by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Märchen Mädchen ?
While I appreciate that this episode gave us some important information about the shady figures working behind the scenes, for a series with only twelve episodes, they probably would have done better to work this information in differently. Not that watching the Russian team's wholehearted but utterly pathetic attempts to sabotaging Team Japan aren't funny – the “love letter” that's more like a “please let us hurt you just a little, okay?” letter is amazing, as is the fact that no one on the Russian team realized that if they could send an email from the sub-basement, anyone trapped in there with a smartphone could do the exact same thing. I also have to admit that the lactose intolerance plan isn't entirely ridiculous beyond the ludicrous assumptions it makes about Asians and lactose intolerance – if Hazuki and the rest of the gang really couldn't handle milk, that would be an effective ploy. (I also love the bait-and-switch with the blue vial.)
It's a nice touch that the girls ultimately resort to using Nadia's power from her Origin The Mitten, not just because it's a much more solid plan, but also because it works with the story - The Mitten is a Ukrainian folktale about animals who move into a man's lost mitten until a hunter comes along, sort of like a pre-Dr. Seuss Thidwicke the Big-Hearted Moose. In this case, Hazuki, Shizuka, and Yumelia are the animals, while Tatiana and the corrupted power of Ivan the Fool are the hunter, with the twist that the trap is foiled by the very person Team Russia was trying to help in the first place.
That's where the real meat of the episode lies. Tatiana's Origin is less one specific story and more a folkloric character who pops in and out of various Russian tales – Ivan's equivalent to Hans Dumm in German stories or Jack in Anglo-American ones. Therefore having Tatiana share some of Ivan's basic characteristics makes a lot of sense, because he's not so much a single storyline as he is a thematic element. Ivan is foolish because he's simple (but not stupid) and naïve, and those are traits that Tatiana also embodies. She'll believe anyone who tells her something and she's always willing to help out, even if it's directly against her own best interests. Someone clearly knows this about her, because before the Hexennacht, they approach her at school claiming that all Origins must be inspected. Seeing it written down on an official piece of paper, and possibly also taking into account that the mysterious stranger is dressed like a council member in a hooded cloak, Tatiana complies – with the result that her Origin is made virtually useless, working against friend and foe alike. While that does help her to save the girls trapped in the mitten, that's not going to be useful in a competition. So her friends' plan was to cheat their way to winning their match against Japan so they could use the wish magic to restore Tatiana's Origin's power.
Probably they should have just gone to a teacher for help, but that's much less interesting in terms of plot, and since they didn't know who was behind the scheme, I can see why they'd be cautious. Japan not going to their headmistress for help is far less excusable, since we know that she's trustworthy, and without outside help this problem can only get worse. This plot will probably thicken next week, but I'm still not satisfied with Hazuki's “I got to nap next to my crush, so no harm done” answer. (Although they are adorable together and I'm all for true love.) Even if she and Shizuka aren't hurt, Russia just admitted to cheating in an important ritual competition, and now we know that someone has deliberately tampered with a valuable Origin. If that's not reason enough to inform someone in power, then I don't know what is, and the flippant way everyone laughed it off doesn't bode well for common sense going forward. Of course, we also know that there are five members of the Russian team, so Hazuki's inclusion on the Japanese team no longer seems suspect. I hope the plot continues to develop in compelling ways, because smart use of folklore can only carry this story so far if it plans to throw logic out the window.
Maerchen Maedchen is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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