Character Appreciation: Maho Hiyajo

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I thought I’d start something new for the blog in a segment I’m dubbing ‘Character Appreciation,’ which is basically what it means. Since I’m trying to hit three posts per month I thought it would be a nice addition to have small written pieces on characters I like.

There’ll be a number of major spoilers for Steins;Gate and Steins;Gate 0 here so if you’re planning to play either of these games I’d advise you to come back later. If you don’t care about spoilers then read on!

Maho Hiyajo is one of the main characters from the visual novel Steins;Gate 0. In the opening chapter of the story she bumps into Okabe Rintaro at a seminar where she gets mistaken for a grade schooler. After some hilarious back and forth banter, she’s revealed to be older than her appearance suggests and is actually there as an assistant to one of the professors making an appearance at the seminar.

As the game progresses, Okabe discovers that Maho was Makise Kurisu’s friend and colleague under the Institute of Neuroscience at Victor Chondria University.

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A defining thread in Steins;Gate 0 is how every major character is inevitably linked to Kurisu. Okabe is understandably distressed considering that he killed her in this timeline, the attempt to save her gone horribly wrong, but try as he might Kurisu’s shadow continues to haunt him.

Maho, like Okabe, is similarly haunted by her now deceased colleague, though in a different way.

I like how the friendly rivalry between Maho and Kurisu was written, and the parallel drawn between it and the supposed relationship of Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. As you know Maho’s brainchild is Amadeus a complex system that allows a user’s memories to be stored and then ‘grown.’ This is a piss poor explanation and more on the layman side so I apologize. But continuing on, months before Kurisu’s death, her memories were stored in the Amadeus system and has since evolved into its own entity. It is her, and at the same time isn’t.

All throughout the game Maho struggles with her feelings of inferiority and jealousy towards her friend. Before Kurisu arrived at the university Maho had been regarded as a genius and even prided herself as one. But once she realized that she’d never truly been one, she can’t help but feel as if she isn’t Kurisu’s equal.

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She does a quite a bit of self-reflection throughout the game, constantly reevaluating herself and thinking over their relationship to the point where it bordered on obsessive. But it was because of how frequently she fought to overcome these negative feelings that she became one of my favorite characters. At her core, Maho isn’t a bad person because despite her feelings of jealousy, she never takes it out on Kurisu.

One moment that really stuck with me even after I finished the game was when they struck up a tentative conversation and bonded over the same Mozart song they liked. That song was the catalyst for their friendship, and comes into play later in the game.

I think Maho’s willingness to examine her flaws with a critical eye is another reason why I like and admire her. She was the complete opposite of Okabe in that regard, considering he spent the majority of the game trying to run from reality.

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Kiryuu Moeka and Maho’s friendship in Steins;Gate 0 is another thing that came out of left field. Even in the world line the game takes place in, Moeka remains a rounder.

Given how Moeka’s personality is and her general disinterest for anything other than FB, the evolution in their relationship was shocking, with one route ending with Moeka sacrificing herself for Maho. Their friendship pretty much blindsided me because I never thought they had anything in common. It turned out they have good chemistry with one another, which made for a well written and developed relationship that added depth to both characters.

While her obsession with FB still exists, she also finds a friend in Maho. They bonded because of their similar feelings of inferiority and helped each other, not realizing that all they needed was to confide in someone similar. It was especially nice to see Moeka being happy for once. Her life pretty much sucks in every world line and while I know I should hate her for making Okabe’s life hell, it makes me happy to know that she gets to experience some measure of happiness, however fleeting it might be.

Overall, I think Maho is a splendid addition to the roster of characters and I look forward to seeing her again when I replay Steins;Gate 0!

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