by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Märchen Mädchen ?
I have never been so happy to see someone crushed by a giant celestial body as I was this week when Shizuka called down the moon on Lynne Daves. That girl is a klafte, which is basically just Yiddish for “bitch,” but everything in Yiddish is stronger than its English equivalent. This week's episode really showcases just how far she'll go to rig the Hexennacht in her team's favor – she even had measures in place to prevent her entire team bailing on her when they found out what she did to Shizuka. Luckily she's not quite as clever as she thinks she is, because it really isn't hard for the headmistress to find proof of what she's done (even if she can't provide a physical copy of it), and seeing her get her comeuppance by the girl she harmed most emotionally was immensely satisfying.
That's kind of the best part of this episode, depending on how you feel about Santa Origin holder Angie pulling high powered guns out of her sack. I would have preferred that Hazuki whip out a different Cinderella-based power in order to defeat Lynne and Angie, because this is meant to be her story, but giving that moment to Shizuka does make a lot of sense. Hazuki has given Shizuka the ability to rewrite her tale in a way that she'd like to live it, and if Princess Kaguya doesn't want to go back to the moon, why should she have to? After all, folklore is folklore because it has many variants, and who's to say a contemporary one isn't just as valid as an ancient one? Part of the theory is that these stories have survived for centuries because they can change to suit the needs of their audiences, and today the type of filial piety that the original Kaguya demonstrates isn't necessarily as powerful to readers. Shizuka's rewrite also emphasizes her own feelings about her heritage – she won't be bound to it and the lore about her mother, but instead she'll work with the Tsuchimikado family in her own way.
That's an interesting parallel to Lynne and Angie Daves, who claim to be doing everything for their father's approval. The reveal that they were raised by abusive priests in an orphanage feels like too little too late for backstory, but it does help to explain why Lynne is so obsessed with winning for dear old dad by any means necessary. She's willing to break rules in pursuit of family unity, while Shizuka is learning to bend them in spite of it. Ultimately that makes Shizuka the stronger of the two, because she's more confident in herself and her reasons, while Lynne seems to only wear the outer shell of both of those things, hiding her emotional vulnerability behind it – not unlike her Origin, who hides her fear behind the glow of a match.
The subject of the American Origins is touched upon this week as well, which is still a sticking point for me. Hazuki is told that America is “too young” to have its own original stories, instead relying on mixed media to create them. While that's fine on the surface, it doesn't actually work as presented – not only do zombies have a specific mythological origin, but it completely ignores the vast folklore of various Native American groups – you can't tell me that Glooskap wouldn't have made an awesome Origin. There's also the later American mythology of the superhero or figures like Paul Bunyan that work better in context, which simply makes it feel like someone didn't bother to do their research. Given the large role of the American school, that's a significant problem.
Another issue is the abrupt introduction of the Japanese school's Sachi and her Tongue-Cut Sparrow Origin. It's a good one, even if Sachi is annoying, but it just comes too late in the game. We should at least have been aware of her existence before last week if she was going to play such a large role. At least this episode looks much better than those that preceded it – it still isn't anywhere near perfect, but it's a marked step up.
Maerchen Maedchen feels like a study in lost opportunities. With just a bit more research and better pacing, the story could have lived up to its potential, and the issues plaguing the production have ultimately damned the entire series. There is a preview for episode eleven, with the Japanese and German schools competing in the final showdown, but it's unclear as to when it will be aired, if ever before it's unceremoniously dumped out on video. That's a shame – between Hazuki's growth, her relationship with Shizuka, and the interesting folkloric base, this could have been a winner. It's a story that deserved better than it got.
Maerchen Maedchen is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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