By and large, each arc of The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt has been about exploring one of Wien’s weaknesses as a ruler. So far, we’ve seen that he reacts impulsively to any slight against Ninym, is unable to predict the actions of idiots, can’t form strategies without sufficient information, and is as susceptible to overwork as anyone else. Now that we’re in the middle of the final arc of the season, we get introduced to another flaw of our titular genius prince: his lack of experience.
The main diplomatic event of this episode is a battle of sorts between Wein and King Solgest. Going in, it’s a fight that Wein believes he’ll have no problem winning. After all, Wein has divided all kinds of plans and strategies to get the king to accept an alliance with Natra. But here’s the thing: while King Solgest may not be as brilliant as Wein, he doesn’t need to be. He is a king with years of experience in leading and developing a prosperous nation. Or to put it another way, as a veteran in the game of diplomacy, he has a plethora of well-tested strategies to deal with all sorts of personalities, and the one he chooses is perfect for handling an inexperienced diplomat such as Wein.
Wein is used to being the smartest person in the room. His intellect allows him to out-think and out-talk pretty much everyone. So, how do you deal with someone like this? Simple: you keep his mind distracted (on things like fine food and a beautiful princess) and simply avoid him whenever he wants to talk. Yet, at the same time, you make sure to be nothing but kind and courteous—giving him a mess of mixed messages to contend with.
Rather than trying to lull Wein into a sense of safety and security—something that Wein would mistrust on principal—King Solgest keeps Wein off-balanced and confused. And each time Wein thinks he has King Solgest figured out, the king betrays those expectations, throwing Wein for yet another loop—and giving him all the time he needs to launch a surprise attack on Natra with support from Delunio.
And while peace with Natra would no doubt be more profitable in the short-run (especially given that Solgest’s far more liberal culture makes Delunio their natural enemy) King Solgest can see the unfortunate truth: Wein will only get more dangerous with time. It won’t be long until Wein’s combined intellect and experience overwhelm his own. If he wants for his country to maintain its superiority in the north, Natra (and Wein himself) must be brought to heel immediately.
Unfortunately, what King Solgest fails to realize is that Wein isn’t his only adversary. Zeno has been overlooked her entire life simply because of her gender. And even if she is not on par with Wein or Lowa, she is more than competent as a ruler. King Solgest’s attack depends on a dual-pronged surprise attack between his forces and Deunio’s. Time is his greatest ally. However, Zeno has already taken that advantage away by acting as Wein would have before receiving his orders—starting the peace process with Delunio even before the war can get properly underway. King Solgest has ignored Zeno as an opponent and that might just be what thwarts his ambitions at the end.
• I wonder how the princess of Solgest truly feels about her father, Wein, and the war.
• King Solgest is interesting because he is only concerned with his own pleasure and maintaining it. However, rather than making him corrupt in the traditional sense, it makes him a good king to his people. He can see the big picture: the only way he prospers is if the kingdom does as well.
• Wein and Zeno really need to up their diplomacy game. Dismissing and ridiculing the beliefs of a foreign leader is not a good way to gain friends (regardless of said beliefs).
• When it comes down to it, Delunio’s Prime Minister was really only asking that Wein stop making his people inadvertently commit sins against their god. He truly believes he is fighting for the souls of his people.
• I mean, we can all agree that Wein is in the wrong here, right? The Delunian people have no idea that the things they are buying come from the Empire and not Natra. They aren’t even able to make the choice to sin or not. Wein has stolen that choice away by deceiving them for the sake of lining his own pockets. It’s like selling a Hindu believer a steak and claiming it’s actually made from soybeans.
The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt is currently streaming on Funimation.
Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.