How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom isn’t the first fantasy anime to shift the focus from overpowered individuals with glowing attacks hacking at each other to more mundane issues such as economics and politics. Over the years there’s been a number of these type of anime and they have varying amounts of success. Probably my favourite was Maoyu Maou Yuusha and even that one was incomplete without a follow-up season and the tone felt all over-the-place.
Basically the premise of How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom is that the kingdom of Elfrieden, being strapped for cash, summons a hero to offer as a tribute to the overall war effort of the empire against a demon army. Which sounds pretty ordinary and you kind of expect we’re going to see our hero go off to war. But, basically other than one flashback memory from one character we’re never even going to see a demon. Because Kazuya Souma, our summoned hero, decides that a better option to help Elfrieden is to put into place a range of administrative reforms.
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom more or less does exactly what it says on the label.
What follows could have been a hard hitting and serious political drama filled with clever negotiations between characters with nuanced motives… but it isn’t.
The biggest problem for How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom is it wants to explore more serious and grounded issues than your standard isekai fantasy but it also wants to appeal to the audience that just wants fun and adventure. So what you’ll get is watered down and simplified economic, political and war theory being explained by the 19-year-old protagonist (who naturally remembers all these ideas from a range of disciplines) to dullards who all fall all over themselves to tell him how amazing he is.
Seriously, even the King abdicates his throne after knowing the guy for less than a month.
He doesn’t take Souma on as an advisor or put him in charge of a region or anything sensible. Simply hands over his throne to a perfect stranger and then spends the few scenes he appears in after that getting his ears cleaned by his wife.
It doesn’t help that the only other character introduced that even seems to have a smidgen of a thought process going on in his head ends up being more or less a background character who reports stuff to Souma but never does really anything. I’m kind of hoping the second season gives Hakuya more to do given the introduction he got and that he was the most potentially interesting character of the bunch introduced here but has very little screen time.
We’ll also get spoof of a cooking show and even an idol concert along the way. There will be an internal war but it doesn’t pay to take that conflict seriously and the series will climax with an idiot from another kingdom invading and our realist hero having to take on an external threat. Then the whole show will introduce a new character and just kind of stop. A good thing we already have a second season announced.
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom seems to want to have its cake and eat it too but basically comes out feeling half baked. Too many characters that get too little time to really be fleshed out much like the more serious concepts it wants to explore but it never wants anything to go against the protagonist so nothing ever feels like a challenge.
It introduces a raft of cute female characters though most of them end up feeling superfluous. We have the Princess Liscia, who Souma was kind of betrothed to but they’ve called that off, and Souma has more or less promised to turn the kingdom back over to her at some point but she doesn’t really want that… Liscia started out pretty fiery and interesting but quickly fizzled to be the companion who simply asks questions and allows the protagonist to explain things aloud without talking to himself.
Juna fairs a little better as the songstress and she remains a bit of a tease for Souma. She also actually gets involved in some of the political shenanigans along the way. As for Aisha, her character is all over the place and seems to exist just to react to things and occasionally hit them.
Ultimately, How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom is a pleasant enough watch even if it all ends up feeling a bit easy and pointless. The visuals are pleasing and the opening song is entertaining enough. Most of the characters are either pleasant or the usual kind of tropes you would expect. There’s some decent enough plot points along the way even if none of them are really given much depth.
About the worst thing you could say for Realist Hero is it is all a bit forgettable because they haven’t committed to a particular idea or really taken themselves seriously at all. It is all light and frothy which is fine for slice of life but doesn’t seem to do the underlying premise here justice.
The thing is, I’ll probably watch the second season because this wasn’t a bad way to pass a season but honestly, there’s better isekai stories out there so I’m hardly jumping up and down to recommend this one.
Images from: How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom. Dir. T Watanabe. J.C.Staff. 2021
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