The Fall 2019 Anime Preview Guide
High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World
How would you rate episode 1 of
High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World ?
What is this?
Japan is fortunate enough to be the home of seven high school students so renowned in their fields as to be regarded world-wide as prodigies. These kids specialize in medicine, technology, economics, journalism, stage magic, swordsmanship, and politics, much to the admiration of the entire world. Unfortunately for both them and the world, the plane the seven prodigies are traveling in somehow crosses over to the world of Freyjagard, crashing in the forest. All seven of the teens survive and are taken in by a nearby village, but now they have to figure out how to repay the poverty-stricken villagers for their help, fend off the advances of disreputable soldiers, and maybe, just maybe, find out how to return to Japan.
High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World is based on a light novel. It's available streaming on Crunchyroll, Thursdays at 10 am EST.
How was the first episode?
Just when you were comfortably anticipating a slew of isekai shows that play with the formula, this comes along. High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World isn't perhaps as by-the-numbers as you can get, but it certainly comes close. It features seven (!) preternaturally gifted teenagers, including Japan's teenage prime minister who has just begun his second term, a buxom elf, lots of animal-earred people, and a pseudo-Medieval fantasy world just yearning to be introduced to the magic of mayonnaise. Naturally the kids have to use their specific skill sets to figure out how to make the world of Freyjabrand a better place, addressing injustices, both social and economic, improving tech, and, of course, tinkering with their cell phones so that they work, because we can't make this too difficult for them.
None of this is, on its own, a sign of a poorly written story, and the manga adaptation of the original light novel (not currently available in English, although the aforementioned manga is being released by Yen Press) is certainly readable enough. The problem with this episode is that it really doesn't try to do anything to distinguish itself from the series that came before, or even to address any of this episode's plot holes. While in some cases we can infer that “magic” is the reason (such as no one dying the plane crash, their relatively superficial injuries, and perfectly intact clothing), others, like the fact that no one bothered to explain what “byuma” means for a month or why Lyrule is the only elf in the village of Elm, feel jarring. It certainly makes sense that everyone would need a month to fully recover, given that Keine, the team's medical prodigy, is also down for the count, but that nothing was explained when Tsukasa explicitly told Lyrule and Winona that he's from another world is difficult to swallow.
Speaking of swallowing, the fanservice is also a mixed bag here, with the most explicit being Lyrule deciding that she ought to chew Tsukasa's food and French kiss it into his mouth. That's one of my gross-out buttons, but perhaps more pertinent is the fact that it's a total one-off in terms of the rest of the fanservice, which contents itself with swaying breasts and shots of ninja journalist Shinobu's thighs. This makes the kiss-feeding scene stand out as a bit odd in terms of what the series is going for in terms of titillation.
As happens with some adaptations, it really feels like a lot is being skipped over here, and that's not a great thing. It could be that the episode is rushed in order to get to a more exciting part of the story, but with other, more interesting isekai options on hand this season, this hasn't done anything to make me want to find out.
High School Prodigies is the fourth isekai series to debut this season and easily the most basic and by-the-numbers in structure so far. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's a totally generic set-up, as arriving by plane rather than by death or summoning circle is a new twist, but the first episode does not feel like it's aiming to accomplish anything special. Also, the set-up here has a bevy of holes which strain credibility.
Admittedly, some of those holes might be deliberate ones which are setting up the story for a later reveal. Tsukasa's observation that their plane looks so wrecked that them surviving at all is improbable seems dead-on to me, and that combined with how the plane ended up in this world in the first place offers up the big early mystery. But what about the fate of whomever was actually flying the plane? Was this a storytelling oversight, or is the lack of mention of it meant to be a significant detail? The vague fairy tale about the Seven Heroes is fully suspicious, suggesting that big and wholly unrevealed schemes are afoot here, so I have no issue with the story being coy about that for now.
However, there are other problems here which cannot be explained away so easily. Why were all of these geniuses from such diverse fields on the same plane together in the first place? Without some explanation, that smacks of thinly-conceived storytelling convenience. Why the (presumed) elf Lyrule is in a village which otherwise seems wholly populated by Byuma also seems like it should be an important detail, but no one brings it up; was this something revealed in the source material but cut in the adaptation, perhaps? And while I understand that some of these individuals being geniuses in their respective fields is something that has to be accepted as a standard anime contrivance, some of them are far less plausible than others. A genius politician? A genius reporter? I could understand a naturally talented leader in the former case, but that doesn't translate into subverting long-standing rules and mechanics of elections, and the “genius reporter” thing makes even less sense. It also doesn't help that most of these geniuses are tied to the most generic personality/character design sets imaginable. So yeah, even by isekai standards there are some serious credibility issues here.
At least the technical merits aren't bad, and I am vaguely curious to see what such talented individuals might introduce to the world beyond just mayonnaise. However, my issues with the set-up's credibility are outweighing that right now. Though I am giving this one a slightly higher rating than I did Cautious Hero, I actually think this is the weakest of the isekai lot so far.
After running through a series of isekai parodies that all offer unique takes on the genre, it was a little odd returning to such a by-the-numbers example of the trend. But in pretty much all respects outside of its number of protagonists, that's what this series represents. Though future episodes may eventually differentiate its approach, as of its premiere, High School Prodigies is pretty much as default isekai as you can get.
That defaultness unfortunately extends to a variety of the genre's less welcome narrative trends. For example, this premiere is almost entirely taken up by exposition, as we're introduced to each one of our hyper-competent high schoolers in turn, before they're all tossed into generic fantasyland. Instead of introducing either these characters or this world organically, every element of the premise is essentially explained directly to us, leaving little time for either narrative hooks or genuine character development. The only real break from setup in this episode came during its very strange fanservice sequence, where the show attempted to somehow make a mouth-to-mouth feeding look sexy, with questionable results. And in spite of the whole episode being dedicated to setup, by the end, we don't really know any more about the main characters than we did at the beginning - they're mostly just uniformly nice and hyper-competent, not sympathetic or even particularly differentiated characters.
In terms of its place within the genre, I'd most closely compare High School Prodigies to In Another World With My Smartphone, which shares this story's mild-mannered dramatic approach, generic setup, hodgepodge of superpowered followers for the protagonist, and preoccupation with “bringing civilization to this world” through the miracles of the present. The cast of this one even got to keep their phones, which I suppose makes this show “In Another World With My Smartphone And A Collection of High School Prodigies.” Combine that with the middling animation and art design, as well as the fairly generic character designs, and you end up with a production that likely can't compete even with this season's other isekai properties. High School Prodigies is an easy skip.
The anime's title might be a mouthful but summarizing this isekai series is easy. Seven teen savants from Earth are transported to a fantasy world where they continue to be good at everything. Each character's ability is fantastical, whether its the ninja-like journalist or the swordswoman that can literally dodge bullets. With a party that was already at the very top of their game before being spirited away, what kind of challenges can the audience expect the second time around? How does the world's best doctor or the ultimate politician “grow” over the course of a narrative?
Viewers will have to put those lingering questions aside. High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World is more interested in setting up Tsukasa (The World's Best Politcian) with his future elven First Lady, Lyrule. The fantasy maiden is helping nurse the prodigies back to health which includes going full Mama Bird on Tsukasa. I, uh, haven't seen that particular fanservice set-up before so props for originality.
The gang all gets accustomed to their new life really quickly and in the meantime invent such culinary necessities as mayonnaise and learn they are probably warriors foretold from legend because of course they are. The plot conveniences don't stop there. Ms. Inventor is able to modify all of their cell phones (evidently undamaged in the plane crash that got them there in the first place) so they work in this fantasy world...even though I'm pretty sure you'd need cell towers, satellites, or wi-fi to pull off such a feat. The plane itself was also powered by a nuclear reactor that fortunately isn't damaged lest they blow Elm Village and all its people sky-high. So that solves their power problem.
Listen, I get that the answer to all my whining is right there in the title. They're supposed to have it easy. I expected a lot of creative solutions to their problems based on their abilities, not having the means literally handed to them. It's unfortunate too because if the central plot had more meat to it, this could be an interesting show. It certainly looks great (note: do not watch while you're hungry) and despite having such a large cast I found most of the characters likable so far, I just can't be arsed to watch a group of gifted teens breeze through everything while everything goes according to plan.
It really says something about a show like High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World when the effort you put into pronouncing its unwieldy title feels more substantial than what went into making the actual story itself. I'll say up front that the only reason this premiere isn't getting a lower score is that its technical qualities are consistently fine. The animation is decent, the art isn't unpleasant to look at, and one generally gets the sense that some genuine care was put into the construction of the show. Also, there's a magician boy who freaks out a bunch of otherworld natives by pretending to decapitate himself, and I found him to be a little amusing.
Everything else, though, is about as milquetoast and ineffectual as a bargain-bin isekai light novel adaptation could be. For one, the set-up of the show feels deeply slapdash and bare bones from the get-go. Our seven protagonists are essentially Danganronpa characters, except with none of that franchise's flair or charm or creativity. They're walking tropes that are talented enough to basically be superheroes, which makes their journey to the world of Freyjagard somehow feel less eventful than it already would have if they were just your run-of-the-mill isekai ciphers, because they might as well be fantasy heroes already. With one of the characters being such a talented teenaged politician that he's Japan's Prime Minister, you get the sense that High School Prodigies is maybe making an attempt at self-aware parody, but its main cast is just so blandly competent and inoffensive that there aren't any jokes to be made. All of these kids are apparently perfect, levelheaded, and friendly enough that losing everything and everyone they've ever loved and being transported to another universe is little more than a mildly amusing inconvenience for them.
Here are some of the many questions that popped in to my mind watching this first episode: “Why were these wunderkinds all chilling out on their doomed airplane together to begin with?” “Why does nobody in Freyjagard seem to care that a bunch of impossibly beautiful demigods from another dimension just fell out of the sky?” “Why do only two characters out of a dozen have something even approximating a believable emotional reaction to what is happening?” “Why does the one elf lady immediately decide to erotically regurgitate chewed up meat into a strange boy's mouth within a single minute of his being conscious?”
It is revealing, then, that the respective answers High School Prodigies offers to these questions are “Who cares?”, “Who cares?”, “Who cares”, and “Because boners, obviously”. There are so many isekai coming out this fall, and even the bad ones we've gotten so far are more interesting and worthwhile than this. I'll take the dumb show about the butthole sniffing pet maniac over whatever this flavorless gruel is any day.
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