How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Part 2 Episode 8 Review
Every time I feel like Realist Hero is heading in a positive direction, more issues pop up that kick me right back out of the narrative. One step forward, three steps back.
First, let’s go over what I consider to be the major positive. I think the discussion of “the God in the East versus the God in the West” was actually one of the better segments in the show thus far. It’s important to note that Souma was clearly speaking allegorically; there’s a touch of dramatic irony since the audience knows (or I at least hope would know) that he is speaking of the Cold War, but framing it as a battle between gods. This works on a few levels, and the framing is good as well; there’s a sort of hazy flashback-like quality to the scene that makes it clear he is mythologizing real events.
This allegory – with the two gods representing both the two Cold War superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, and their respective ideological positions of capitalism and communism – serves a dual purpose. Obviously, one goal is to keep the explanation parsable in-universe, but the second, and perhaps more critical, purpose is to make it clear that it is merely a rough amalgamation of ideas. By framing the multi-decade conflict as mythology, it’s obvious that there are liberties being taken; nuances are being glossed over and specific elements being generalized. While I wouldn’t call it rigorous academia, it is a workable and effective way to explain the gist of the Cold War from a popular perspective within a few minutes.
I only wish the rest of the show’s handling of politics and rulership were as deft. See, one of my major recurring issues with this show is how it makes politics and governance merely the actions of individuals. “Souma rules well because he made the right choice in this dialogue scene” or “the right policy fixes the problem,” that sort of thing. For a show with the term “realist” in the title, it completely trivializes the complexities of actual governance. Never mind doing the right thing, it’s about delegating tasks, finding capable advisors, controlling popular sentiment, and adapting to the unexpected consequences of not only your actions but those around you. It’s a big, chaotic aggregate of many dynamic and changing factors.
But even at face value, there are certain decisions that just don’t make much sense. Why is Souma explaining the complexities of a situation where major nations do not recognize the changing of borders by force to a world leader who currently lives and rules in a world where borders cannot be changed by force? She quite literally has more practical experience in this area than he does, while he by definition only has an academic understanding of the politics of rulership (if we can even call reading Machiavelli academic…). Or why the show seems to waste all this time having Roroa do an interview for potential marriage when there appear to be zero discussions of any potential negatives, to begin with. Sure, there’s the slapstick “oh noes!!! she snuck into bed with me!!!” silliness, but since everything in this world seemingly bends to Souma’s will, are any of us truly convinced this is a setback of any kind?
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars.
Grant is the cohost on the Blade Licking Thieves podcast and Super Senpai Podcast.
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Part 2 Episode 8 is currently streaming on Funimation.