My Thoughts on “Sabaku no Harem” Chapter 8
I thought I was going to write this post yesterday, but a thought crossed my mind that made me rethink my initial impression of the chapter. That thought was Mishe is only 15 years old and up until a few months ago she lived her life underground in cave where she was abused while being trained for some purpose. She knows of nothing but studying to please her master and naturally she would lack social skills and any trust of men or adults for that matter because of the abuse. It’s a wonder that she doesn’t still harbor suspicions about Prince Kallum — or more like it makes no sense for her to throw away all of her suspicions about Prince Kallum whether she’s crushing on him or not. Her notions of trust and mutual alliance make no sense for her character.
The next thing that came to mind after that is how old is Prince Kallum? I’m somewhat irritated by his possessive behavior toward Mishe, but he’s isolated behind fortress walls and we don’t know how old he is. All we know is that Kallum has ruled the Southern Province for 5 years. The only other clue we have is that Kallum was around the same age as his younger brother Johanne is now when he was given authority over the Southern Province. This indicates that Kallum is in his late teens. There’s also the matter Mishe’s former owner, King Aleph, who is no stranger to Kallum. There is some indication in Chapter 6 that Prince Kallum wasn’t always so concerned about the welfare of slaves. Did Kallum used to be an immature insensitive brat like Johanne? Regardless, considering that Kallum could be about 20 at most, his behavior toward Mishe now makes much more sense to me. He’s possessive and acts like brat because he’s still a kid too.
With Mishe, it boils down to the question of whether she’s still in a slave. When Aleph was brought into the picture, I began to wonder what she meant by she was “betrayed”. From Kallum and Aleph’s conversation, it seemed that Aleph had some personal hand in Mishe’s training and her abuse. Was Mishe emotionally attached to Aleph? Is Mishe forming that same attachment to Kallum, but only now instead of being abused and kept in a dark hole, she’s being treated like cute pet in beautiful cage? Whether abused or romantically pursued, Mishe was and continues to train to serve her ruler. I suspect Aleph had the same training goal (kinda) for Mishe as Kallum, it’s just that Kallum is using carrots instead of sticks. Personally, I think Aleph was training female spies or assassins to infiltrate harems. I’m probably overthinking that because I like female assassin characters. Kallum, on the other hand, is training wives. Either way, the necessary skill set is the same for both men.
As for this chapter, Kallum continues to be a narcissist. I wanted to throw up when he said he was happy that Mishe was training for his sake. I was going to rant about Mishe being weak because she’s training to please Kallum until I thought about her past. This is her will as molded by Aleph. It’s all Mishe knows. It’s how Mishe survives. As for running away from Kallum and being confused, all of that is typical of a 15-year of girl. Mishe is just acting her age. Given Kallum and Mishe’s ages, there’s plenty of room for them to mature by the end of the series.
And now onto my favorite scenes from the chapter. I think Mishe’s smile on page 27 is one of the the best, if not the best manga smile I’ve seen in all my years reading manga. It’s so radiant and warm. Good job Yumeki-sensei!