Review

by Theron Martin,

High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World

episodes 1-12 streaming

Synopsis:
High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World
In Japan, seven special high school students are such renowned prodigies in their respective fields (whether it be invention, medicine, magic, journalism, politics, business, or swordplay) that they are acknowledged as best in the world. One day, a plane carrying all of them crosses into another world and crashes. They awaken, injured but alive, in the rural Elm Village in the Freyjagard Empire. As they recover under the attention of the elf Lyrule and a race of animal-eared people known as Byuma, politician Tsukasa leads them in formulating plans to first resist Freyjagard tyranny and then form a nation secure from tyranny for the people who helped them. Meanwhile the prodigies also keep an eye and ear out for clues as to why they were brought here and how to get home.
Review:

Isekai series have to do something special to distinguish themselves in a very crowded field, and this Fall 2019 adaptation of a light novel series does make at least some effort on that front. It is one of the rare isekai series where an entire group, rather than just a single individual, gets transported to another world, and the series winds up being about nation-building rather than the triumphs of an individual. It also features protagonists who were supremely-accomplished in their original world, and carry those talents over with them, rather than just being nobodies who are gifted with special abilities and/or equipment on arrival. For all that, though, the series does not even come close to escaping a generic feel. Its genericism just isn't predicated on isekai elements.

The biggest problem with the series comes up front, which may have contributed to why it did not make the cut for episode reviews on ANN that season. While a certain suspension of disbelief is nearly always required in anime series, this one requires a much heavier load than most. So many of the details about the basic set-up cross the line into absurdity that the series trying to take itself at least semi-seriously despite that creates a disconnect; honestly, the concept might have worked better if it had gone for all-out farce instead, as the degree of contrivances necessary for this to work is astounding. For instance, Japan in this story had to totally change its electoral system – including eliminating age requirements! – for politician Tsukasa to have even been a candidate, much less get elected, and no matter how charismatic he's supposed to be, people overwhelmingly trusting someone with such limited life experience and no divine or bloodline claim to lead a country is hard to accept. Each of the other cases offers its own problems on that or greater levels if one stops to think about it for even a second (someone who has won multiple international science awards as an inventor seems unlikely to have attended an ordinary-looking Japanese middle school, for instance), so accepting these geniuses at face value is essential to appreciating the series.

Even beyond that, the situational contrivances run deep and little or no effort is made to justify them. That such talented individuals might know each other isn't much of a stretch, but why were they all in a plane together with a portable nuclear reactor? And why did the leader of a nation not have an entourage and bodyguards with him? As the series progresses, inventor Ringo coming up with all manner of devices and weapons is not so unbelievable, but where is she getting the raw materials and fabricating and engineering processes necessary to build factory facilities, modern rifles, remote rocket batteries, and even missile silos, especially in so short a time? (Dr. Stone this series isn't.) And let's not even get into the series' dodge on explaining how smartphones could be modified to work in a world with no satellites or transmission towers. This all would have made a lot more sense if the series had just insisted that Ringo was gifted with real magic when she jumped worlds.

The backstory and world-building elements are also lacking. The story not only never bothers to explain why the elf Lyrule is living in a village otherwise entirely populated by wolf-themed Hyuma, but it also never has any of the geniuses get even slightly curious about that. Where are her people and what niche do they occupy in this setting? Another elf finally appearing in the series' very last scene suggests that there might be a bigger picture here, but not alluding to this at all is a glaring omission. The setting also shows little sense of history or mechanics, with true magic use being left very vague and both legends and political structures only developed to the bare minimum necessary for various story elements. The one interesting development the setting does have is how religions were eradicated so that the Emperor would not have any competition for reverence; since historical leaders commonly either built religions around themselves or else placed themselves at the heart of an existing religion, this is an approach that I cannot recall seeing in any other fantasy setting. Even so, it still seems like a convenience for allowing the establishment of the Seven Lights Faith.

The plot progression follows a fairly standard “build a new nation up from nothing” kind of story, though admittedly those are not common. In construction, this probably most represents something like Utawarerumono, but a with a focus less on combat (though there definitely is some) and more on things like establishing trade systems, gathering information, and developing medicine and religions; basically, each genius is given at least some chance to shine in his or her respective field. That being said, the lion's share of attention goes to Tsukasa, though Ringo is the only character whose background is delved into extensively; Tsukasa gets a little bit of such development (mostly involving establishing why Ringo is sweet on him) and the rest none at all. Perhaps their stories come up later in the overall narrative, but at least some allusions to their backgrounds would have been welcomed. There's also a mysterious entity who occasionally channels through Lyrule who is probably responsible for the geniuses being there, though the true nature of that remains a complete mystery at the end of the series. A bit of romantic rivalry is also thrown in for good measure, with Ringo and Lyrule both romantically interested in Tsukasa. (Of the two pairings, Tsukasa and Ringo is absolutely the more endearing one, though Tsukasa and Lyurle seems more likely.)

The personalities of the geniuses are mostly standard anime fare; the Shy Girl (Ringo), the single-minded Aggressive Girl (swordswoman Aoi), the medical expert who seems nice but secretly has a shockingly strong amoral side (doctor Keine), and so forth. The only character who stands out at all is Tsukasa, whose blend of philosophy, long-seeing practicality, and diplomacy is backed by an unwavering will and unblinking ruthlessness when violence is the only option. He is not a stereotype at all, and is engaging enough as a character to almost carry the series into respectability on his own. The downside is that so much time is spent developing him that little to no time is left for some other ensemble members.

The visuals of the series are where the series is most generic. The design elements – including character, critter, and setting designs – aren't bad at all, with the buildings in Elm Village in particular having a pleasingly rustic feel. The way different villages in the region have different animal themes (I clearly recall wolf, dog, cat, and what may have been either bear or raccoon, but there may have been others) is also a neat touch. However, only rarely do any of the design elements stand out. The animation effort is mediocre as well; a few action scenes shine, including a completely ridiculous one involving one character physically guiding a missile towards a being made of fire, but they usually lean heavily on cut-away shots to reduce animation burden. Fan service is not a prevailing feature of the series but is present in spurts and well-detailed when present. While some of this is just typical near-nudity antics, be forewarned that this content does also include two attempted rape scenes. (None of the perpetrators live to tell the tale, and both scenes are clearly portrayed as scumbag behavior, but that's beside the point.)

The series does not stand out much musically, either. The musical score, which blends some orchestration with synthesizer and other instrumentation, is best described as competent; it does a fine job at supporting dramatic, spirited, and light-hearted scenes but does not distinguish itself much. Opener “Hajimete no Kakumei!” is a suitably peppy number, while closer “dear my distance” has a pleasant, more mellow sound. It is arguably the series' musical highlight.

Crunchyroll currently has the series available with both English and Russian dubs as well as the standard Japanese version. The English dub effort by STUODIOPOLIS, Inc. is an excellent one; in fact, it is the series' most impressive feature. Every role is perfectly-cast and every performance captures the respective character exactly right. The most impressive performance is probably the villain Gustav; unfortunately. full English credits have not been made available, but whoever is voicing that role attacks it with such delicious gusto that Gustav becomes the ideal “love to hate” villain. I recommend at least checking out that performance even if you do not otherwise watch the dub.

On the whole, High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World has some legitimate entertainment value and a few interesting aspects, especially if you can just turn your mind off and roll with the premise. However, what variety it offers isn't enough to make it memorable or merit recommendation beyond dedicated isekai fans.

Grade:
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C+
Animation : B-
Art : B
Music : B

+ English dub, distinct variation on standard isekai set-up and progression
Massive credibility issues, very uneven character development for an ensemble-driven cast

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Production Info:
Director: Shinsuke Yanagi
Series Composition: Deko Akao
Original creator: Riku Misora
Original Character Design: Sacraneco
Character Design: Akane Yano
Chief Animation Director: Akane Yano

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High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World (TV)

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