The Genius Prince's Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt
Episodes 1-2

by Richard Eisenbeis,

How would you rate episode 1 of
The Genius Prince's Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt ?
Community score: 3.8

How would you rate episode 2 of
The Genius Prince's Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt ?
Community score: 4.1

(*Note: The review of the first episode is copy-pasted from when I reviewed it for The Winter 2022 Preview Guide—which also includes four additional reviews of this episode from other ANN reviewers. The episode 2 portion of the review is completely new.)


Episode 1:

Wise and dashing princes seemingly born with kingly qualities are hardly a novelty in fantasy stories, but what if the competent prince doesn't want to rule? That's the story of Genius Prince—and it's a pretty enjoyable one at that.

Wein, our titular prince, is an interesting character. He desperately wants to be free of his responsibilities running the country but, at the same time, doesn't want to simply run away in the night and leave the nation in chaos. Despite himself, he takes his responsibilities seriously. Moreover, as the country's ruler, he is determined to act like one—at least in public. In front of everyone, he appears the perfect prince in every way. It's only when he's alone or with Ninym that he lets the mask drop—not even his sister knows the true him. This in turn hints at a deep connection between himself and Ninym, one that I look forward to learning about as the show continues on.

I also love the comedic core of the series. Not only is there the clash between his outward personality and his inward one, but Wein is every bit the genius everyone believes him to be as well. However, that genius is focused not on improving the country but on finding a way for him to get the freedom he's always wanted. It's funny to watch how other people misinterpret his actions in the noblest possible way while we know the truth behind them. But the best part is the twist: no matter how much of a genius he is, luck is always a factor—and Wein's luck is either very bad or very good, depending on your point of view. All in all, it's a hilariously fun first episode.

Rating:


Episode 2:

The first episode of The Genius Prince's Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt is built around the joke premise that our hero, Wein, can't lose even when he tries to. Whether it is due to him overestimating his opponents or thanks to simple dumb luck, even his genius intellect is unable to get him the defeat he is hoping for. In this episode, however, we see what happens when he is actually trying to win—and learn more about him as a character in the process.

Like with the first episode, this one starts with Wein trying to lose. After his unexpected victory at the end of the last episode, he is looking for a way to withdraw from enemy territory without deflating his army's morale in the process—and preferably with enough monetary compensation to pay for the whole darn conflict. Thus his plan is simple: fight a war of attrition. After all, his army has both the high ground and well-fortified positions where the enemy's superior numbers will mean little. All he has to do to achieve his goals is make it cost more for the enemy to maintain their offensive than it is to pay him off—to hold out for a month basically. Once that happens, they will sue for peace and it will all be over.

However, as we learn over the course of this episode, Wein could have had a complete military victory at any point during the protracted siege. He had a way to infiltrate the enemy's camp and assassinate their leadership. He purposely chose not to do so simply because a stalemate better suited his goals.

But what's truly interesting about this episode is learning what makes him throw away his carefully crafted plan and fight seriously. Up until this point, Wein's selfish motivation has been to escape his life as a ruler (without utterly destroying his own country). Yet, the moment that Ninym is insulted, Wein's overarching goal is supplanted with a new one: retaliation. In response to a racial slur, Wein murders not only the man who said it but that man's commander—and with his own hands no less.

This is a massively disproportionate response—and a tactical blunder. After all, what general would abandon his leadership post to go on an assassination mission into an enemy camp in the middle of a battle? This shows us, without question, that Ninym is the most important thing in Wein's life. He cares about her more than his goal of an early retirement, more than his kingdom, and even more than his own life.

When it comes down to it, this episode turns Wein and Ninym into a captivating mystery. What exactly is their relationship? What drew the two of them together? What happened to make him so protective of her? It makes for a damn good hook—and one that makes me excited to see what more we learn next week.

Rating:

Random Thoughts:

• I like how, before we witnessed the lengths Wein will go to in order to avenge Ninym's honor, we see his guards react in shock and horror to the enemy general's faux pas. They know the general is a walking dead man—which begs the question: what happened to the last fool in Wein's court who made a similar mistake?

• This episode also re-contextualizes the scene in the first episode where Ninym kills the enemy commander. Rather than simply lashing out, she may have actually been saving him from Wein's wrath by giving him a quick death

• I love that a throwaway line at the start of the episode foreshadows the episode's twist ending. One week away from the border was fine, but a month away was more than enough time for other countries to invade.

• This may be something lost in adaptation but isn't Ninym actually rather busty for a woman her size? I'm not sure why she reacts so negatively to Wein's random sleep talking.

The Genius Prince's Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt is currently streaming on Funimation.

Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.


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