The Saint’s Magic Power is Imposter Syndrome

US release cover photo of The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent manga
US release cover of The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent manga

One of the most anticipated shojou/josei animes coming out this spring is an adaption of “The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent.” Per the manga cover (released by Seven Seas) the story follows 20-something, workaholic Sei as she adapts to living in a new magical world after being (accidentally?) summoned to be a savior “saint.” Sei is dismissed as a spare by the eldest prince of the magic world, since a younger, innocent ingenue girl was also summoned during the same ritual. 

The readers follow Sei as she processes her new situation. From the first pages, Sei describes herself as someone who works very hard at her job, to the point of exhaustion. After sleeping for two weeks as a guest in a castle, she wanders into a new area that is the Medicinal Flora Research Institute where she eventually becomes an employee. Even though her new employment does not demand it of her Sei continues with her M.O. of overworking and needing to prove herself through her productivity. For example, even though for the first 2 weeks of her residence in the new world, she is a guest in the palace, waited on hand and foot by servants and put up in a plush bedroom, when she starts her “job” as a researcher, she says she’s “gotta work work if [she] wants to eat.” There is a dichotomy of expectations presented – the ones expressed by the locals who feel honored by her presence and welcome her to simply be in the palace (or as a token employee of the Research Institute), versus her expectations of herself, which is stated that she must work to eat and must contribute productivity to “earn her spot.” We see Sei’s self definition come from her work: After she makes her first potion, she states “That’s how I came to live here…not only as a medicinal flora researcher but as an inhabitant of [the] world.” 

With a light and fluffy isekai (read: magical world) framework, this story taps into and addresses a deeper transnational psychological trend, what is commonly known in the US as Imposter Phenonmenon (aka Imposter Syndrome). This phenomenon was coined in research in the 1970s on high-acheiveing women, but gained larger societal awareness as a buzzword in the 2010s. It is defined loosely as “doubting your abilities and thinking you are a fraud” (HBR) and “experience of feeling like a phony—you feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud—like you don’t belong where you are, and you only got there through dumb luck. (VeryWellMind). 

This manga answers the questions that imposter syndrome poses, and the reader watches as Sei’s journey to accept herself and her impressive abilities improves her health and makes her stronger. This content and the light-heartedness and entertaining way it is communicated positions it to be relatable to audiences anywhere there is imposter syndrome, but for countries where that term is not used, anywhere where women are entering fields and achieving leadership in fields that are male-dominated. 

This leads to the drawback of the manga: As a comic, it would be targeted to teenage girls, but imposter syndrome is largely a college-age and employment-related phenomenon. To better fit a younger demographic, adaptation would need to highlight the some root symptoms of Imposter Phenomenon: the need to overachieve, the inability to recognize one’s own talents and skills, unrealistic expectations.  

On the whole, if executed well, the anime version stands a decent chance to garner international commercial success, and I’ll be interested to see how the production studios smooth over some of the rough edges of the light novel/manga (namely, pacing issues, some awkward word choices, and plot holes) and highlight the deeper emotional development of the protagonist to draw in and relate to the audience. 

For those who are familiar with Japanese demographics, Saint’s Power is a shojou manga that deals with josei issues.

For my fellow American otaku, if you liked “Boys over Flowers” (“Hana Yori Dango”) or “(Kaicho wa) Maid Sama” you’ll enjoy Saint’s Power, even though its set in a magical world and not a high school.

For European manga-fans, if you liked “Kimi wa Petto” you’ll enjoy Saint’s Power, which has a little less romance at the onset.

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