Kenja no Mago Review Episode 9

Happy Times

Shin and Sicily - Kenja no Mago Episode 9

Kenja no Mago Episode 9

I genuinely don’t expect much from Wise Man’s Grandchild which is good because what we get has been pretty average even for those who like generic isekai fare. That said, episode 9 of Kenja no Mago needs a pat on the back for jumping straight past the blushing dating and confession episode and into an engagement. While I might in the back of my mind see this as setting up a sudden and tragic death for Sicily, the overall tone of the anime doesn’t support that so mostly this is just pleasantly forthright about their relationship.

However, we have plenty of training camp shenanigans still to go with this episode. Whether it is Shin learning float, or anti-gravity magic, the rest of his classmates getting suited up in even more over-powered protective gear, or taking on a catastrophe class demonoid, there’s a lot going on.

One thing I do need to point out is that visually this anime is getting sloppier by the episode. While the magic still looks great and individual expressions on characters or the characters in close up look relatively good, the rest of the anime, particularly group shots and distance shots, look at absolute best like they were hastily completed and more like they were deliberately cutting corners as facial features disappear entirely and heights between characters just suddenly alter. While some of this is played for comedic effect, some of it really just seems badly done.

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Then again, Kenja no Mago doesn’t seem to be trying to compete on visuals and it isn’t really trying to be more than an average isekai story. It remains fun enough each week, the main cast are engaging enough, and while I still think they are potentially setting up the death of a character as a trigger for Shin to go berserk (that would be an interesting change in tone) mostly this is pleasant and undemanding viewing.

At some point though I am going to have to write a post about how this anime has framed the majority of its female cast because to be honest there’s an entire post in that.

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Kenja no Mago Review Episode 8

The Beach Scene, The Confession, and The Incredibly Annoying Voice

Kenja no Mago - Sicily

Episode 8

The training camp continues and with it we get a boat-load of cliché type moments. Such as the introduced fiancé, the younger sister, the confession sequence, beach volleyball, and so on and so forth. This episode is actually packing in as many tropes as it can possibly fit in its run-time and it isn’t being particularly insightful about it.

I do like that Shin’s classmates duck and cover when he says he’s going to try something new.

However, unlike episode 7 of Kenja no Mago, episode 8 still manages to fall on just the right side of the line of being lame and generic but entertaining rather than just being lame and generic.

Nothing like some alone time.

As much as the blushing girl and the dense male protagonist is a trope that annoys me, and there spluttering about here should have rubbed me the wrong way, there is just something inherently adorable about Shin and Sicily as a couple and I just can’t dislike this sequence. The fact that they go from acknowledgement of liking each other to confession in the space of one episode helps because if they’d prolonged it any longer we would have gotten back into fairly painful territory.

Outside of that, the volleyball sequence was actually funny. Sure it is ultimately an excuse to get the girls and boys in swimsuits and throw around some ridiculous magic attack names but there was a genuine humour to the scene and an energy that made it fairly palatable.

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But, I’m not just going to give this episode a pass. The younger sister introduced has in one episode won my award for this season’s most obnoxious character voice and as she squeaks her way through inane dialogue I just had to wonder who thought any human being should make such a sound regardless of age? It is truly horrendous and will go on my list with Asta, Tanya, and the English voice for Molly in Sailor Moon as voices that just need to be re-recorded and dubbed over because wow that was painful to listen to.

Great – I’m a huge fan of never hearing this character speak, ever again.

While going into this anime with any expectations would be a mistake, I’m still finding it more entertaining than tedious and this episode of Kenja no Mago definitely picked things up a little bit. It also seems like we are still heading toward an interesting magical confrontation, so all and all I’m happy enough to see where this goes. Still, I’ll be shocked if I even remember I watched this show come the end of the year.

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So I’m A Spider, So What? Volume 4

And now the timeline makes sense.

So I’m A Spider, So What has jumped back and forth between the events in the Great Elroe Labyrinth and the events surrounding Shun, the newly titled hero, through the previous volumes. While I always had a sense that the events from the spider’s point of view were not in quite the same time as the events Shun was describing, it wasn’t until volume 4 where the reader is given a clear answer to exactly when both sequences are occurring and the relationship between them. It is a credit to this story that it has managed to come out of the reveal relatively neatly and with the story clicking nicely into place rather than becoming unravelled.

And just for those who are still utterly confused as to what happened first or the actual sequence of events that we’ve been told about but never saw first hand, this volume handily contains at the end a timeline of the events so that you can see the full sequence very quickly and help reconcile any further confusion. It isn’t intrusive and doesn’t add anything that couldn’t have been picked up through a return read but it just helps straighten out the whole affair.

Now if this time disparity was just another gimmick, like the protagonist being a spider, then I’d have to wonder if it was worth the effort, but realistically it has really helped to set up the different characters and their relative experiences before things start coming together.

That is where volume 4 of So I’m A Spider, So What? really starts to shine. While the spider story-line an the human story-line still haven’t actually collided, they are clearly on a collision course. With so many other reincarnated characters already assembled, the war in full swing, and everything about to come to a head, it is just a matter of time now. Where previous volumes I’ve found the spider grinding amusing but not overly purposeful at times and I’ve enjoyed the story of the goings on in the human world but we’ve only seen glimpses, volume 4 gives us some fairly specific purposes to the spider’s activities and the human story gets, if not equal space, at least equal weight in this volume.

My previous criticisms though of the intrusive nature of the game mechanics do still stand. As much as this volume actually starts revealing the reason why the world they reincarnated into seems so much like a game, there’s only so many times you can come across a page that is nothing but stats and skills after a monster has been appraised before you just stop looking at them and flick to the next page to get on with the story. It isn’t as though the spider doesn’t then point out the most significant stats in her next bit of narration anyway so reading the page is utterly pointless.

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That said, while the execution of stats and skill lists may be intrusive, the basic function within the story is fairly purposeful. Not to mention, the spider is really using those skills and stats to their advantage and being quite innovative. On more than one occasion turning a one-sided battle into quite a thrilling nail-biter because of how they’ve used the level system to their advantage.

Which is why I can’t stop reading this series of books. As much as they rely on gimmicks to try to distinguish themselves from an overcrowded field, and as much as the game mechanics right from the beginning have been heavily weighing down the story, there’s a real cleverness at times to the way these standard elements are employed. While once or twice it really looks like they are over-reaching in order to extract the spider from an incredibly dire situation, they usually manage to make the events fit within the established rules and patterns of the world, even if that world is incredibly unfair and a lot of those skills and stats are clearly over-powered and close to cheating (Immortality? Really?).

While the spider gets the fun battle and exhilarating saves and victories, the humans are on the run after the events of book 3 and end up the elven village where the other reincarnated kids have been kept. This plot line is subdued, even dull in terms of events, by comparison, and yet we learn a lot through the course of the book and honestly I’m really looking forward to finding out what the next steps are for these characters with the new information they’ve acquired.

Needless to say, I am going to read the next volume in this series. It will very much depend on the individual as to whether or not they’ll enjoy this series though. I think most people who enjoy isekai stories and don’t object to game mechanics being used as the basis of a narrative will find a lot to like here but for other readers while there are some brilliant moments they probably won’t offset the parts of So I’m A Spider, So What they don’t like.

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Kenja no Mago Review Episode 7

Training Drills and Training Camps

Episode 8

Right from the start I was not particularly impressed with this episode of Kenja no Mago. I mean, we’d already gotten the gist of the relationships between the knights and the mages and mostly that Shin is awesome regardless of which side of the fence you are on. So stretching out this training drill and showing us the other groups interacting with much the same outcome over and over really didn’t add all that much and wasn’t particularly impressive.

The one point that might save the first half of this episode feeling like complete padding is that they do get into a discussion about the danger of militarising Shin’s magic and the danger of his techniques spreading. Which nicely sets up that this group of students are more or less now going down a very different path in terms of what is expected of them in the future than they would have if they’d never met Shin.

But no worries. The characters in Kenja no Mago are utterly fine with life altering changes and apparently the fact that this is likely going to land them on the front line of a war hasn’t quite sunk in just yet.

Then again, given the arrogance with which they deal with a threat on their way to their magic ‘training camp’ – because we’ve got to throw in the high school cliché moments even in an isekai – I guess none of them are overly concerned about coming up against someone stronger than they are.

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Which actually just made me want the demonoid army to stop fooling around in the empire and come back to the kingdom to kick these kids down a peg or two.

Okay, I’m a horrible person.

And yes, the training camp is just an excuse for a hot-springs moment. Here are the guys. I’m sure you can imagine what the girls are up to just fine.

That said, this is the first episode where Kenja no Mago hasn’t been overly enjoyable. It has never been particularly good or original but it has mostly been fun. Episode 7 just felt like a drag and I’m really hoping now that they’ve set up the few things they seemed to be setting up we can get back to having fun next episode.

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Kenja no Mago Review Episode 6

The typical ‘work together’ message undermined by super powered teen.

Episode 6

Kenja no Mago shows us the right way to blow off some steam… Okay, maybe not but I have to admit that Shin made that look so satisfying even if the results were kind of destructive.

The war ended up being pretty abrupt, much like its set-up really. One minute they are fighting and then the empire realises there are demons in their capital and return just in time for the guy who declared war to be killed by Schrom in a fairly confronting early scene this episode. I will point out, I’ll give the demonoid points for at least knowing that if he wants to make sure someone is dead you do have to kill them yourself. Most villains never get this point down which is why they end up losing.

Finally a villain that makes at least a little sense.

Still, the realisation that there are plenty of demonoids around and that they aren’t exactly what the original description of them made them out to be, gives this narrative plenty of fodder for future confrontations for Shin. We already know Schrom at least managed to survive a fight with Shin and so overpowered or not, if Shin has to fight all of them he’s going to struggle alone.

Which might be the whole point of the get along and work with friends message of the rest of the episode.

The Knight School and the Magic School run some joint training in the forest but the Knights and the Magicians absolutely don’t get on despite clearly having complementary abilities. I think the point was supposed to be for the group to learn how to get on but then somewhere along the way that message got dropped and we got another round of isn’t Shin awesome as a horde of demons stormed toward them and Shin wiped them all out.

This is just asking to become a meme.

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Naturally he was in a bad mood because the Knights had started fawning over Sicily and we got another round of the two kids blushing and denying but not denying a relationship.

Honestly, as silly as this anime is and as cliché as a lot of the developments are, it actually just makes me smile while watching and I’m quite enjoying it. There’s certainly no argument to be made that this is brilliant. The static images with panning during the war sequence and demon invasion of the city displays the corner cutting and averageness of the visuals, even if the off-model faces from a distance on almost every character didn’t, but that doesn’t actually take away from the enjoyment of the overall experience.

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Kenja no Mago Review Episode 5

The calm days before a war.

Episode 5

After seemingly rushing to show us a demonised human, this episode just kind of sets a few things in motion and continues the Shin-is-awesome propaganda campaign. Still, dopey first love, magic lessons, designing new swords, and caring grandparents are more than enough to fill in this episode without it feeling like things are getting dull.

Shin instructing others in magic - Wise Man's Grandchild Episode 5

That said, it is very much determined not to break new ground within its genre. Shin offers the girl he kind of likes an accessory and then it turns out it is for defensive magic purposes causing her to be all embarrassed and angry and then Shin realises how it sounded when he asked the question and he’s all discombobulated in a way that I’m sure is supposed to be endearing but the entire sequence was just a tad too trite even for the this anime.

Wise Man's Grandchild Episode 5

The set up for the war was very abrupt. Like literally a guy just walks up to this other guy and gives him one bit of intel and the other guy decides he’s going to war. After that we don’t see either of those two again, but because this anime also doesn’t do subtlety or delayed reveals, we soon find out that the guy giving the information is actually connected to the escaped Demonoid Schrom from last week.

Nobody here intends on using Shin… Nobody.

Which could be kind of cool except that they reveal this while he’s laughing maniacally in bed. There’s something about bad guys just sitting around cackling to themselves that just makes them hard to take seriously.

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In case it seems like I’m getting down on this anime, I’m really not. It has been pretty fun to watch. While it is hitting all the usual tropes and standards, that’s probably what makes it so relaxing and just kind of casually fun to watch each week. Certainly it is at best average, and scenes like the early on in this episode where nobody has a face don’t help make it feel anything but average, but sometimes average is enough.

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Kenja no Mago Review Episodes 1 + 2

Cliche and yet kind of fun.

Kenja no Mago Episode 1

Episode 1

Be prepared for the new self-aware cliché driven title as Spring 2019 delivers Wise Man’s Grandchild or Kenja no Mago. Shin is reincarnated after a close encounter with every isekai anime’s favourite traffic related death and is raised by Merlin in a forest. There he learns magic, combat and more or less everything except life skills and becomes the single most overpowered being ever. Then they enrol him in magic school just to throw yet another trope in.

Kenja no Mago Episode 1
Look, another anime character without parents.

Despite the trite and been-there-done-that subject matter, it is difficult to dislike this first episode. As a protagonist, Shin isn’t doing anything new, but nor is he annoying or particularly obnoxious. The magic has so far been pretty cool to see, and they aren’t exactly wanting you to take it overly seriously. I’m getting serious In Another World With My Smartphone vibes here where provided you didn’t try to take it too seriously or expect much from it, what you ended up with was moderately entertaining and occasionally amusing.

Whether this succeeds or not depends on whether they can keep it fun or whether they’ll start taking themselves too seriously, or if they just roll out tired trope after tired trope and hope that it somehow sticks. Still, there’s certainly some interesting potential here with demons, famous ‘grandparents’, knowledge from another world, and magic and combat skills. Whether they do anything with the ingredients remains to be seen.

Kenja no Mago Episode 1

That said, after one episode, I’m pretty happy with what is on display here and I’m kind of hoping for something relaxing to watch. I’ll see what the next couple of episodes have to offer before I make up my mind though.

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Episode 2

The cliché continues in episode two of Wise Man’s Grandchild. This week Shin takes the test for the magic school and in the process makes enemies with an over the top noble, friends with a Prince, and continues to win the affection of the cute girl he previously met. There’s nothing really out of the ordinary here and yet it still works well enough.

Kenja no Mago Episode 2

Most of the characters we’ve met so far are pleasant enough if fairly unremarkable. Though, the handling of the bully character has been pretty lacking in anything resembling subtlety. He’s self-entitled and selfish and has more or less decided to fight Shin because the show needs someone to make some sort of conflict in the story in the early stages or else nothing would be happening outside of Shin being awesome. That said, it seems likely that they are setting him up to later become a demon or an actual threat but it is really hard to take that seriously as a future problem.

The other thing that the anime keeps coming back to is that other nations will either declare war or try to get Shin on their side. Part of me wonders if these are empty lines just to make things seem like a big-deal or if they are actually foreshadowing future conflicts. I’m kind of hoping it is the latter and that they do look into the political situation between countries, though at this stage it is hard to tell whether that would make for an interesting plot line or not given Shin is incredibly over-powered.

There were some amusing moments in this episode of Kenja no Mago with my favourite being the practical magic test. Watching the other kids chanting for all they were worth for very little magic was highly entertaining as was Shin’s overly embarrassed reaction. While it isn’t an original idea by any means it was executed well enough to be worth a smile.

Two episodes in an this remains entertaining enough and will hopefully continue to be enjoyable.

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