Maps and Explanations
Firstly, the most important thing is to note that in this world, the South is colder and the North is warmer. In other words, it’s similar to the Southern Hemisphere of our world.
The Southern United Kingdoms, the Stage of Danger, lies to the extreme South of the Continent, the coldest and poorest part of the land. A wide expanse of land, but while land is in good supply, the population is relatively sparse.
Since the Demons invaded the Central Continent from the South, the frontlines of the Humans have often been in this region.
The first snow usually falls in October. During this time, the temperature is comparable to January in Tokyo. From December to February, the average temperature is subzero, indeed a harsh winter.
Summer temperatures are not extremely hot. The average August temperature is comparable to May in Tokyo.
In this land, wheat is difficult to grow. Winter-resistant crops like barley and oats are common.
The Village of Wintering is to the north of the Southern Kingdoms, hence wheat cultivation is possible. In the area around the Winter Capital, wheat cultivation is next to impossible.
Food, especially wheat crops and other crops which are normally grown and bountiful in the North are sent to the Southern United Kingdoms from the Kingdoms of the Central Continent. This dependence is somewhat shameful.
However, the Summers in the South are beautiful, the flowers that were buried in the snow, spring forth their shoots at the same time and bloom all at once. The people cherish their short summer, and during this time, they work as hard as they can, celebrate festivals, sing and make love. This land of simple people, this is the Southern United Kingdoms.
—— Explanation by Game Designer Masuda Shouji
My Encounter with Maoyuu
As the founder of the project to turn Maoyuu Maou Yuusha into a full Light Novel, I thought I should just write a little something in the first Volume. In any case, starting from the second novel, I will be bringing in various names from the entertainment industry to give some comments and explanations, so look forward to that!
Right then, allow me to give a simple explanation into the novelisation of Maoyuu.
We completed the novelisation in late April this year (2010). While working on a certain game, we realised there were many points for improvement. This was not my responsibility, so I waited for that to be completed.
I had no interest in going anywhere, so, during Golden Week, my family went to see my parents-in-law and left me alone at home. Suddenly, I was completely free to do things.
Golden Week: A series of public holidays in the Japanese calendar from late April to May consisting of Showa Day (April 29), Constitution Memorial Day (May 3), Greenery Day (May 4) and Children’s Day (May 5). Most Japanese people take leave in the days in between in order to extend their holiday period, going on vacation to other parts of Japan or abroad.
Since there was nothing to do, I just surfed the web and the forums aimlessly. Suddenly, a series of comments appeared on my monitor:
Demon King: “Become mine, Hero”
The Hero: “I refuse.”
Many people were making the same comments at the same time. I began to become curious as to what these comments meant.
Demon King: “Become mine, Hero”
The Hero: “I refuse.”
Just what did that mean? Feeling curious, I did a quick search, and that led me to a Light Novel written on a certain forum.
When I started reading the novel, at first, it was just to kill time. Soon, I became absorbed by the horizontal lines of text which I scrolled past on my monitor. It felt like a skit, comprised only of dialogue. The characters didn’t even have names. Moreover, there were spelling errors everywhere. It was incredibly difficult to read.
But, I couldn’t stop.
“Oh my god, it’s brilliant!!” — was what I thought as I read it during Golden Weak.
All I needed to spread this amazingness around was to make it into a form which was easier to read, in other words, all I needed was to novelise it.
This novel had an idea and a content no one had ever seen before. Twitter was teeming with chatter, it was so interesting, people didn’t need to say anything more than — “Read it!”
While it may have been a bit too late, one thought ran through my mind — “This has potential.” I uploaded a few lines of a recommendation letter onto my blog.
I am always shocked by the speed and efficiency of modern technology. Two days later, I was contacted by the author on Twitter. I wondered, just what kind of fool would be capable of writing such a fantastical book.
And that’s when I met the Editor. I asked him, “The only issue is whether or not you’ve made inquiries with publishers, isn’t it?” It was true, that would solve half of our problems if we could secure a publisher.
The reply was immediate. “No, but I have secured some investors willing to publish independently.” I was stunned by this reply.
Up to now, I had nearly forgotten why I had become so invested with this novel. Two days from that day, I was due to meet with publishers for “Kizudarake no Biina” and “Transparent Cat and Elderly Sister” (novels which I had written myself!!), yet I felt that more people would probably be interested in this work, and that it was my mission to show it to the world… How free I was, eh? (LOL)
Moreover, during this time, I met up with my fellow game designers and the writers of many fantasy dictionaries, Yamakita Atsushi and the Hosoes; the Character Designer Mizutama Keinojou; and Main Illustrator toi8, and involved them into the project.
They would deny it, but apart from me, they were the most involved in the project.
Determination is truly something to be feared. Two days later, we met with our Publishers and were told, “It’s good to go.” …It was like something from a dream.
An Epic Novel written in the Twenty-First Century
“My God, it’s amazing!!” — was my first impression.
Reading it all together as a full novel completely removed the sense of fragmentation that was evident in the original Maoyuu.
More than 99% of the book is written in dialogue, in other words, it’s an epic play. To a scholar of Ancient Literature or someone involved in the Theatre Scene, it may not really be so, but that’s the way it is.
The characters have no concrete or personal names, they are all known by their titles: the Demon King; the Hero; the Chief Maid; the Female Paladin.
To put it clearly, it would be difficult for an ordinary person to read.
To be perfectly honest, it is similar to a Kyougen or a Rakugo, or any other stage performance. In a Kyougen, the performer assumes the roles of stock characters, without personal names. In a Rakugo, the performer is speaking to someone who cannot even be seen… Like the characters of Maoyuu, they have no concrete names.
Kyougen and Rakugo: These are traditional Japanese stage comedies typically performed by males. Kyougen is usually performed as part of a Noh performance and features stock characters, typically a Servant and a Master. Rakugo is usually performed alone, and consists of a man sitting down for the entirety of the performance, delivering either a monologue or assuming two personas variously.
However, a work without names can be very interesting as well. This is because the character comes to represent the everyman, rather than a special character. This allows it deal with a wide range of topics. Such a format is not uncommon in other performances like Kabuki.
This is also the reason why this format has become obsolete. As media reports increase, people gain different hobbies and interests, and lose the idea of togetherness in favour of individuality. As a result, today’s entertainment, led by Hollywood, favours a highly individual protagonist.
Then, why is Maoyuu written in this way?
That is probably because of its special beginnings on a forum on the Internet.
This is the fruit of the labours of a cadre of like-minded otaku, who worked day and night on the forums, with internet slang flying about. It was so bad, that a person who was not intricately familiar with anime, comics and video games would find the text nearly unreadable. In other words, it was specially catered for fans who enjoyed such a deep level of explanation, a deep conversation.
In such circumstances, Maoyuu was born.
Here, millions of people who shared the same vision naturally gathered in Japan, without making any grand, deliberate plans, we developed our own uniquely interesting culture and kept it alive for hundreds of years.
The large majority of the users of the forum were only interested in their own interests and their own gains, they had no interest in creating a work for the rest of the world. However, the miracle was yet to come.
As a novelisation, we also had to consider the foreign market, as we put together this Kabuki-like book. This was a hurdle much larger than one would face in a typical novel.
With the exception of correcting the grammatical errors, I attempted to keep to the original text as far as possible as I compiled this novel. There was a charm that could only be captured in maintaining the script of dialogues in the text.
Large chunks of exposition, character and setting descriptions and the names of characters were boldly removed. All that was left was a dense and highly intelligent novel. And above all, and engaging read which compelled one to follow the text at astonishing speeds.
It was perplexing until I got used to it, but when I began, I could never stop. This is Maoyuu.
Even if the Hero takes down the Demon King, the World will not be at Peace
“My God, this is amazing!!” — I said, for the second time.
From the epic tales of Ancient Greece to modern Anime and TV Games, in every age, in every media, Thrilling Legends have been repeated countlessly. The large majority of these feature a climax where the Ally of Justice (the Hero), having battled repeatedly with the Great Evil (the Demon King), finally takes down the Demon King and restores peace to the world, bringing a joyous and successful conclusion to the epic.
However, at the same time, as you watch TV and read the news, as you are fixated on online animations, have you ever considered this? Even if the Hero takes down the Demon King, the reality may not be as sweet. In fact, the world could be even more complicated. Since they reached the age where they began to doubt the existence of Santa Claus, even children know that Morality Plays may just be fairy tales.
Then, why are such lies still continuously being propagated? Why doesn’t anyone try to describe the truth?
There are a few reasons for this.
The first is that, as I said before, Morality Plays are often necessary. They make people happy and they sell well.
The next thing to consider is something purer. There is something to be said for the vision of the author being a portal by which the world willingly deceives itself, in order to make reality easier to cope with.
If the idea was simply that the Hero and the Demon King joined forces, while they may go through long journeys and run into many difficulties, from an Entertainment Media perspective, there’s no way it can sell.
Cornered on all sides, the main characters the Hero and the Demon King face the difficulties head on. The author of such a novel, is none other than Mamare Touno.
All three of them are fools. But because of these fools, we have five volumes. Before editing, we had at least ten volumes worth of material, anyone who had to read that would be hugging their head in pain and frustration at the length.
Moreover, the first challenges the Demon King and the Hero fought to overcome were things like Agricultural Revolution, Education and the Cultivation of Potatoes. (LOL) I had never before encountered such seemingly trivial conflicts in the world of novels.
However, perhaps due to the conversational format of the text, there was a certain speed by which things like the Agricultural Revolution seemed to take place, giving it an unceasing intensity that kept it a good read.
The dynamics of the story escalated dynamically. What began as economics grew in complexity to encompass elements of social, political and religious institutions.
In this manner, no matter how unbelievable the abilities which the Hero and the Demon King held were, these were not issues they could tackle on an individual basis.
It was real.
Because of that, when I first read the novel, I personally felt — “I am sold on how challenging the issues they face are, but this is where it ends. Unfortunately, at this rate, this story is going to become anticlimactic. It is, after all, the work of an amateur.”
However, the true face of Maoyuu, the true plot, was just beginning.
The Feeling of Surpassing the Second and Third Lines
“My God, this is amazing!!” — before I say this for the third time, let me digress for a bit. This is a story about Soccer.
In the Golden Week which I began reading Maoyuu, the World Cup had just begun. Since I was so free, I watched the battles which were raging between the various countries of the war on my television.
The team I supported was the Netherlands. The way they played soccer was by using a brilliant defence as their greatest offence.
The forward was Robin van Persie. This was his first World Cup, but true to form, he was a brilliant athlete.
This guy was a true talent, but he was truly supported by his teammates. The true strength of the Netherland’s football team were Robben and Sneijder, who could push the ball with an amazing speed through the second and third lines of defence.
They could basically just run through the defence. (LOL)
To leave their own positions and move closer to the goal in order to execute such a daring attack took a reckless and headstrong bravery. Watching this made my heart beat furiously.
Actually, I had the same feelings as I read Maoyuu.
Using a format comprised entirely of dialogue, with their names replaced by their titles, the main characters the Demon King and the Hero crossed the second and third lines of defence.
This page-flipping intensity led me to conclude — “Maoyuu is the real deal.” This wave of intensity, contrary to my early expectations, did not drop but rose from the second volume onwards. I was really looking forward to the next volumes.
Just like Magic!
After the long battle of reading through all five volumes of this novel, the story ends, as expected with — “And so the balance of the world was restored. And they all lived happily ever after.”
You feel good, and there are no loose ends left hanging: a real happy ending. It did not betray my expectations.
However, in seeing the Demon King and the Hero work hard to put the world back into balance, I realised that I had always expected Maoyuu to go beyond the standard Adventure Story or Heroic Story and betray those expectations after all.
Reality is not so sweet. There will always be embers left glowing.
There were many readers who pointed that out as well.
That’s why it seemed like the world suddenly became prosperous and happy, just like magic! I’m not sure if it was in the original novel, but I went and added it in on my own accord.
I don’t want to spoil what happens in Volumes 4 and 5, but please look forward to it.
28th October 2010