Imagine you’re a leader of a country. Your country is at war with another country for some reason. Maybe you feel that their territory is yours, or you simply don’t like them. The other country feels the same way. Maybe they feel especially murderous and genocidal, because you started it. Either way, the war rages on, many people are killed, and you somehow find yourself on the defensive.
The hostile country’s forces lay siege to your fortress, and you are locked in mortal combat with the enemy’s champion. But you have a trump card, a method of escape. You use it, taking along a loyal aide, swearing revenge on your enemies. You promise to return with a vengeance.
Except that you don’t. You land somewhere else. Wherever it is, it’s not your land, or anywhere you know. There are people, but they are different. It’s not as if they are hostile to you, but they are apathetic. You are a nobody in this strange and terrifying new world, where technology is magic and vice-versa.
Your immediate concern is to return to your land and avenge your country’s defeat. But whatever conveyance you used doesn’t function anymore, so your next priority is to find a way to return it to working order.
To do so, you must survive and fend off for yourselves. You and your aide learn the ways of the world. It is harsh, and you barely get by. Time passes, and there is no sign or clue of how to get back home. You keep soldiering on, but wait a minute! Didn’t you want to beat back the enemy occupation in your country? Why are you worrying about work tomorrow? You try to convince yourself that you’re doing this in order to return to power, but home seems so distant, its concerns so trivial to your mind. Maybe it’s this world’s people, who treat you differently. You were feared back at home! Now you have to earn it all over again!
Somehow, your mortal enemy appears, swearing vengeance and all sorts of unpleasant things lined up for you. But like you, she is powerless, and forced to work with the ways of this world. She is a link back home, but why does she sound so… petty? Why do her actions seem so ridiculous, carrying a grudge across worlds? You are both mired and helpless, and want nothing more to be back at home, but why isn’t she cooperating?
And then you learn why she hates you so much. It is the story of many, but you never imagined that hers was one of them. She had a loved one who died to your army’s swords. Because of this, she swore revenge and became the greatest thorn in your side, the hero of the enemy’s army. Maybe you even suffered the same tragedy. You wish you could humor her, to summon up your own strong feelings towards the matter, but it feels so unreal compared to the riddle of your next meal. In your clumsy interaction with one other, you see that she isn’t really the genocidal maniac you thought her to be, and she begrudges the thought that maybe you could act out of altruism, too.
But it doesn’t end there. More people show up from your world, and threaten to end both of you. You can’t be allowed to exist, they say, but their reasons are so beneath you that you can’t help but laugh at them. They went all the way here… to secure their own power? Suddenly you don’t feel like you know your home anymore. It’s almost tempting to just let them squabble for eternity, after you’ve ceased to be part of the equation.
It’s a funny feeling, but you want to protect this world that refuses to acknowledge you because you’ve done nothing of worth. And when you do finally get to return home, there’s going to be a lot of restructuring.
* * *
Sometimes I really wonder if Maou-sama is an allegory for our fractured humanity. Different countries squabble among themselves. What if we exiled all world leaders into another world? How would they react to the change? Would they be forced to cooperate with hated enemies, or would they try to settle the score there? If they were to be made to look at our planet from the outside, can they see their own problems with a broader perspective? Two arbitrary groups of people living on clumps of land with arbitrarily-drawn borders, hurting and maiming and killing each other because of a difference in faith, wealth, skin, or culture?
Maybe the lesson is that some people aren’t really as evil as presented, and that some causes aren’t as just as some people believe them to be. And, if these people are put in the same life-threatening position, then maybe they should put their differences aside and work together. After all, maybe we’re all just human beings. Devils or angels, our labels get peeled away in the face of great adversity, in which we redefine ourselves by what we do, not what we were.
Forgive me, I’m just in a thoughtful mood tonight.