The very accurately titled “How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom,” takes a very refreshing take on the Isekai genre. For those uninitiated in the ways of anime, Isekai is a subgenre of fantasy in which a character is transported from their world into a new and unfamiliar one. Some western Isekai stories would be things like “Alice in Wonderland” or “The Wizard of Oz”.
At the start, “How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom” seems like a pretty standard Isekai anime. A well educated 19 year old, Kazuya Souma, is summoned to another world by the king of the fantasy kingdom of Elfrieden in order to defeat the Demon Lord. The world includes standard fantasy races like elves and dwarves. So far pretty par for the course for an Isekai anime.
However, rather than follow the traditional fantasy tropes of fighting the dark lord and saving the kingdom, this particular anime takes a more political approach to this tried and true anime formula. The key phrase in this anime’s long winded title is “realist hero.” Instead of fighting with swords and sorcery, this protagonist fights with sound economic policy and infrastructure planning.
Rather than fighting demons and monsters, Souma quickly realizes that most of the Kingdom’s problems stem from its poorly managed economy and adherence to medieval traditions. The new realist hero embarks on a quest to bring real change to the country.
Over the course of the first season, Souma is appointed king and has to deal with several logistical and internal issues that plague the kingdom. All of which Souma solves with logical and realistic solutions rather than magical ones. For example, when trying to improve the kingdom’s bureaucracy, Souma expels the nobles who were appointed by their birth and sends out a call to recruit advisors based on merit.
In another episode, Souma advises the elves to thin their forests in order to maintain the woodlands. While this seems blasphemous to the tree hugging elves, Souma explains how thinning forests can actually help promote new growth and protect the forest from adverse weather conditions. The series’ most appealing aspect is Souma’s realistic solutions to complex fantasy issues and as someone who likes to play a lot of resource management video games, I am a big fan of this concept.
That being said the show has little else besides its premise. The animation is pretty basic by 2021 standards. This is most apparent in the series’ few action scenes. There are a few fantasy fight sequences in the first season, but they are not really anything to speak of. While these fights are not bad per se, they are very basic and boring. But then again, the series is generally more focused on the political implications of war rather than the battles of the war itself.
The show also distinguishes itself from other Isekai anime through its restrained use of fan service. One common aspect of male oriented Isekai anime is that the male protagonist usually develops a harem of beautiful anime girls. While this particular anime does still have a potential harem in the form of Souma’s many female advisors, the show does not rely on fan service as its main selling point.
While it is by no means the greatest new anime of 2021, “How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom” is still a great series with an interesting take on the Isekai genre. Although the fights are not as fantastical as the fantasy setting, the show more than makes up for its standard animation quality by having the hero solve problems realistically rather than through forces alone. It may not be as exciting as other anime, it is still a refreshing series that tries something new.