Wise Man's Grandchild combines the Isekai and Magic High School genres for a twist on both premises, but is that enough to make its milquetoast protagonist stand out? This week, Nick and Steve weigh the pros and cons of this unassuming light novel adaptation.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
You can read our weekly coverage of Wise Man's Grandchild here!
Nick, I've finally made it to the big leagues! I'm an anime butler now.
I'm so proud of you! You worked really hard to make it into what is surely to be a memorable and classic anime. I'm sure years from now you can tell people about your role in In Another World With My Smartphone
No, that's not quite uh...
You're getting warmer. I'll narrow it down for you. It's much more recent and doesn't have slaves in it.
Okay fine, it's Wise Man's Grandchild. It was the only opening available, but at least I have an anime pension now.
Yes, the latest and greatest Isekai Paste is here to apparently please the masses, and unlike its contemporaries, this one doesn't have slavery apologia so let's get to it!
Now I've gone on record about the current Isekai glut already, but I'm curious what your point of view is on this anime trend du-jour, Steve. How do you feel about all these overpowered anime boys being transported into JRPG worlds?
To put it kindly: I could not care much less. I've barely watched any new isekai series, because there just doesn't appear to be much in them that appeals to me. I mean, I totally get it if they're your thing, but I'd much rather my fantasy worlds stay free from the influence of young men who have been hit by trucks.
Frankly, I feel pretty cheated by this show. I didn't like the premiere much, but I decided to stick around for doting granddad Merlin and his equally doting ex-wife having awkward family arguments.
I'm also mad that's not the show we got. Exploring the daily lives of ex-adventurers in their twilight years—who are also exes—is such a great premise that I'm shocked a person could come this close to executing it without actually doing so.
Instead Wise Man's Grandchild
's great addition to the Isekai formula is to fuse it at the hip with a Magic High School setting like it's 2015 all over again.
Very small thing but: why is he just wearing a suit and tie in this scene? I get it, it's fantasy, the clothes can be literally anything, but everyone else in the room at least has a somewhat fanciful twist on modern fashion. except this scrub.
I genuinely don't know, but that is indeed small potatoes compared to the bigger question of why is this a magic high school show at all? It's not like anything from that subgenre had a shelf-life long enough for it to count as nostalgia. Is anyone out there who fondly remembers watching Absolute Duo
? Or Sky Wizards Academy
? Or Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle
This also gets at one of my fundamental issues with so much isekai. I don't get why you'd use trans-dimensional reincarnation as your door to the limitless bounds of fantasy, and then proceed to nail your feet to the floor by making everything a video game or making everything high school.
It doesn't even make sense in the context of this world, because apparently the age of adulthood is 15—but everyone still goes to high school anyway? It's not like the Magic Academy is supposed to be more college-like; it's just high school!
It's a baffling waste of story potential, and what gets me is that there's tons of little interesting ideas at the fringes of this show that you could explore, but the show seems dead-set on phoning it in. Like the main hook for sending Potato-kun to school is that Merlin raised him as a super-powered hermit, so he needs to get some actual real world experience before he causes an international incident while tying his shoes.
There's potential for a lot of comedy in that, like Shin performing Jesus-level miracles to solve mundane problems around town or pulling Mr. Bean levels of chaos without noticing. But instead it's just a bunch of repetitive scenes showing how super crazy amazing his powers are.
It's been only five episodes, and yet it feels like there've been innumerable scenes whose only purpose was to show other characters marveling at Shin. I mean, I get that it's supposed to be a power fantasy, but this is Darkplace-levels of ridiculous, only bereft of the irony.
That feeling is exacerbated by how despite being nearly half over, it still feels like WMG hasn't actually introduced its plot yet. Mostly because there's yet to be a conflict Shin couldn't solve instantly.
I love this moment where he suffers an injury, only to completely render any tension from it null not one second later.
It's a style of writing that manages to make even high stakes, life-or-death battles feel totally transient. Like Shin's girlfriend's stalker shows up with demonic powers and Shin straight up beheads him, with a line about how this is his first time killing a person. And then it's like nothing happened by the next episode.
Having your teenage hero freaking murder someone in your third episode would be a gutsy move in almost any other scenario, but Wise Man's Grandchild seems allergic to anything resembling conflict. I keep hoping that the show is just stalling for time before the other shoe drops and Shin is used unwittingly as a weapon of mass destruction—and maybe that will happen! There's certainly been plenty of dark foreshadowing so far.
But that would also be interesting, so it probably
Like I said, there's lots of tiny details that would have tons of potential if they weren't handcuffed to Shin "Drinks Skim Milk Because 2% Is Too Spicy" Wolford.
But he's UNWORLDLY, Nick. Just look at how UNWORLDLY he is!
The show keeps attempting to become an ensemble comedy with Shin's classmates, but none of them are written sharply enough or given enough time to develop a rapport, because every scene with them has to be about Shin. Like in any other show, Maria would be a great part of the cast, but she barely gets to do more than make faces in the background.
Making faces in the background is still more of a personality than any of the other kids, so she's a godsend.
Clearly you don't appreciate the sheer charisma
of Mark Bean.
tfw the most notable thing about you is having the last name "Bean"
I can't believe she's not enthralled by the whirlwind romance between a sheet of styrofoam in a wig and a girl with the second worst name in this show.
Ah yes, the improbably-romanized Sizilien. It's worth noting that their meeting is so cliche that this show made of nothing but cliches had to point out how cliche it was. That's the basis of their romance.
I guess props to the show for pursuing a singular romance instead of the typical harem setup, but that only works if your romance goes beyond "he protecc" and "wow look at that rack".
They don't have any chemistry, but he also basically proposed to her already? That's how romance works, right?
Okay, that scene was great entirely because Shin puts the ring on the wrong finger.
No, I'm pretty sure that's the right one as far as my feelings about this scene are concerned.
There are at least bits and pieces of this thing I find amusing, even if they never go anywhere. I still like Merlin and Melida when they actually show up, and I'm amused that the key to Shin's great power is mostly that he uses kanji to get past the magic character limit.
I do have to respect a runic system with the same loopholes as Twitter. Also, the action scenes so far are well-animated and staged! Like, I was genuinely impressed by Shin's fight with demon Kurt.
I'd appreciate the fights more if they had something going on beyond dudes throwing fireballs, but yeah it's a nice looking show in spare moments. And heck, there are even parts of Shin's character I think could be salvaged, like his secondhand embarrassment at wizards needing to chant to power up.
See, that's just another area where I can't relate to Shin, because if I were transported to a fantasy world, you know I'd be going full chuuni.
Oh same, but it's a character tic you could do something neat with. Like maybe Shin's actually handicapping himself by refusing to chant, and in the end he has to come up with a ridiculous poem in order to beat the bad guy!
Instead it turns out that Shin's just perfect at magic because everyone else in this universe is
dumb as a brick.
Nobody knows how fire works but they've also somehow mastered bidet technology. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Oh god, please don't remind me about that. This is the worst way to open any episode of anything.
Somehow, I expected better of you, Wise Man's Grandchild. Honestly, the strongest thing going for the show is its good-natured tone. It might be cliche and boring and have a total Gary Stu as its main character, but at least everyone is pretty nice to each other, and nobody is doing stuff like making excuses for the enslavement of other human beings. So that's good.
It's not a great sign that the best compliment I can give a show is that it hasn't done anything actively shitty, but at the same time, that's kind of where the bar sits right now. Though I will commend it for having a main villain that's just constantly stoned.
His "Xemnas cosplaying Geordi La Forge" look is
Granted, he gets punk'd out in two minutes thanks to Shin's literal God Rays, but I do appreciate how fucking smug he is about being able to levitate.
too bad our boy Shin has ROCKET BOOTS
and a LIGHTSABER
Uh, I think you mean this totally-not-a-sex-toy-name:
Personally, I love it when my weapon has a giant easy-to-press-on-accident button that jettisons the blade directly into my face.
I guess that's where I stand on Wise Man's Grandchild. There are isolated moments and elements I like, and it's far from the bottom of the barrel of Isekai sludge, but there's also plenty of other shows you could watch to get the same fix that might actually leave some kind of impression.
I wish it would explore any one of those avenues toward a more distinguishable story, but considering some of the competition, I don't have any hard feelings toward Wise Man's Grandchild. It's not good, but it's not offensive.
Look on the bright side Steve, we've got a season just around the corner with no less than four
new Isekai shows! Including a truly groundbreaking piece of innovation: Mom Isekai
okay maybe isekai is Good Actually