The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest Debuts with a Huge Mystery

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 1 of The Strongest Sage With The Weakest Crest, "The Strongest Sage Appears," now streaming on Crunchyroll.

Winter 2022's newest addition to the isekai genre, The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest debuted with more questions than setup. Adapted from the light novel of the same name, Episode 1 opens with an adult male sage named Gaius defeating a demon. He then complains that he isn't strong enough with only one crest, believing he can be more efficient with four crests. Gaius defines the first crest as creation, the second as power, the third as rapid firing and the fourth as crucial for solo battle. Unfortunately for Gaius, he cannot change the crest he is born with and teleports himself elsewhere.

The next time Gaius is seen, he is a 12-year-old boy named Matthias "Matty" Hildesheimer on his way to enroll at a magic school. While he now has the four crests he desired, they are also not celebrated as the most powerful ones to possess in this new world of magic. Whereas Gaius originally thought of the four crests as the best, the sages of the world Matty inhabits see them together as the "crest of failure." This proves to be an unexpected turn of events for Matty.

Despite the low status of having four crests in this new world, Matty is just as quick to disprove that commonly held belief as false. The first dangerous demon he encounters on his way to a new town is effortlessly slayed. The minute he sets foot in town, Matty quickly enchants a new sword for two girl magicians -- which would've taken another magician a longer time to accomplish. When he accompanies the two girls to the Second Academy to complete their entrance exams, he aces them with no effort.

When the exams are over, Matty is summoned to the headmaster's office -- but not on the suspicion that he is too powerful for the school he's enrolling into. Instead, he's invited to be a guest instructor and teach the students how to cast silent spells. When his school competes against the First Academy in a magic competition a month later, Matty quickly identifies the other school's top student as a demonic usurper. This is when he literally reveals to the audience that he is, in fact, the reincarnation of Gaius, the powerful sage from the episode's opening scene.

Throughout Episode 1 of Strongest Sage, only one thing is made clear: Matty is too exceptional for the reputation his four crests are supposed to have. He's also too quick to win the admiration of the two girls he befriends, the entire student body and even the headmaster at the Second Academy. If no one is suspicious of Matty's immense power and magical talents for a 12-year-old enrolling at a second-rate school, it begs the question of whether the people residing in this world are human or androids.

The more pressing question about Matty, however, is his actual motivation, which is not answered by the end of Episode 1. Why wasn't a single crest enough for him in his original incarnation as Gaius? On that note, with his power level, why enroll at a second-rate school instead of the first-rate school? With all that's known about Matty and his previous incarnation as Gaius, he has all of the makings of a villain rather than a hero one should be rooting for -- specifically a narcissistic one who gains power by obtaining mindless admiration from others.

Whether or not Matty has heroic or villainous motivations will surely be further fleshed out in upcoming episodes. For now, The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest leaves things rather ambiguous, but not necessarily in a good way.

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