Fantasy series are full of royalty, and those characters are often noble, incompetent, evil, or ambitious. But how about a genius prince who is plain lazy? That’s the protagonist of The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (Hey, How About Treason?). Read on for the review of Volume 1.
Back Cover Blurb
Prince Wein is ready to commit treason. And who can blame him? Faced with the impossible task of ruling his pathetic little kingdom, this poor guy just can’t catch a break! But with his brilliant idea of auctioning off his country, this lazy prince should be able to retire once and for all. Or that was the plan…until his treasonous schemes lead to disastrous consequences-namely, accidental victories and the favor of his people!
This series’ long-winded title is somewhat misleading. The main character, Wein Salema Arbalest, is a prince and a genius, but his country, the Kingdom of Natra technically isn’t in debt. The kingdom doesn’t owes money to others; rather, Natra is lean on industry and resources. Ergo, the demands on the country’s leadership are high but the material benefits are few. Wein, however, is naturally lazy, bears no idealistic notions, and has had a taste of the good life during his studies abroad in the Earthworld Empire. As such, his dearest dream is to sell out his country to the Empire that he might live out his life in ease and luxury.
The title might also lead one to think the story is of trade and negotiation, similar to Spice and Wolf. Although Wein’s first act after being named Prince Regent to stand in for the ailing king is a peacetime discussion with the Earthworld Empire’s ambassador, the majority of the plot concerns military strategy and tactics and the resulting geopolitical consequences. (Even that initial discussion with the ambassador concerns the terms of an agreement allowing Imperial troops to be stationed within Natra.)
Sounds like serious stuff, but even though everyone around Wein is serious and takes him seriously, Wein is a comic character behind the scenes. He’s constantly trying to ditch his responsibilities, and only the fear of a coup and his longtime friend and aide Ninym (the one person who knows his true nature) keep him in line. He’s also got a sister complex and is a bit of a perv (a tone which gets incorporated into the artwork). If the series was turned into an anime or manga, it would undoubtedly include fanservice elements.
As annoying as I found the breast references, this plot was engaging. Interestingly, it reminded me of another Yen Press title, Tanya the Evil. While one is a fantasy and the other is an industrial-era isekai, both have heavy strategic, tactical, and political elements. Tanya and Wein have vastly different personalities, but they are similarly deemed model patriots when in truth they’d dump their responsibilities given the chance. And the running joke with both is that their brilliant schemes to attain the easy lifestyle continually backfire.
The main weakness of Genius Prince is that, unlike Tanya, its cast tends to be very one-dimensional. Aside from Ninyim and Wein, characters have little nuance. They’re all evil, all loyal, all idiot, or all victim. Also, even though Wein’s father remains king, he never appears throughout the several months worth of events.
Despite that, the story is an entertaining, easy read. Whereas Tanya delved into details to the point that it was a real slog, Genius Prince does a good job presenting information in a clear fashion that doesn’t bog the pace.
Extras include the first eight pages printed in color, ten black-and-white illustrations, and afterword.
A military narrative takes a comic tone as a prince regent’s best efforts to rid himself of his kingdom backfire into one brilliant victory after another. The plot involves quite a bit of strategy and geopolitics, but it keeps the parameters simple, so it’s easy to comprehend. That combined with Prince Wein’s behind the scenes outbursts makes for an entertaining story.
First published at the Fandom Post.