Rating: 3.5 (of 5)
With this episode, the series ties up the final bit of loose ends from the Elfreiden revolt, while also making official that Kazuya has a harem.
But before we get to the latter, let’s look at the final clean-up effort, as that had some minor surprises of its own. Last episode ended with the implication that there were still discontent elements among the nobles of Elfreiden who were still plotting against Kazuya. Not a problem; Kazuya and Hakuya seemed to be well aware of them, which spurred Kazuya to classic Machiavellian tactics. While the episode tried to class this part up by couching Kazuya’s approach here with direct quotes from The Prince as framing devices, the resolution of killing off the other nobles comes off as a bit to simple, sudden, and perhaps even bloodthirsty, though Kazuya did make clear last episode that even purges of nobles was considered necessary even if it wasn’t desirable. Even so, using the trial of Duke Vargas and his daughter to draw them out was a slick move, and yeah, who really thought Duke Carmine was actually dead? (Okay, I’ll admit, for a bit there between episodes I thought the series might actually have the balls to do it.) In retrospect, having him officially dead but serving as the king’s secret enforcer does seem like a fitting resolution.
I am also glad that a way was found to salvage a role (if a greatly diminished one) for Duke Vargas, since even though he was fully guilty of participating in the revolt, he was suckered into it. That Carla was going to be spared was expected. Within the context of the setting, her being stripped of status and becoming a slave to the Royal Family (and thus under the direct authority of Kazuya and Liscia, who wouldn’t mistreat her) may have been the best possible scenario. Since Kazuya wants to keep her close for the special task he’s assigned her (and he’s right that neither Liscia nor Aisha could probably strike him down if needed), and to keep her accessible to Liscia, she’ll probably be impressed into service as a maid.
Finally, there’s the harem part. Something like this was going to be coming at some point, and Kazuya could not remain standoffish about this forever. In Liscia’s case, the series has done enough to establish that she has genuinely grown to feel that way about Kazuya, and while it may be stretching a little more in the case of Aisha, it’s not out of character for her, either. While the way it plays out still carries a whiff of standard harem hijinks, the motivations of Liscia and Aisha for doing it at this particular moment also seem sincere, and that prevents the bed scene from being eye-rollingly tawdry. This has never been a series prone to fan service, so the scene remains visually tame for what’s going on. This isn’t at all a surprise, and fits with the tenor of the series so far, but is still slightly disappointing.
So what plot threads are left to work with here? I am a bit curious about what scheme Roroa has in mind here, but otherwise the series is at a transition point. What direction will it go in next?
While I probably won’t make this a regular feature with this series’ reviews, I thought I’d add in a few observations since this is getting posted so late.
The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt – This one makes a nice complement to Realist Hero rather than competition, as it approaches the “reform the kingdom from the top down” attitude from an entirely different, non-isekai angle. Wein is a delight and his relationship with Ninym is special.
Life With an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated Into a Total Fantasy Knockout – Speaking of series that are lots of fun, this one has proven to be a blast so far, even though it’s far from being one of the season’s top series on technical merits. In fact, it’s probably my most-anticipated non-Sunday title each week. Yes, a lot of it may be stupid, but the production shows a keen sense of comic timing and the writing is adept at milking meta humor. I recommend checking this one out if the name chased you off at first.
In the Land of Leadale – It’s a straight-up power fantasy with just enough of a humor aspect to it not to feel entirely stale. I am concerned that it’s missing opportunities to explore the circumstances of its setting more.
Attack on Titan – It’s not often that I can say that watching each episode of a series is an experience. 86 came pretty close to that during its run last year, but the recent episodes of Attack on Titan have achieved that at least as well as any other series I can think of. James Beckett’s review of episode 20 is one of his best, and I don’t feel that I can add any more insight to what transpires than he does. This is potent stuff.
Demon Slayer – Entertainment District Arc episode 10: The first 10 minutes or so may have been a bit slow, but after that – hot damn. This is an episode that people will point back to for years to come for both its visuals and action content. Can’t wait to see how things play out in next week’s double-length finale.
These are not the only series I’m following this season, so more thoughts next week.