Review for Wise Man's Grandchild - Complete Series
Indescribable; that sinking feeling that I get when I realise that Manga Entertainment are releasing yet another ‘isekai’ series. It feels like the ‘lost in a fantasy world’ genre has become Manga Entertainment’s mainstay in recent months, and I’m rapidly getting the point where I greet each new such release with hysterical laughter. Once again, I vigorously remind myself that not everyone watches every single anime that comes down the pike for a review site, and customers get to pick and choose their favourites. Besides, this is one isekai show that Manga Entertainment are confident enough in to give a collector’s edition release in the UK with plenty of physical extras. It’s got to be a good one if they’re doing that.
It begins with two crashes, the car accident that kills a hard working office-worker in Japan, and the carriage wreck that only a baby survives, the reincarnation of that office worker in another world. That baby is found and fostered by Merlin Wolford, a retired hero in that land, who raises him, teaching the boy, now named Shin Wolford, everything he knows about magic. The thing is that Shin Wolford is a prodigy, albeit one that remembers his past life, a natural talent that sees him easily defeating demons at the age of ten that would trouble a seasoned warrior. So at 15, when Shin comes of age, he’s sent to Earlshied Academy, not to learn magic, but to learn how to fit in. As while Merlin has taught him self reliance and magic, he’s yet to impart common sense.
The twelve episodes of Wise Man’s Grandchild are presented across two discs from Manga Entertainment.
1. A Babe in the Woods Goes to the Capital
2. The Unconventional New Student
3. An Emergency Arises!
4. The Name of the Instigator
5. A Pioneering New Hero
6. Outbreak of War and a Joint Training Exercise
7. Let’s Go to Camp!
8. A Starlit Pledge
9. The Grandchild, the Magic Gear, and the Engagement Party
10. The Fall of the Empire
11. The Mightiest Corps of Magicians Ever
12. And So, Off into the World...
Wise Man’s Grandchild gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on these discs. The image is clear and sharp, the animation is smooth, and the transfer is unmarred by anything as crass as compression or even banding. Having said all of that, Wise Man’s Grandchild isn’t the most challenging anime ever put to disc. The character designs are simplistic, and the world design isn’t all that original or intricate. It’s a fairly standard, bright and shiny fantasy world, while the characters are as close to generic rom-com archetypes you can get without cloning a basic design. Of course the show pulls out the CG stops when it comes to the magic and effects.
As per usual for a Funimation sourced release, you get Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English and 2.0 Stereo Japanese with translated subtitles and signs, all locked during playback. I was happy with the Japanese audio, the subtitles were accurately timed and free of typos, the dialogue was clear, and the action came across well. The music drives the pace of the story, and reflects the emotion and comedy of the piece, while the theme songs are catchy and peppy.
The discs present their content with animated menus.
Disc 1 kicks off with a trailer for Funimation NOW.
There is an audio commentary on episode 8 with Daman Mills (Shin), Brandon McInnis (August), Lindsay Seidel (Sizilien), and Katelyn Barr (Maria).
Disc 2 has 4:31 of Promo Videos and the textless credits.
Wise Man’s Grandchild epitomises what I have the most disdain for when it comes to isekai. It’s like they run these shows off a conveyer belt production line. We have a salaryman dying in our world, to be reborn in another, and he has so much power and ability, that anyone who encounters him, and witnesses his skill will have their jaws drop open and their trousers browned at the excessive display, to which he will respond with a plaintive, “What!” And of course the series ends on a “to be continued” note that most likely never will. Yet despite all this, I enjoyed Wise Man’s Grandchild, and a lot more than the show really deserves. Despite its copious shortcomings, it gets by on the strength of its good-natured characters, its interesting story, and an appealing sense of humour. Wise Man’s Grandchild may feel like a poor man’s Familiar of Zero, but that’s not bad company to be in.
Firstly, this is the most pointless isekai I have yet seen. Other than one bit where the hero invents a magical telephone, there’s no link to the world that he came from. He may have a different outlook on magic, and develops a way of using magic that makes him a child prodigy, but that could be put to down to a generic mysterious origin and his isolated upbringing by the nation’s heroes. At no point does Shin start looking at his world through the filter of our own, mostly because he spends fifteen years growing up in that world. At no point does he even think about getting back to his world of origin, which has been a constant motivation since the days of the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon.
Shin is seriously overpowered as well. The man who adopts him, Merlin Wolford, is the previous ‘hero’ of the world, who with his ex-wife Melida saved the kingdom from a rampaging demonoid years previously. His strength and ability is legendary, so when he takes in Shin and starts teaching him, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Shin went straight to the top of the class. But before he’s even ten years old, Shin is surpassing his heroic grandfather, making disposing of demons look easy. For him, life is an eight-bit computer game, and he knows all the Multiface pokes. What redeems the character is that he has no idea that what he’s capable of is out of the ordinary, and he’s confused at all the looks of shock that other people give him.
What also redeems the character is that powerful he may be, he’s also socially inept, having been raised in isolation. So when he comes of age, and starts Magic School in the capital of the kingdom, the real challenge that he faces is making friends with people his own age. He’s good natured, which helps, and on his first day at school he meets a girl named Sizilien and her friend Maria, rescuing them from a gang of creeps. As per genre trope, it’s love at first sight, but unlike most anime, this is a relationship that actually develops over the course of the series, and while there are plenty of other girls for a potential harem, and there is the requisite fan service, the show never has to resort to the harem clichés. It’s actually a nice relationship in the story.
Another good thing about the show is the sense of friendship and camaraderie that develops among the characters when Shin starts school. As well as the girls, one of the first people he meets is August von Earlshied, who happens to be the prince of the realm. Yet Shin treats him like just another student, which instantly wins August’s friendship, as the lack of deference and formality from Shin is just what he needs in his life. The two have a sort of bromance in the show based on mutual teasing which is a lot of fun. This grows as the group of friends expands. Like every self-respecting Japanese school, this magic academy has after school activities, and Shin starts an Ultimate Magic Club.
Yet another appealing thing about the show is that Shin, the main character isn’t content to sit upon his superiority. Instead he’s ready to share. It turns out that his skill and power isn’t purely down to an innate gift. His skill with magic comes from a different way of looking at the world, and he’s ready to share that gift with his friends. Pretty soon everyone is wielding magic that makes the uninitiated’s collective jaws drop.
This is important because there is the big bad in the story, the demonoids. Demons are beasts tainted by dark magic, powerful, and invulnerable to all but the most powerful magic users. Usually they are just animals possessed with dark magic; troubling enough. But once in a while there is a demonoid, which is a human so tainted. Up to this point, they have been just as mindless as the altered wild animals, but as this show progresses, more and more demonoids appear, and they are such that they retain their intelligence and personalities. It’s clear that someone is behind this, and early on Shin uncovers the one responsible for experiments with demonoids in the kingdom, and drives them out. But they then set up in a neighbouring kingdom and turn their attention to mass production. By the end of the series, the heroes are facing the prospect of a demonoid army, and if they’re to stand a chance, they’ll all have to be like Shin when it comes to magic.
Wise Man’s Grandchild is entertaining, which is all that you really need from an anime when it comes down to it. That you can sit down for 20 minutes an episode and just lose yourself, forget your cares, makes this an easy show to recommend. It matters not that the premise is tired and overused at this point, it also matters not that it’s not the best looking anime ever created, and it matters not that you’ll have a ‘seen it all before’ reaction within 30 seconds of the start of the first episode. Wise Man’s Grandchild does what it says on the proverbial tin, and there are far worse isekai out there to waste your time on.