Wise Man's Grandchild
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Wise Man's Grandchild ?
I have spent what feels like a ridiculous amount of time debating the difference between a “wholesome” romance plot and a “boring” one. While I still haven't quite come to terms with the way Wise Man's Grandchild is progressing – it's largely ignoring its more interesting demon plot in favor of overpowered school hijinks – the primary issue is the incredibly dull relationship between Shin and Sizilien. This week brings us their engagement (and an actual marriage proposal), which by all rights should be a major highlight of their subplot, and yet it falls flat. After much thought, my conclusion is that no matter how wholesome or “pure” a romantic pairing is, it still needs some tension, some kind of obstacle to the couple getting together that lasts more than twenty seconds. Shin and Sizilien have never had that, making their couple-dom feel like a foregone conclusion from the moment he first saw her breasts after rescuing her in an alleyway. Even her insistence that he ask her parents' permission or Melida's concerns that the engagement would be broken when the von Klodes learned that Shin wasn't their blood-related grandchild are resolved in a matter of minutes, and because of the way things have been progressing so smoothly, there wasn't any doubt that this would be the case. Shin and Sizilien's relationship is less “wholesome” and more "surprise-less"; their feelings have never been tested and there's zero tension. That makes it hard to care about them as a couple no matter how many more troublesome tropes they eschew.
The fact that Shin's gaze immediately goes to Sizilien's chest when he sees her in that engagement dress also dampens the argument that the two of them are in an emotionally pure relationship. They've both already said that they were immediately physically drawn to each other, which feels perfectly normal for fifteen-year-olds, but it seems like a crummy thing to base an entire engagement on. That Melida appears to be aware of that is a nice touch – her insistence on talking to Sizilien's parents shows that she worries this is largely a political move to bring her grandson into a noble family, thus increasing their influence. Sizilien's parents, in what would be a nice twist if this show didn't so badly need some tension, are more modern and caring than Melida assumes, although the lack of blood ties doesn't negate the fact that Shin is awesomely powerful and close with the crown prince, so there could still be an element of political ambition in the von Klode family. Sizilien being the third daughter certainly wouldn't negate that; a link is a link, no matter which child provides it.
Perhaps more important to the series overall is the fact that Lord von Klode's answer to Melida is on par with the show's overall world-building inconsistencies. Not that families concerned about political alliances don't still exist; I have an uncle who tried to arrange marriages for my sisters and I to ensure that we married Nice Jewish Boys. But the combination of contemporary plot devices, such as the entire school system and most of the gags about the girls' appearances, don't mesh well with the more classic old-world fantasy elements, making it feel like the series is just throwing random facts around to slap a world together. It's great that Sizilien's parents want her to be loved and happy, but removing any other obstacle this couple might face just feels sloppy.
At least Schrom is still plotting from the literal shadows. (Does it count as hiding? Doesn't everyone know where he is?) With the end approaching in a few weeks and the training largely complete, hopefully we'll spend more time on that plotline. There's potential here, even if it's mostly been ignored, and I'd like to see the series end on a stronger note than it's been content to hover over for these past weeks.
Wise Man's Grandchild is currently streaming on Funimation.
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