The Wandering Witch says The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent

Posted on Jul 14 2021

Welcome, all, again. Today’s discussion will focus upon The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent, a quiet isekai offering one of the least flamboyant–yet one of the most solidly constructed–storylines I’ve encountered in that genre. Oh, there’s magic a-plenty, but it usually tends to be rather well-controlled by some surprisingly responsible folks. Thus far this series has presented no preponderance of interfering gods or berserker heroes, no insanely overpowered demonic nemeses or world-ending cataclysm. No, we have seemingly sane, fairly rational people manipulating magic towards either personal or social ends. Wild magic has been alluded to, but viewers have seen only the barest glimpses of such. I chose the descriptor “quiet” above for good reason, but this show has nonetheless been very, very engaging! You the viewer ultimately decide what this show will provide you: blissful relaxation or thoughtful musings.

Our protagonist is Sei Takanashi, a modern Japanese office lady in her early 20s who, despite her young age, already seems weighed down by her work. Returning home late one night to her apartment, she steps into a magic circle that forms beneath her and is transported to the realm of Salutania. You know, a standard version of the usual isekai deal, but without Truck-kun’s participation. (I heard he was recovering from overwork. Go figure!). And just to keep the audience within the comfortably familiar, Salutania just happens to be pronouncedly European with certain medieval characteristics. It really kind of begs the question: “If Westerners stumble into an isekai situation, will they go somewhere reminiscent of the Orient?” Hmmm. We’ll ask Truck-kun when he’s feeling better. In fact, why don’t you ask him? I’ll just stand over here. . .

But despite my awkward attempts at humor, I’m not panning these aspects of the show. Quite the contrary! It’s this easy familiarity that allows our show to go sideways so quietly that you might not notice at first. You see, Salutania is seeking its newest Saint, a woman who can wield magic powerful enough to protect the peace of the kingdom. But two young women were summoned by the same spell–an occurrence hardly unknown in isekai as a genre, but definitely a first for Salutanians! The other girl, younger and more docile upon her arrival, is instantly snatched up by the country’s Crown Prince, who completely ignores Sei. He seems to figure–as rulers will–that if someone is going to be placed into a position of prominence, then it should be someone who might be easily controlled. And as the story progresses, we watch Prince Kyle’s micromanagement of his proclaimed Saint steadily grow, but what about Aira Misono herself? We know that she is Japanese and probably JK, and is apparently progressing well with her studies at the Royal Academy. But not until episode 7 do we learn just how traumatic this experience has been for Aira, who might not fully grasp the concept of being the Saint but is utterly terrified of not being her!

Sei, meanwhile, is genuinely hoping to avoid the title and the expectations that accompany it. Prince Kyle’s instant fascination with the younger girl allows Sei the freedom to explore the new culture into which she’s been drawn and then navigate her own path through it, although she is nonetheless accorded a certain deference. She is an honored guest of the kingdom and even granted quarters within the castle. Moreover, Sei sees being summoned as a chance to reinvent herself and pursue a more fulfilling life than she had in Japan. Her knowledge of herbs and medicinal plants lands her the offer of a position at The Medicinal Flora Research Institute, which she happily accepts. But once she learns to use basic magic, her powers manifest quickly and inspire whispers that the “true” Saint was passed over by an impatient and ambitious princeling–indeed, even the king seems to think this. Is it true, though?

This has proven to be a very intriguing show, not so much for artwork or voice acting but for the possibilities suggested by Sei’s adjustments to her new life. We see a modern, self-sufficient Japanese woman hurled into a chivalrous, feudal Western society and watch her try to navigate completely alien social norms and mores. Western viewers get a foreigner’s “through-frosted-glass” fantasized interpretation of our medieval European heritage; we, in turn, get to laugh when a woman from what in many ways remains a tradition-bound, blatantly discriminatory and sexist culture starts pontificating to her bewildered new acquaintances about how open and free modern Japanese society is (and it might seem so to young Japanese, but not to an old gaijin who’s passed through). But that very dichotomy demonstrates where this show shines brightest: in prompting the viewer to first examine his/her own beliefs and then challenge them. What comfort zone?

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