In 2013 an odd little anime came out based on a light novel called Maoyu Maou Yusha. While it wasn’t an isekai like Realist Hero it was the story of a hero who joined forces with the demon lord to essentially stop the endless war between humans and demons by initiating economic reform.
It wasn’t a brilliant anime by any means and as it never received a follow up season the story remained tragically incomplete. Still, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons as I started watching Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha no Oukoku Saikenki or How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom.
Is he a realist hero or a desperate one?
One thing I will mention right off the bat is that there are some very amusing lines strewn throughout this episode. Early on, after our generic main character is summoned, two of those responsible for it exchange lines more or less incredulous the summoning worked and end the sequence with a ‘well anything is worth trying’ comment that actually had me laugh out loud.
Kazuya Souma, Realist Hero’s protagonist and so far standard ordinary Japanese guy who happened to study some economics, also has some great reactions in that instead of screaming and shouting about the situation, or being gung-ho about being a hero, he’s asking questions about the current situation and he’s pretty down-to-earth in solving the problems one at a time with the self-interest of not wanting to be sold off to the empire should the kingdom not be able to pay their tribute.
I like that Kazuya has a very clear motive for his actions in this episode. Summoned to another world he is kind of at the mercy of those who summoned him and he does not want to be sent to an empire at war with monsters. Finding an alternative is very much in his best interest and so stops him from just being too much the generic ‘nice guy’ protagonist.
That said, other than a bit of dry sarcasm and economic knowledge, his personality is otherwise very much just standard isekai protagonist.
However, as much as Kazuya Souma has so far been an interesting enough lead, you have to wonder how the kingdom hadn’t already fallen given the general ineptitude on display from the King and those advising him. Pretty sure Kazuya used the word ‘vacuous’ to describe their overall plans and it seems like the perfect description. I get having a stupid king but does everyone near him also have to be an idiot?
One pressing issue with having so many of the other characters in Realist Hero apparently paralysed from the neck up is that it almost definitely means Kazuya is going to exposition us to death with basic economic explanations – admittedly that is just my prediction but it seems really likely from this set up. I’m just hoping he has something more appealing than crop rotations to explain to us.
The other point that came out of this episode was how swiftly Kazuya went from summoned her to king to being engaged to a princess (though clearly given the harem descriptor on this one she isn’t going to be the only one pushed toward Kazuya and there’s quite a bevy of girls in the character list on MAL).
It’s almost as though this isekai anime wanted to do something different with their ‘hero’ but didn’t want to miss out on the usual isekai tropes. I’m not sure if Realist hero will be able to balance these competing ideas and the sheer number of genre tags on this one on MAL is a little staggering.
So far Realist Hero has my attention. The protagonist isn’t too bad, some of the humour has really landed for me, I’ve enjoyed anime with an economic focus before, and it looks pretty enough. That said, it will really depend on what the story chooses to do with all its ideas as to whether this anime ends up being any good. I look forward to seeing where it takes us.
Images from: How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom. Dir. T Watanabe. J.C.Staff. 2021
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