Character: Matsuri Shihou. Time: when she kissed Yorito on the roof of the high school. Why: Because she loved him ever since she met him through Aono. But unlike Yorito, Matsuri is the one who has a burden to carry.
Character: William Jones (I’m sure he has some kind of middle name/suffix to his name…but then again he is gentry). Time: when he accepted Eleanor’s kindness and started to court her. Why: Because he was trying to move on, and Eleanor was more than willing to help him do the “right thing.”
The question: what is the “right thing”? Where did Will and Matsuri learned it from? Why, in those two instances, are the right things so different?
The revelation, for me, came when I linked the two shows together. The Victorian romance had all so much to do with our postmodern nightwalker once you removed the social stigma of being a Yaka. And we should, as it didn’t matter to Yorito, Mana, or even Koyori (I think). But why did it matter to Emma (or rather, William’s perception of Emma’s feeling on the matter) that William was trying to do the right thing by marrying her and not “having her on the side,” as the servants would call it? Was being true to Matsuri’s feeling something impossible, made by her circumstances much like how William being true to his?
Apologies to our Emma fans reading what I’m writing for I am being willfully ignorant and have yet taken the manga plunge, but I think in my limitations I can stop worrying about the “what” and think about the “why” a little more.
It’s not unusual at all that in a story to see the core struggle being one of doing not the easy thing, but the right thing. However in both Sola and Emma, it’s not clear at first what is the right thing. To our modern humanist perspective obviously William is trying to do the right thing, even if it is a sort of selfish sacrifice to please Emma’s sense of William’s worth. Even if we project ourselves in the time and place of Mr. Jones, the morality of it is clear. But there’s no clear way out. The socially acceptable practice was actually not the moral position to take. Social life directly impacted his financial responsibilities, and it’s not just William who suffers, but also the people he loves–including Emma. And how can we forget poor Eleanor!
Basically Sola maps onto the same conflict in the same way, with addition to plot holes–namely, the fourth option forged by Matsuri’s iron determination, her unyielding wish. And aptly, symbolized by a magical sword made of metal.
Where will William find his plot hack?
Perhaps the difference between an interesting historical fiction pandering to reality and an anime that seems like an adaptation of a bishoujo dating game lies right here. Matsuri is someone who has already made the mistake William could have made, and is trying to turn it back around. William is someone, well, who half-way made the mistake and is probably going to go for option 3.
Or in Yorito’s case, 1 or 2 is fine too.
This rant is brought to you by, again, Haruko Momoi’s godsend cover CD. Buy it today!