After the breakneck pacing of the past few episodes, it’s nice to see the show slow down a bit and deal with the fallout of all that has happened in the series so far. After all, Wein has more than doubled the size of his nation, becoming the de-facto leader of two countries. Of course, neither one is exactly in a prosperous state. Natra is basically broke—barely able to muster even a token army after their recent military actions—and Marden is in the first stages of rebuilding after overthrowing their conquerors. But before Wein can deal with that, there’s the whole imperial succession crisis happening on the other side of the nation, as Lowa got her brothers to the bargaining table and is hoping to use Wein as a piece in her bid for the throne. However, something happens that neither Wein nor Lowa expect: Falanya volunteers to go in his place.
This is a fantastic surprise. Up until now, Falanya has been little more than a vehicle for exposition, a way for the audience to learn what they need to about the world to understand the story. Having her take center stage in a negotiation is a great first step in turning her into a full-fledged character.
Falanya is overlooked when it comes to her place in the kingdom, despite her technically being next in line for the throne. This is largely due to how exceptional her brother is. At only 16 years of age, Wein has taken their small nation to new heights through a mixture of war and diplomacy—and he’s not even technically the king yet. Being 2 years younger, Falanya is just starting to truly understand the problems facing her nation. This, plus her desire to help ease the burden on her brothers’ shoulders, is what drove her to volunteer to take his place as the envoy to the empire.
This episode shows Falanya having to stand on her own for the first time. While Ninem and Lowa are there to give her advice and help her navigate the political battlefield, it’s ultimately up to her to act according to her brother’s wishes while still making decisions in his stead. And make no mistake, each side in the succession crisis would love to have a rising star like Natra on their side.
But perhaps the most important thing this episode does is show us that Falanya is far from stupid. In fact, there is every possibility that she could grow up to be just as cunning as her brother. She soaks up information like a sponge and is able to put what she learns into action immediately. At the moment, the biggest obstacles she faces are her inferiority complex towards her brother and her simple lack of experience.
All in all, this episode is great character development for Falanya. It shows us not only who she is but who she has the potential to become. In fact, the only gripe I have with this episode is Wein showing up at the end and stealing her thunder. I would have loved to see how Falanya navigated the imperial crown prince’s ultimatum—regardless of the outcome. My biggest hope is that, after this immediate save, Wein continues to sit back and observe rather than take the lead. After all, isn’t turning Falanya into a great ruler in his stead the easiest way to escape his responsibilities?
• I like how Lowa is trying to manipulate Falanya but also allows herself to be manipulated in turn.
• Having Ninem advise Falanya is another great move. It not only separates her from Wein but shows that, while she could have easily taken over control of the delegation, she knows it’s best to let Falanya grow through her own choices.
• It was a nice touch to see the sheltered Falanya expanding her horizons by learning more about the common man. While the nobles squabble about who will become the next emperor, the lowborn are focused on getting clean water into the city. Something tells me this divide will be important in the coming weeks.
• I am shocked that Wein showed up at all considering the logistic implications of such a move. Who is ruling Natra in his stead? When he’s been gone previously, I assume that Falanya was nominally in charge but with them both gone, is their bedridden father suddenly back on the throne? Or is Zeno acting as temporary regent of both Marden and Natra?
• Writing the previous point, I had a sudden, super-random thought. What if it’s not Wein at all who showed up but rather Nanaki in disguise? With the right clothes, makeup, and hair dye, he could probably pass for Wein (at least to those that have never met the prince).
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.