Villains in Realist Hero always seem to resort to surrender or charge.
While no real challenges presented themselves as our Realist Hero and interim king, Souma, mopped up the last of the enemy army, allowed the Prince and a small contingent to escape, and then proceeded to put on a live idol show for the citizens of the city he essentially conquered, they did at least shake things up this episode by having to have more than one attempt at taking down the enemy king.
While the two dukes in episode 11 more or less capitulated with little real resistance, the king this week was not going down without a fight. And for him it was a fight to the death. Though at least his character finally got to make one decent decision which was to send his son away from the battlefield before the end.
Stabbed, burned and then shot full of arrows.
In what seemed like the easiest victory yet, as the king charged toward our Realist Hero’s vantage point, the blonde guy did a beautiful leap through the air on his horse and skewered the king with his spear right through his armour. It looked as magnificent as it could in slow motion and bare bones animation even if I was left wondering how the poor horse managed to save itself from shattered legs on the landing.
Turns out though that we finally had a small wrinkle in the plans. The King had a body double.
The real king continues his charge and is confronted by Carla who has decided she needs to save Souma because otherwise Liscia would be unhappy. I mean, there’s entire cities and the lives of soldiers and citizens alike on the line, but sure, save Souma because of one Princess being unhappy. Whatever motive gets you moving.
Still, we always knew our Realist Hero wasn’t a warrior and here it becomes clear as Carla doesn’t have the strength to drive the king back and Souma certainly isn’t directly entering the fray. Instead we go with an explosive puppet and boy does that go off with a bang.
How the King was still standing, I do not know, but artful job with the destruction of his clothing on that one.
As he throws his sword and gives his last words he’s plugged full of arrows from archers who were somewhere during all of this (why didn’t they shoot at him when he was sparring with Carla). At last he falls.
And just like that the war is done.
Enter the throne room and Souma is making plans but knows that the Empire isn’t going to recognise him taking over the city anyway. Rather than get into the politics of it he’ll grab some singers and put on an idol show for the citizens.
This is where Realist Hero always loses me. We have some fairly complex political and economic quandaries but earlier in the series we had a reality style cooking show and now we’re going with idols. The tone is all over the place and honestly it isn’t doing Realist Hero any favours.
If I wanted a light comedy I wouldn’t be watching this particular story but this story also doesn’t quite go hard or serious enough to be good as a serious drama. It just kind of teeters around the middle of a few tones and genres but never quite commits and the end result is a little less than satisfying even though there are some good ideas and moments strewn along here.
Anyway, potential arrival of the empire next week and I guess we’ll see where Realist Hero (the anime) intends to leave us.
Images from: How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom. Dir. T Watanabe. J.C.Staff. 2021
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