Oddly enough, there are bits of Aoharu X Machinegun that remind me of the ballad of Tam Lin.
…I know, I know, Airsoft survival games aren’t exactly an elf knight standing by a well challenging fair maidens. And Hotaru doesn’t exactly scan as Fair Janet – she’s a Chaste Hero, for one thing.
As you get through the first 4 volumes, it slowly becomes clear that what’s going on is actually a struggle for Masamune’s soul – or at least his sanity. And Hotaru’s going to have to hold on and fight with everything she’s got to make sure Masamune and Tohru come out in one piece.
Basic plot breakdown of Tam Lin: Years ago, a human knight was thrown from his steed, saved by the Elf Queen, and now guards a well as an elf knight taking – ahem – valuables from young ladies. (Gold, their mantles of green, or their maidenhead, as one version puts it.) This goes on who knows how long, until Fair Janet ties her kirtle “a bit above her knee”, goes down and challenges him. There is sex – how explicitly implied depends on the ballad version. But Fair Janet ends up pregnant, and goes back to make an honest man of Tam Lin by getting him free to marry her. At which point she hears out how he ended up here in the first place, and that the fairy host is going to pay their seven-year tithe to hell, probably with Tam Lin himself. To get him free, she has to drag him off his horse out of the fairy procession, and then hold on no matter what.
Masamune fits this so well it’s kind of scary.
As the backstory eventually makes clear, Midori saved a suicidal Masamune’s life by getting him into survival games. And then dropped him from the team once Masamune wasn’t as fun to psychologically torture anymore. Masamune’s been emotionally stuck ever since: trying to beat Midori, trying to find new team members who might be able to beat him, and ruining at least two people’s lives (making them hate survival games) with his obsession. Tohru’s been trying to help, playing with Masamune to beat Midori, but finally admits that he can’t do it by himself anymore. He needs Hotaru’s help.
Which is going to take work on both sides, because Hotaru’s aim really sucks.
And this is the big clue, IMHO. If Masamune’s goal were really to beat Midori, he’d make sure all his teammates were as prepared as they could get. He’d have plans. Strategies. Heck, he’d at least make sure Hotaru worked on hitting what she aims at. He doesn’t have any of these.
From what I can see, that’s because Masumune’s stated goal and his emotional goal are two different things. He says he wants to beat Midori. But Midori saved his life, and he can’t move past Midori being the center of his universe. So what he really wants is to be rescued.
So he doesn’t have to decide what to do about Midori. His rescuer will do it for him.
Give Hotaru credit, the end of 4 implies she’s not going to fall for that. She’s going to challenge Masamune. Make him figure out what he really wants to do. And she’s not just doing it for him – Midori’s threatened to take Tohru as well, and she will not let that happen.
Or, to sum up the whole grabbing Tam Lin from the Fairy Queen bit – “Mine. Not yours. Mine!”
….And now the bunnies are poking the idea of fairy battles with enchanted airsoft guns instead of swords. Yes, I’m making notes for later…. 😉