Mar 29, 2022
Honestly, I didn't even think that there was another work that could better refine the Realist side of things, and when Tensai Ouji by novelist Toru Toba dropped this season, I'm more than elated to say that more than Realist Hero finally having a legit competitor, the latter was a lot more heartful and soulful that kept me rather engaged than Dojyomaru's big-brained insanity of a drag on that has already spanned across 2 cours. Of course, this wasn't all without its drawbacks that hindered what could a better potential of a much better Realist Hero be within the firepower lines of sight.
And that story starts just like Realist Hero, except without the Isekai, so it's keeping the narrative within closed borders and without external interference. Right off the gate, the full name of the series actually omits the ~Sōu da, Baikoku Shiyōu~ (Hey, How About Treason?) LN/manga tagline because that was supposed to kickstart the anime alright, but the beginning section was handled very briefly, but poorly to the point where it went speedrunning like crazy. I was almost legitly spooked because yet another series this season (Shikkakumon) was doing the exact same thing, and that was a big no-no when it comes to adaptations of not providing introductory context to the viewers. You can blame director Makoto Tamagawa for that mishap, considering that he didn't have enough experience as a director should be to break the 3-episode rule (which thankfully, the series gets better after that).
But enough about that. As I was saying, the introduction is very similar to Realist Hero, where due to certain complexities, the rightful king has to be commissioned out of his throne, only to pass the baton to someone capable. And that person is the Crown Prince Wein Salema Arbalest, the capable heir to the royal line of the Kingdom of Natra. He has the wits to raise his nation out of potential issues (say, debt) and is lauded for his genius traits, the only problem is that like the title, beneath that princely facade of his, lies the true colours of a rash rebel, a treasonous attitude to sell off his own kingdom and escaping from his duties. All day long, he will try to think of ways to complain about anything and everything, so long as he achieves his goal of not wanting to be shouldered with the kingdom's responsibilities on his neck. And as much as he gets flak in doing this, none is as more close as Ninym Ralei, a close friend and his personal aide whom comes from an oppressed minority race known as the Flahm. She is always the one that keeps Wein in balance and check, should he try to play punk and do the impossible, which for hilarious reasons (since this is a fantasy comedy), always fails outright with his genius brain, leading him steps further from treason. Honestly, I can consider these two as a couple ship, though they are more than just friends governing a kingdom, growing from a pre-mature state into a colossal feat from that genius brain of Wein's alone. Also, Ninym is waifu material, nuff said.
These two aren't alone in making Wein's conquest of winning kingdoms and bawling like a kid a reality. Wein has a youngster sister by the name of Falanya Elk Arbalest, whom one day aspires to be like her genius brother by filling in the gap when he couldn't do. And in my eyes, the perfect Imouto character can actually exist, even more for someone whom holds a position within the royal family. And like Wein, she has a personal bodyguard by the name of Nanaki Ralei, though both him and Ninym are unrelated to one another as siblings with the same family name.
Politics is the name of the game, and what character to fill that gap within the conflict of nations by adding a fellow friend into the mix: Lowellmina "Lowa" Earthwold, the second princess of the Earthworld Empire alongside her brothers Demetrio, Bardloche and Manfred, all vying for the throne in the most kingdom-like inner conflict ever. Of course, being a princess has stakes too just like a prince, and being friends with both Wein and Ninym in the Royal Academy, she knows the tricks and trades of both characters, more than being the female equal of Wein to the point of playing mindgames and trying to outwit each other. And shall I say for a fantasy comedy, the psychological "brains vs. brawn" of Lowa and Wein is one of the highlights of the series, and I can't understate this enough that this is the mark of friendship that's purposefully churned upside down for comedy purposes. It's like they didn't mean for things to happen, but yet it did, and will always come to a consensus at the very end to draw the psychological infighting. This is character development that I'm willing to invest into, and it paid off quite nicely.
Conspicuously, Yokohama Animation Lab was (and still is) a relatively new studio that I wasn't expecting to see on here, considering that the last series that the studio produced (Magatsu Wahrheit: Zuerst) didn't really show off any kind of decent visuals, and is still kinda at the bottom-tier of the animation pack. That said, Tensai Ouji is the studio's 3rd full-fledged work after Magatsu and Lapis Re:LiGHTs, and I can see some improvements, though much ado at times falling back to the same styles that have been done before. Specifically, the 3DCG that still feels wonky to watch, that neither is it good nor bad, just not a clean transition at all. But otherwise, it's just mediocre to at best, decent animation and visuals, since this features some action as well that's more static than moving ones, unless you want CGI in then it'll look horrible.
Likewise, there is something that caught my eye when the show started. Apparently, if you're a sharp-eyed hawk like me, you would've noticed that for some reason, they couldn't get the OP visual done in time, resorting to splicing and combining regular episodic animation cuts as sort of a "Just In Time" replacement before we would get the official OP visual fixed 4 episodes in. Yikes, that's honestly scary to not meet deadlines, and likely killed off potential viewers whom were interested in the show. Otherwise, the selection of the OST here is really good, and that one surprise is the unusual collab that I'd never expected to see: Nagi Yanagi and The Sixth Lie, joining forces to compose a song together that in my mind, was nothing short of a pleasant OP song, might be one of the better ones this season. For Yoshino Nanjo, her depature from fripSide is very telling, and the streak continues with her solo ED, which like the OP, is also a pleasant, upbeat song. All things considered, this would be one of the better OSTs of the season for me.
When it all comes down to it, I have to say that I really enjoyed Tensai Ouji more than Realist Hero, and the difference lies in these pointers (thanks to a certain someone's recommendations which I feel, resonates a lot with me):
- Realist Hero spends lots of its time on, for instance, fanservice in disguise, whereas Tensai Ouji relies on fewer narrative devices but it doesn't attempt to hide them.
- In both shows, the MC gets instantly appointed to lead their nations. Realist Hero's events happen randomly and clogs the narration trying to justify it, whereas Tensai Ouji makes it easy to accept and move on.
- In Realist Hero, magic plays a role to conveniently solve many issues, whereas Tensai Ouji relies solely on the wits of the protagonist.
- Realist Hero stresses on minor (at times, tedious) details of the governance; whereas Tensai Ouji almost exclusively focuses on the grand scheme of things.
If you're finding a show better suited to showcase what it means to be a Realist Hero, you can do no better than Tensai Ouji. And indeed, this show guided me out of debt to appreciate a few more comedy than I ever could.
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