The isekai pot has been boiling over for a long time in anime. High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World is yet another long winded entry into the sea of other anime with similarly long titles. Because the market is so saturated, you have to do a lot to make your story stand out; the plots are getting more and more ridiculous in an attempt to garner attention from the masses. So did this one do enough to stand out? Eh, not really. Spoilers ahead.
If the true meaning of isekai is taking a high school student from one world and plopping them into another while making them overpowered, then HSPHIEEIAW (and that’s the first and last time I’ll be using THAT acronym) is isekai times seven (eight if you count the bear). The big twist? The students are actually prodigies in Japan and gain no new abilities in their new world. But don’t worry, their knowledge of everything from medicine to economics is already so advanced that they are likened to gods by the locals.
The idea certainly feels flashy enough in concept. Let’s see what a bunch of modern day prodigies can do to upset the balance of things in a primitive world existing in a medieval time period. Mythical creatures such as elves exist and there is a system for “magic” in that world. So what’s the problem? High School Prodigies is simply lacking the most basic of elements that make a story interesting or exciting.
The story is grand enough, but it never really reaches a point that hooks you. Part of the reason is it never feels like there’s any actual conflict. Sure, there’s plenty of conflict happening on screen both economically and through actual warfare, but none of it feels real. It feels very surface, for lack of a better term. Even during what are supposed to be the most dire situations, our protagonists and their plans are never in jeopardy. You can’t feel for them because there’s simply nothing to feel.
These few conflicts are also resolved in what feels like a remarkable amount of time. Even if they wanted to build up any sense of urgency, there isn’t time for it to happen. Problems are presented and resolved before there’s any sense of danger. In the end it all feels frustratingly anticlimactic more than anything.
There are a few reasons this could be the case. Even with only twelve episodes, they are attempting to tell a big story and are using seven major characters to do so. So not only are we deprived of time for a big story, but we are also trying to present character arcs for a very large cast. Most of them feel neglected, but even the characters with the most screen time don’t feel fully fleshed out at any point during the series.
So what is fleshed out? The fan service. Just about the only audience I can recommend this to is one that wants a passable story and lots of ecchi. The women are all beautiful and voluptuous (minus one token “body image problems” character that is used to give us more, you guessed it, ecchi moments). The art and animation are also very well done, especially in those scenes. This isn’t a complaint, but you should know that this is their target audience. Many shows do this, I just prefer my good story with a side of fan service rather than the other way around.
There are a few fleeting moments of really interesting character and story development. In fact, they’re so fleeting that it feels like an almost insulting afterthought. There was a moment towards the end of the series where the medical prodigy shows us an almost evil side to her nature; she makes it very clear that she will use unethical methods to get what she wants if she has to. I was completely caught off guard by what I was seeing, but I welcomed it. Unfortunately, like the rest of the story, the moment passes in just a few minutes and it is never brought up again.
I had a lot of hopes for the potential of this show early on. It seemed like we were in for an interesting story with bonus humor and eye candy. Unfortunately, what appeared to be deep was merely a wading pool. In the end, I was left mostly with feelings of disappointment. Thanks to a few positive moments and elements, the show didn’t feel like a complete waste of time, but it isn’t one that I’ll be recommending or revisiting. I’m not even sure I’ll watch the second season they hinted at if it’s ever made. The best I can say is, if you want a fantasy story that focuses more on eye candy than plot development, this is probably the anime for you.