Monday, September 29, 2008

Maou eps 4-11 aka I can't get Shiori out of my head!

Maou is good, there's no denying it. Kept me on the edge of my seat for 11 episodes. What more could I ask for? It is a dorama filled with multiple and facets to the story, albeit a lot of it is not really explored in depth. There's the concept of identity. Ryo is similar to Batman, due to tragedy he has dedicated his whole life to vengeance. Ultimately, he is not sure which is the mask, Ryo or Ohno? Vengeance has consumed his life that there is no existence of self. There is only purpose.

It is purpose that keeps him alive. Gives him the will to continue on. His feelings of anger have fueled his purpose for 11 years. Everything that he has done has been for the purpose of revenge. There are no personal needs and desires. Ryo's room is sparse, barely furnish. It is merely a front for his real home. His darkroom where he plans and plots his revenge. His life ended on that fateful day 11 years ago. Revenge is only serves to prolong his existence.

Naoto is the other side of the coin. Like Ryo, his life ended 11 years ago. He changed his ways and lives his life to atone for his mistakes. His life is no longer his. Because he never payed the price of his crime, he has to do so for the rest of his life. He is unable to forgive himself and is unable to receive forgiveness to free himself. He is more than aware of man's inability to run from his own past.

As I have said, I had a great time watching this show. The question now is, how good is Maou and is it good enough to go into my top 10? The crux of this show is of course, graying the lines because good and evil. Asking the question at what price should vengeance be sought. Therein lies my main problem with Maou. Ryo concocted this radical plan of revenge. Unlike most plans of vengeance, it doesn't require him to do the dirty deed.

Rather, he promotes situations where an incident causing another's death is probably. He takes problematic relationships and accelerates the conflict. Ryo does not force people to kill. Sure he increases the chances of certain things happening but nothing is guaranteed. His plans can so easily go another direction. There are many variables when participants do not know the objective and the chances of things turning the way they did are really rare.

Ryo did not hold a gun to people's head and told them to pull the trigger. He is a cause but not THE cause. Contributing cause maybe but not for murder or even manslaughter or even conspiracy to murder. Intention to see someone dead is not a crime. Ryo did not hire a hitman to take the victims out.

Take for example, the death of Naoto's father. His heart was weak. He would have gone sooner or later. If some corporation bought over his company and caused him stress leading to a heart attack, is the corporation guilty as well? Naoto's father died of because of a heart attack, not because Ryo wanted him dead. Or even Naoto's brother killing his friend. It would have most likely happened in time anyway. He did not force or coerce Naoto's brother to murder. So it is with all the supposed 'crimes'.

For someone who has seen how unfair the real world is at such a young age, I would expect Ryo to be much more cynical. I would expect him to be able to rationalise his actions very easily. Instead, Ryo for some stupid reason seems to have a black and white view of things. His vengeance has nothing to do with right or wrong. It is an eye for an eye. His inability to realise this is so perplexing. For a show with so many interesting ideas, it was so dissappointing for me to see it reduced in the end to something so simple.

Maybe its just the Shiori effect. I still can't get her out of my freaking head. Maybe Ryo got infected by her innocent sense of morality. He thinks he is evil because she does. It sorta makes sense but ffs, he had 11 fucking years to plan and rationalise and he becomes a fucking mess because of Shiori. Is her disapprovement so great that it completely overpowers Ryo's cynicism? Like when Naoto's father claimed it was an accident. Hello, how can you so easily believe him? A father will say anything to save his son. Why the sense of bewilderment?

Then again, perhaps we need to go back to the final scene with Ryo's sister. 11 years of guilt caught up with him and made him an emotional mess. Again, I refuse to accept why he could not have easily rationalise his actions. If he had not become Ryo, the sister would not be where she was. End of story. Sure anyone would feel guilty for 11 years of deception but goddamit she's better off because of it! I'm pretty sure Ryo visited her every week not just to keep up appearances. :)

I guess, my pet peeve against this show can negated by seeing the theme of this show as guilt. After all, it was what the ending was all about. Maou is not a show about revenge but how guilt can swallow someone. The fact that both got consumed by their inability to escape it is probably proof that they are good. What I probably needed to see was Ryo rationalising his actions but somehow not being able to convince himself because of the guilt. Instead, every time he has doubts, he looks at the photo and tries to use anger and hatred. We can only hate people who are evil or who we don't understand. In his plan for revenge, he got too close and realised that they are flawed human beings.

Ryo lost sight of the fact that his vengeance is not because of their character but because of their deeds. Vengeance is not about hate but payback. Again, this to me is an oversimplication of the grey morality that the show could have gone deeper into. Writing all this down has made me realise that my problem with the show may not be a big of deal as I thought. Just because I would rather the show take a different path or angle doesn't mean I cannot appreciate the story the writer chooses to tell.

I guess Ryo just lost his hatred and wanted to be unchained from his bond with vengeance because of Shiori. I guess all the actions that the characters in the show take can be rationalised like how I expected Ryo should have to negate his guilt. I think I expected or wanted to see Ryo be as cynical as I am. Maybe I just wanted to see this show delve deeper on justifying vengeance and stuff on whether morals and right or wrong exist.

I like to nitpick but I'd still highly recommend this show. Its just my exitement for the show at the end was not as good as in the beginning of it. And Maou showed me that Nino is not the only Johnny who can act. I don't feel like rereading my post cause I'm afraid it won't make any sense. That's what happens when you have Shiori in your mind. :)


Jung said...

Kobayashi Ryoko
DOB: 1989-Nov-08
Height: 160cm
DOB: 1989-Nov-08
Star sign: Scorpio
DOB: 1989-Nov-08
Blood type: O
DOB: 1989-Nov-08
DOB: 1989-Nov-08
DOB: 1989-Nov-08
DOB: 1989-Nov-08
DOB: 1989-Nov-08

Oh wait.. she's over 18. Dear god, i'm getting old. Somebody born in 1989 is 18-19? ugh...

Akiramike said...

She looks so much more mature than someone like Aragaki Yui. But yeah, can't believe she was in primary school 10 years ago....

Jung said...

I think her role is making her look mature. She does look very mature in some shots, but man, she looks like a 15 year old in others. I guess it's because of her little face and huge eyes.

Nice write up as usual though on the show. I like your take on the contrast between the two guys. I've only watched through ep 5, but I think this is a great show. So far, they've done a great job condensing the Korean version's storyline without discarding much. One thing I do like better about the Korean version is, it kept the identity of the mastermind until much deeper into the episodes. So it took much longer for the audience to catch on. That aside, I really like this version.

sparqi said...

hmmm somehow the pics of shiori chan here dont do her justice...we need more!!

Undoubtedly she's young...I didnt realise she was that young!

However it makes sense to me...she appeals to the heart more than to the genitals. She has an angelic rather than a siren like quality. When she matures she'll be knock out.