What a horrible village.
What a horrible village. It was already clear from last week that undue prejudice and discrimination would be regular themes in Zero no Sho, but it sure reared its ugly head pretty quickly. What was particularly jarring was that it all happened after the episode lures you into a false sense of security with that old man who was driving his cart along on the way to the village. Even if it was only because of their shared witch-hunting agenda, he was still the first human whom we’ve seen treat Mercenary relatively well. And by that I mean that they shared a conversation without Mercenary having to avoid getting killed. All throughout that scene the bigger concern was that Albus was looking increasingly pissed at all the talk about witch-hunting and might have said something that gave everyone away. There’s potential for some character development for her there, as she currently gets very easily riled up whenever anyone trash-talks witches or Sorena. The ball will probably get rolling whenever Zero and Mercenary get round to telling her that everything she believed in was a lie. That’d do the trick.
The way they accused Albus was so quick and so unfounded that it almost felt contrived. Albus isn’t overly likeable at this point in the story, but even I felt incredibly indignant. The strangest thing was that the villagers were accusing her so strongly despite the fact that Albus and Zero hadn’t revealed themselves to be witches yet. Their reaction would make sense afterwards, or if they’d previously revealed a hatred for fallen beasts, but neither of those applied. And the village head (who did in fact take an arrow to the knee, that was exactly what the original line was) went from being friendly to overly suspicious in an instant. Beyond that, though, the enmity between the humans of that village and witches became basically irreconcilable.
It’s hard to say who’s more at fault, really. They did only burn Sorena at the stake, and in terms of numbers the witches went way overboard in their response by burning the entire village down, but Sorena was an important (and cute) witch. Not to mention how her death was a complete misunderstanding and could have been avoided had the trigger-happy villagers decided to actually stop and listen to her before killing her even though she’d spent her entire time in the village doing nothing but helping its residents. And then there’s also the theft of the Book of Zero adding fuel to the fire, as now even more witches who feel wronged can gain the ability to make a stand so long as they join the Magicians of Zero. Meanwhile, the fallen beasts probably have it worst off, as they’re targeted by both groups for different reasons. It’s just an ever-growing mass of hate, and I really can’t see any way to reconcile them all at this point without one or more sides being wiped out.