The 8th son? Are you kidding me? – Mid Season 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)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: The 8th son held promise early on, particularly as the story focused on Shingo’s rebirth into that of a impoverished noble boy who stumbles upon his innate magic ability, and the efforts made by a grand mage to teach him in secret. Shingo, reborn as Wendelin, had real personality, and the writing showcased ingenuity that could take a seemingly inconsequential gag and use it as real foreshadowing for dramatic twists. Unfortunately for as interesting and different as that opening was, the rest of the show has shifted into bog standard Isekai that you’d get in just about every other Isekai anime of the past decade.
Linny: The deeper we dive into the story, the more superfluous and bait-y the Isekai tag for 8th Son feels. Despite some solid implementation in the earlier episodes, Wendelin’s true origins and familiarity with the ‘real world’ quickly become nothing more than a source for periodic comedy or for more random shenangians; such as balking at the price of the ring he just bought after converting it to Japanese Yen in his head or using his magic to make miso. They’re not even all that amusing or entertaining either. Nothing he actually does or says after growing up has any relation to him being reborn from a different world especially in regards to major plot points. 8th Son could have been a straight up male power fantasy set purely in this typical western fantasy world and the show’s plot wouldn’t be affected in the slightest.
Tom: Episode three and on is when The 8th Son starts to pile on the typical elements you’d expect of any Isekai anime. Wendelin’s harem/possy expands very quickly, with him gaining three adventurers who deeply respect and fawn over his immense magical ability. It’s not long after that Wendelin also gains a fiance, a particularly busty and beautiful twelve-year old priest maiden. The way in which these characters view Wendelin really speaks to the power fantasy elements of the story. Every single one is in awe of him, and immediately recognizes him as being their superior. This power fantasy atmosphere is so thick that it supplants any potential drama. Everyone recognizes Wendelin as amazing, he is amazing, and nothing bad ever happens because either Wendelin is too powerful to face challenge or there’s a silver, if not more like gold, lining to every set back. In truth, the only times the series feels passably interesting after Episode 2 are when it’s trying to be more so a comedy than anything overtly dramatic. It’s still not great as the comedy often lacks punch or feels entirely predictable. It doesn’t help that none of the characters are all that interesting. Wendelin’s harem/possy generally all feel samey, although the blue haired girl, Louise, feels more overtly obsessed with becoming Wendelin’s concubine than the other girl in his adventurer’s group, Vilma. None of the characters leave much of an impression either. They don’t stand out at all against the massive swath of other Isekai casts, making Wendelin and Co. feel particularly forgettable even when just comparing titles within the subgenre itself.
Linny: Something that was a sore spot for me is how the show clearly states that his fiance is only 12 years old, yet she has the body of a much older woman. It really pushes this message of how women are meant to mainly be sexual/desirable objects in this story. Even his two female companions decide that they will become his concubines despite having trained to be adventurers themselves. And since this story is based in some medieval civilization like time period/place, the idea of him having concubines is encouraged and accepted openly even by his very own fiance. All of this only further makes 8th Son feel like it is so devotedly subscribing to the male fantasy.
Tom: I think the 8th son misrepresented itself early on. Male power fantasies are fine, but they’re obviously not for everyone. What’s presented in the first two episodes offers hints as to where the series ends up by mid season, but not enough that viewers know for certainty just how hard it’ll be shifting gears. The 8th Son is perfect for anyone who wants a low-stakes, all victories male power fantasy. You have to be okay with female characters who have no ambition or drive of their own or how our hero has everything handed to him and even when it looks like he’s been cheated out of rewards, that he’ll then stumble upon an even better reward than what he was ‘screwed’ out of. There’s no hardship, struggle or enthralling character dynamics, making The 8th Son exclusively for male power fantasy fans.
Linny: While the show does have Wendelin face some diplomatic issues such as being forced to do dangerous tasks out of noble obligations and fealty, the story hands him so much wealth and power within 3-4 episodes that said challenges are anything but. Everything is an annoyance to him at worst. Not to mention that visually, the show isn’t anything to write home about. 8th Son is so conservative with its animation that it doesn’t even show a single minute of a supposed giant and overwhelming battle that the hero and his armies find themselves in in episode 6. So if you’re raring for a straight up unadulterated male power fantasy set in a medieval like setting with magical abilities and can overlook bland animation, you may be the intended audience. Everyone else can give this show an easy pass.
The 8th Son? Are You Kidding Me? is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com