What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense! First off, I don’t think I have ever run into an anime series with a title as much of a mouthful as this one turned out to be. When I first told my friends that this was next on my list? I cringed just having to type it out once. With that said, this series right here was a must-watch for me because it offered a bold new experience to anime series which focus on gaming. Not only was this VR (virtual reality), but one which immerses you in a fantasy world without trapping the main character there.
BOFURI is the story of Kaede Honjō, who urged by her friend begins playing the VRMMORPG NewWorld Online under the name Maple. Not wanting to get hurt, Maple opts to be a shield user with maxed out defense stats, and continues putting every status point she earns in the game into increasing only her defense level. As a result, she is left with slow foot speed and no magic, but her high defense allows her to endure most hits without taking any damage.
Just from the first episode this series found a way to hook me in. It took only one episode for them to remind me of the early days first playing WoW and still having a sense of wonder. Character creation was obviously different, but the experience was still the same. With that said, this made it better than they took it a step further to make it VR. It adds a whole new level of immersion that most of us aren’t used to. Not unless you are someone who LARPS (Live-Action Role Playing), but even then you aren’t getting the real deal in fantasy like this.
What I would say is best about this story, is that it is all about the experience. From start to finish, the first season did not disappoint in putting Maple, Sally, and friends through all of the things you would normally go through when jumping into a new MMORPG. Grinding out the lower levels. trying to be the first to accomplish this or that, making allies, creating a guild, participating in world events. The list goes on and they made sure Maple, Sally, and everyone else we are introduced to captured some part of the game that we know we have indulged in ourselves. They didn’t even skip out on some of the problems that you will face too. When playing games like this, some things will consume your time more than other things whether it is crafting, exploration, or just looking for rare items no one else has. I couldn’t believe they actually found the time somewhere in there to address the most cringeworthy duty of any player. That duty being the completion of the dreaded chain quests. What was the smartest move above all ended up being the decision that the game (NewWorld) be one which everyone was new to. Obviously there was going to be those who would quickly get further than others fast, and that is an expectation which comes with any MMORPG.
Before I forget, it also goes without saying that this wouldn’t be the full experience either if characters like Maple and Sally didn’t have lives outside of the game to give time to. We have all been there when being their age and trying to find a balance between the game and being a good student. Some of us nailed it, others failed horribly. Though that my have also had something to do with how your parents viewed your gaming habits. I’m glad that they did not leave this part out, and hope that the second season expands on that part of their lives at the same time. Maybe allow us an episode or two to see how some of the others are in real life?
Experiencing all of this with Maple made her the perfect choice as the main character. This is someone who could be like any one of us first starting out playing any MMORPG. There will always be that sense of wonder to take in. Having the ability to be everything you aren’t in real life, being able to see places impossible in the real world, making friends with people who are also out there to make something of their time in the game. Maple embodied all of this while also sticking to something which made her stand out from the rest. That of course being that she is a player who is all about the journey. Yeah, she walks away from almost every new destination with some outrageous new power. However, that is just the end result. She had no idea what she was doing. Simply just being rewarded for playing the game. The real thrill was everything inbetween, because it takes a special kind of person to get into the situations she does and think of a way out of it the way she does. I mean when was the last time you really ran into a series where the main character was so willing to throw himself or herself into the role of a tank? The twist on this made it all the more worth your time.
The true fun in this series is how they embraced everything absurd about what Maple finds herself capable of as she progressed. At a point I was just sitting there thinking “Holy ****, some of the things they get away with are game-breaking!”. I mean when developers hit a certain class of characters with a big nerf? It is because of players like herself who find a way to to simply coast through every obstacle.
I think what I loved most about the series was that it was a refreshing change of pace from some of the others I have seen up to this point. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to want a story where the characters aren’t being treated like objects, and of course I mean that in terms of everyone. This was one of those series where the writer wasn’t worried about about giving those people something to look at. I felt like the intention was to appeal to those who actually appreciate what it looks like when these classes are fully garbed and armored. This went a long way in making the storywriting more genuine. You cared more about the characters between the things they did and the things they said.
Aside from this, the animation work was top-notch. This was honestly the one thing that would have killed the series if it was not the quality we got. Again, I couldn’t argue with Kazuya Hirata designing the characters because this is what you expect from characters in a game. Including your main character who doesn’t always need to look like they don’t fit in with the world around them. Silver Link on the other hand did gods work for the fact that these were some big fights that we got out of this first season. Whether it was the combat or the magic, the execution was on point for the attention that went into all of it. Every hit had impact, every move was met with swiftness, not to mention brought together with smooth scene transitions. Beyond that, of course I would have to acknowledge the work that went into breathing life into this world. Between the characters, NPCs, settings, and monsters/creatures, it was all met with attention to the details. Not to mention the colors which were lush, bold, and in your face. Explosive as well when the action got truly intense.
If you haven’t seen BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense? What are you waiting for? I’m still kicking myself that it took me this long to get around to this one. I’m glad that I did when this happens to be one of those series which already has a second season in development. This series is perfect for anyone who wants gaming, fantasy, and the full embrace of everything that comes with it. Isekai aren’t bad, but it is a breath of fresh air to get one where the game itself is the star.