MagiRevo, Episode 8: The Monstrous Heart of Self-Love

Humans aren’t meant to live for themselves. We’re meant to live in vulnerable, authentic, fulfilling relationships with others—to find ourselves in giving ourselves away. So when we try to find fulfillment by pursuing our desires, we end up unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and embittered. When we live for ourselves, we become something we were never meant to be. We become monstrous.

That’s Algard’s story in episode eight of MagiRevo: The story of someone who sought self-fulfillment and found himself empty. The story of someone who sought to love himself and ended up hating others, the world, and ultimately himself.

The catalyst for this monstrous cycle of hatred is Algard’s relationship with Lainie. Algard and Lainie mirror each other in some ways. Both are unpopular with the nobility because of their background. Both are also rejected by those close to them: Algard was abandoned by Anis as she walked the road of magicology and scorned by nobles who doubted his ruling prowess; Lainie was bullied for her popularity, losing close friends to the poison of envy. Lastly, both long for justice and a ruler who will set this crooked kingdom straight. They’re sick of putting up with corrupt nobles who talk out of both sides of their mouth, revile commoners as inferior, and reject any progress that doesn’t line their wallets.

All these similarities are made clear in a brilliant flashback scene, where Algard and Lainie share a tender moment during a sunset carriage ride through the streets of Palettia. There’s almost a romantic tone in the air as they pour out their hearts to each other, with Algard entreating Lainie to stay by his side in his quest for the throne, come what may.

Of course, these sweet words are ultimately empty. Remember that composition from episode three, where Euphie was consistently isolated from other characters in the shot? That comes back here, betraying an insidious tone to Algard’s dealings with Lainie—not to mention the murky lighting and crooked framing throughout the scene. (And the fact that he’s been manipulating things behind the scenes. But still.)

Algard doesn’t love Lainie. He’s just using her. That fact becomes abundantly clear when Algard invades the villa later. Against the light of the moon, he intercepts Ilia and Lainie as they try to flee, mercilessly cuts down Ilia, and tears Lainie’s magicite out of her chest. He’s willing to do anything to get back at those who have hurt him, including committing heartless murder to exact revenge. Algard has fallen into the abyss of hatred that comes from self-love, the existential darkness that taints those who pursue their own exaltation at the expense of others.

The tragedy is that Algard isn’t entirely wrong about his diagnosis of the kingdom. Palettia is terminally ill, wracked with a cancerous affliction that pits commoners against nobles and magicians against muggles. Bribery and corruption run rampant, and class tensions threaten to tear the kingdom apart. Algard is right to pursue reform—he’s wrong about pursuing it to get revenge for himself. In doing so, he’s consumed by the same hatred he’s fighting against, making enemies of everyone around him, Lainie included.

And not only Lainie, but also Anis. Algard envies Anis with everything he is. She’s the sister who swore off the throne but enjoyed far greater success than he ever could. She lacks magic but outperforms him with her magicology. Anis makes the impossible seem possible; Algard, try as he might, will never get there. And his bitter envy for her severs their sibling relationship, transforming him into the kind of person who would slay even his sister.

In loving himself, Algard becomes a monster: someone who uses magic to harm others.

And that’s all that magic is to Algard—a way of harming others. Throughout his life, magic has been a knife wielded against him. It reminds him that his sister will outperform him every time. It reminds him of the nobles who use it to harm those under their charge. It reminds him of the whispers and rumors that always haunt him, demeaning his capability to rule. So when Anis confronts him later in the episode, asking, “What is magic to you?” all he can respond is, “A curse.” Magic—that romantic, wondrous, joyful gift—has become bitter to him because he’s hardened his heart against seeing anything good in it.

MagiRevo uses people’s views of magic to describe how they view the world. Case in point: Anis. Though born without magical ability, she views magic as a way of making people smile. That’s how she views the world, too: It’s a place of great cruelty and struggle, where sacrifice, hurt, and injustice are inevitable. Yet there’s also hope—if you use your skills and opportunities to fill others with joy, helping them on the road to true freedom, you’ll find yourself full, too. Algard, in contrast, views the world the same way he views magic: as a stage for others to betray him and trample over his desires.

Algard’s quest for self-fulfillment has led to him hating the world.

This emotional clarity has been my favorite aspect of MagiRevo. The show excels at depicting complex, multifaceted characters and unpacking their motivations and desires as they pursue the things that are meaningful to them. First, it was Euphie and her conflicted perspective on her newfound freedom, then Anis and the darkness of fiery ambition; now it’s Algard and the hateful path of self-love.

It’s exceptional writing, and it means that I’m willing to overlook some of the less-formed aspects of this episode (the sketchy animation in the second half featuring shots that last for an uncomfortable amount of time or were recycled). MagiRevo isn’t content to say that Algard Is Mean—it wants us to ask why. What leads him to commit the cruel acts that he commits? How did he become the monster that he is? For when we expose the dark facets of Algard’s monstrous heart, we might find our hearts reflected in it like a mirror. And then—only then—we can imagine what healing might look like.

One final aspect of this episode that struck a personal note for me was Algard’s self-hatred. It’s almost paradoxical: throughout the episode, Algard is consumed by envy, revenge, and a general desire to get his own, to see his longings fulfilled at whatever cost. He’s mired in loving himself, yet that leads to him deeply harming himself—physically, by plunging Lainie’s magicite deep into his chest for its magical power, but also emotionally. He ridicules Anis for taking on a dragon’s powers while acknowledging that he sought the power of Lainie, a vampire. His grandiose speeches are laced with venom, his monstrous fangs piercing his own flesh. Foolish commoner, the abandoned crown prince, a cursed magical failure—he repeatedly puts himself down. Even at the height of his quest for self-fulfillment, he hates the monster he’s become.

That dynamic is one that I’m all too familiar with: the intoxicating, almost empowering feeling of reviling and insulting myself, even as I long for healing and happiness. I try to love myself by uplifting myself, but instead, I become self-centered and prideful. The things I hate about myself bubble to the surface, and self-hatred becomes a twisted way of cutting myself down, desperately trying to find healing. Augustine called it being in love with your own destruction in his Confessions, and I see that in Algard and myself.

Ultimately, the road to true self-love is selflessness. That’s what we were meant for. Ilia reminds Lainie of this truth in a scene before Algard’s invasion. Over tea, Lainie confesses she’s struggling to be happy with herself as a vampire who can charm others into liking her (understandably so!). Ilia points out that happiness isn’t the kind of thing that comes to those who worry about finding it. Instead, the road to happiness involves drinking the tea Ilia brewed for her and expressing her compliments for the brew. If we dwell on the wounds in our hearts, we fall into confusion and despair. But when we care for others and let them care for us, we find true happiness.

The way out of the cage we’ve made for ourselves is calling out for help. A true magician never flies alone. Magic is a curse only if you try to use it to purchase happiness for yourself at others’ expense. That’s where Algard has it wrong. The blessing of magic starts with making others smile. And in doing so, in giving ourselves away for others’ sake, we might find that we come to love them, the world, and even ourselves more and more.

The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady is streaming on Crunchyroll.

READ: Episodes 1 // 2-3 // 4-5 // 6-7


5 thoughts on “MagiRevo, Episode 8: The Monstrous Heart of Self-Love

  1. Algard wasn’t actually born a commoner, he is indeed Anis’ biological brother.. and yeah I think he is indeed a very interesting character!

    1. Not sure why I thought he was a commoner—maybe I just took the “foolish commoner” quote too seriously?? Anyways, I’ve fixed that now. Thanks for pointing that out and for your comment!

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