Maerchen Maedchen
Episode 5

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Märchen Mädchen ?

You may not be able to fully find yourself in the pages of a book, but you can absolutely find the courage or the ideas you need to write your own. In an academic sense, that's why creative writing classes make you read craft books – published works that do something similar to what you want to do in your own writing. In this episode of Maerchen Maedchen, Hazuki comes to realize that while she can't rely on fiction to do her living for her, she can glean inspiration and courage from books to do what's really important to her.

Getting there isn't easy of course, and the episode starts on a pretty disheartening note with Hazuki giving in to the pressure and exclusionism of the magic world and nullifying her contract with Cinderella. It's clear that this delights the old guard, who waste no time in conducting a sealing ceremony to make sure that this decision stays final. It looks like a pretty brutal ritual – it involves lots of chains and a stake driven (magically) into the tome. The alacrity with which they perform this suggests not only that they're relieved to be rid of the burden of Hazuki, but also that they're in no hurry to let Cinderella form another questionable contract, especially not with another pesky normie or someone from another school. It also nicely casts the magic world's administration in the role of the wicked stepfamily – they've found out that Cinderella wants to go to the ball and taken steps to ensure that she never does.

Given that Hazuki's actual stepfamily is opening up to her (which is also because she's allowing them to), this forms an interesting tie to the German variant of the story, Aschenputtle. In that version of the tale type, Cinderella's magical helper is actually a tree she's planted on her mother's grave. In this episode, she gets her party dress from her deceased mother's bequest and her stepmother gives her the shoes, not only recalling the Grimms' version of the story but also indicating that Hazuki's newfound relationship with Misa and her stepmother is solid. The dress' pale blue color is a nice shout-out to the best known version of the story (the Disney film), and the scene of Hazuki running to the magic world barefoot can be read as her really going home – because when Cinderella loses her shoe, that's where she's headed.

At its core, this episode is about Hazuki finding the will to grasp what she really wants. As it turns out, that's not just the love and acceptance of her stepfamily, although she's not going to spurn it. What she truly wants is to embrace and learn about the magic world alongside Shizuka. That's something the Headmistress is banking on even as she allows Hazuki to break her contract with her Origin, making her the fairy godmother figure of the French Cendrillon, and her confidence is not misplaced. The Headmistress is clearly fed up with the way the greater administration is running things at the school, and Hazuki may be key to her hopes (plans?) for changing the way things are done in the magic world, or at least at the school. This does mean that we should probably keep an eye on her going forward, because she could end up using Hazuki for her own ends, but right now she's who Cinderella needs as she runs to save her princess – as a fun note, that's common in the Donkeyskin or Cinderella B stories, where Donkeyskin/Cinderella has to save the prince's life.

Hazuki may be running into battle having broken her contract, but I don't think that an Origin as powerful as Cinderella is going to be stopped by a group of prejudiced old guard and some measly chains. Now that Hazuki has found her determination, it's going to be much harder for the Lynne Davies and naysayers of the magic world to stop her. Bibbity bobbity boo, ladies. Cinderella is on her way.

Rating: B+

Maerchen Maedchen is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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