Content consideration: Fantasy violence, implied urination
What’s it about? Within the critically acclaimed VRMMORPG ArkEarth Online, the great wizard Danblf is revered by his nation as one of the greatest and wisest mages in the world. He embarks upon a quest to slay 10,000 monsters before disappearing. Sakimori Kagami, Danblf’s player, is an avid role player with an ideal vision of what a “great wizard looks like”; too bad he wakes up in his beloved game as a cute little girl instead.
She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man is a show that is by all means generic as all the rest of its similar videogame isekai cohorts. A player is flung into the MMO they so love as their overpowered avatar and must now make a new home for themselves in another world. There are “skills” and “quests” and other functions stereotypical to every other MMO, with little adjustments to help give each one its shtick.
Wise Man’s shtick is that the titular grizzled wise man, Danblf, finds himself in another world as Mira, an adorable girl.
I wish the first episode did more to lean into the premise, as the manga does five pages into the story; instead, we are entreated to a full episode of “LORE” establishing the inner workings of the VRMMORPG this story takes place in, as well as cursory character settings for Danblf and his best friend King Solomon of the Kingdom of Alcait. All of this I am willing to grit through, because I guess it’s fine to go into a little detail about why Danblf is a manly man based on the great fantasy wizards of our time (Ian McKellan and Richard Harris) to so drastically contrast with cutie patootie Mira.
Yet, Motonaga Keitaro (director of timeless classics Date-A-Live, Conception, and School Days) teases the great transition til the very end of the first episode and then does it all in a wordless musical montage of Mira waking up as a girl and making his way back to the kingdom before ending with a single line of dialogue stating: I am cute.
Yes, okay, sure fine. That’s artistically sound and perhaps a great way to drum up some fanfare for the end of the episode, but I’m watching this show as a connoisseur of my extremely-specific-fetish-for-men-being-turned-into-cute-girls. And as such, I’m here to relish in the moment of Danblf going “WTF, WHERE’S MY DICK” and “ZOMG BOOBS.” I have been thoroughly denied, which, again, might be the more sensible choice to tastefully convey the transformation.
Not following tropes aside, “SPHPotWM” has some clunky production values. Some of it could be attributed to being a show set in a VR video game, but much of it suffers from a clash of aesthetics. Danblf’s character design as a grizzled old man is drawn to accentuate his age and masculinity, and stands in wild contrast to the generally softer more feminine characters that surround him.
He is part of the Nine Elders, all magical masters of their own domain, and about half of them seem to be generically cute women who fill tropes: the Japanese one, the hot-blooded one, the one that knows kung-fu. Meanwhile, the men also are slimmer and younger, including what seems like a playboy. The most standout Elder among the group, save for Danblf, is the as-of-yet unnamed power ranger who is just…. There.
And to complement all the generic anime designs this show has for its characters, it would be remiss if I did not note that the show’s monster designs are just plainly bad.
Danblf, who is known for his ability to summon an army all on his own, takes on a horde of 10,000 goblins. The epic clash meant to sell Danblf’s power, as well as promise what may be in store for the future of this show should look exciting and impressive, but Wise Man reveals its resource allocation may not allow for much on that front.
Countless jarringly rendered monsters duke it out during the climactic battle, as cheap after effects explosion particles flash on screen. Add to the mix a battle soundtrack literally sung by one of Danblf’s summons and a cat familiar that talks with sign boards, and the entire segment is a cacophony of aesthetics and direction.
I haven’t read the source material for Wise Man in depth, but I had read a couple of chapters before. If I recall correctly, Danblf, as Mira, does take advantage of his new female form to ogle other women in a sexual light. That element of his character has yet to surface in Episode 1, but I think it’s worth mentioning here before anyone starts this show and hits that unpleasant surprise. I’m hoping the lecherous nature is kept down, but I’m not holding my breath.
I was excited for this show, y’all. I want to see Danblf realize that maybe it’s okay to be a cute girl. I mean, isn’t the ideal sorcerer Megumin, not Gandalf, anyway?
I wanted to like this show, but there’s a lot that’s going to keep me from doing that. Oh well, not like I won’t watch it anyway. And hey, all else fails, I can get my gender thrills from another anime this season.