Wise Man’s Grandchild – Episode 1

By: Caitlin Moore April 13, 20190 Comments

What’s it about? In his previous life, Shin Wolford lived an unfulfilling existence as an ordinary office worker in modern-day Japan. One day he gets hit by a truck and reincarnated in a world where magic exists. In his new life, his foster-father Merlin is a powerful wizard and he himself is brimming with magical potential. When he turns 15, he’s officially a fully-fledged adult… but he knows nothing about his new world!

Wise Man’s Grandchild shows just how low the bar has gotten for the peculiar genre that is wish-fulfillment isekai. There’s no weirdly positive depictions of slavery, fawningly submissive women, fan service, or hackneyed arbitrary RPG mechanics. It’s not even that it particularly does anything right… just the lack of ways it goes terribly wrong make it remarkable.

A young boy and an older man in western-inspired fantasy garb sit on a grassy cliff in the shadow of trees.

Quite a few isekai of the last few years ask the question, “What if you, exactly as you are now, had the exact qualities and skills to be successful and adored in another universe?” They use RPG mechanics and tropes because that’s what their target audience is familiar with. And slave-owning doesn’t seem too bad (these series claim) when you can tell yourself that you would never dream of starving or beating them, like a proper modern human.

Wise Man’s Grandchild dispenses with that, for the most part. Shin was fully reborn and grew up anew in this other world, albeit with memories of his previous life. He’s not the same person he was. He just happens to be incredibly privileged to have been taught every useful skill by the best people at it in this new world, and also to be incredibly good at everything.

Learning things from scratch means there’s no forced menus. The big thing that he brings from his previous life into this new world is practical scientific knowledge, such as the chemical reaction to create combustion and thus more powerful fire spells.

A shot of an alley. A boy is surrounded by taller, older-looking men looming threateningly over him.

Yep, Shin sure is perfect, and the show wants you to know it. At his fifteenth birthday—clad in a suit identical to the one he died in—everyone around him talks about how gifted he is in every way. He’s a powerful magician! A skilled fighter! A fast learner! And sure to be a hit with the ladies, given how handsome he is…

I cringed at that, wondering if this would turn into a harem show, but that doesn’t look like it’ll end up being the case. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Wise Man’s Grandchild actually clears another admittedly low bar in its female characters, at least in the first episode, by making two of Shin’s mentors women: his foster-grandmother, Melida “the Guru,” and a member of the royal order. Melida, at least, seems to be sticking around, and powerful older women are such a rarity in anime that I really appreciate her presence.

A young woman wearing a tunic, leggings, a long sword, and a cape stands confidently. In the foreground is a close-up of her face.
A strong lady! Dressed appropriately for her job! Golly!

The last few minutes of the episode have Shin moving into the city in advance of his entry into magic high school, where he soon encounters the first bit of gendered nastiness the episode has to offer: a pair of soldiers who’ve cornered two girls his own age and are threatening to assault them. Shin makes short work of the two, and while one stays framed fairly neutrally, the other one presents a much bigger issue.

Yep, before we see her face or hear her squeaky, stammering voice, we see her strangely shiny boobs. While I can understand Shin, being inexperienced with women, being drawn to them, it’s more than a little grody to zoom in on them right after she was being threatened with rape.

Still, it’s a relatively minor complaint that only stands out because of how mild the rest of the episode is. I liked the red-headed girl right off the bat, and the ending theme song only confirmed that she has plenty of personality.

A redheaded girl stands behind a tree, grinning and jerking a thumb at a boy and a girl shyly facing each other.

Wise Man’s Grandchild is proof that isekai series have, by and large, gotten so foul that pleasant blandness is a welcome relief. This show is by no means a bad way to spend your time, but watching it felt like eating store-brand mild cheddar: it’s really only good when you’re used to processed cheese slices. Me? I’ll skip it and save room for the really good stuff.

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