Seirei Gensouki escalates class discrimination in its third entry.
Having watched a lot of anime over the years one thing I appreciate is its ability to tackle heavy issues or more difficult social issues. When done well it can definitely open up some fairly solid reflection or discussion for the audience. And yet when it comes to class discrimination I can’t help but feel Seirei Gensouki really just wanted a reason to keep their protagonist being down and out and they didn’t really put a lot of thought into any nuance in the side-characters who criticise and belittle Rio.
It isn’t as though Seirei Gensouki is the only anime that misses the mark with this one. Moriarty the Patriot suffered a similar issue where the backdrop of the class warfare worked well enough to establish the main character and motive but did little to make any of the side characters, either commoner or noble, actually feel like a real person. They all basically acted simply to push the plot and felt flat or ridiculous as a result.
The bullies from episode 2 continue to make disparaging marks about Rio in the classroom and when an outdoor exercise goes wrong throw Rio under the metaphoric bus without a single moment of hesitation. That no-one in the group makes any kind of fuss about this, including people who have been framed in a more sympathetic light, it just kind of makes this feel more like a necessary plot point to get Rio away from any kind of connection rather than like a genuine encounter.
And while it kind of makes sense because there’s clearly a greater story afoot than some high school bullies to deal with for Rio, I can’t help but think how much more emotionally invested I would have been in Rio’s decision to leave before graduation if they’d actually taken the time to make any of this situation feel real.
Outside of that complaint though, this episode gives us some more magical instruction as well as a reasonably cool display of combat skills by Rio in the woods. Both are competently animated and the magic is actually fairly pretty to look at so far.
Likewise, there’s potential in the hooded villain to be more than the one-dimensional bully we’ve seen so far though we’ve not been given enough from Seirei Gensouki yet to really know how much we should invest in him and whether he’s sticking around for the long term or whether he’s just another intermediary threat that Rio will face sooner rather than later.
Where episode 3 of Seirei Gensouki genuinely got the emotional connection right was in Rio’s farewell to Clare. Of all the characters outside of Rio, she’s so far the only one who has really felt like an actual developed person and someone who exists to do more than simply serve the plot, even if she is the cliché loli-teacher to a certain extent.
After three episodes, it felt like the relationship and respect that had grown between Rio and Claire was genuine and Claire’s genuine sadness at Rio’s departure hit-home.
I also liked Rio’s decision to write to Claire using the name Haruto, reminding us in a more subtle way than another flash-back of sorts that he isn’t alone in his own head.
Three episodes in and this isekai has so far had enough intrigue and potentially interesting plot points being strewn through these early episodes to make me want to stick around but it still very much feels like we are in set-up mode which makes me wonder how much of a story we’ll get through by the end of 12 episodes. Still, so far I’d pick Seirei Gensouki over Realist Hero if I had choose only one new isekai to pick up.
Images from: Seirei Gensouki. Dir. O Yamasaki. TMS Entertainment. 2021
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