「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.