Does BOFURI Season 2 Keep Up the Charm? – This Week in Anime

The first season of BOFURI was an unexpected, charming surprise among VRMMORPG anime. Does the second season keep up the quality?

This series is streaming on Crunchyroll

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.


Nick, I had a good time last week with Miss Nagatoro, though don’t think I’ve forgotten the annoyance of that out of season Christmas episode. Fortunately, we’ve got another of my most anticipated sequels of the season to cover this week, and I’m sure there’s no way that one can inflict any holly-jolly dissonance on me-

-Oh for FUN’s sake!

What can I tell ya, man, Halloween staked out a firm defense against the encroachment of Christmas, so now the holy empire has to invade the other side of the calendar. I for one welcome our Holly Jolly new overlords.

If even the maxed-out impenetrable defense of the mighty Maple can’t hold back the holiday hordes, what hope is there for the rest of us?

On the other hand, maybe I can give this one a pass, since that premiere episode of BOFURI‘s second season actually first ran in Japan around Christmas time. Plus it’s not like misplaced holiday-themed gear is an uncommon sight in real-world MMOs. And what is BOFURI if not the realest depiction of the MMO experience?

Oh, I very much disagree with that. BOFURI is a story where high level MMO play with one of the most successful guilds in the game is actually fun, which is about as far from reality as you can get.

That’s a fair point. The Maple Tree guild is all about encouraging play with whatever wild, unbalanced builds you can come up with, disregarding what the meta says. Maple’s never going to admonish some rookies for feeding during a forty-man raid. But that’s mostly because NewWorld Online continues to be the sort of game, held together with duct-tape and good intentions, which can be enjoyed by good internet friends just screwing around.

Not that the devs don’t seem to be giving it the old college try.
I mean, these guys are also pumping out new levels of a fully immersive VRMMO on a timeline of months, if not weeks. The fact that this game functions at all is a miracle, so I can’t fault them too hard for not crunching into the fourth dimension to properly balance all their new gameplay gimmicks. Plus, any game that lets you win boss fights like Legolas at Helm’s Deep is functioning the way God intended.

Look, the devs have got to know people posting clips of Maple’s guild doing wild shit in this game is a huge driving force of its notoriety. @OutOfContextMapleTree has hundreds of thousands of followers and has produced memes known by people who don’t even play NewWorldOnline. They aren’t going to patch out the best advertising they have.

I also don’t know that they could, outside of IP banning her. Maple is a chaos engine in both the spiritual and physical sense. She cannot be contained.

One thing I’ve liked so far in this second season is seeing how the arms race between Maple and the game devs has evolved. So instead of levelling any nerfs at her abilities or trying to prevent anybody else from replicating her build, as was their approach last season, they’re now designing new encounters either directly inspired by Maple, or conceived as hard counters to her.

Even if Maple and the others end up pulverizing things in one go anyway, it still results in a richer, more rewarding experience for all the other players in the game who don’t dump all their points into a single stat.
Personally, that arms race sounds like it would be absolute hell for anyone playing this like a normal person who isn’t a turbonerd in one of the other two top guilds. Like, imagine getting together with your 2-nights-a-week guild of friends from college/work, and having to raid Malenia from Elden Ring with 8 health bars. All because the devs needed a way to counter Maple’s turtle laser.

Possibly frustrating, sure, until you log on for the latest update to find out they’ll be giving everyone else their own potential turtle laser!

This is another element of that game balance evolution I was talking about. The NWO devs got sick of Syrup blasting through everything, so they said “Screw it, everyone gets familiars like Maple and Sally now, so we can just balance the whole game around those going forward!”

Admittedly, giving everyone the chance to get their own personal Digimon is a much better solution than designing dungeons with the assumption that all players have WeakAuras installed.

Do the Maple Tree kids seem like the types who even use third-party mods to enhance their experience with the game? Like, Kanade’s definitely one of those “Wiki tab open at all times” players, but I fully believe that Maple would need Sally on call with her through the whole process of learning to extract a RAR file.

That’s the fantasy of BOFURI, though! Maple, through her total disregard for the learned practices of gaming, breaks the entire meta over her knee with a smile on her face and an impenetrable wall of VIT around her heart.

Side note: while the most useful part of [Throne of the Heavenly King] is obviously the HP regen, my personal favorite part of it is how Maple’s angel wings clip through the Holy See because they’re both cosmetic assets with no hitbox.
This is why Maple will always be the platonic ideal of an overpowered protagonist in a series like this to me. First of all, it’s not like this is a setting where there’s any real-world effects to this stuff beyond goofin’ around in a game. And second, she’s not even trying to get these things!

It does make me wonder what Maple might be like in a more “serious” VRMMO anime narrative, where she kept tripping ass-first into world-saving powers without meaning to, but that would leave less time for virtual cat café excursions with other guild leaders, so I think this is preferable.

I mean, you absolutely could make a great comedy out of Anime Girl Mr. Bean fumbling her way through the role of a Kirito Klone. But the other part of BOFURI‘s appeal is that it’s totally unserious. These are people playing a game and making friends in their free time, and they act like it. Some of them dick around the marketplace while others grind for gear, and still others test if the devs thought to code a flavor for the scenery.

On the topic of diegetic Maple fandom, there is definitely an entry for her on the in-universe Vore wikia.
Oh yeah, there is a whole recurring thing in BOFURI that has only become more pronounced with this second season.

Honestly, there are a lot of questionable bits in that Tentacle episode. One of the NWO designers is getting horny on main. Just look at this salacious filth:

Hey, it’s Year of the Rabbit, weren’t we all expecting some saucy art of bunny girl Maple to cross our timelines?

Besides, I can’t kinkshame the tentacle episode too hard. Sally seems perfectly into it.

Sally’s a compromised judge and you know it. How’s she going to insult her half-abomination bunny girlfriend when they went on a magic carped (read: shield) ride like two days ago? She’s blinded by love!

Maybe, but I think Sally can be trusted to have open and honest communication with Maple. Her gamer GF is the only one who could help her deal with her deepest, darkest secret: She’s actually a wuss when it comes to haunted houses.

Even more than the interstitial outside-the-game scenes, bits like this that do a great job of demonstrating how far back Maple and Sally go in their real-world history that they’d jump into playing NWO together in the first place.
Those two being married in all but name was one of the most charming parts of the early season, and I’m kind of sad that this one sped through a lot of their dual dungeoneering. The boss battles are a lot of fun, but the heart of BOFURI is in the downtime where Maple and Sally just enjoy themselves between the big fights.

BOFURI S2 definitely seems to be spreading out its focus amongst characters now that it’s introduced all its various players. But at least they still seem to be aware of the inherent charm of everyone’s favorite Tank/Rogue couple. Though yeah, I definitely miss their intermittent virtual date nights from the first season.

There are still some scenes of downtime, but this time around they’re largely focused on Maple hanging out in cafés and the like with other characters. Mostly Mii so far, for some reason.

Mii is probably the best pick of the non-Maple Tree characters to get some focus, honestly. The tragedy of a nerd stuck in roleplay mode is a lot more interesting than… whatever Payne’s personality is, if he even has one.

Payne was the source of one amusing bit last season, where they built up his top-raking guild as this potentially dramatic, threatening opponent for Maple Tree, only for their leader to be revealed as just a generally decent dude. Cute, but there’s a reason he hasn’t done much since the premiere of this second season.

Mii, on the other hand, is a terminally roleplaying drama nerd riddled with anxiety, which makes her far easier to latch onto.

Her eargeness to show off her cool new pet is pretty endearing, yeah.

Her rad phoenix certain raises fewer questions than Kanade threatening to answer the “would you bang your own clone” meme.

Alright I joked before about the devs being horny on main but whoever came up with that debuff for Kasumi’s sword needs to go to jail. Or at least they need to stop watching ONIMAI before they clock into work.

It’s the hard question to ask yourself in an online game: Would you use a high-tier item with incredibly useful skills if you knew it only came about because of The Developer’s Barely Disguised Fetish?

Forget all the issues with NWO’s game balance or sequence-breaking, it would probably be having to choose between this or those Christmas-themed weapons that would drive me to log off.
Look, guys, I get it. Kasumi is basically a Nana Mizuki character in all but her actual voice. But you don’t have to turn her into Fate Testarossa.

Also, am I reading too much into it that her Digimon winds up being a pocket-sized white snake?
BOFURI happily lets you interpret a lot of things however you wish. For instance, after seeing her room and her reaction to it, I am all but convinced that Kasumi is absolutely not actually Japanese.

I’ve been in the anime game for a long time, I know a shameless weeb when I see one.
That’s the magic of MMOs! It doesn’t matter if you’re a timid loser who pretends to be tougher than you are, a boring office worker looking for a place to express yourself, or a secret Old One: there’s somewhere in the vast digital world for you.

Well, there is so long as the servers don’t have to go down for two weeks of emergency maintenance…

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.

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