「蝦で鯛を釣ろうとしたら鮫が掛かった」 (Ebi de Tai o Tsurou to Shitara Same ga Kakatta)
“Using Shrimp As Bait to Catch Sea Bream, but Instead Catching a Shark”
Well this episode went more or less as expected. Rorora did the thing; the Empire did the other thing; and religion suddenly became a factor. Wait, religion? Oh yes, definitely a thing, because if there’s one thing (I swear, I’ll stop saying thing) Genjitsu is certain to have, it’s lots of real world examples. Lots.
Although I was intended on holding off on criticism until Genjitsu wrapped up, the comments last week pretty much summed up my impressions of Genjitsu’s harem shenanigans of late. For all they can be funny, for all Aisha is best girl and needs more screentime for adorable tanned pointy eared faces (don’t deny it, I’ll knife you), there comes a stage where it just becomes too much and I think it’s finally hit with Roroa. The key with any ubiquitous trope, especially the anime variety, is to use it in moderation; play it up all the time and it simply loses its value and effectiveness. Genjitsu currently is a prime example of this, for while Kazuya’s harem makes sense through this world’s mechanics and has a place, it’s effectively become the go-to answer for any political headache now facing the kid. Secure the right to rule? Marriage. Antsy subordinates needing additional reasons for loyalty to the crown? Betrothal. Keep friends happy? Ring on finger. And now we have securing the legitimacy of annexation through – you guessed it – wholesome and society approved bedside fun. If Roroa was only the second time Kazuya decided to grow the harem it wouldn’t have been that big an issue, but when it’s number four it starts to become a little tiresome. At some point Genjitsu will need a different way to deal with challenges if it’s to stay interesting (let alone entertaining). I only hope that point comes before an Empress or her sister wind up in the harem fold, because you damn well know at least one of them is thinking of it.
It’s this need for narrative difference which also brings up a second issue in that Kazuya’s troubles so far have largely been nonexistent. Much like the first season there’s a distinctive lack of difficulty facing the kid right now, everyone he faces either quickly rolls over or finds themselves outmaneuvered with seemingly little effort. While politics may not be filled with copious amounts of action or overt violence, the lack of suspense and uncertainty is not a net positive for Genjitsu, particularly when Kazuya has now reached the stage where you’d normally expect lots of it. Whether the Empire or (now) influential religious states, you’d expect to see some level of chaos and challenge, some degree of stress bearing down on Kazuya. So far any potential on that end (such as one Empress) has largely fallen flat, and while the potential easily exists for it to appear considering the mention of saints and Elfrieden’s growing power, it remains to be seen whether that happens before this season ends.
Guess we’ll just have to think positive then. And at the bare minimum there’s plenty of best girl to help paper over any awkward story developments. What can I say, pointy ears always win out in the end.
This series is on my reading list. Having said that, could it be that that lack of suspense is due to scenes being skipped? It also looks to me that conflicts are wrapped up too quickly, but does the source skip material that would add to the suspense? That’s the reason I haven’t actually started looking at the source material. I find the story interesting, but because of the quick resolutions, I haven’t started reading.
Well yes and no.
The political stuff is much more prominent in the Light Novel and we spend far more time examining choices, options and drawbacks. There is also greater exploration about how Elfrieden’s actions affect surrounding states and their reaction to a formerly decrepit kingdom suddenly rising in power.
We also “hear” a lot more of Souma’s inner narration so we have a much better handle of how he thinks and his motives behind certain actions. For example the scenes presented in this episode had Souma running around putting out fires which is what allowed Roroa to pull off her soft coup in Amidonia.
My favourite part of that scene got cut from the anime just to remove that hint of disapproval from Empress Maria. In the Light Novel, the first thing she does is to issue a veiled threat. “When I heard Jeanne’s report, I was delighted to hear that I had a new stalwart ally in the East. Or was I mistaken?” Souma then had to justify his actions in front of the ruler of the world’s extant superpower.
I feel that the anime smooths over too much of Souma’s problems and presents them as if he barely had to do anything at all. That said the Light Novel has that harem problem too. It seems that a lot of couples get formed and it is almost always a happy, consensual union even if it is done for political reasons. If it is not, then damn politics, the union does not happen.
You cannot reasonably try to invoke Machiavelli and insist on a realistic, gritty world that nevertheless constantly provides such neat and happy solutions. You have to pick one side and be consistent in your tone. That I think is the biggest weakness and main conceit of this whole work. That perfect solutions can so easily be found robs the story of a lot of its drama.
Invading army? No problem, we will get through this with all named characters intact. Then someone will get married and maybe Kazuya will add another Primary or Secondary Queen. As with Genia, Souma’s go-to solution to most thorny personnel issues is to just officiate a marriage. It got to the point where there is an arc where Souma pointedly does not marry anyone (others get married though) since the harem by that point was getting really crowded.
Hopefully the Light Novel avoids one of the worst plotlines of the Web Novel when it comes to one of the last women added to Souma’s harem.
That pretty much confirms my fears the source material has a similar issue in keeping things too neat and tidy. The underlying concept and focus on politics works well, but it’s as though the story has a fear of playing into it too much.
The whole point of political thrillers is to (over-)emphasize the challenges and consequences of plans and manoeuvres; keep it sanitized and you lose the whole reason for watching/reading. Perfectly fine having Kazuya come out on top, but the process of it needs a bit of work.
Much, much later spoilers: The “marriage away problems” trope starts backfiring on our heroes when some villainous countries try to buy them off with marriages. One future potential ally requests a marriage between their children and our heroes children.
Also, the Genghis Khan espy who wants to conquer the world is not someone that our heroes can just negotiate around.
That’s part of the problem IMO, the point of tension and backlash happens far after it should arguably kick in. Kazuya should be facing some of these issues and challenges now, not after effectively becoming the 500 pound gorilla in the room.
Roroa is for me best girl right now, simply because her pragmatic, utilitarian worldview matches Souma best. She even had idea of magic-tv advertising which escaped Souma’s mind focused on state matters.
She is bringing her own
…financing, and probably espionage network as well. And she alone looks at the politics from realpolitic worldview.
Pointy ears > twintails and no one can tell me differently 😀
Excel Walter is my best girl.
One for each day of the week. Any more and things get unwieldy. 😉
> Genjitsu’s harem shenanigans of late.
I had never really been that interested in the harem scenes. They just go right over my head while I await form more important political discussions. Don’t get me wrong, every episode needs a quick breather and I feel like these harem tropes are just that breathers.
> the lack of suspense and uncertainty is not a net positive for Genjitsu, particularly when Kazuya has now reached the stage where you’d normally expect lots of it.
The one thing I see missing in this Anime is the lack of enduring loss. I would be dubious when Kazuya can continue to lead if ether Aisha, Liscia, or Roroa were harmed or killed.
I feel like Isekai of this political caliber will eventually have to deal with Religion and Religion owned states. Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken also had to deal with the Religious government, rightfully so, I wouldn’t put it pass the upper echelon of any holy leaders to lobby for who they want as King and queen.
I think it would have been better if Kazuya was actually married. Getting another fiancée so soon feels excessive as he hasn’t really fully committed to anyone yet. Liscia seems to be the de facto first wife, but she isn’t. In the current state, even Juna can end up as the first wife. Multiple wives is serious business, multiple girls chasing after him is fun and games, this is something in between but is supposed to have rather heavy consequences.
Speaking of marriage, isn’t it supposed to cement the annexation of Amidonia? If the marriage hasn’t been formally implemented, doesn’t that mean the annexation isn’t formally done too?