Wise Man's Grandchild
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Wise Man's Grandchild ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
Wise Man's Grandchild ?
Isekai stories may be a dime a dozen at this point, but that means that they've entered the “comfort food” genre of fiction, because by now they've become an established story type with some comfortable conventions that tell us exactly what we're in for. That's the category that Wise Man's Grandchild falls into as of these first two episodes. We've got the office worker killed by the inevitable Truck-kun who is reborn into a fantasy world with some sweet reincarnation bonuses before he begins his enrollment at a magic school. While we may not see that precise combination of elements in every similar story, they're beginning to feel like anime's cozy sweatshirt.
In part that's because the main focus of this story isn't on the fact that Shin was reborn into a new world; in fact, episode two makes no mention of that whatsoever. He's not drawing on anything from his past life, putting this a little more in line with something like The Faraway Paladin in terms of how the reincarnation aspect is handled—it happened a while ago, he kinda remembers it, moving on. In Shin's case, that means he's happily living his new life with the grandfather who adopted him after finding Shin as the sole survivor of a vicious demon attack in a carriage wreck. Grandpa just so happens to be Merlin, the eponymous Wise Man, a wizard who proved himself a national hero years ago in the fight against the same kind of monster that killed Shin's biological family. Grandma, meanwhile, is the famed Guru, an enchantress who rose to fame at the same time as Merlin, and although they're not getting along all that well these days, they're still the kingdom's most revered couple. Because that kind of fame is frankly annoying, they live deep in the forest, which is where Shin was raised to the age of fifteen in total ignorance of his grandparents' celebrity status.
However, it's finally time for that to change. At the end of episode one, Shin learns the truth about his family (including that his “uncle” is actually the king), and it's decided that he really ought to get out of the woods and attend school. He's excited about this, but has pretty much zero idea how to interact with people normally; Grandpa largely forgot to teach him anything outside of magic and swordplay. Presumably his vague memories of his past life are what guide him as the story moves to the city, because Shin's biggest problem is just comprehending how stupidly powerful he is.
That's likely to be the crux of the series for now. In a few scenes, it's used for good comedy purposes, like during the school entrance exam when he gets a bad case of second-hand embarrassment from listening to other students chant their spells—he's never had to chant, so they look totally ridiculous to him. Given that their chants and gestures aren't out of the norm for this kind of show, that gives us a different perspective on the whole situation; even if you've sometimes thought that spell chants were time-wasters in battle, chances are you don't often think about how silly they sound. More importantly for Shin, he's also unaware that some people might try to use him for his skills. That's the case with Sizilien, the lovely, buxom, blue-haired girl he saves at the end of episode one, who sees him as a great defense against the odious Kurt, a nobleman who wants to marry her. Kurt's already got it in for Shin because he not only didn't know who he was when they met, but he also took the top spot in the entrance exams. And when Sizilien uses Shin as a defense against Kurt, his hatred is well and truly set. Never mind that Prince August is the one who really intervened; in Kurt's mind, Shin just poached his girl. He's pretty obvious as an antagonist, but if he progresses beyond mustache-twirling later on, he should be a decent villain.
What's more interesting is that Sizilien, who was basically put up to using Shin by her friend Maria, is stuck somewhere between a hero-worshipping crush on Shin and still seeing him as an easy answer to her practical needs. While I don't doubt that she's the primary romantic interest, I'm not sure she won't become intensely irritating going forward, or that her motives can be entirely trusted. But at least suspicious motives could make her more interesting.
What's really not working for me at this point is the way that school culture appears to have been imported wholesale from the original author's Japan. From the uniforms to the test-takers' board to the incoming students' speaker, everything just feels spectacularly uncreative. Given that this is a world with magic and demons, that shouldn't be the case, and I'm concerned that what feels comfy right now could just become dull and trope-laden down the line. At least as of these opening episodes, Wise Man's Grandchild is looking like an easy watch, just the thing to get through the middle of the week.
Wise Man's Grandchild is currently streaming on Funimation.
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