The Seirei Gensouki anime is going to be a challenge to fairly review. Because objectively it isn’t that bad. There’s actually a number of positives I’ll discuss throughout this review. However, with the anime series ending the way it does it more or less makes this an impossible recommendation in terms of anime to watch. Largely because clearly this is for people who’ve read the source as there’s little satisfaction to be found otherwise.
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Seirei Gensouki anime – It’s a race to adapt.
From early on in the Seirei Gensouki anime it became fairly apparent that this was an anime intent on getting through material fast. Characters get isekai’d (at least through a bus accident rather than main character getting hit by ubiquitous truck) and the main character rescued a princess, is tortured, accepted into some academy, learns sword fighting and magic, is framed for potentially putting the princess at risk, runs away, saves the assassin sent after him, and so on and all of this is within the first third of the series.
The pace doesn’t slow down after that as Rio, our main characters, plunges on to new settings and situations, learns new skills, meets new characters, faces various potential challenges (none of which actually seem to challenge him and we’ll discuss that in a moment) and then moves on.
What this means is for anime only viewers of Seirei Gensouki is that none of these characters or settings leave much of an impression. None of it is actually bad. I kind of think the world we very quickly see in this anime series could be incredibly interesting. But nor can I say that the anime gives us time to appreciate any of the places or people Rio meets and by the end they all just kind of blur together. I’d really struggle to name more than three characters and all three of them would be characters who appear at the start and end of the series.
Fortunately though, while we’re doing this travel style anime, visually Seirei Gensouki looks really pretty. That isn’t quite the same as saying it has good animation because the actual movement is serviceable. But backgrounds and character designs are really nice to look at and I like the bright use of colours. If I had to continuously watch a character move through different locations, this at least felt like it was visually up to the task of bringing those places to life.
And if you went in knowing you were going to very hastily skate over a story and settings that are probably told better in the source (never read it so won’t say for sure) you can probably end up appreciating the Seirei Gensouki anime for what it does do and in terms of isekai light novels, while there’s definitely some of the common tropes I get the feeling that this story could be a lot more interesting than the usual cliché paint-by-numbers efforts.
Where Seirei Gensouki stretched my reasonably favourable view to far was in how it ended. I’ve kind of made my opinion of episode 12 clear in the review so I won’t rehash it here. However, in reviewing the whole series let me be clear that this story won’t resolve any of the main plot line and will still be introducing new ideas right up to and after the closing credits. If you want any sense of resolution, this adaptation will not deliver it.
Which actually makes me wonder if they ever had any intention of making this anime a story or if they really were just making an advertisement for the books. And even if they were making an advertisement for the books, that’s no excuse for not considering viewers at all and thinking about where a decent resting point might be for a season end. The way they’ve done it here really does just feel lacking and somewhat lazy and it leaves a bitter taste in the viewer’s mouth when actually the series as a whole wasn’t brilliant but it also wasn’t bad.
Talk about shooting yourself in your own foot.
Anyway, the Seirei Gensouki anime follows Rio/Haruto who at first is kind of an interesting isekai protagonist. Sure he’s overpowered in some respects and being able to access Haruto’s sword training from Japan gives him some advantages. However Rio makes the decision to live in his current world and while he takes advantage of some of Haruto’s abilities, he really sets out to make himself his own person. It’s an interesting decision and one that feels different from so many isekai characters who lean heavily on their former lives.
Equally, Rio starts out in a quite low position in society and a lot of characters work to keep him there. This inevitably leads to him finding out that his mother was… you know what, it is a pretty obvious reveal but even so I’ll let you find out for yourselves if you ever watch the anime or read the source.
At times, the younger Rio even has glimpses of an actual personality.
Unfortunately, by the very short number of episodes we have until Rio is older, somehow that all kind of gets washed away and instead we have the usual kind older brother character who saves girls but asks for little or nothing in return. He’s nice to everyone except those who have clearly demonstrated themselves to be evil (or completely idiotic) and then he easily defeats them giving them their much deserved comeuppance.
He usually doesn’t even break a sweat. Not against idiots. Not against wyverns. Pretty much the only fight that even damages his cloak is the final one in episode 12 and even then he wasn’t really in danger.
This makes it hard for the Seirei Gensouki anime to really get an emotional response from the viewers. The main character is never in danger so there’s little to no tension. He equally has insufficient personality traits to really be more than your standard isekai trope wandering through a story that is being rushed so I’m left with little to say about him other than he’s good with a sword, has learned spirit arts, has a harem of girls, and is nice. We could apply most of that description to way too many other characters so Rio isn’t really going to stick in my memory very long.
The girls, for the most part, are very cute and most of them seem to have a personality, they just don’t ever get enough screen time to really let it shine. This is another case where the Seirei Gensouki anime’s pace hurt it. None of the girls travel with Rio for very long so as he moves on they disappear from the story until he passes back through their lives. While each one could be an interesting character, they inevitably don’t get the chance.
All and all, I wanted more from the set up here and I feel that the worst offense the Seirei Gensouki anime commits is wasting the potential of this story and these characters. If the goal had been to tell a decent story based upon these ideas and with these characters, that fit within the confines of an anime season, they really could have done a better job. The waste of potential hurts more than anything else.
Which means, I can’t recommend this anime. It isn’t the worst thing you’ll ever watch, but nor is there any point to watching it. If you want this story, its probably better to explore it through a medium that takes a bit more time with each part and may at some point conclude. Here, you’ll just be left with an incomplete narrative and feel like the goal was to get through it as fast as possible rather than to enjoy the journey.
If you watched the Seirei Gensouki anime what did you think?
Images from: Seirei Gensouki. Dir. O Yamasaki. TMS Entertainment. 2021
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