If you’re in deep enough to be online looking up seasonal anime reviews then you know what an isekai is, and if you know what an isekai is, then you know the drill by now. In Kenja no Mago, we spend a few moments with a faceless salaryman before he walks himself out into oncoming traffic, exchanging his life on earth for one in a fantasy world. This time, the hook is that he’s raised by an old wizard fittingly named Merlin who teaches him powerful magic but forgets to teach him basic life skills.
Not gonna lie, for the first half of this episode I was completely onboard. Shin and Merlin have a cute relationship. While there’s nothing really deep about it, watching Merlin raise his stupidly powerful kid was at least entertaining. The two have genuinely touching moments such as when Merlin tells Shin he’s adopted. I realized that I would totally watch an isekai about a guy who goes adventuring with his grandparents.
Then, all of a sudden, the cast doubled in size. Which was a weird choice but not a deal breaker, there were a lot of flashbacks in this first half, so new people just appearing wasn’t illogical. I went with it, mostly because this seemed to be more comedy than drama. Everyone getting mad at Merlin for letting Shin do magic that would upset the balance of the world was not a reaction I expected. Plus, their realization that Shin has no basic life skills made me realize that I would watch a show about a super powerful sheltered wizard trying to learn how to buy his own food and do his taxes.
The problem is, Kenja no Mago is not that show.
Nor is it one about a guy going adventuring with his grandparents. It looks like it could be one of those shows for a while. Then it’s suggested that Shin go to the nation’s magical high school. Then you realize that all the characters around Shin are all secretly awesome people who’ve been teaching Shin their awesome ways, justifying his future awesomeness. The King of a whole entire nation was his uncle. He calls the princess big sis. When he arrives in whateverplace to attend school, he’s welcome by maids and butlers into his huge mansion. And after all that time devoted to how much Shin has never done anything on his own and has been sheltered his entire life, he not only buys an apple unassisted, but also navigates this unfamiliar city effortlessly. This is all before finally, in true Isekai fashion, he rescues some girl from getting sexually assaulted without so much as a scratch.
The sad thing is, the author knows how bland and unoriginal his choices are. Shin outright says this is all cliché. But acknowledging the cliché does not, in fact, excuse it. I don’t know what I expected here. I guess I’m sad that I bought into this even for a minute or two. It’s not that Isekai’s are bad. It’s a popular genre for a reason, people like their escapist power fantasies. I’m just disappointed.
I can’t even say why really. There’s everything I wrote above but would a premise like “Shin has no basic life skills” even work in this context? He had a whole life back on earth, where he was presumably taught this stuff by his parents. But Shin’s previous life matters so little to this episode that I honestly forgot he was reincarnated at times. If I’m remembering right, the only time it did matter was for a magical girl reference and his comment on the cliché of it all.
Oh well, you probably get it by now.
I’m skipping this one.