Our Realist Hero has to accept reality.
For nearly 7 episodes our realist hero, Souma, has more or less used modern day Earth logic and rudimentary economic theory to more or less revitalise a failing kingdom and hasn’t suffered any particular set-backs other than the potential of his own nobles rebelling because how dare the new king stamp out their corruption. It was good to see Souma pitted against a disaster that had already happened this week and even more interesting when in the final moments we see that Souma acknowledges that he hasn’t managed to prepare for everything.
Not that anyone really believes he should or could have in the few weeks he’s lived in fantasy land.
Honestly, despite our Realist Hero having a small set-back in his confidence this week, things are still all kind of working out for Souma in that wonderfully simplistic manner that only really works in fiction. And how nice it is that Souma doesn’t just understand economic theory but also the fundamentals of making roman concrete, road design, topography and more or less anything else that he’s required to know.
I know, I really should stop wanting this anime to be more than what it is because honestly what it delivers is entertaining enough even if it is a little bland and sanitised. Maybe I should instead be celebrating that How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom isn’t attempting to be the new dark and edgy take on isekai or isn’t aspiring to be some new philosophical work of wonder and missing the entertainment mark by a mile.
However an opportunity not explored is an opportunity wasted and this anime did have an opportunity this week to really challenge Souma. Here was a threat not of a political or economic nature, and not one that could have been predicted in advance, that could have really pushed him to the limit and demonstrated the cracks in what he was trying to build.
Rather than taking this route, we get a really basic rescue operation after a landslide that goes very smoothly and while they can’t save everyone, they also don’t end up in any particular danger or face any major set-backs in their mission. The realist hero does still have to face the blame and mourning of a man who lost his wife, and he does take that emotionally on-board leading to a final sequence that has our Realist facing reality in a way he hadn’t before, but the overall episode deals with the disaster cleanly and efficiently robbing the situation of much of the tension it could have had.
Though, congratulations to that final scene which gave this episode significantly more weight than it might have otherwise had. Souma has been so calm in his progress and decision making with nothing seeming to concern him as he goes about transforming an entire kingdom and economy. Seeing him finally rattled and feeling the weight of his decisions and planning (or lack of it) was a solid character moment even if it came a little too late in the episode.
It feels to me like some of the discussion of food and transport at the start of the episode could have been cut down, considering a lot of it was a rehash of information we already knew, not to mention that the dialogue here was extremely unnatural. If the two characters were filming an infomercial their conversation made perfect sense but no two people sit down and talk like that over lunch after spending the day building a road.
Anyway, How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom remains watchable with moments that do elevate it enough to keep me interested even if all the bits inbetween feel a little too underwhelming at times. I am curious as to what the endgame is for this season of Realist Hero though because we’re closing in on the season’s end and it still feels like we are more or less in the prologue of a grander story.
Images from: How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom. Dir. T Watanabe. J.C.Staff. 2021
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