Someone really ought to have told whoever wrote The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest that part of what makes a story interesting is tension. Now that doesn’t need to be world ending peril at every moment because if you do that you risk your audience becoming desensitised or just not taking the threat seriously any more. But some kind of tension. Is the character struggling to overcome some personal failing or is there someone working against them?
But no, in The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest episode 2, Mathias is rewarded by the king for his part in revealing and defeating the demon, gains access to a range of magical thingies he created in his past life, has access to the dungeon where he can gain more magical thingies, recruits the two girls who he coincidentally ran into on his way to the test to enter the school and enters the dungeon with them to train them and find resources. Not one set-back or single moment where there’s really even the potential threat of something not just going our protagonist’s way.
The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest continues to be pretty bland viewing.
And why is it that whoever the protagonist meets first in these sorts of stories is going to either be their best friend or worst enemy. They never just encounter random classmate B, have a conversation and go their separate ways. Even Harry Potter went this pathway with Harry first meeting Ron and Hermione on the train before encountering Malfoy before the sorting ceremony.
So yes, Lurie and Alma are going to be Mathias’ best friends and students just because they happened to be in the same shop as him and I’m sure they’ll turn out to be amazing and powerful just because it is narratively convenient. And clearly Lurie is the love interest, as much as these kinds of stories ever seem to have one in that she gets all excited and too close to Mathias, Alma makes a comment along the lines of ‘Lurie’ and then she jumps back and gets all blushy. Mathias’ only acknowledgement is an awkward chuckle.
That was one of the reasons that Banished From The Hero’s Party actually made a bit of an impression last season. For all that it was very ordinary in so many ways, the genuine romance between the protagonist and the instant love interest was at least novel for the genre and was so much more satisfying to watch then this awkward and very artificial interaction is supposed to be. Hopefully The Strongest Sage lets these two characters grow a bit and actually feel a bit more like they are real people but I’m not holding my breath.
The other obvious problem with The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest this week was the encounter with the king who essentially just took Mathias’ word for everything. An unknown kid unmasked and defeated a demon and just tells you that the demons will clearly now launch an all out attack and it will probably take them three months to organise and without any corroboration or wondering whether or not Mathias is in anyway in league with said demons the king just accepts it and puts Mathias in charge of the kingdom’s defense.
I mean, it is at least narratively convenient but Mathias is making a lot of assumptions about demons who he hasn’t faced in thousands of years. Sure he can make some educated guesses but if the demons have changed their behaviour to infiltrate and weaken human society, maybe they are better at organising things these days. Maybe they have some tricks he’s never seen. But he assumes they are the same old demons and again not one person has even asked him how or why he knows so much about them. It really does make it hard to suspend disbelief.
Basically The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest continues to feel more like it is going through the motions of telling a story rather than actually telling a story. There’s no depth or substance to anything and nothing holds up as soon as you start asking questions. Certainly The Strongest Sage could improve as it goes but so far its been pretty unimpressive.
Images from: The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest. Dir. N Akitaya. J.C.Staff. 2022
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