Seirei Gensouki - Spirit Chronicles
Episodes 1-3

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Seirei Gensouki - Spirit Chronicles ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Seirei Gensouki - Spirit Chronicles ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
Seirei Gensouki - Spirit Chronicles ?

If there's one thing Seirei Gensouki has going for it, it's the way it's handling its subgenre of isekai. This series falls under the “reborn in another world” heading, but it takes a slightly different approach than the bulk of the stories we see translated into English: protagonist Rio sees his previous self, Haruto, as a completely different person. In part we could easily frame this as a form of self-defense – after all, Haruto's big issue in life (prior to dying in a horrific bus accident, of course) was that he missed his childhood friend Mii-chan and wondered what happened to her. Meanwhile Rio is starved, beaten, and otherwise abused, stuck with a group of thugs who took him in after his mother's death. He does end up going to a prestigious academy on scholarship, but his coloring marks him as foreign-born (or born to immigrant parents, which seems to be basically the same thing to the nobility) and the fact that he came from the slums is common knowledge used to try to beat him down. A life where the biggest problem is finding the girl you had a crush on is like a trip to Disney World in comparison.

Therefore, it makes a lot of sense that Rio would keep himself and Haruto as separate as he can, because frankly he's got tons more crap to deal with, and moping about a cushy life in modern Japan isn't going to help anything. Rio is also a go-getter, at least in terms of making his existence better. He basically uses his Haruto knowledge as a tool; it gets him through school with ease, which leaves him time to focus on figuring out his next move, and it's hard to blame him when that move turns out to be “leaving the city.” It's perhaps a little surprising in terms of what the story seems to be setting up in the first two episodes, which is a much more typical harem story with Princesses Christina and Flora, ludicrously young teacher Celia, and possibly healer Roanna, who not coincidentally are the girls who are involved in his rise from the slums in the first place. That really does make these three episodes an interesting combination of “bog standard” and “much more interesting than I expected.”

Of course, there are definitely going to be some holdovers from this first arc, which, unless I'm remembering incorrectly, corresponds to the first light novel. (I really have to figure out how far I read and pick the books back up.) The major one would seem to be the villains. Episode one didn't hold back on the torture of a small child, and the knight Charles who helmed the venture – which he felt was justified because Rio was poor – got a demotion for his actions and is out for revenge. Luckily for him, the ambassador from a neighboring country called Proxia seems to be straight-up evil, and his sticky fingers are going to be all over pretty much anything that happens to Rio from this point out. Why? That's a good question; there does seem to be some prejudice based on Rio's heritage in play, and that could be combined with Charles' and a couple of classmates' hatred of Rio based on his socio-economic status to embolden others to go after him. It already seems to be working in episode three, when Stewart, one of Rio's less pleasant classmates, foists the blame for pushing Princess Flora off a cliff onto the absent Rio.

Stewart is kind of an interesting villain, mostly because he's being contrasted with Alphonse, the class ringleader. At first it really looks like Alphonse is going to be the bigger problem; he's the vocal objector and leader of the initial bullying when Rio joins the class. But Alphonse is also a lot smarter than his minions, and even if he doesn't like Rio, he does realize that other, more powerful, people do. (And also, possibly he's aware that Rio could kick his ass at any time.) That means that at some point during the five-year time skip, he dialed it back a bit, choosing to mostly ignore the other boy while still sneaking some jabs in there. Stewart, on the other hand, is still hell-bent on taking Rio down, even if that means contradicting the princesses of the realm and their close friend. He's like the fantasy equivalent of the dumb jock bully stereotype.

Episode three ends with Rio deciding that enough is enough, and it's just easier to leave school now and set out on his journey to his parents' homeland. It's hard to blame him, because given the treatment he's gotten from most people (I think there are two exceptions apart from Princess Flora), having to explain the weird not-magic that he can use is more likely to lead to more enhanced interrogation than accolades. Besides, the opening theme shows us that there are a whole lot of other reincarnates from that fatal bus ride waiting in the wings. Rio's decision to go by Haruto again once he hits the road seems symbolic of his choice to start a new life, but also of the story's path towards reuniting them in the future.

Rating:

Seirei Gensouki - Spirit Chronicles is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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