Reincarnated Ultimate Magican Takes on Common Sense and Demonoids
Let’s get it out of the way straight up so that we can move on. If there was a generic list of points for your standard isekai story, Kenja no Mago would tick almost all of them. It is the story of the average Japanese guy who dies and gets reincarnated and naturally becomes a super powerful teen in a new world where pretty much everyone relies on him to save the day (how would any of these fantasy worlds function without reincarnation). If the standard isekai shtick isn’t your thing then there is nothing new to see here and you should just move on.
For those who enjoy isekai, Kenja no Mago isn’t on the top shelf. It probably doesn’t even go into the upper shelves if we were physically stacking titles. No, Wise Man’s Grandchild is decidedly average within the genre. However, while it won’t be blowing you away, it is a pleasant viewing experience and one I certainly enjoyed during Spring. Undemanding and reasonably consistent content works and while I might have liked the visuals to be a little less cheap looking at times, there’s actually very little to get really upset about providing you’ve accepted that this is a generic isekai.
In saying that though, there’s one elements where this anime seems determined to distinguish itself. It decidedly put its foot down and killed any possibly idea that this might be a harem isekai where all the girls just fell head over heels in love with the bland protagonist.
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While Shin, our reincarnated protagonist, is reasonably bland to allow viewers to self-insert into the power fantasy being constructed here, he actually does make decisions and has aspects of a personality. The clearest way this comes through is that he genuinely gets smitten on the girl he rescues after moving to the city for the first time. At no point does the anime entertain the possibility that he’s undecided or leading other girls on unintentionally.
More importantly, the other female characters acknowledge that he’s smitten, and while they tease both him and Sicily, there’s no idiotic rivalry or jealousy, or girls just throwing themselves at the protagonist when they clearly have no chance at all given there’s a pre-established relationship.
I’m not actually anti-harem, but it was really nice to see an isekai story actually create a genuine love story. We even moved beyond just being smitten and wanting to protect the girl, to the awkward phase where they both know but don’t want to say anything, to an embarrassing confession, which somehow very quickly escalated to an engagement.
The speed might be insane but the emotions are pretty solid and this isn’t something we see all that often in isekai stories. It is the one part that seems to genuinely distinguish this story and gives it a slight edge over the horde of very average isekai anime that gets produced each year. It still doesn’t make this one a must watch but it certainly worked for me.
While we’re pointing out some solid positives I should probably throw in there that the OP for Kenja no Mago is quite pleasant to listen to and the visuals are cute and funny. I certainly wasn’t planning on skipping this one any time during the season. Likewise, some of Shin’s facial expressions are pretty hilarious as he tends to over-react to fairly mundane things but has almost zero reaction to extraordinary things.
However, this isn’t just a praise fest. Kenja no Mago is lacking strongly in the visual department. Character faces disappear quite regularly when they aren’t in the foreground and even when we can see faces there’s a lot of off-model scenes within the anime. Likewise, the magic is actually really great in concept but the visuals mean that everything looks a little bland and dull, or it all just kind of becomes a blur surrounded by smoke and we’re left to surmise what happened.
For some this will be a deal breaker as the anime just isn’t that great to look at. While this isn’t a sticking point for me, even I’ll admit, it isn’t that great visually and particularly toward the end of the season it starts looking pretty rough.
What really manages to sell it though, outside of an actual romance that makes sense, is the cast. Merlin and Melida who are essentially Shin’s adopted grandparents, are fantastic in their supporting roles. The two were together in the past and while they are affectionate there’s some sharp exchanges between the two but they are always entertaining. The support they give Shin and his friends is fantastic as is their genuine relationship with Shin. While it is questionable why they let the teenagers run off to fight demonoids without supervision, we find out these two are about even if they are just looking over things. I really enjoyed them and their interactions within the story.
August was also a great supporting character. He’s a prince but he’s also Shin’s friend and the friendship is genuine having been formed before Shin knew of Aug’s status. August really likes teasing Shin and pushing him out of his comfort zone. While August can’t compete with Shin’s power, he’s a lot more savvy when it comes to politics and social situations and so he compliments Shin nicely within the story.
While there are quite a number of class mates that also act in support, I did find a lot of them fairly redundant as they had similar personalities and roles. Still, each character gets their moment by the end and it would be nice to see where each of these characters go from here given Shin’s presence has literally changed their lives.
The one character I really wanted more from was Sicily. As the love interest she started as a damsel in distress, she uses support magic so ends up sidelined in most battles, and it really did look like they were setting her up to die during the final battle when they literally sent her away from all the other main characters. While she’s pleasant enough and I appreciate her relationship with Shin, as a character Sicily offers very little outside of being the cute love interest.
Also, the villains were actually half-way interesting but we seem to have ended the anime about 20 episodes too early given it really feels like they are just finding their feet. We’d need another season to deal with that but I doubt we’ll get it (I’ll happily be proven wrong because I wouldn’t mind more).
All and all, Kenja no Mago is a mixed bag and your viewing enjoyment will very much hinge on your tolerance of things being average and the usual isekai tropes that crop up in these kinds of stories. If those things don’t bother you, you’ll end up with a pleasant viewing experience and one well worth the time but otherwise this will be frustrating to watch because it isn’t going to do anything more than that.
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- Kenja no Mago Series Review
- Kenja no Mago Episodes 1 + 2
- Kenja no Mago Episodes 3 + 4
- Kenja no Mago Episode 5
- Kenja no Mago Episode 6
- Kenja no Mago Episode 7
- Kenja no Mago Episode 8
- Kenja no Mago Episode 9
- Kenja no Mago Episode 10
- Kenja no Mago Episode 11
- Kenja no Mago Episode 12
- Images from: Kenja no Mago. Dir. M Tamura. Silver Link. 2019.