The Strongest Sage With The Weakest Crest continues its trend of moving us through events but not really inspiring any kind of emotional connections to them. Where another story may have chosen to focus on Lurie and Alma’s accomplishments as they work together to bring down a demon this week, here it is just another footnote in an episode where they defeat a demon, Matty defeats a demon, announces that a magic crystal thing is summoning a horde of monsters to attack the city, return to the city and then have Iris transform into a cute anime girl before taking the entrance exam to join them at school.
Yeah, hard to emotionally invest in anything when it still feels like we’re approaching this story as a speed run.
The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest does like to blow things up though.
Also, we’re still suffering from the same problem that has plagued previous episodes of Matty being more or less an unstoppable force and his attitude being utterly indifferent most of the time to his own actions. Actually, this week he went a little beyond casual to actually cruel as he didn’t just defeat the demons. He was most definitely toying with them and I think most viewers would agree that it was a nasty way to win a fight.
This probably wouldn’t be such a problem for The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest if it had slowed down its pacing long enough to establish that the demons are in fact nefarious and evil and the end well and truly justify the means. But while Matty seems convinced all demons must die and we’ve been told they’ve interfered with human magic development, none of these demons have so far done anything actually demonic on screen in four episodes. And Matty’s knowledge is antiquated.
In honesty, if you take away the word demon, so far Matty has revealed the true face of someone hiding in a human kingdom (okay not great) and then he slaughtered them without determining their intention. When others came to find out what was going on, he slaughtered them. Then, he tracked back a spy (again, spying bad), coerced a dragon to give him a ride, and mercilessly killed two more again without any kind of discussion or opportunity to work things out.
Now I don’t actually doubt the evil of the demons in The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest. It doesn’t exactly strike me as a deep enough story to really have the demons as anything other than evil. And the limited cackling dialogue the demons we’ve seen have delivered so far doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that they’ll be nuanced villains.
But I can’t really see Matty as overly heroic. He really is self-centred and driven in the pursuit of power and whatever suits his purpose. The greater good of the kingdom doesn’t appear to be his goal. Even his decision to delay telling the school about the incoming horde of monsters doesn’t exactly speak well of his character.
Anyway, rather than dwell on Matty’s motives or the fact that so far he’s perhaps the most unlikeable protagonist I’ve seen in awhile (though not as obnoxious as some), and let’s instead look at how The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest brings Iris into the fold.
Yep, after transforming into a human her antics during the exam are clearly just there for laughs and it isn’t that funny. Why Matty didn’t do a practice run or prepare her is anyone’s guess. Why The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest felt it needed a character for more slapstick humour is also anyone’s guess. All and all, I’d have to agree with the Principal’s assessment that she’s just bizarre.
All of this leaves The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest as a very middling viewing experience. There’s still room for growth and opportunities for the story to pull together but only if it actually slows down, gives these characters and the world building a chance, and maybe if Matty actually suffered some kind of set-back forcing him to be a little less cocky. I don’t like the chances.
Images from: The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest. Dir. N Akitaya. J.C.Staff. 2022
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.