Underrated overlooked relationships by both fandom and the anime adaption: May and Lan Fan, part 1,
May and Lan Fan. MAY AND LAN FAN.
Both of them completely headstrong, completely loyal to their clans. Both of them willing to go impossible lengths to protect their clan. Both of them self sufficient, driven, confident to the point of arrogance.
Both of them consider themselves ruthless, willing to strike down any opponent, only deidicated to this single goal of saving their clan over anything else. There can be no compromises.
Arakawa deliberately mirrors them here. They are both equally passionate about the same thing, and try to kill each other on sight because of it. Even their circumstances are the same. Lan Fan lost her arm, May has a concussion.
"Don’t underestimate me because I’m injured"
"same to you"
These are both women who ignore their own pain to sacrifice for others. They are completely single minded and only one goal matters- SAVE MY CLAN. Even if their bodies break, they will. They will sacrifice anything. May is twelve or thirteen at MOST and she has killed, she has almost been killed more times than she can count. She is completely and utterly alone except for her panda in a foreign country, but determined to win anyway. Lan Fan just cut her own arm off without hesitation to save the head of her clan. There is nothing else but saving the clan. Killing or dying, it doesn’t matter. Purely dogmatic, everything’s black-and-white, or so they think.
The thing May brings up to try to diminish Lan Fan, make her easier to eliminate is class- she’s a princess, this girl is just a dog. There’s nothing wrong with killing someone who’s just an obedient pet who follows orders. All this girl is is an extension of Ling Yao, she’s not really a person at all. But then there’s the insecurity that lies under May’s words- “my weaker clan”- she may be trying to puff herself up and exert her authority over Lan Fan, but Lan Fan belongs to a stronger clan. In some ways, May feels inferior. The need to eliminate Lan Fan is clear- even as a commoner, she does have some power, she is a real threat. Therefore she needs to go. Black and white. Clear.
Lan Fan doesn’t care that May’s a princess. The only authority that matters to her is the head of her own clan. May’s not part of that, so May might as well be a commoner. And the Chang’s are a weaker clan, so Lan Fan doesn’t consider them as much a threat- but May is the head of her clan, and Lan Fan can’t ignore that. So Lan Fan tries to undermine May, calling her small. By doing that, she’s remind herself if she loses to May, she’s losing to someone smaller, a weaker clan- she can’t afford that. Black and white. Clear.
But it’s not black and white. Neither of them are the ruthless, singleminded robots they think they are. Both of them are at their core, driven by compassion. Lan Fan isn’t just bound to duty, she loves the people she’s with, the people she fights for. It’s that love that drives her. May is so compassionate toward everyone she meets, she ends up giving up the philosopher’s stone to help a foreign country and a complete stranger.
They’re both still kids. They haven’t figured themselves out yet. They don’t see how alike they are, they don’t see there’s another choice besides “eliminate all rivals”. They think they’re adults, they’re trying to mold themselves into adults, but they’re not. They think they’re being adults but trying to kill each other, but really it’s a childish thing of both of them refusing to see how much like them the other girl is, of refusing to see the other’s point of view.
I don’t think either May or Lan Fan are used to thinking of themselves as children, so Dr. Knox’s words touch something in them. They both look at themselves and it’s Am I kid…? Was that a fight between kids? Is she just a kid like me? What am I doing?”
There’s so much going on here with these two girls who are exactly alike, but simply were born in different clans. They’re pitting themselves against each other, but it doesn’t have to be this way.