One of the problems I’ve always had with so many of these modern isekai, which do not even try to hide how flagrantly they are ripping off so many of their tropes from bog-standard RPG clichés, is that they always seem to forget that the things that work well in one medium do not necessarily translate to another. This week’s episode of Campfire Cooking is a perfect example of that. It is titled “Growth Happens Out of Nowhere,” but that is something of a misnomer because the whole episode is an excruciatingly detailed look at exactly where Mukohda and Sui’s growth comes from. First, Mukohda orders some of his Japanese takeout to boost his stats up a bit. Then he and his monster companions spend the better part of twenty minutes wandering around a nondescript cave dungeon so they can kill a bunch of anonymous slimes and kobolds until they’ve gained some levels.
In other words, it is the exact same low-level dungeon crawl grind session that any RPG aficionado knows is the most basic of basic setups for the early hours of just about any classically styled JRPG or what have you. The problem is that all of the stuff that makes that experience engaging — exploring the dungeon, managing inventory, and battle strategy — is only fun when you’re the one doing it. When you remove all of the interactivity and agency (aka the “game” part of the RPG acronym), there isn’t much to the experience for a passive viewer to latch on to. There are no stakes, plot, meaningful world-building, or character conflict. Based on the fact that this sub-genre is still going after all these years, there’s obviously a market out there for this kind of thing, but I fall squarely outside that camp.
Thankfully, in the case of Campfire Cooking, we at least have a fun cast of characters that can bounce off of each other while they engage in all of this aimless grinding, which at least makes the episode a bit less tedious than it otherwise would be. Mukohda’s cowardice is nothing if not a font for lots of dunking on Fel’s part, and it’s funny how Sui has proven to be a bloodthirsty little deathmonger. The action in this show has always been sub-par, but the one bit where Sui straight up dissolves a Kobold into a gloppy puddle of blood and viscera got a genuine laugh out of me.
The meager few levels that Sui and Mukohda gain this week also see the little slime evolving out of her baby form, which means that she can communicate with words now! I don’t know if “literal moe blob baby slime thing” is the character I would have added to the cast if I was in charge, but I won’t deny that Sui is still pretty danged cute, especially when she’s calling Fel her “Uncle.” The episode is also salvaged when it finally gets to the one major cooking sequence of the week, if only because I’m a sucker for oyakodon. Will this show keep being able to barely win me over with its cute banter and pandering food porn? If I’m being honest, yeah, it probably will, at least for a few more weeks. I can already feel my ADHD screaming louder and louder for some novel storylines and interesting new characters with each passing week. Still, if there’s one thing that can override my brain’s deranged addiction to serotonin, it’s my equally deranged addiction to Japanese cuisine.
Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skill is currently streaming on
James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.