Yes, this show again.
After writing a longer than usual review for this series, then going off on a tangent about Magical Girls in general, I still never got the chance to talk about my favorite character. I barely mentioned her in fact. That’s kind of weird right? She would probably bite my head off if she found out. Let’s fix that before it happens. Ladies and gentlemen, please direct all your attention to the one and only, the nonpareil, the jewel in the crown: Ruler!
Admittedly, Ruler is a relatively minor character in Magical Girl Raising Project. Although her influence is very plot significant, her actual presence is rather minimal. Despite this, she is given a healthy back story and a wonderfully elaborate personality, depicting an archetype I tend to gravitate to, in anime. The intellectually aggressive ambitious woman!
You see Mukou Sanae is a capable woman. She is full of ideas, confident in her own skills and above all else, brimming with ambition. Let’s face it, an implacable drive for success is not yet universally considered a desirable (or even acceptable) trait in women. We see these characters almost always portrayed as villains and betrayers.
Let’s make this clear, Ruler isn’t exactly a beacon of kindness and morality, but it’s fair to say that she at least protected her own, which is more than can be said for just about anyone else.
After failing to get her genius recognized by her peers in her professional life, she turns to the raising project to vent her frustrations and effectively get the recognition and advancement she craves in her daily life. Ruler’s naked ambition could be interpreted as admirable or selfish (or both really) but the results remain unquestionably beneficial. Because Ruler sees herself as a…well…leader…she needs people to rally around her. She doesn’t necessarily want to be the best, she simply wants to be considered the best. And she is smart enough to see what that entails.
For one, it means followers. Ruler doesn’t have the patience and skill to influence the people through emotional manipulations. She can’t make the people love her. That seems to be her general downfall in her office life as well. Since she can’t get people to love her, she must get them to need her. In effect, that means gathering up the most lost and vulnerable and giving them a safe haven. A place that isn’t necessarily warm or comfortable but where they belong.
It also means helping and protecting her subordinates, even if it’s ultimately just a means to reach her own ends. Ruler is brash, rude and seemingly uncaring but she puts more effort into making sure the girls that follow her have the tools they need than anyone else. For a lot of them, she is the closest thing to a parent figure they have. After all, though love is still love. I’m not saying Ruler ever had any love for these girls, but her actions could have been interpreted that way. And when you’re desperate for acceptance, this can look like the answer to your prayers.
I’m not blind. Ruler is neither kinds nor good, by any stretch of the imagination. She was willing to have Snow White sacrificed by stealing her candies, effectively putting herself in the top of the running and eliminating the competition in one fell swoop. There’s no question that she is a murdered and fired the first shot. But her unwillingness to get her own hands bloody, drawing the line at theft and letting events play out as they may afterwards, betrays a certain softness that is largely absent in everyone else.
And for what it’s worth, she is one of the few characters in the story that never betrayed her allies or tried to physically harm anyone. These slight distinctions may seem academic, but if the other girls had shown similar restraint, a lot of bloodshed would have been averted.
It was interesting to see how the show portrayed unchecked ambition. Certainly, it seemed Ruler was not entirely undeserving of some praise. She was hardworking, smart and strategic. She had all the markings for a traditional villain. A monstrously rational antagonist that was willing to use others as pawns, and yet the character was ultimately hoisted with her own petard. Ironically, it was her unwillingness to sacrifice her pawns or possibly her inability to see their potential (something she had believed herself to be a victim of all her life) that lead to her downfall.
The terrifying wicked witch archetype, became nothing more than a pitiable woman grasping at straws, forever unable reach her goals.
One of the cruelest character representations I’ve seen in recent years. In the end, Ruler was never good enough. Not to advance in her career, not to achieve family bliss and not even to be a decent bad guy. And so, after fighting her whole life for a shred of recognition, she went down in the shadows, unmourned, unloved and alone.
But at least she tried!
Suggested drink: The Royal
- Every time Ruler calls someone stupid – take a sip
- Every time Ruler gets furstrated – take a sip
- Every time Ruler brags – take a sip
- Every time the girls turn to Ruler for guidance – raise your glass
- Every time we see Sanae – take a sip
- Every time Ruler smiles – cheer
- Every time Ruler shows kindness – raise your glass