I’ve been very amused watching How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom and Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles this summer anime season. Amused in the sense I’m reading the light novels of both, and they’re both being adapted in completely different ways. One series is content on methodically moving through its long material while the other blows right through its fairly light content. They each provide their own enjoyment, but at the same time, feelings of what could’ve been arise in both.
Anyways, it’s rare for me to follow two light novels turned into anime in a season, which is why I’m writing about the experience!
While there’s a general method of adapting a work into anime, I won’t say most should strictly stick to it. Like everything It’ll come down to budget, scheduling, and support among many to create a good or great anime, but for series adaptations, the studio should be able to create a work that can bring in a new audience while also being able to satisfy the fans who’ve read the source material. Usually it’s not advisable to go too crazy, but being as creative as possible while adapting the source is more preferable.
How much have I read of each?
Realist Hero: I’ve read 11 volumes of Realist Hero that’s currently out in print from Seven Seas/J-Novel Club in roughly two weeks in 2021…after I’ve had Volume 1 in my apartment since 2019. There are 13 volumes out digitally from J-Novel Club, with 14 currently through pre-publication on their site (volume 14 is scheduled for October). I’m planning to stick to print for Realist Hero, so can’t answer questions about its story past that.
Seirei Gensouki: I started this series with JNC’s omnibus print release back in June (bought a copy back in February), and then proceeded to read all 13 digital volumes since then. I’m now caught up with its prepub on JNC’s site (Volume 16 is coming out in late September). It took me just about a week to read Seirei Gensouki. This is where I note that the average page count for Seirei Gensouki is between 100-131 pages…there was even a volume or two that was 97 pages. That and what it is (more isekai fantasy not an economic/political isekai fantasy) made it a lot quicker to read.
How many volumes has the anime adapted?
Realist Hero: We have gotten to Episode 9 and it’s finally onto Volume 2! Yes, Episodes 1-8, and even bleeding and lingering a bit into Episode 9, was spent on Volume 1. Hell they even added the extra story towards the end of Volume 1 into the anime!
Seirei Gensouki: After nine episodes, we’re onto Volume 4 of the LNs! So basically, Volume 1 was episodes 1-3, Volume 2 episodes 4-6, and Volume 3 episodes 7-9, with parts of Volume 4 at the end of 9.
The Pros and Cons of Realist Hero
Pros: For those who’ve read the source, it’ll be very familiar since I’d say roughly 70% of Volume 1 has been animated. So basically, if you were enjoying some almost university modern-day Socioeconomic student get summoned by a failing fantasy kingdom to become their Hero only for said student to instead apply his sensibilities and supposedly realist principles to rebuild Elfrieden through administrative efforts in LN form, chances are you’ll like it animated.
A few storytelling adjustments (How Mystic Wolf Tomoe becomes Souma and Liscia’s little sister is the same but it’s done in an unobtrusive way for example) help smooth out some points in Dojyomaru’s first volume that probably either wasn’t necessary or kinda ill placed (For example while there was a cool moment not adapted, the location for when Souma confronts Hal and Kaede in Episode 6 was pretty awkward in the LN). Also bonus points for adding some extra references (the Yami Yugi moment in episode 1, an a capella version of Megumi Hayashibara’s Give a Reason from Slayers NEXT sung by Juna in Episode 3 to name a few) that were either not in the LN or were but had to be adjusted.
Cons: If there is a big misgiving, it’s how it looks. Functionally the characters look fine and I think overall the show looks passable, but it does look unappealing in a lot of areas. It’s either a case of lack of budget or they’re saving it from when the actual action happens since going in it’s all about characters talking, but visuals is not this series’ strong suit. There are some rearrangements or adjustments that have happened so far that I wish could’ve been included (Liscia being frustrated that Souma says Elfrieden can summon another hero was essentially toned down) or a few surprising stories that I figured would get cut (Like the old man’s Sea God story). There’s also one plot point involving Souma and Hal’s father, Glaive, that’s there yet fairly different in the LNs. How Juna was revealed to be a spy didn’t quite go how it went in the LNs either, to name a few.
The additional issue is because of Realist Hero’s lengthy exposition, you know a lot of words would have to be streamlined, but overall it’s fine. It’s just certain conversations — when Aisha talks to Souma about periodic thinning for example — lacks some lead up details so the forest conversation can come across as knowing too much. Conversely, if you found it kind of strange when Souma essentially promoted Kaede and Hal after discussing the current strife with one of the Three Dukes, let’s just say he had a big reason to do it in the LN (and said reason will come up in the anime). You can explain all you want in text, but an anime has to break all that down to something digestible, and sometimes it doesn’t come through here. Since I’ve read the source I know what Souma’s saying and meaning, but for those who haven’t, it likely comes across very differently.
The Pros and Cons of Seirei Gensouki
Pros: After some adjustment I’ve been digging the character designs and the interactions the characters have with each other, which is one of the reasons I enjoy the LN. The anime also moves at a quick pace, which in some cases, works out pretty well. It has made lots of cuts, a few for the better here:
From a storytelling standpoint, with this one scene it eliminated two characters from the LN — and since they’re essentially minor characters, it’s fine. If you come in seeing Celia give Rio money, she wasn’t the only one — someone else did too. But well, that someone else died in the scene where Rio returns to the shack, and that someone else has a sister who does appear briefly in the second volume, but hasn’t appeared again in the LN (and feels unlikely to do so). That I’d peg as a smart cut. Sure, it might be nice to have, but on a budget and wanting to get to a good point, the anime staff made the proper choice.
Aside from that, the main “hook” for this isekai is one that at least in anime form doesn’t happen often — the fantasy character actually sticking around. It’s either straight up reincarnated and you take over that fantasy person’s body, but instead, Haruto Amakawa from Japan is dead, and his memories are in Rio, a kid in the slums fueled by revenge. It’s a case where two totally different personalities meld together, which generally creates a sort of who’s taking after who in this case. The harem that does surround him will be what’ll either drive away or bring people into this series though.
Cons: So earlier I said this series made lots of cuts. Overall, the cuts make a lot of storytelling and worldbuilding feel lacking. From explaining the difference between magic and Spirit Arts to character actions, the lack of subtle details prevents us from getting a full sense of each character as opposed to the LN. This in turn bleeds into the story, as of which it only revolves around Haruto/Rio essentially journeying around the world. Now in the novels technically the main story kicks off in Volume 4 once the [Spoiler characters] arrive. It’s just the lead up to it feels like it’s missing something.
It also doesn’t help that because of the cuts, it also feels too rushed. The quick pace works out in some cases, but then we get Episode 8 where the series has Rio talking to two very important people in his life, he’s then supposed to have a match with Gouki — oh look that child he saved earlier in the episode and her bodyguard meet up after he tried to avoid them, they briefly chat, and now Rio and Gouki spar!
I’m serious. This happened in roughly a minute:
Also while earlier I mentioned two minor characters getting cut, don’t worry, there are a couple others. There’s one additional minor character that has been cut that appears a solid amount in future volumes. If there happens to be a Season 2 for this anime, they’ll have to invent a backstory for said minor character out of cloth…or not. Finally yeah, the actual animation isn’t the best. In the video you saw earlier with Celia giving Rio money, you understand the characters are using magic, but the characters moving the way they are is fairly poor and the blue magic surrounding them is pretty basic. The Latifa/Rio fight is the one where I was really satisfied, but the other fights in this action series don’t stick out as they should.
The measured pace in Realist Hero feels more preferable than what’s happening to Seirei Gensouki. I still enjoy Seirei Gensouki and in some areas I wish Realist Hero hurried things up and cut some stuff out. As someone reading both source materials though, it feels for Seirei Gensouki it’s cutting out parts that harm the characters inhabiting it, and any type of character building through its dialogue or its fights is quickly over with so nothing can quite stick. Meanwhile you can quickly suss whether anything Realist Hero does is worth your time or not in three episodes because aside from additional details in the novel, this is about what you’re getting from a kingdom-building isekai.
What’s next for Realist Hero and Seirei Gensouki
Realist Hero: It’s got four episodes left to finish Volume 2…with a possible chance of adapting parts of Volume 3. While I can’t be fully confident, I’m sure it should end at a good stopping point. It can’t be great since there’s no guarantee of a S2 and there is a great stopping point with Volume 4 that won’t happen here. But there is a solid end point in Volume 2 that can work, so as long as the animation doesn’t melt, it’ll end strong enough.
Seirei Gensouki: The series has followed the 3 episodes = 1 volume scenario except for episode 9 where they put some Volume 4 stuff up, but based on the Opening and Ending animation/visual, it’s ending in Volume 5. So in the next three episodes the series has to adapt two volumes. The good news is Volume 5 is a natural stopping point. The bad news is we already have a significant deviation based on the stinger in Episode 9.
Will not elaborate this point to avoid massive spoilers, but the character you saw at the end of the episode, who I’ll refer to as Rio’s spirit, did not actually appear in the spirit folk village in Rio’s bed in the LN. For anime-only watchers I think you’d be like finally, we’ll know who she is…but since I’m reading the source, I now have many questions on how the anime will tie in the other plot points (yes, points) from the novel in the last three episodes. Is one completely cut? Is it rearranged?
Also, you’ve seen her introduced as Lotte — also known as Liselotte — and she’s a major character that we know is one of the reincarnated characters in the show, and she appears briefly in Volume 5 of the LN. They’ve met back in Episode 4, but Rio and Liselotte really meet in Volume 6 of the LN. In the OP and more clearly elaborated on in Episode 8, we’ve also been introduced to Rio’s nemesis, Lucius. A spoiler, but these two meet in Volume 7 — is the anime going to tease Lucius and not have them meet? It’s a case where it would feel a little irresponsible to introduce someone like Liselotte into the narrative all grown up and not explore her backstory at all in this anime. Lucius is on a lesser scale if only because his backstory is tied deeply to Rio so you can’t not include him in this anime, but is he in the OP as eye candy/tease?
Basically, I think some sort of anime-original scenario is on the table, and the chances of that happening went up a bit thanks to how Episode 9 ended. Episode 10 should make that clearer, but functionally there is a way they can make Rio’s spirit waking up this early work while not totally messing up one of the plot points. But despite all the prior cuts the story still was fairly on track and engaging enough. Yet now I’m left wondering even more how much will be crunched over the next three weeks.
Images from: Seirei Gensouki. Dir. O Yamasaki. TMS Entertainment. 2021 and How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom. Dir. T Watanabe. J.C.Staff. 2021
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