENDING CYCLE OR THE MORAL HIGH GROUND
Nagomi is also very static to a fault. After all of the trauma she faced and all of the people she’s seen killed, rather than knowing which fights to pick, she still continues to lean on sparing people and letting the other maids kick her on the floor. Her brand of pacifism at this point comes off as detrimental to the point of affecting Ranko’s own worldview. By the time the rival maids waltzed in on Ton Tokoton to drive out their customers, Zoya had the right idea of wanting the girls to leave in body bags. But because our two protagonists have become self-righteous, they’ll let themselves get beat down even when they have nothing to lose.
None of the maids that Nagomi has encountered in Akiba are worth salvaging aside from her Ton Tokoton co-workers and Nerula. In fact, where did she even learn about maids were supposed to be kind, friendly, and fluffy? Because that’s the stereotype in OUR reality. In HERS, even Edo period maids were cold-blooded gangsters. Maids should have the same reputation in Nagomi’s reality as deputy gangs or car salesmen.
I’m sorry for any of the negativity I’ve shown to perfectly fine shows this year. Over the years, I’ve got a low tolerance threshold lately for holier-than-thou characters like protagonists who have shown up lately swearing on the idea of looking unrepentant cruelty in the face and being like “With the power of love and friendship, this is ok!” Girl, it’s not! You’re allowed to be mad and demand repayment in blood, especially in a world where your friends are brutally murdered because of petty, nonsense reasons.
Nagomi will probably high-ground Nagi into the grave, but honestly, Ton Tokoton needs to level Akihabara to the ground if maids are expected to be violent criminals. Nagi should’ve been killed ages ago along with the other maids to put an end to this madness and wipe the slate clean. But civility prompts the status quo to continue and the cycle is bound to continue because Nagomi sat on her thumbs long enough to traumatize herself twice over with Nerula AND Ranko. At this rate, Nagomi’s civility is only setting herself up to become a second Ranko, someone whose kindness would be rewarded with a lengthy prison sentence and a failed pursuit of vengeance.