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Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu
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(All episodes watched):
I bet someone read Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha no Oukoku Saikenki and figured 'I could write something like this as well!'. One difference is that this doesn't seem to be an isekai series--Wein was apparently born and raised in Natra, not somehow transported there from modern-day Japan. Despite the title, there was no mention in episode one of a crippling debt that needed to be paid off. Wein's first challenge is a minor war with the neighboring Kingdom of Marden, but it isn't as strong as it seems. Based on episode one, this show seemed pretty predictable; it's not too hard to guess more-or-less what is about to happen, and there were few surprises. I wish just for once someone would make a show of this sort but not assume that the viewers will be totally ignorant of things like politics and military strategy (but that's probably asking too much). The jokes were nothing to write home about, as well. Despite the fact that this show hardly 'wowed' me I remained curious where it might go. But I did not watch Genjitsu-- to completion, and unless it shaped up I doubted if I would watch all of this anime either.
I guess what kept me watching was that this show didn't rely on magic and monsters (like Genjitsu-) but instead was about fairly believable politics in a medieval world between human beings. In episode two the army of Marden tries to avenge its humiliation but they would have been better off if they had just licked their wounds. It turns out that there's a semi-plausible explanation for Wein's military brilliance. Again, I really wish this show had dared to be a little more sophisticated (I doubt if some of the tricks Wein employed would work in real life), but it is amusing. A fair number of people did get killed, so war isn't just being treated as a joke. One might say that the lesson of this show is that when you are a ruler and diplomat, solving one problem only leads to another.
In episode three Wein gets a surprise when an imperial princess, Lowellmina Earthworld, shows up and promptly proposes to him. It turns out that she is also proposing something other than marriage, namely a conspiracy against the Empire itself. Lowellmina ('Lowa') is an old college friend of Wein's, and he knows she had a habit of seeking ill-advised excitement, so he is skeptical. This plot seemed a good deal more intriguing to me than the almost whimsical war with Marden. The stakes are high; the end result could be anything from Wein winding up husband of the new Empress to Natra being mercilessly crushed as punishment for the actions of its leader. While it was hardly brilliant, this show became my definite favorite of all the isekai-like, fantasy-themed anime of the season (and the only one I watched to completion).
...however, Lowellmina's plot was confusing. I didn't get what the significance of smuggled weapons was; I've never heard of a serious historical attempt to maintain an arms balance between factions back in the days of swords and spears. Lowa is opposed to a rebellion (which has yet to occur) since she wants to save the Empire; yet she will overthrow the legitimate heirs and seize power herself to do so. I didn't see how she expected to accomplish both goals at once. The writer seemed to have forgotten that part of the basic premise is that Natra is a poor, minor province of the Empire, yet Lowa really, really wants it to side with her. This would be far more fun if it made more sense.
Episode five was easier to follow, though again I doubt if these tricks would really work in real life. For once Wein is largely taken by surprise by an attempt to capture or assassinate him, but easily fights his way out of trouble. A man gets his right arm hacked clean off, but seems to regard it as nothing more than a flesh wound, like in the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, except it is not a joke here. I wish this show would patronize me a little less and put a little more effort into making the various schemes plausible.
A new arc begins in episode six as Wein travels to Cavarin for 'The Festival of the Spirit'. He must cross Marden, and embittered remnants of the old Mardenian army are roaming about, there's a sort of Mardenian freedom fighter organization, some nobles back in Natra are scheming a coup, and the purposes of Cavarin are suspect. But again I found the situation to be sort of confusing and not all that clever. It doesn't have enough 'depth' (if that's the right word); the bad guys' goals seem to be nothing more than seize power in the most crude manner possible and/or kill Wein. I wish the makers had clarified a few things and added a little context to others. And somehow Wein is always two steps ahead of them--either that or he lucks out. The result is that you get the impression that he was never really in actual danger, which isn't very exciting. The surprise ending wasn't really all that surprising either--Wein has yet another responsibility just when he wants to relax. Yeah, yeah, let's get on with it.
Princess Lowellmina is back in episode eight as she attempts to enlist Wein's support in the struggle to determine whether she or one of her three brothers should be the next Emperor. Apparently her strategy is to try to appeal to influential people as the one who takes the Empire most seriously and would try hardest to preserve it, which is sort of interesting. But her brothers weren't as incompetent and narcissistic as I had expected; the one with military experience might be a perfectly satisfactory Emperor. If they were stereotypical evil idiots, I would roll my eyes, but at least that would give us an idea whether we should root for Lowellmina. As usual, this show hints at intriguing political machinations but doesn't dare to actually go there. It seems that a common problem with this show is that the tricks Wein pulls off don't seem nearly as brilliant--or, for that matter, funny--to me as they apparently did to the writers. Would they really have worked? You can't create a credible army just by arming the people of the city of Mealtars.
The final arc involves an attempt by two countries to double-cross Wein. Again, what seemed a brilliant trick to the writers seemed dubious to me. But I must admit feeling some pleasure at the way things worked out. Wein and Ninyin are likable and believable after all, and I wouldn't mind watching some more of this fare if this show gets a second season (there was no hint of such a thing in the final episode, however). Again, I appreciate a show which doesn't rely on monsters and magic and instead delves into medieval-style diplomacy.
Last updated Thursday, November 17 2022. Created Friday, January 21 2022.