The news that BOFURI will be taking a couple of weeks off after this episode is disheartening, if not entirely surprising. This whole season of anime has been on fire, and given the way parts of this second season for the Maple Tree guild have turned out, perhaps breaking for a bit is preferable to, say, substituting entire scenes with CGI. Regardless, it drops us off here at the effective halfway mark to see how the series might leave us hanging and what gripping cliffhanger the show will tease us with to leave us hungry to jump back in once it returns on March 8.
Of course, once you get a season-and-a-half into BOFURI, you know a “cliffhanger” is unlikely to occur. Instead, we’re just dutifully, pleasantly coasting ahead on this overarching storyline about all the characters catching their particular Pokémon. Fair enough, seeing how the different players acquire their new animal friends and how their abilities get complimented is a fun way to illustrate their personalities and show off the new corners of this continuously revamped game. They even keep things decently thematically tied together. Where the last episode saw characters like Kasumi and the twins engaging in more direct combat action in efforts to “catch” their new companions, this one is all about other characters following quest lines where pre-tamed beasty buddies serve as their rewards.
There is an in-between approach at the beginning, as Kanade first has to track down a slime, then fulfill magic-casting requirements to tame it. He’s got a very technical approach to following the phases of the quest line to locate this particular monster. He strikes me as the type of player who always has a tab with the game’s wiki open while playing, something that BOFURI has been good about showing isn’t necessary for going through NewWorld Online. This would make for an overall good element of the experience, design-wise, while we can still take this particular approach as indicative of Kanade’s personality. It’s nice, given he’s one of the guild members who seemed to fall by the wayside, screen time-wise, since the first season.
That is the intent for most of this episode. The rest of the episode focuses on Iz, Maple Tree’s craftswoman, and her quest to get a critter who can assist in her exploits. Maple and Mii also come along for the ride, and they overshadow what could have been some more detailed exploration of Iz. It means what we get is a demonstration of what a perfectly ‘normal’ quest in NWO looks like, driven by a character who doesn’t have an incredibly outsized personality. It is, as a result, just very okay.
The episode has a fair amount of time dedicated to that time-honored MMO tradition of players showing off the cool stuff they acquired to each other. Mii’s already got a monster companion (a phoenix, natch), which we get to see her whip out and let the others ride around on. And, of course, there are Maple’s freshly-acquired tentacle powers, which make for a pretty fun oblique sight gag early on, and show off some neat ways she can combo them with her other skills once the boss fight this episode ramps up.
It’s all nice enough in that baseline BOFURI way. And it’s not like Iz gets shortchanged on her own mission since we get a bit with her scurrying around in the background, scrounging up materials while Maple and Mii fight a dragon. She also shows off the power of her potions, clarifying to Mii how seriously she’ll need to take Maple Tree the next time her guild goes up against them in competition. Honestly, all this highlights how effectively Mii has stolen the show from anyone she’s grouped up with this season. Her tagging along on the quest illustrates how she happily takes on a challenge, showing off a bold component of her personality apart from her impostor syndrome issues. She’s the one the series is most interested in writing and portraying right now.
Is that enough to carry what is a just an aggressively acceptable episode? On the one hand, additional bits like Kuromu’s acquisition of an undead ghost-armor assistant he can henshin into come off cool. I do gotta give BOFURI credit for making several of the Fakemon designs and concepts in this storyline feel unique. But then, while what we see of Kuromu’s quest has some interesting bits, it’s also hardly the most impressive-looking segment in an episode that needed to look a bit nicer if it just wanted us to sit back and effectively enjoy these players’ livestreams.
Maybe it’s just the news of the hiatus making me hyper-aware of the visuals, but Mii and Maple’s fight with the dragon doesn’t look as fluid or impressive as it could be as a set piece. There are a few awkward jump-cuts in the episode. Will a couple of weeks be enough to shore things up? Hopefully, and in the meantime, I’m still enjoying these characters enough that I’m looking forward to seeing what the game’s events have in store for them once they’ve all collected their digital companions.
BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense. Season 2 is currently streaming on
Chris is a freewheeling Fresno-based freelancer with a love for anime and a shelf full of too many Transformers. He can be found spending way too much time on his Twitter, and irregularly updating his blog.