The 8th son? Are you kidding me? – 1st Episode Review
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Synopsis: Ichinomiya Shingo, an everyday twenty-five-year-old office worker, wakes up as Wendelin, the 8th son of an impoverished noble family out in the sticks. He soon despairs at his lack of succession rights and knowledge to navigate the political world, but finds hope in his aptitude for magic. This is the story of that young man earning his keep and his freedom through magic, with no world saving involved, and spending quite a while escaping his solitude. Ultimately, it is also the story of him being unable to escape the shackles of society. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: The 8th son? Are you kidding me? opens with a flash forward, offering audiences a glimpse of what the series will be like at some point in its future. We meet a teenage Wendelin being made to clear new areas for development by blowing away debris with his immense magical talent. Wendelin clearly doesn’t enjoy this work though, and retreats to his room where he’s then surrounded by a harem. It feels generic, typical and borderline uninteresting. Yet what follows is a well-paced first episode that eases the viewer, and Shingo himself, a typical Japanese Salaryman, into his new life as Wendelin, the 8th son of an impoverished, rural noble family.
Linny: The 8th son? reminds me of Ascendence of a Bookworm in that they’re both shows about isekai protagonists who find themselves in new families that are far less than ideal. When Shingo finds himself in the body of the child of a noble man, his father’s nobility is more of a title than tied to actual wealth. So much so that besides his two oldest brothers, every other son in the family is basically forced to renounce their nobility and go off on their own to make a living in the capital city. The family is so poor that their daily meals consists of hard brown bread and watery soup that they cannot even have seconds of. Shingo, now Wendelin, is quickly brought crashing down to earth, which makes for a very unique start in a sea of shows where reborn/world swapping heroes often find themselves in some cushy position or another, lauded as geniuses or super powered heroes from the get go.
Tom: Shingo/Wendelin himself is a pretty bog standard Isekai main character. He’s your typical Japanese Salaryman; overworked and underappreciated, with nothing in his life tying him to this world. After seemingly passing away from overwork he finds himself reborn in the body of Wendelin, beginning his new fantasy life. What sets Shingo apart however, from more boring Isekai leads, isn’t merely his less than ideal position in this new life, but rather his reactions to it. Shingo feels more inquisitive, quick to disbelieve, and all around more lively and natural. He’s still an every man character, but those little moments breath a lot of life into his portrayal, even if he’s still but a ‘stock lead.’
Linny: Based off this first episode, The 8th son seems poised to be about watching our protagonist’s journey learning magic and using that to make a living in this new world. What could make this show potentially interesting is injecting more of Wendelin’s personality filled reactions to the world around him as well as finding a good balance between its slice of life vibes and its magical elements to avoid feeling too generic or predictable in either category. However, the heavy emphasis on combat in the opening credits really tempers my expectations and makes me worry it will eventually degrade into a generic isekai/fantasy adventure story. For now, it’s definitely worth a look into if you’re not burnt out on Isekai just yet. The show does have some potential, thanks to a pretty steady and solid first episode that avoids one too many tropes. But if you’re hoping for something more unique, it might be better to wait for a mid series or final review to decide.
Tom: While I enjoyed this first episode, and would currently recommend the show, I do find myself apprehensive of what to expect going forward. What I found interesting was Wendelin’s slow, burgeoning understanding of this new world, coming to grips with his new family’s financial situation and the existence of magic. The flash forward felt far more typical power fantasy escapism and by episode’s end it’s not quite clear how fast we’ll be rushing to catch up to that flash forward. My hope is we continue to play it slow, letting at least the first few episodes act as an introduction to Wendelin, his magical ability, and training before we rush into the next phase of the story that feels far more generic. A good start, with a strong, relatable lead can help ease us into something much more by the books simply by making our hero someone we’re connected to, and eager to see succeed. Let’s hope we get some more time with kid Wendelin before rushing ahead.
The 8th Son? Are You Kidding Me? is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com