The upcoming summer season promises to deliver a plethora of new isekai series, but what about this season's Wise Man's Grandchild? This week, Nick and Steve explain why this other-world story didn't need to be told.
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!
Steve, I don't want to alarm you, but we are on the precipice of the next season and we are thoroughly unprepared. We've got not one, not two, but FOUR got-damn isekai shows coming next season and somebody is gonna have to talk about them. We need to start preparing yesterday, and there's only one way to get us ready in time...
Sigh. The isekai giveth and the isekai taketh away. I suppose it's only fair that if I intend to partake in some delicious mom-isekai next season, I have to eat my vegetables first and try to find something, anything to say about Wise Man's Grandchild.
Trying to mine deeply into WMG is like trying to eat watery clam chowder with your hands, but I'd be lying if I said I haven't been a little charmed by the show's second half—if only because of the sheer disparity between its overall plot and what its characters actually care about. It's astonishing how quickly the series has kept shifting between a story about an entire nation being turned into war-hungry demons and Shin goofing off at summer camp with his baker's dozen of
It was surreal catching up, because right after where we left off last time
, WMG briefly turned into a completely different show with giant grotesque demons
And then we immediately turn away from that and return to gawking at this goober. The story maintains a dogged commitment to not doing anything interesting, and that in itself is laudable I guess?
It's the kind of storytelling that gives away WMG's roots as an amateur wish fulfillment series—the series insists there are big important things going on, but it only ever returns to them when it's run out of anime bullshit to cover. Heck, we even got our government-mandated Hot Springs and Beach episodes back to back!
I mean I do appreciate the transparency, but I don't appreciate the absolute lack of male nipples. Yet another anime drawn by cowards.
So weirdly enough, that scene is one of my favorites. The glaring albatross tied around this show's neck is how every conversation ends up being about how Shin's mythical amazingness, but this one scene of male bonding revolves around Shin being grateful to his Grandpa for giving him such a wonderful life and friends. It's nothing amazing, but after seven episodes of Shin "Poochie" Wolford, it's something to grab onto.
I agree! While they're unfortunately far too scattered to salvage the entire show, these moments that deliver something resembling human intimacy can be super-touching. And the moe
grandpa content is always good.
Now if only any of that intimacy was present in this show's central romance.
Sizilien.exe has stopped working.
Actually, their ridiculously strained and chemistry-less courtship is one of the more grounded parts of the show for me, because in no way do I believe that Shin understands anything about either romance or sex.
Shin's Anime Protagonist density is even funnier when you remember (because lord, the show does not) that he was an adult before he got reincarnated. He should be at least sort of aware about this stuff, but he comes off exactly like the sheltered recluse everyone thinks he is.
It's also telling that the most endearing thing about their relationship is how everyone else reacts to it. Like, I had a single good guffaw at his grandparents popping up to give him an attaboy after he finally confessed.
Yet another example of Wise Man's Grandchild bringing up a plot development that would actually be unique and interesting—and then refusing to follow through with it.
Well, that's this whole training camp arc in a nutshell. The inciting incidents for it are A) an entire empire being overthrown by the bad guys and B) Shin accidentally making all his friends so powerful that they're basically Magic Spec-Ops in high school. And then everyone plays beach volleyball and has sleepovers.
It'd be one thing if these excursions were actually fun, but they feel as undercooked as the rest of the show. Just look at Shin's sorry excuse for abs. These are the worst abs.
I'm also still upset that we didn't get a show about Merlin and Melida's rad post-retirement adventures instead. Check out how badass they look in comparison. I want these
Yeah, the other big problem keeping WMG out of the "inoffensively pleasant" category is that it's got a bad habit of repeating the same joke about five times. Even if the joke is chuckle-worthy once, by the time we're on the 8th interchangeable scene of everyone freaking out over some new magic thing Shin's done, it's lost any charm.
I imagine somebody somewhere still thinks "Maria wants a boyfriend" jokes are funny after a full month of them, but I emphatically do not.
Everyone freaking out over Shin levitating a small rock was the last straw for me. How is this impressive? They all know what magic is. They even bring up afterwards that they saw Oliver use levitation magic, so there's
They're just real big fans of M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender.
I do, however, appreciate this tacit acknowledgement that after ten episodes, we're still not expected to know who any of these characters are, because they each have at most one distinguishing characteristic that gets brought up maybe every other episode.
It doesn't help that there's two plain-looking brown-haired dudes in the "main" cast that I cannot tell apart if they're not in the same shot. It's unfair to the other dude who isn't named Mark Bean.
Personally, my favorite is Budget Megumin.
I refuse to acknowledge this dog murdering monster.
Come on, the wolf pile is one of the few funny sight gags in the whole show!
There's nothing funny about the loss of so many Good Boys, Steve.
They look like they're having a blast to me.
Anyway there is one (1) other character besides Shin who has any personality worth talking about, but the show bafflingly kept all the interesting stuff he's been doing for five episodes totally off-screen.
I just can't get over how the utter annihilation of an entire country—nay, an empire—just happens when we aren't looking. Shin and Sizilien changing their relationship status on facebook gets three episodes of buildup and payoff, but the deaths of millions is just whatever.
Oh what, you'd rather we miss out on amazing scenes like "Shin hangs a magic phone on a statue's dick"?
I imagine this is what watching Persona 4 the Golden Animation
without having played the game must feel like. Wall-to-wall pointless comedy hijinks while all the important stuff happens somewhere else. Heck, Oliver's backstory could have easily filled an episode by itself instead of sharing space with Shin coding
everyone new clothes.
Gotta look on the bright side: at least we got an isekai that definitively states that slavery is bad. (Even if the rest of the politics surrounding Oliver's backstory and evil master plan are messy at best.)
I'd spare a thought for the implications of all this if it wasn't crammed into half an episode with no breathing room. But the sheer telegraphing of Oliver's eventual fall from naivety is embarrassing.
Love the subtlety of the show going "Check out this dude's beautiful wife, WHO'S PREGNANT BY THE WAY [WINK]". Poor woman had a one-way-ticket to a refrigerator from the moment we saw her.
I also kinda love how dumb everyone has to be in order to get to the point as quickly as possible. Like hey, a random cop we've never seen before just accused our benevolent Duke of being a slave trader. Guess we better burn his house down and slaughter his family!
Yeah, on the one hand they seem to be saying that the empire is evil and needs to be overthrown. On the other hand, the entire plot hinges on the common folk being dumber than bricks, and destroying the empire turns them all into mindless bloodthirsty demons. But it's not like I can accuse the rest of the story of being thoughtful, so all this is far from surprising.
It's mostly just a convoluted backstory to explain why Olly wants to burninate the countryside, and while it's not good, it's at least a plot with conflict and consequences, so I feel safe calling it the standout part of WMG.
But we have to spend the rest of that episode focusing on Shin and his Noblesse Oblige Avengers.
And that's where every shortcoming of this show piles up like traffic in a blizzard. We spend an entire episode with Shin's totally unremarkable super-powered friends, fighting an army of demonized King of the Hill extras, and it is godawfully boring.
Turns out it's really hard to craft tension when you've spent an entire season building up your characters as unstoppable weapons of mass destruction. They talk a lot about taking measures to prevent Shin's ungodly powers from tearing the world apart, and then they just send him and his special task force into a war zone to tear shit up. If this were a better-written show, I'd say the hypocrisy was intentional and will be revisited later, but it's not, so it won't.
And they definitely
do more damage than the demons ever could, holy shit.
But even that isn't really interesting
because it amounts to interchangeable, repetitive scenes of characters spouting off their one quirk and firing some magic blasts at meaningless enemies. Hell, they don't even bother to draw this dude's face the same way twice in all his 50 seconds of screentime.
The episode is also uncharacteristically horny for WMG—at least, it tries to be, because I've now learned that the saddest thing in the world is poorly drawn
The whole thing is a mess banking on our affection for these cardboard cutouts, which only manages to make WMG's protagonist less interesting. Like hey, remember that time Shin actually showed some discomfort after killing a person? Well who the f*** has time for that?
That's basically where we stand before what is sure to be a finale where Shin shows off just how insanely powerful he is against Oliver's generals. Despite some minor blips of humor and charm, Wise Man's Grandchild all returns to nothing.
Who needs compelling character development when you can do magic real good?
I almost feel bad talking so harshly about WMG. Compared to so many of its contemporaries, it feels relatively harmless, but there's only so long you can skate by on not being total garbage, and it turns out it's shorter than a full season of anime.
Yeah, truthfully I can't feel any animosity toward it. Mostly, I'm just amazed that something with so little personality could get an anime adaptation. It's like definitive proof that too much anime is being made.
And now that we've both paid our Isekai taxes for the season, please Anime Gods, GIVE US THE CUTE SPIDER ISEKAI ALREADY.