「そうだ、国を売ってトンズラしよう」 (Sou da, Kuni o Utte Tonzura Shiyou)
“The Prince Who Would Sell His Kingdom”
With all of the cooler premieres I’ve covered within the past week where neat worlds and interesting characters come together, it’s disappointing to see how bland Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saiseijutsu’s first episode turned out. While Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saiseijutsu rides high off of its premise of Wein being upset that he can’t sell his nation and retire as a wealthy traitor, much of this is squandered in favor of reveling in Wein’s tactical mastery and high-flying swordplay from barely bloody battles.
The most distinct feature the anime has to offer is Prince Wein’s uncouth personality. As soon as the doors close and he only has his assistant Ninym in the same room, he breaks down and has a childish tantrum about wanting to find any way he can to betray his country and strike it rich. It’s not an inherently bad thing to have such a cowardly, selfish protagonist considering that it sounds hilarious to see a self-absorbed, over-privileged twerp constantly have his accidental success get in the way of his retirement plans.
But it’s not really fun to watch Prince Wein complain because of how it’s presented. Rather than having him be all-around selfish and outwardly charismatic, he spends most of the episode being calm, cool, and collected. He comes off as a far more generic protagonist whose only defining personality traits are expressed in the beginning and end of the episode.
Wein comes off like a blank slate, wish-fulfillment protagonist who is only flawed because he writhes on a table when he doesn’t get his way. It’s as if they’re desperately trying to convince us that he’s entitled and flawed despite his confident demeanor, his love for his sister, and his victories on the battlefield.
You know how people joke about how flavored sparkling water tastes like someone shouted the name of the flavor into a can of TV static? Wein’s complaining is presented like somebody showed me a picture of a generic intelligent anime protagonist and shouted “HE HATES HIS LIFE, YOU KNOW?”
It doesn’t help that his whinier side is presented as quirky, quippy banter between him and Ninym. I knew this show was an instant drop the moment Wein made a request for Ninym to end every sentence in “nyaa”. It’s groan-worthy writing that only an otaku who assumes they’re clever because they learned the wrong lessons from Monogatari’s quippy dialogue would add.
WAR STORIES WITH WEIN SALEMA ARBALEST
It feels unearned for Wein to regulate his bratty personality towards having full-on childish tantrums when he spends most of the episode with a straight face because they want us to think he’s cool. As soon as he decided to be a brilliant strategist to make the country sell for a higher price, it was a kiss of death towards any riskiness the show would have because he predictably ends up endearing himself to his new role as the country’s leader.
With his sister Falayna, the mobs of adoring citizens, and all of the soldiers he came to inspire in the first episode, he’s already solidified himself as an admirable commander. It’s no accident that he is surprisingly inspiring and on better footing than the nations around him because if he wasn’t, there wouldn’t be any cool moments on the battlefield.
The worst part about it steering towards relishing in Wein’s brilliant strategies is that none of it actually looks appealing. So much of the flashy action it wants to reveal plays out through stiff combat that would be practically bloodless if the head commander wasn’t decapitated and didn’t have his head paraded around the battlefield like we’re in Devilman.
For Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saiseijutsu, the major problem with the first episode is the same problem that Wein faces; it wants to act like it has venom in its fangs for what it has to go through, but gets far too invested in the glory of the battlefield to commit to the sardonic tone it’s desperately trying to achieve. It wishes it could have the same bite and tone as a wackier, more subversive fantasy anime, but is far too caught up in how awesome it would be to be Prince Wein that it doesn’t realize that it’s not fun to watch someone fall upward if he’s having a good time doing so.