You’ve already seen this show. You know every story beat, trope, and twist that The Strongest Sage With the Weakest Crest has to offer – whether you’ve watched it or not. It’s been done, you’ve seen it done, and it was better that other time.
See, The Strongest Sage With the Weakest Crest is the most banal kind of seasonal shovelware. I’m not saying every work under the sun has to be endlessly creative and original; iterating on and remixing old ideas to create new harmonies is one of the core examples of creative expression, after all. In fact, I happen to love series such as Dragon Quest which consistently deliver the same sort of work over and over again.
So, why fault The Strongest Sage With the Weakest Crest for being a bit derivative? Why give other series a pass on doing the same old thing, but not this one?
In my opinion, the best works that lean on well-worn tropes have at least some key differentiating factors that set them apart. Maybe the setting is old hat but the political maneuvering is very engaging, perhaps the magic system is eye-rollingly samey but the characters are fleshed-out and endearing, or maybe the whole thing is made up of recycled ideas but the visual style is so unique and exciting you can’t help but tune in. Heck, sometimes a purely derivative work can bring back nostalgic feelings of a past era simply by coming at a time when its influences have largely faded into obscurity.
The Strongest Sage With the Weakest Crest offers none of these hooks.
The world is a generic fantasyland of monsters and magic you’ve seen a thousand times before. The hero is better than everyone at everything and he goes to a magic school where everyone is super impressed by how much better he is than them. The villains are generic demon baddies who are bad because, duh, they’re demons. The characters have the depth of a sidewalk puddle, and contribute little else to the narrative beyond expressing their surprise at how amazing Mathias is. There are no complicated plots or interesting motivations, just weekly problems that are resolved before the credits roll.
All these bland elements are capped off by a complete lack of tension in the story. Mathias was a super-powerful sage in a past life, and while he is technically depowered in this era you wouldn’t know it from anything that happens in the show. He fully comprehends and knows how to take advantage of every situation he comes across in this show. He can get whatever he wants, whenever and however he wants it, and everyone is just gob-smacked by how impressive he is the entire time. If he ever relies on anyone or anything else, that is only because it’s another way to show off how good he is – either because he trained the girls in his
harem party and everything they know is because of him, or because all the magic items he wields were fashioned by him personally in his past life(!).
No challenge. No risk. No growth. It’s a show about how great Mathias is because Mathias is so great.
On top of this, the animation is… sad, honestly. All the character designs look like RPG Maker stock assets from the last decade. The colors and linework are painfully flat, and environments are completely uninspired. There’s no pop, no sizzle. The direction is coherent but lacking in any excitement – but I can’t blame anyone for not giving their all for this production. Bland and lifeless visuals are only fitting for such a forgettable work.
Most egregious of all is that The Strongest Hero With the Weakest Crest is just one of dozens of similar shows that get churned out every season. Doing a bit of quick back-of-the-envelope math, there are roughly one hundred and seventy-six of these shows that get plopped out every three months by my estimation. Even for those who absolutely adore “overpowered protagonist in fantasyland gets everything they could ever want and everyone loves them” stories as a sort of steady drip of shapeless anime comfort slurry, I cannot begin to fathom how The Strongest Sage With the Weakest Crest would be appealing. Everything this show offers can be found elsewhere and better. There’s probably more fun, creativity, and visual flair on display in half an episode of KONOSUBA than in the entirety of this season.
And it’s not even enough of a train wreck for viewers to get any twisted joy out of ogling the wreckage. It simply… is. Time invested in The Strongest Hero with the Weakest Crest is time which can be better spent doing literally anything else.