I’m sorry for calling you a repulsive woman, Monkey. I was wrong. Can you ever forgive me?
Of course you would, you’re that sort of person.
I was totally prepared to not like Monkey. When you have these sorts of Battle Royale scenarios, you often get a character who wants to save everyone. The last anime I watched with a similar premise, Akuma no Riddle, was brought down by the fact that its main character was exactly this sort of character. She didn’t want anyone to die, and the series was effectively about her quest to ensure no one died in the process. It’s one thing for a character to be against the proceedings of the story, and it’s another for the main character’s very essence to be against said proceedings. It leaves me wondering why you’d even create such a set-up if your sole intent is to pretty much say there was no need for it in the first place. The intent of such stories is usually to show how horrible society can get when it reaches such levels of depravity by showing the game play out to some extent, and that’s undercut when you never allow the consequences to arise. So I had a kneejerk reaction to Monkey once it was clear she was the pacifist of the group.
That reaction was dead wrong.
Monkey’s definitely that sort of character. She’s here to end the Juni Taisen tournament and save as many lives as possible. She’s a hopeless romantic and a bleeding heart pacifist. She believes she can bring peace to the world through her actions and beliefs. What makes her work is that she’s not naive. She may tell Rat that she’s a little slow on the uptake when it comes to noticing things about people, but she doesn’t take everything at face value. Hers isn’t a sort of blind faith in humanity. She’s been taught by her awesome mountain monkey magic sages that this is an unkind world, and that her struggle is at best supremely difficult. She isn’t a ray of sunshine raining down on everything in her path, changing everything she touches into something or someone better. She isn’t that character– the one who wins because she’s simply kinder and nicer and better than everyone else.
We get to see just how much she struggles and fights to get her wish for world peace. Her anime-original flashback deals with the consequences of getting two nations (either Eastern European or Middle Eastern, could go either way) to finally reach a ceasefire in a 100-year-old war. She convinces soldiers who belong to a now-defunct nation, who still identify with that culture despite their people being split into two different existing nations, to lay down their arms and create a new nation in the disputed territory. Monkey hopes that by creating a third-party that removes the contested territory from the mix, the two warring nations will no longer have a reason to fight with one another. These nations do just that, but for reasons Monkey doesn’t anticipate. Rather than reaching peace and all three nations coexisting, the two existing nations see this third one as a rogue state that must be put down. They form an alliance and strike out against the soldiers who banded together, stamping out this “rebellion” and creating stability in the region for the first time in several generations.
We also get a brief glimpse of Boar strutting around in the coalition army, a brief cameo that says so much about these two characters’ relationship pre-tournament.
She Monkey got her results, but at a cost she never calculated. We also get the sense that her victories often go down in a similar manner. She has great success, but she’s also troubled by how many lives that have been lost due to her actions. She reasons that if she’s saved more lives than anyone else, she’s also caused more death than anyone else. This isn’t a one way street of pure progress. But despite that knowledge, and despite seeing atrocities that she’s powerless to stop, she continues to believe in her goal.
Monkey is as practical and relatable as one can be when one’s literally trying to save the world through words and deeds. She’s a legitimate holy figure– descending from the mountains to save humanity from itself– powerful enough to kill everyone in her way (she’s likely the most “powerful” character in this show when all factors are taken into account), yet chooses the path of peace.
She’s awesome, especially for her character type.
Also: Her little ongoing conversation with Rat is pretty interesting. To go into the particulars would be spoiling things about Rat that get revealed later, but the fact that these two characters have this sort of talk about morality and the worth of saving lives is one of the things that makes Juni Taisen really work. For those just watching the anime, keep that in mind down the road.
And they end the episode at an interesting point. It’s the first time an episode has ended on a beat that wasn’t the end of that particular chapter in the book. To say much more would be a spoiler. Part of that spoiler may already be evident to those paying attention, but I won’t spell it out here. I’m curious if this means they’re simply including the rest of the fight next episode (or after that) or if they’re changing things up a bit. Most likely the former, but I guess we’ll see next week.