Will fantasy isekai always be with us? Probably, but that doesn’t mean it has to all be generic and uninspired which is probably how Hachi-nan tte, Sore wa Nai deshou! is best described. This arguably inoffensive but thoroughly apathy-inspiring series failed to live up to its admittedly decent premise, devolving into an almost aimless story with low-to-no stakes to be found. Today we’ll be discussing some of the major pitfalls of the series along with some ideas for how it could have been improved. Spoilers ahoy, not that it matters too much.
Mahou ex Machina
Silly heading aside, the main failing of the 8th Son can be boiled down to his bonkers overpowered yet thoroughly boring and nondescript magical ability that our titular character gets as a free bonus for being isekai’d like you might get a free fountain drink for buying a combo meal. That’s not entirely fair as the second episode focused on his training with Alfred Reinford is actually fairly interesting but the whole “wow you have the most magical power ever” is obviously contrived and makes everything feel inconsequential since it isn’t developed beyond that point with Wendelin becoming and remaining a seemingly unstoppable dragon-slaying super wizard, removing any real tension to make his actions feel meaningful.
Anime with overpowered characters aren’t necessarily bad at all but successful shows will work this aspect into the story in a way to make it interesting with things like specific restrictions and interactions with other super-powered enemies or just make it funny and/or awe-inspiring with over-the-top displays of power brought to life with amazing animation as seen in shows like One Punch Man. Considering the title’s infrequent escapes from cliche self-seriousness, perhaps the best approach to making 8th Son more fun would be to comically lean into how strong he became and explore him becoming overly cocky or just using his powers for silly things. There’s a bit of that with Wendelin clearing land but it’s not particularly exciting. For the serious route it could be cool to see him mess up more and become afraid of his own power but as it stands, there’s just not much to it and it makes any conflict feel pointless.
That Whole 8th Son Thing…
Another part of this series that showed some promise at the beginning was the basic premise of him being the 8th son of an impoverished noble family, not set to inherit anything with not much of anything to inherit to begin with. This sets the stage for our hero to devise some clever plans to improve his lot in life, perhaps drawing from his rather nondescript salaryman background (remember that?) but instead, he zaps a dragon and proceeds to be showered in gold, praise, and estates left and right which basically nullifies this as swiftly as a cheat code in a video game. His family status does come up again, but basically only with his older brother Kurt being comically evil but also so weak, he might as well not exist as an adversary. There’s no real exploration of what this new family means to Wendelin and his challenges as the youngest son are literally magically whisked away as we mentioned before.
Is it wrong to think that this story would likely be more interesting if they didn’t fast forward to Wendelin being a superpowered young adult? What if he had to play politics with his family and keep his magic training secret for years as he built up enough skill to leave home. Maybe there could be more secrets in the woods or some conspiracy by the other nobles to keep the Baumeister knightdom down? Maybe he uses his real-world modern knowledge to help his family and knightdom grow? Why is this series even an isekai if the only thing that really comes up is him finding ways to make Japanese food? As he presumably switched bodies with the real Wendelin, some kind of Your Name.-esque shenanigans with a medieval fantasy kid figuring out modern salaryman life in Japan has potential but what we actually got in 8th Son is a title and premise that is functionally meaningless after the second episode.
There are other, less interesting things you could say held back Hachi-nan tte, Sore wa Nai deshou! like its lacking production values, obvious self-insert power fantasy pandering, lack of real central narrative, and an overly generic world, but ultimately, it is a story that needed better direction, character development, and an actual hook to make up for its otherwise trope-ridden, uninspired frivolity. It is of the blandest class of junk food anime bearing only a slight, artificially-flavored aftertaste of potential. Is it actively offensive? Not really. Is it worth indulging in or remembering? Probably not.
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