August 29, 2009

Ah! My Goddess! movie -- Morgan Le Fay

The Ah! My Goddess! movie is really superb. Ubu just watched it, and is finding that it has given him Engineer's Disease.

In his comments I pointed out an idea I had about the movie, and it seems to have caught him by surprise. It has to do with Morgan Le Fay, one of the new characters introduced in the movie.

It should be understood that the movie is not considered canon. It is not based on any part of the manga, and it contains elements which to some extent contradict the manga. It's also placed at a time later than most of the manga. It was certainly later than the leading edge of the manga at the time the movie was made.

There are a lot of subtle characterization changes. Peorth is no longer on the hotline; she's now in charge of computer operations. (And am I the only one who noticed that Heaven is intensely sexist, what with women doing all the work? Everyone in the computer operations center is female.)

Anyway, Morgan shows up at the college and pretends to be an incoming freshman. She joins the racing club, and she seems to make a serious romantic play for Keiichi.

It's easy to overlook because it's a standard trope in this kind of story: the geeky protagonist who for some reason also seems to be a babe magnet. If any gorgeous woman appears in the story, it's odds-on she'll eventually get romantically attached to the geeky guy in the middle, even if it makes no sense at all that she do so.

AMG itself did that, with Sayoko. Admittedly her motivation isn't totally opaque: she's the queen of the campus, and she doesn't actually want Keiichi. She just wants him to be like every other guy on campus and to want her, so that she can maintain her 100% spurn rate. Which is to say that she makes a play for Keiichi solely because she's trying to spite Beldandy.

The AMG movie also includes some of that trope. The other two women who are in the racing club (the geeky one with the glasses and the president of the club) both get drunk and end up falling all over Keiichi, ignoring all the other guys there. It ends up bothering Beldandy and leads to an episode of poltergeistism with bottles and glasses breaking just before Beldandy flees from the club.

So while it doesn't really make sense that Morgan makes a play for Keiichi, it's also something that's easy to overlook. But what if it does make sense? That's what I suggested to Ubu, and the rest of this discussion, which contains major spoilers about the movie, is below the fold.


Morgan, a fairy, once fell in love with a mortal and the two of them had to face the Arch of Judgment. And, like every such couple up to that point, they failed the test and were separated. There are strong hints in the movie that Keiichi was Morgan's lover, and that the Arch took him away from her and placed him where we see him, his memory gone, in an entirely new situation.

Which means that Morgan was in love with Keiichi before she even saw him for the first time. And when she seems to be making a play for him, what she's really doing is to try for a second chance.

They can't really come out and directly state (or unambiguously imply) that this is the case because it would be a huge change in the series continuity. And they don't really have to, because it works just as well if Morgan believes him to be her lover but is wrong about it.

If that's really what Morgan believes, whether rightly or wrongly, then it makes her a lot more complex and interesting character. Everything she says and does has to be considered in a new light.

It makes more sense, for instance, of the things she says to Keiichi in the infirmary before she transforms into her fairy form. For instance, she asks him if, had he met her before Beldandy, he might have fallen in love with her instead.

I think she's deeply conflicted about it all. While her love for him wasn't sufficiently pure and strong to satisfy the arch, she did and still does love him, and ultimately wants him to be happy. He's a new man, and he's found someone else to love, and the things Morgan is involved in doing are causing him pain -- and thus are hurting her, too. However, she also entertains the fantasy of a second chance with him.

On the other hand, he isn't the same man she knew. Her lover was a man of the forest, living on some sort of world where fairies exist, and where his weapon was a bow. Keiichi is a gearhead who grew up in industrialized Japan (albeit on Hokkaido). Same face, but new name and new background. Presumably there are ways in which he is the same, in terms of his character, but there's much that's new, too.

And he's found someone else to love. If she really wants him to be happy, how can she interfere with that, destroy it? So she's deeply conflicted about it all. And you can see it in her; she isn't totally sure that what she's doing is a good thing. She even seriously considers bagging it all and bailing out of the plot. (Celestin talks her out of it.)

It's after Beldandy and Keiichi successfully walk through the arch that this comes out most clearly, I think. Morgan walks up to Keiichi and places her hand on his cheek, and talks about how at the time she attempted the arch that deep down she was sure they would fail. The way she speaks and the things she says, and the hand on the cheek, surely suggest that she's talking to Keiichi as if he were the man with whom she tried to walk through the arch. Her behavior really doesn't make any sense otherwise.

And since the arch confirms the love between Keiichi and Beldandy, she also knows that any faint hope she might have had of a second chance is gone, and she accepts that. Deep down she still loves him, and still wants him to be happy, and now she accepts that Beldandy is the one who is best able to make that happen.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Engineer's Disease at 04:02 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 1086 words, total size 6 kb.

1 His last name may be minor supporting evidence for this theory: Morisato means "forest village".

-j

Posted by: J Greely at August 29, 2009 04:24 PM (kR/MC)

2 It was definitely a "headdesk" moment to read that theory:  

Of all the figures in the film, Morgan is far and away the most tragic; in fact I think she comes close to stealing the movie. Celestin made a good villain, and I give high marks to his plan; it was intelligent and kept the good guys on their heels. But it was Morgan's inner conflict that made her such a compelling character. 

Posted by: ubu at August 29, 2009 07:46 PM (CMpRd)

3 Give Kawasumi Ayako a good character and she will steal the show. That's just how talented she is.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 29, 2009 08:24 PM (+rSRq)

4 I added an entry to the WMG for AMG.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 29, 2009 09:11 PM (+rSRq)

5 I find myself in agreement after seeing this movie. She's extremely talented and turned in a steller performance here.

Side note: in the party, the two girls all over Keichi are his sister Megumi and Hasegawa, the geeky one with the glasses. Both are staggeringly drunk, and Hasegawa provokes Bell's jelaousy storm by having a pity party and then trying to strip her top and show her breasts to Keichi.   At this point in the manga continuity, Hasegawa is the president of the club.  The only other two girls here are Chihiro, sitting to Hasegawa's left, and Morgan, sitting by the stair. (Side-side note: I did not get to attend enough parties like this in college.)

Posted by: ubu at August 29, 2009 09:19 PM (CMpRd)

6

I'll be damned. It's been a couple of years since I last watched the movie, and I sure didn't remember that one of the drunk girls was Megumi.

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But you're right. It is her (on the left).

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 29, 2009 09:37 PM (+rSRq)

7 Gah. Well, I'll consider surprising you with that as my payback for the last two hours. I failed my saving throw vs. the TV Tropes site again....

Posted by: ubu at August 29, 2009 10:42 PM (CMpRd)

8

Well, I just lost (or well spent) two hours, too. Since I had the disk in my drive to get that frame capture, I ended up watching the movie again.

Turns out my memory is a bit faulty. I could have sworn that when Morgan's lover was shown that he was wearing green, but I was wrong. And there were other details I got wrong.

I also remembered the visuals as being better than they really were. This was shown in theaters, but I'm no longer so sure it would really look all that much better in high res.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 29, 2009 11:10 PM (+rSRq)

9

"I could have sworn that when Morgan's lover was shown that he was wearing green, but I was wrong." 

No, you're right. Their colors are severely muted by the effect used to show that this is a memory or a recording. However, in one scene where Morgan's holding her lover's hand, it's clear that the underlying color of his sleeve cuff is dark green.

Posted by: ubu at September 01, 2009 08:42 AM (i7ZAU)

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