I was watching the third episode of Sacred Seven and it opens with Ruri buying a jewel for a ton of money. She immediately gets on a private jet to head back home. At this point, I start wondering how on earth can she afford so much free time? Isn’t she still in high school and doesn’t she have classes to attend? Doesn’t she have any other obligations to fulfill as the only remaining member of her family?
Of course Ruri does, but she can nevertheless traipse across the world on a whim because she has one thing most of us don’t: servants. Ruri’s cadre of maids and Kagami, her personal butler, are there to take care of her every needs. As a result, Ruri can then go about her business, personally attending to whatever affairs she deems most important.
Isn’t it odd how anime tends to be littered with countless drones that are ready and willing to die for their ojousama or botchan at the drop of a hat. These nobodies are often maids or butlers, and we often chalk it up to the fact that anime is just pandering. After all, maids are sexy in their French outfits! There are bloggers who can’t help but debate the hottest anime maids to ever grace their computer monitors.
Then again, are butlers sexy? Do female anime fans find a tall, dark and handsome guy sexy when he’s actually subservient to random anime ojousamas? Ladies & Butlers! didn’t seem like it would appeal very much to girls, but who knows — maybe Kuroshitsuji, on the other hand, appeals to some ladies. While I think pandering is part of the reason why servants exist as maids or butlers in anime, I’m looking for a more primal reason for the existence of servants.
You could hypothesize that maids and butlers are just yet another form of Western fetishization in Japanese pop culture. After all, Japanese media, from live dramas down to anime, seems to have Western culture, especially British culture, on some sort of pedestal. In episode two, Arma’s classmates marveled over the changes at their school when it really just meant a switch to Western cuisine and aesthetics. While this gives us some more insight into why servants are maids and butlers specifically, not all servants are maids and butlers. The Sacred Blacksmith had a princess and her loyal soldiers. Those loyal soldiers would risk their lives simply to see their princess smile.
Others might argue that this sort of ideal, i.e. supreme sacrifice for someone in a higher social class, appeals to anime nerds. That when they look at the girl of their dreams, anime nerds might actually think that the girl is literally in a different social class than them. So, maybe, selfless duty to her and her every needs might allow them to transcend those barriers? Ah, I think we’re getting closer to what I have in mind, but what explains this idea that human beings are so stratified by class?
Perhaps our need to serve is simply inherent in us, ingrained from a time long ago. Maybe our minds need order, and social stratification serves this purpose. Things just make a tiny bit more sense when everyone’s in their role and performing their given duty. To see this, we must simply look back to each of the world’s major classical civilizations.
The Greek philosophers once argued that slavery was necessary because without slavery, society simply couldn’t function. According to Aristotle himself, “…ruling and being ruled belong not only among the necessary but also among things advantageous.” We needed the production of the many in order to support the few in the upper class. But why would we want to support the upper class? What makes them so important? Ah, y’see, they are the intelligent — the people with ideas to move their world. Surely, you wouldn’t have the upper class waste their time with physical labor? Likewise, early Hinduism made social inequality quite literal: we are all in different social layers and those who live according to their duty will perhaps transcend the layers during reincarnation.
In East Asian, the situation was no different with Confucianism, a philosophy that would eventually make its way to Japan as did most thing Chinese. For Confucius, each social class had a role to play. The upper classes owed it to the lower classes to “be wise and govern well.” In the meantime, the lower classes should do their best not to interfere. To some extent, social inequality wasn’t seen as an injustice; it was seen as a necessary component in maintaining order.
By all of this, I’m not saying that anime characters explicitly exclaim, “Derp, I want to make sure Ruri has time to think and contemplate for the betterment of my life so I should serve her every need!” But I do think the need to serve is ingrained in mankind from a very early age. It becomes fascinating when our newfound liberalism clashes with this primal, subconscious desire to serve. Most us want to have equal rights for all, but there’s still an inkling inside some of us that says, “Y’know, maybe the big thinkers are more suited to higher pay or higher respect. Teachers should be paid more! Scientists should be lauded!”
Imagine if Ruri had to go to class every day or do her chores. What time would she have to buy the pretty jewels she needs for her
boy toy Arma so that they can save the world?
Sacred Seven Ep. 3: Thoughts & Impressions
• Sacred Seven just feels as though it’s taking itself too seriously. It’s not fun and light-hearted like Sunrise’s other show, but it’s not compelling enough to standout as a thrilling action anime.
Case in point: when I see Arma writhing on the ground, I don’t go, “Oh no~” I don’t feel anything, actually. The anime has yet to convince that I should care about this dude.
• This episode introduces a few more major characters, most notably Doctor Kenmi and yet another morose sullen young man by the name of Knight. According to Kenmi, there’s a vaccine that can prevent people from turning into Darkstones. Unless ‘vaccine’ means something totally different in the world of Sacred Seven, this would imply that some sort of virus is responsible for the transformation.
• Knight is all “That Arma guy is like me… the highest class of Sacred Seven!!” Whoa? We’re already at the highest class already? That doesn’t sound very exciting.
• Kenmi tells everyone that he’s trying to use the power of the Sacred Seven for good, but he looks evil and TV never lies.
• Since when did Hellbrick and Arma become bros?
• Y’know, let’s try something else besides bullets on the Darkstone creatures.
Just sayin’ — bullets don’t seem to even scratch the enemies.
• The anime is just so ugly. A character went from this…
She’s covered from head to toe in armor when other anime series would have had her in some bikini outfit instead. On the other hand, puke green and pink?