How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Part 2
Episode 1-3

by Grant Jones,

How would you rate episode 1 of
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.1

And so we're back to the world of completely practical governance and fantasy realism! While the first season may not have exactly wowed me, I felt like it picked up steam near the end, and the hook we're left with is interesting enough. Plus, even if I think that the show can be a bit naive—at times in an outright comical way—it's not all bad for a fantastical look at how a practical modern person would navigate these situations.

First things first—love the new opening! It's nothing extraordinary, but a catchy little bop nevertheless.

The episode opens with a dash of mystery from Souma's in-laws about that “other” time, giving us a nice bit of intrigue about the Gran Chaos Empire. The rest of the episode is… less intriguing. The long and the short of it is that there is a series of meetings and negotiations that take place between Souma and Prince Julius over the captured territory of Van. In theory, this should be the show's strongest suit. Tense negotiations where political power plays and fiendish machinations play out with momentum shifts and shocking gasps. In practice, however, it's… just kind of dull. Prince Julius walks in, huffs and puffs, to which Souma counters by basically telling him “Van loves us bro” and that's it.

There could have been a chance here to explore how people in annexed territories would react to new rulership, or how war can cause chaotic instability in an area. The aftermath of a war is often accompanied by various forms of revolt, counter-revolt, opportunistic plays for power and authority and more… but we get none of that. Souma simply says that Van's happiness meter is maxed out now and that's the end of it.

Not a bad start exactly, but a blunt force kind of simplicity was not the opener I had hoped for.

Rating:

How would you rate episode 2 of
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom (TV 2) ?
Community score: 3.8

Welp… we're already stumbling.

For reasons I can't quite comprehend, rather than get straight into the diplomatic negotiations, we are treated to a strange scene about racism, intolerance, and monsters/demons. "Strange" maybe isn't the right word—"clumsy" is probably more appropriate. Again, nothing about the individual elements or broad strokes of what is presented here is necessarily bad, but the finer details in the execution are head-scratching.

For one thing, the entire conversation is predicated on this idea that the very notion of there being similarities between demons and beastmen is too dangerous to be spoken aloud. If Souma had said it with bureaucrats in the room they would have had to KILL them for so much as hearing it. This is because, supposedly, such a notion has the potential to trigger a furious rampage of racial violence across the land.

There's a lot to unpack here and on a variety of fronts that I'm not exactly qualified to give an informed analysis about. But even on a very basic level, it is presumptuous to assume that humans are always able to tell the difference between two groups of just about anything, regardless of taxonomy, without making any mistakes (for example, race and ethnicity are commonly mixed up out of simple ignorance). Even “established” taxonomies often get challenged all the time, either in jest or in serious ways (take Pluto's variable status as a planet, or people arguing on Twitter over whether a hot dog is a sandwich or a taco). This idea that the very mention of Souma's question would require them to start killing people that hear it is just ridiculous.

In the more malicious sense, racism and intolerance aren't well-thought-out belief structures; they're made-up nonsense from the start, and people will always find new ways to ostracize other groups of people. This setting already has groups called literal human supremacists, so I would hazard a guess these groups are already batting around far fouler ideas and rhetoric.

As for the negotiations themselves, they once again play out in an abstract manner that does not make a lot of sense nor is it all that exciting to watch. The end result is a secret alliance, which is fine, but the discussion that gets us there is incredibly ham-fisted. The whole thing hinges on this idea that border changes via military conquest simply cannot be recognized, which is fine, but there appears to be no formal mechanism for resolving disputes between nations or what to do in the aftermath of armed conflict. That feels like a pretty major oversight, given how border skirmishes are, well, a thing even in the most peaceful of times.

I guess I expected more tension from the scene given that everyone accepts the basic premise of the Gran Chaos Empire's military dominance. “We've got you on the technicality, are legally bound to enforce that technicality, and can completely wipe you off the face of the earth… but please tell us what you would like,” is a strange negotiation posture to my mind. In the end, Souma's idea of a secret alliance is so revolutionary that Jeanne all but demands he come home and marry her sister.

Has there never been a secret alliance in this world before? Ever? Really?

And I had such high hopes for this season…

Rating:

How would you rate episode 3 of
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.0

Back to the doldrums, I suppose. It's hard to talk about this series without harping on the same issues over and over again, and I hate doing that. But then again, the show only really has two modes: Souma impresses everyone with his perfect governance, or everyone thirsts for Souma because of his perfect governance. Since the former takes up the majority of the runtime this episode, forgive me if some of the same complaints I've mentioned before creep up again.

This episode illustrates how painfully tidy everything in Realist Hero feels. Even though we're talking about the diplomatic resolution to a feudal conflict and control of a war-torn region, there's this sense that Souma has a near-omniscient view of everything. He is not a person in the setting as much as he is a player sitting at the controls of Sid Meier's Civilization; every detail of running a country is perfectly understandable and immediately clear to him. He simply checks the diplomacy screen or makes sure the population's happiness meter is in the green and voila, everything goes according to plan.

That's not to say that he is bad at governing, but rather that running a feudal country is purely a mechanical exercise for him. At one point, Souma tells Julius “Hey, good luck trying to run Van now I purged all my political opponents” with the same certainty that Yugi Moto reveals a Swords of Revealing Light and shuts down an opponent's attacks. Even ignoring the practical and ethical considerations of literally going through with a purge—identifying targets, sending out soldiers or agents to round them up, killing or exiling them, etc—the complete lack of any sort of complication whatsoever is hard to believe. There's no fallout from killing potentially powerful rivals in a newly-acquired territory. It's like Souma woke up and said “I take the purge action and end my turn” and that's it. +10 governance, -50 enemy influence, and I guess it's Julius's turn.

Other than agreeing with Souma that tyranny is worse than tigers and enjoying Mister Mascot's antics, I mostly found myself wondering when we could just move on.

Rating:

Grant is the cohost on the Blade Licking Thieves podcast and Super Senpai Podcast.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom is currently streaming on Funimation.


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