Wein (pronounced like “wane” rather than “wine”), crown prince of Natra, epitomizes the idea of being too smart for one’s own good. With his father the king in poor health, Wein is in charge of his small, impoverished kingdom, but in his heart of hearts, he’d much rather just live a life of laziness and ease. Unfortunately, Natra is currently too poor even to sell out to another country. In private, Wein is whiny, but when he’s on the job, he’s not just competent, he’s amazing. He may begrudge his responsibilities, but he does fulfill them. His attempts to minimize the scale and duration of the war are interpreted as genius moves by his subordinates, whose perspective is validated when Wein’s army trounces invaders from a neighboring country in battle, then goes on the offense and captures a strategic location in enemy territory. The episode also introduces several other potential plot threads: Wein’s adorable little sister Falanya, the fact that Natra is welcoming toward a widely despised racial minority (the Flahm are basically fantasy Jews with albinism as an ethnic trait), and the death of a major empire’s leader has just died.
This story is part “administrative fantasy” and part comedy. It features political machinations and military strategy similar to stories like How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, but has none of the “fantasy” elements aside from the fictional world itself (e.g. no magic, no elves, no isekai, no harem). The scheming and tactics are used more to set up humorous reactions and situations than for pure drama. The real fun begins when Wein starts matching wits against other smart people, resulting in gambit pileups right and left just for the lulz (though this introductory episode doesn’t have much opportunity to get into this aspect of the story). I actually disliked vol. 1 of the Genius Prince light novel, but eventually I read subsequent volumes and grew more fond of the series. This matters because I felt like this episode moved really, really fast. On the one hand, this may mean the anime plans to hurry through the material I disliked and will hopefully get the part I like more quickly, but on the other hand, it means the first episode felt pretty rushed. On another critical note, there were a couple of CG shots of the castle that even I found cringeworthy. So, will I keep watching? Yes, for now. Should you watch? Maybe? It’s an underwhelming first episode, but maybe that’s inevitable considering the source material’s underwhelming first volume. However, if the adaptation improves in keeping with the novels, then the anime as a whole may turn out to be quite good.
The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt can be streamed on Funimation.