This is a show I am liking more and more with each new episode. Not coincidentally, that's how I felt about the first of the novels it's based on, and having gone back to double-check some things, it turns out that The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent is not, in fact, flying through its source material. It feels that way because of the change in how the story is being told – the novels are narrated in Sei's first-person point of view, which gives us a bit more detail. There's also a pretty big difference in seeing “two months later” on a card on-screen after ten minutes as opposed to in a chapter heading after reading fifty pages, which can give the impression that things are moving at a faster clip than they are. In any event, this is turning out to be a more faithful adaptation than I initially assumed.
It still takes a while to get on its feet, however. Episode one, which introduces us to Sei and summons her from modern day Japan to the pseudo-18th century fantasy kingdom of Salutania, really is the weakest. It also is the one that does the most picking and choosing with the source material, although it's hard to blame it – Sei's adjustment to her new situation comes with a lot of trial and error and experimentation in general, and that makes for better reading than watching. This episode does, however, make one very good cut from the books that I'm hoping continues: the stats aspect is completely left out, and instead the show opts to trust us to be able to tell from people's reactions that Sei's magic power is not the norm. It may even be omnipotent, in fact. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
No one, however, is telling Sei that. In part that seems to be at the behest of Johann, the man in charge of the research facility where Sei settles – episode three seems to establish that he's only interested in telling Sei as much as she needs to know in the moment. Or he could be grossly underestimating how very different Sei's thought processes and common sense are from those of native Salutanians; he's been at least vaguely horrified by her work ethic (as has Jude), and while he's clearly keen on facilitating his friend Albert's crush on Sei, he also wasn't counting on her not being able to tell that Albert has feelings for her in the first place.
Although the romance plotline really only comes into its own in episode three, which is a good pace for it, it's interesting because the author of the novels mentions in all three of the afterwords to the novels available in English thus far that she finds herself sidelining Albert and Sei's relationship in favor of the magic storyline. That means that the anime is a chance for playing with her original vision for that part, even if only in the way lines are delivered by the voice actors. So far I'm very pleased with it, both in terms of Albert and his various sincere, melting looks directed at Sei and at the sense that Sei may be deliberately ignoring the signals Albert's giving her because she's not sure what to do with them. She also may have inadvertently moved a little faster than she intended at the end there, giving Albert the necklace with the black stone – while she almost certainly meant it to be at least a little romantic, his reaction indicates that he took it as a sign that she returns his (at this point) stronger feelings, because her dark brown eyes could be easily represented by a black gem.
But part of what's fun about this series thus far is that it isn't just a romance – it's also about Sei trying to settle in to a new life she had no idea was coming. The fact that she was summoned alongside Aira, a younger, more traditionally (for Salutania, anyway) pretty girl, has caused some confusion in terms of why the heck she's there in the first place. Both women were summoned in an effort to find the Saint, a person with strong magic powers in order to help combat the dark forces currently taking over the country, but the young prince immediately latched onto the younger of the two, dismissing Sei out of hand. But what's becoming clear to Johann, at least, is that Prince Asshole may have made a serious mistake, because Sei is able to do things with her magic that really shouldn't be possible. He's still sounding things out – testing her with making different potions, getting her enchantment lessons, etc. – but it's clear that he is testing her, and brining her to the Magi Assembly feels like a very deliberate step towards showing other powerful people in the kingdom what she can do. He does need to tread carefully, because after all it is a prince he's going up against, but he's very much leading up to making some sort of political move.
What that will mean for Sei and Aira (of whom we've seen neither hide nor hair since episode one, although she may be the new girl at school Liz mentions in episode two) remains to be seen. That Sei has the loyalty of Albert and his entire company of knights is probably a good thing, and now the Magi Assembly is on her side, having witnessed her power for themselves. And Liz may even be an important ally going forward – she's clearly fairly high ranking herself. Whatever the case, I'm very happy with how this is unfolding, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the adaptation handles plotlines to come.
But before I end this, I would be remiss if I didn't say how nice it is to have a character with long blonde curls who doesn't incessantly laugh, “Oh-ho-ho!” Go Liz!
The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent is currently streaming on Funimation.