WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the first season of How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, available on Funimation.
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom is an isekai series about Souma Kazuya, a politically-minded 21st-century Japanese teenager who is summoned to save the fantasy kingdom of Elfrieden. Souma tried to solve Elfrieden's financial situation with legislative reform, but the first season of the anime was dominated by the invasion of rival principality Amidonia. Now that Souma's united army has quashed the invasion, he can focus once again on rebuilding Elfrieden. A trailer posted to Funimation's YouTube account suggests that the consequences of the invasion might be greater than even Souma expected.
The trailer makes Realist Hero Part 2 seem significantly darker than the first installment of the anime. Souma appears to make some brutal leadership choices in terms of crime and punishment as well as acknowledging his own potential shortcomings. Favorite characters are shown in strange new circumstances, and dangerous new characters are introduced. Here are some of the darkest moments from the trailer, as well as some moments that may not be as dark as they seem.
In one scene, Souma dramatically exclaims, "Thus shall your judgment be!" It is unclear who Souma is speaking to here, but it might be Castor Vargas, commander of the dragon air force who Souma had to defeat in order to unify the four armies. It's also unclear what judgment Souma is making, but the fact that he apparently expresses anxiety to knight Liscia Elfrieden over whether or not it was the right choice implies that it's a severe one. Souma has discussed the virtues of Machiavellian "cruelties" with his Prime Minister Hakuya Kwonmin, so it's possible that the trailer is revealing a crueler side of Souma's leadership.
Another scene shows Souma talking to his prisoner Carla Vargas, Castor's daughter and knight. He tells her, "If I ever go astray, you are to kill me, then and there." This line is similar to Souma's line in Episode 9 when trying to convince the Three Dukes to let him combine their armies. Castor Vargas asked what would happen if Souma became corrupt, and Souma responded that he could "claim my head" in that eventuality. It is encouraging that his reassurance to Castor was sincere and that he genuinely doesn't want to risk Elfrieden falling to a corrupt leader, but the fact that he would sacrifice his own life so readily is still an incredibly dark development.
Not everything in the trailer is as dark; a shocking proposal from Amidonia’s Princess Roroa is followed by a montage of comedic scenes and embarrassed reactions. Even this, however, is tinged with darkness. A scene of Souma's bodyguard Aisha crying is likely a comedic overreaction rather than a scene of genuine emotion, as her mouth is quivering and her eyes are filled with exaggerated anime tears. Even so, only the context of the anime itself will explain what has caused the often stoic knight to look so horrified.
Another scene features Ludwin the knight holding up a girl wearing glasses with an oversized lab coat and saying, "She's the one who committed that scandalous act." A caption identifies the character as being "Over-scientist Genia Maxwell." Similar to the Aisha scene, it is uncertain if Genia's "scandalous act" is really a significant transgression or not. The contrast between Genia's innocent appearance and her alleged crimes could mean that it's another moment of comic relief, but the dark tone of the trailer as a whole could imply that she is hiding is something more serious.
Perhaps the most shocking scene of the trailer for anime viewers is the revelation of two new characters: "Slave trader Ginger Camus" and "Raccoon girl slave Sandria." Presumably, the progressive Souma intends to abolish slavery in Elfrieden, but the casual way the smiling characters are introduced threatens to introduce the same cavalier approach to slavery themes that has alienated fans of so many other isekai. Souma is after all an intelligent student with knowledge about historical and present-day slavery in the real world, and moving to abolish it would be an example of exactly the kind of relatively modern thinking that makes him such a unique figure in the world of Landia.
Having said that, Carla is clearly still wearing the "slave collar" from her encounter with Aisha and Liscia -- a device that will kill her if she attacks Souma. Restraining Carla after arresting her during the war is one thing, but controlling her after the conflict is over would be another example of his behavior becoming darker in this second part. Perhaps Carla's continued servitude is the harsh punishment Souma delivers and worries to Liscia about in the earlier part of the trailer. Fans can only hope that Souma remembers the spirit of freedom and forgiveness with which he approached the Amidonian people in his broadcast in Episode 12.
The trailer promises many other developments besides, such as a dreaded confrontation with Amidonia's Prince Julius and Souma's first meeting with the Gran Chaos Empire's beloved Empress Maria Euphoria. Even though there might be some dark developments, Souma's climactic line shows that he hasn't lost sight of his mission to make Elfrieden as great as it can be, reaffirming the inclusive principles he expressed in his broadcast in Episode 2: "There's no shortage of people in the world. That's why we always have to be looking for talented people."
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Part 2 premieres in Japan on January 8, 2022.
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