Wednesday, March 17, 2021

REVIEW: The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent (manga, vol. 1) story by Yuka Tachibana, art by Fujiazuki, character design by Yasuyuki Syuri, translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian

The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent is isekai fantasy based on a light novel series with the same title. I bought my copy brand new.


Sei arrives home one evening after a long day at work only to suddenly find herself transported into a new world where a magical miasma has caused a monster problem. Normally a saint is summoned when the miasma monsters become too bad for normal people to deal with, but for some reason this time two saints appeared, Sei and another woman named Aira. To Sei's annoyance, the eldest prince warmly welcomes Aira and completely ignores her. If that's how it's going to be, she figures they can let her go home. However, that's not possible, so Sei tries to put up with her new life as best she can. Bored, she finds herself drawn to the Medicinal Flora Research Institute, where she's soon given a job.

While at the Research Institute, Sei begins to learn about the various things she can do with medicinal herbs in this world, as well as the ways in which her abilities seem to be different from what other people can do.

I'd previously heard about this series but was planning on passing it by because my backlog is enormous enough as it is, and this sounded kind of bland. But in a moment of shopping cart weakness, I broke down and bought the first volumes of both the manga and light novel series. I decided to dive into the manga first, just because it would be faster and I liked the art when I flipped through it.

Based on this first manga volume, I strongly suspect that the light novel is going to be excruciatingly slow-paced. Not a whole lot happens - Sei is summoned, ends up at the Research Institute, discovers that people have RPG-like stats in this world and does her best to increase her "Make Medicine" level, and meets several attractive guys in the process. There's Jude, the nice guy who introduces her to the work the Institute does and who is then assigned to be her supervisor - Sei has a moment when she notes that he's attractive, but I suspect that he's a distant second in the list of Sei's potential love interests. There's Johan Valdec, the director of the Research Institute - probably not even in the running, intended more as a reader stand-in who notices the potential romance brewing. And there's Albert Hawke, the Winter Knight, whose life Sei saves with one of her potions.

Albert seems to be the most likely love interest. He's obviously interested in her, not that Sei realizes it, and at least a couple characters notice his interest and find it amusing. For my part, I'm iffy about their romance so far. It's not that they seem like a bad potential couple, but they're both pretty bland. Readers know nothing about Sei other than that she was a workaholic with an amateur interest in medicinal herbs. We don't even know what her job entailed - it's presented as generic office work. And Albert was just "the handsome knight." We're told that he's called the "Winter Knight" because he's usually cold and expressionless, but none of his on-page moments, even the ones where Sei isn't present, showed him that way. He was always warm and friendly.

As is usual with isekai fantasy series, Sei got the opportunity to introduce something from her world to her new one: in this case, cooking with herbs. For some reason no one in this world ever thought to season their food (possibly not even with salt and pepper??), so she started cooking with medicinal herbs and of course everyone loved it. She also introduced lotions and other beauty products, because of course she did.

So far, I really like the artwork, but the story and characters seem bland at best, and there are a few things that don't quite sit well with me. My biggest concern is the way Sei and Aira seem to be pitted against each other. Aira is the one who gets the prince's attention without even trying, who's immediately treated like the new saint. We're told that Sei is ignored, but in reality everyone who spends any time at all talking to her loves her - it was only ever the prince who ignored her. We're told that Aira has caused some problems at the Academy, getting too close to men with fiancees. Meanwhile, Sei also gets close to several men...but coincidentally none of them have fiancees, and there's no hint of disapproval in the text the way there is with Aira. I'm hoping that this is all a misunderstanding on the part of the people in this new world, and that they're assuming things about Aira's behavior and motives that aren't true, because otherwise it seems like she's being set up as Sei's "slutty" rival - not just in competition for the position of "true" saint but probably also for Albert's affection (although it's already clear who Albert would choose).

I don't know that it would really bother me to stop reading this series at this point. It could improve, but this doesn't seem like the most promising beginning. Well, like I said, I've got the light novel too, so maybe that will give me a different perspective of where this series might be heading.


A couple full-color images, an afterword by the original light novel author, an afterword by the manga artist/adapter, and four four-panel comics.

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