Wise Man's Grandchild
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Wise Man's Grandchild ?
I admit that my stomach dropped when the preview image for this week's episode on Funimation was Sizilien. I find her vastly annoying, but more than that, her storyline at this point doesn't seem to be filling any real need in the series overall except the desire to have a romance included. While I'm all for romance, this show doesn't really need it, and the fact that neither she nor Shin have to work for it instead relying on the insta-love trope, just makes it feel like a distraction to the more interesting plot and characters.
On that same note, did we really need to open with a scene of Maria blissfully enjoying a bidet in Shin's house? Again, it seems to serve no purpose other than to shoehorn in some barely-there fanservice (rather like the girls' school uniform tops or Shin opening a gate and ending up facing his classmate's boobs) and just feels like a cheap way to fill a few seconds or a shameless bid to entice viewers to keep watching. If the rest of the show is done well enough, it wouldn't need to bolster itself with things like this, or if the fanservice was given a more devoted effort, it would feel less intrusive and more like a part of the series as a whole. But this half-assing it just feels like an irritating disruption.
Much more interesting, albeit truncated because this show is trying to do so much, is the fact that Shin is trying to teach his school friends his style of magic as a means of combating Schrom and the demonoids. Shin doesn't believe for a minute that they've seen the last of the villainous fiend, and even though he doesn't find out until the end of the episode that the kingdom's enemy, the Blusfia Empire, is mobilizing troops for war, it isn't hard to guess that he suspects it. Shin may be good, but he also doesn't have the sort of ego that makes him think that he can handle all problems entirely on his own, so he's willing to take advantage of the study group he was basically roped into forming.
It isn't hard to think that this may have been Aug's plan all along, either – despite being all buddy-buddy with Shin, he and his dad are still clearly gearing up to use him in more subtle ways. This is perhaps best seen when Shin goes to the palace to get his medal for defeating the demonoid and Schrom – the king makes a big announcement to the assembled people that Shin is Merlin's grandson. He follows this up with his promise not to exploit Shin for political gains (and Merlin's threat to leave the country if he does so), but the whole thing feels disingenuous. By first announcing who Shin is, he's calling attention to the boy as a potential savior, especially since the nobility can be reasonably expected to have at least heard rumors about Blusfia's war preparations. He's also explicitly stating that he, the king, has made this promise – but not that he's spoken for anyone else on the matter. Basically we can see him as calling open season on Shin, something borne out by the fact that Shin can't get out of his house or school for the crowds trying to get a look at him. It's also notable that Aug has made no such promise, and with every mention of the danger the kingdom and its citizens are in, he can be seen as quietly manipulating Shin's sense of justice and his fondness for his friends into doing precisely what Aug, and his father, want him to do.
With all of this, it's nice to see that Merlin is truly looking out for his adopted grandson. When Shin announces his plans to teach his friends to use his kind of magic, Merlin whips out a gate spell to show that anyone can learn how to do it. Later we find out that he had to really work at it, but he did because he wanted Shin to feel like less of a freak with his friends and to be able to live as normal a life as possible. That's some good parenting and the first true sign of someone looking out for Shin as a person that we've seen since he's hit teenhood, and it's a nice counterbalance to the scheming behind the scenes. If the series can focus more on things like this and trust that its plot is enough to carry the rest, we'll be a lot better off.
Wise Man's Grandchild is currently streaming on Funimation.
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