The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent ?
I have to admit that I always find it odd when characters who have been whisked away to another world are easily identified as Japanese strictly by the fact that they have black hair and eyes. I have black hair and eyes, and apart from one great-grandfather from Central Asia, that's not where my heritage lies; in fact, the coloring is pretty typical on both sides of my family. It feels especially odd to use that as the primary identifying feature for Sei, though, because there's so much else that makes her stand out – or stick out, if you prefer – than the color of her hair and eyes. Her social faux pas, her magic, the fact that when Liz met her in the library she could read even ancient texts…it just feels like a cheap shortcut to have Liz reveal Sei's coloring as the reason she knew she was one of the potential Saints.
In fact, that's probably exactly what it is – the second light novel, the source for this episode, has Liz mention the reading thing as how she knew Sei was the (a) Saint. It's one of a few apparently surface changes that have been made in transition, like how there are no other female professionals (books one and two mention women who are doctors and members of the Mage Assembly, but they aren't shown in the anime), the ageing up of the head lady's maid, and other small details. It's not terrible, but a couple of those changes are annoying, even if you aren't familiar with the source material.
Despite that, and the fact that it's smushing two chapters together into one episode, The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent continues to be one of my favorite things to watch this season. This episode is a good example of why – even though by rights it should feel rushed or condensed, there's enough detail and focus on Sei herself and her reactions to things to make it work. The whole “Lady Day” scenario is perhaps the best example of this. We see her weariness and reluctance in her entire body as she trudges to the room in the palace where a veritable hoard of lady's maids await, with the pause before she actually opens the door being especially telling. Her discomfort in the fancy gown they pour her into comes across both as she's getting dressed and when she's fully garbed, whether it's at her dance lesson or her tea with Liz. Much as her facial expressions tell us that she finds Yuri a bit much, if not outright annoying, her leaden steps and sweating face give us a good idea of just what she thinks about her lady lessons. And who can blame her – she really ought to have a chemise under her corset to prevent chafing. Those things are uncomfortable enough without adding in skin irritation. (Yes, I have worn a corset before, a Gibson Girl one from the early 1900s for the museum I work at in the summers.)
If you're watching this for the romantic plotline, this is an especially good episode. Albert is definitely upping his game, and that's fun to watch. He's trying to walk a fine line between making it painfully obvious to Sei (whom he's figured out is oblivious, willfully or not) and not making her so uncomfortable that she starts avoiding him. He's more handsy than Sei is used to simply by virtue of the society he's from, but it's clear that he does want to be respectful – he never touches anything but her face and her hands, and if she pulls away, he doesn't push it. He shows his interest with his gaze and how he always sits right next to her on sofas and benches, and while he was clearly very eager to dance with her, he also didn't try to hold her anywhere but the most proper of dance holds; no sneaky pulling her closer than is deemed appropriate or sliding his hand down from her shoulder blade to waist or any other romance novel hero tricks. He's definitely invested in making sure that other men know that he's actively pursuing her, as we can see from his request to be her standing escort to social functions which, if Salutania is anything like 18th and 19th century Europe, is absolutely making a statement of intent. Whether Sei's aware of that fact, or whether he assumes she is, is a completely different issue.
Before we deal with that more, though, I suspect we're going to catch up with Aira. Liz has admitted that she's the girl causing problems at school she mentioned before, and Sei is starting to worry, especially since Prince Asshole is involved with both Aira and Liz. Aira's clearly been having a very different experience in Salutania – let's hope it's not one that will doom her future there.
The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent is currently streaming on Funimation.
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