I haven’t quite figured out what it is yet about Seirei Gensouki but so far it is my preferred isekai of the Summer 2021 anime season. It’s up against the likes of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, My Next Life as a Villainess and How A Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom which together with Seirei Gensouki make up the four isekai anime I’m actually covering this season.
Part of me wonders if it is just that of all of those titles what Seirei Gensouki is delivering is a sense of exploration and wonder in a world that actually seems worth exploring. As fun as Villainess is, Catarina’s world is pretty small and the story is more about the characters and the comedy. Slime has become so bogged down in political talks any wonder has long since been sucked out of the narrative and I can only hope we get to explore more soon. And Realist Hero hasn’t quite figured out what sort of story it wants to be spending way too long being a reality cooking show.
Yet in Seirei Gensouki we’ve continually moved from the slums where we first met Rio to the academy before Rio was forced to flee and now we’re in a village of demi-human characters. The world seems vast and there’s a lot of potential exploration points and it really doesn’t feel like it has settled yet on which direction it will go but I’m curious enough about this world and Rio to want to be on that journey.
And maybe that’s what I’m after from an isekai story.
Seirei Gensouki feels like it wants to take the viewer on a journey.
That isn’t to say that the series hasn’t had some of the usual isekai short-falls and that Rio is the most compelling character ever. Plus there’s this continuous influx of female characters who all seem relatively interchangeable at this point and for some reason they all love touching Rio.
Now, he’s a nice character and all but I’m just not sure he’s nice enough to warrant that much attention particularly from characters who have literally just met him. At least Latifa makes sense given he rescued her from slavery and has the connection of knowing a bit about Japan because clearly they have both been reincarnated (whether Rio wants to admit that or not).
The demi-humans reaction to Rio was understandable with the first ones who met him being pretty hostile because quite clearly humans are not the greatest of neighbours in this world. Their blatant prejudice against their own commoners doesn’t bode well for inter-species relationships. Though, they were also upset with him for calling them demi-humans but we never really got clarity on what we could call them so I’m kind of at a loss there.
The elders then fall over backwards apologising and of course the tree spirit, cute girl that she is, instantly fell for Rio which more or less cemented his position. Oh yeah, there was also something about him having a spirit inside of him that might be some super-special thing and I’m sure that will become important later, but mostly I think it was just an excuse for Rio to finally get some pampering given so far he’s more or less been treated like dirt by everyone around him.
Again, as much as I’m enjoying Seirei Gensouki, it doesn’t do subtle. As much as the class discrimination was on full display in the previous episodes, the blatant contrast between Rio’s treatment by humans versus the treatment he receives in this village comes across loudly and clearly and humans are not coming off so great so far.
And just in case we hadn’t quite figured out that the red-eyed guy was bad news the final sequence of this episode has him stealing a large egg from a cave and heading back toward the human kingdom. His helper naively asking if the parent won’t get angry and come after the egg… in perhaps one of the clumsiest attempts at foreshadowing I’ve seen in awhile.
So yes, while I am very much enjoying Spirit Chronicles for what it is, I’m not going to be making an argument that it is a perfect anime any time soon. A few too many rough edges. Still, for seasonal viewing I’ve watched plenty worse and right now I am really keen to see what is next for Rio.
Images from: Seirei Gensouki. Dir. O Yamasaki. TMS Entertainment. 2021
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