Wise Man's Grandchild
Episode 4

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Wise Man's Grandchild ?

One thing I can say for Wise Man's Grandchild is that it's not necessarily unfolding like I thought it would. We saw that last week when Kurt was revealed to be a mere pawn of the actual villain and summarily executed by Shin. Now, rather than spend multiple episodes trying to find out who was behind the Kurt fiasco, the show moves right on to pinpointing him as Schrom, a middle school gifted and talented teacher (well, the magical equivalent), setting him up, and trying to take him out. That he escapes by the skin of his teeth also became a nice surprise; if Shin had succeeded in removing him, I would have begun to worry about the pacing in the series overall. As it stands, things are still moving briskly, but there's a sense of the staff trying to reach a certain point in the narrative rather than just zipping blithely through the source material. It's a small distinction, but an important one.

However, perhaps the biggest reveal was that Schrom himself is a demonoid. As Shin noted, it was already unusual that Kurt in demonoid form could still speak; previously documented cases were only able to scream and make other non-verbal sounds. Schrom can not only speak like Kurt could, but he's capable of rational thought and sneaky planning – in other words, apart from his red eyes and evil nature, he's basically indistinguishable from regular humans. (Okay, we could debate that second part's application to humanity, but you know what I mean.) He's even got a believable backstory about why he wears the sunglasses inexplicably subtitled as an “eyepatch,” and his tragic family tale is nicely backed up by his skillful use of magic to make up for his vision. Simply put, he's been scheming for a long time, and it's just his bad luck that Shin turned up when he was finally able to put his plans into action.

How much of this the king and Aug knew before any of it was revealed remains to be seen, but I'd guess that they at least had a few suspicions. The way that both of them rushed to acknowledge Shin's role in Kurt's defeat feels less like “we must honor our hero's grandson” and a lot more like “let's publicize his existence quickly,” and I'm not sure I buy the king's assurances that he has no political motives in all this. He might not, but he didn't say anything about Aug, and when a convenient blacksmith joins the gang at school, it could be less sorting out the students who want to join Shin's new club and more picking the most potentially useful members. Shin can be as brilliant and guileless as he wants; if the story's going to keep moving forward, at least someone around him needs to be thinking a little more cynically and politically to guide him on his way.

It's just a shame there are so damn many someones. Four episodes in, we should not have been introduced to so many named characters – even character overload shows like Fairy Tail and One Piece don't just dump everyone on us at once, and several of these guys could have gone without names at this stage of the story. Unless viewers are expected to keep a detailed chart of characters, the sheer number of them is frankly overwhelming, and that's even taking into account people who don't suck at names like I do. On the other hand, the more characters introduced, the less time there is for us to watch Sizilien and Shin's insta-romance play out, and since that's the least dynamic part of the show right now, I'll take that perk.

Also less than dynamic is the art this week, with lots of off-model faces and distance shots that require zero detail. The major battle scene does look good if they were saving resources for that, but there were some amusingly weird shots like the king as a blank face with a mustache that could have been avoided. Four episodes in, Wise Man's Grandchild feels a little off-balance. It takes some interesting storytelling risks, but it tempers those with a lackluster romantic subplot and school intrigue, making me wish that it'd just get to the point already so that we could see what everyone is really trying to do.


Wise Man's Grandchild is currently streaming on Funimation.

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