Based on an isekai light-novel series by Dojyomaru, this manga adaptation of How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom by Satoshi Ueda, initially drew me in with its striking cover, which pays homage to Jacques-Louis David’s famous painting: Napoleon Crossing the Alps. The premise of a hero who uses their wits and knowledge of the modern world to save a Kingdom through economic reforms and policy changes, instead of through violence, reminded me of Accomplishments of the Duke’s Daughter, another isekai series that I love, so I decided to give this one a try.
When the Demon Lord returns and begins an invasion of the continent of Landia, the Kingdom of Elfrieden is pressured by its neighbours into performing an ancient ritual to summon a hero from another world capable of saving them all. To everyone’s surprise, the spell actually works!
Someone is indeed summoned, but it isn’t the powerful warrior everyone was hoping for. Instead, it’s an ordinary Japanese college student by the name of Kazuya Souma. Kazuya knows that he’d be useless in a fight against a Demon Lord but offers to help Elfrieden in a different way, by using his knowledge from Earth to propose sweeping agricultural and infrastructure reforms in order to make the ailing kingdom prosperous and strong. The King is so impressed with Kazuya’s insight and intellect that he decides to arrange an engagement between Kazuya and his daughter, Princess Liscia, and then abdicates his position, appointing Kazuya as the new King!
Since he has no way of getting home, Kazuya agrees to temporarily take the throne, at least until he’s managed to get the kingdom back on track. Does Kazuya have what it takes to protect the kingdom and his new friends? Maybe all of that time he spent studying Machiavelli will finally come in handy!
I’m not sure what precisely Kazuya was studying in University, but he appears to have acquired a wide breadth of detailed knowledge on various subjects, his interests seemingly ranging from the writings of Machiavelli to forestry practises to city planning. The fact that Kazuya is such a huge nerd and is an expert on so many topics is certainly convenient, as the Kingdom of Elfrieden has a whole host of troubles, the looming threat of the demons being the least of their woes!
Elfrieden is currently suffering from a major food shortage, is dealing with an influx of refugees and there are neighbouring nations that are eager to take advantage of the current crisis in order to seize their land. None of these problems are easy to fix and I appreciated that the story showed Kazuya having to come up with multiple measures in order to solve the food shortage. Kazuya starts by making changes to the types of crops his people are growing and mandates that a certain percentage of a farmer’s crops need to be edible, but he also builds new roads to help with the transportation of goods and ensure that food can be moved around the kingdom more quickly. He even uses the magical communication system, which the Kingdom uses for important royal proclamations, to broadcast a cooking-show to encourage his people to eat unconventional foods while they wait for his agricultural changes to bear fruit. Not only was it funny to see our main characters participate in a cooking show, I liked that the manga acknowledged that there was no quick solution to the large problems facing the Kingdom and that, even with Kazuya’s clever plans in motion, stop-gap measures were necessary to prevent starvation until the effects of his large scale projects could start to be felt. This was a surprisingly down-to-earth approach to the story and I found that knowing that there wasn’t going to be any simple solutions made me more invested in the struggle to save the Kingdom.
Kazuya, on the other hand, is not super compelling as a lead character. He’s smart and frequently shrewd, but he’s also a bit flat and he’s unrealistically capable; nothing really fazes him and he seems to have an answer handy for everything. This is kind of to be expected in the type of wish-fulfillment fantasy that this manga is so clearly intended to be though, so I wasn’t too put off by it. There was also some scenes towards the end of this volume that showed that the stress of being a ruler is starting to get to Kazuya, so we might start to see more character development for him in future volumes.
That said, there were some places where the male-wish-fulfillment elements of the story became so blatant and gratuitous that it made me roll my eyes so hard that they almost disappeared inside my skull.
Kazuya is slowly starting to amass an entourage of beautiful and available young ladies who, predictably, are all falling in love with him and, since its been mentioned that polygamy is both accepted and expected of a man in his position, I have some feelings of trepidation as to where the manga might be headed on that front. I was also particularly annoyed by the treatment of the character of Aisha, a dark-elf and a proud warrior whose people are the guardians of a sacred forest. Kazuya just happens to ask her about periodic thinning, a practice where sections of a forest are cleared on a regular basis to encourage new growth and help prevent the ground from drying out and becoming prone to landslides. After hearing him explain this concept, Aisha immediately abandons her dignity and prostrates herself before Kazuya, offering herself to him, body and soul, to use in anyway he desires, all because this offhand statement just so happens to give her the answer to the cause of the natural disasters that have been plaguing her forest.
This would be a cringey moment in any context, but Aisha’s display of subservience felt extra uncomfortable because Aisha is currently the only darker skinned character in the main cast. While it should be noted that Kazuya doesn’t take Aisha up on her offer to use her as a sex toy, I was annoyed by how worshipful she becomes of him, especially since Aisha seemed like such an independent and fierce character when she was first introduced and I find her pretty fun whenever she’s focused on things other than Kazuya.
How the Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom has its flaws, a generic-feeling protagonist and the use of some very aggravating harem-manga tropes being chief among them, but it also has a lot of elements that make it enjoyable and I ultimately had a good time reading about all of the political intrigues and seeing what new schemes to improve the kingdom Kazuya would come up with next. While it should please isekai fans, I feel like How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom will also be appealing history buffs, who should get a kick out of seeing Kazuya introduce innovations such as Roman Concrete and aqueducts to this medieval setting.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
What did you think of this manga? Has anyone read the light novels and, if so, how do you think they compare to the manga? I’ve also heard that an anime adaptation of this series is in the works, is anyone looking forward to that? Let me know in the comments!
For more information on this manga, visit J-Novel Club’s website.
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