「防御特化とつながり.」 (Bougyo Tokka to Tsunagari.)
“Defense and Bonds.”
In our last Bofuri episode of the season, Maple Tree is caught in a snag when Payne and the Order of the Holy Sword start to pick apart any guild members who leave themselves wide open for Payne to swoop in with his omega strength. But when Maple is able to get the upper hand, their goal goes from collecting orbs for the event to making sure that other guilds don’t catch up to the lead cultivated by the top 3 guilds.
It can be tricky to review Bofuri at times because there are details in the show that would have been frustrating to see ad nauseam if they didn’t end up being hilarious later on. Payne’s brutal ambush is resolved within the first five minutes when Maple realizes she has her Alien Queen transformation that she can use to get the upper hand on every member of the Order of the Holy Sword. It continues the streak that Maple has where she automatically wins against stronger opponents when she realizes she has an ability she hasn’t used in a while. It kinda cheapens each victory when it doesn’t feel like she has to use the full extent of each ability when she realizes that switching from one weapon to another will ensure an automatic victory.
But again, it’s hard to be mad because the Alien Queen form is one of her funniest abilities. And because she feels pressured to stay in the alien form since she can only cast the ability once per session, she is forced to stay in the alien form. As a result, you get plenty of funny moments where she acts as her bubbly or nervous self while trapped in the body of a menacing alien. Even more hilarious is the spit-take that the two major guilds make when they see Maple in alien form firing laser beams from her mouth and devouring other players.
The anime also ends on a pleasant epilogue as Maple celebrates Maple Tree’s position in Third Place alongside her new friends in both of the guilds above her. There’s a nice level of camaraderie as there isn’t any love-loss between them after losing fights with her in spite of winning the event.
Similarly, the admins have relaxed their moderation of Maple’s abilities as they are comforted by her activities in the game and find that she’s been attracting new players with her absurd skills. There is a welcome glimpse into the real world, but it is a reminder that they didn’t give us too much of her personal life outside of the game when she is worried about the possibility of getting grounded if she doesn’t do as well in school.
Epilogue: The mods resolving to leave Maple alone since they find her to be fun to watch and the main attraction for some newer players. Maple Tree befriends both rival guilds after gaining Third Place.
Bofuri made a strong first impression as an isekai where our main character ended up having to navigate around a VRMMORPG with nothing but maxed out defense points. It was entertaining to see how creative she had to get to coast by using only defensive skills, parry moves, and poisoning abilities.
The show also had a soothing, calm atmosphere where the fun adventures that Maple went on didn’t have the same level of risk or stakes as other isekai out there. It was a relief to see how she was only focused on using her skills for self-improvement and entertainment rather than trying to face off against a creepy antagonist or survive in a death game that kills players in real life. And because of this, it is far more entertaining and humorous when Maple starts to mercilessly devastate crowds of enemies with a wide grin on her face, equipped with a tool belt full of the absurd skills she’s accrued along the way.
But it has been a challenge to ignore some of the downsides that the series has had along the way. As time went on, the anime became far more of a typical isekai when Maple, Sally, and her friends start to get insanely broken to the point of steamrolling everything the game could throw at them. Maple being overpowered is easy to understand given how she’s beaten insane bosses with her defense skills, but Sally is plowing through enemies with nothing absurd going for her skill-wise other than plot-kai.
It was also difficult to get a feel for what was happening in the game when so much of the game’s content was summed up through montages that aim to speed past moments where the characters actually have to interact with the world around them. It was never a series that took it’s in-game content seriously given how the mods are scratching their heads at how Maple was able to break the game so easily, but it does feel disappointing that it didn’t go far enough to flesh out the game’s content so that it doesn’t feel like a total mockery whenever Maple have to do ordinary quests.
Overall, what Bofuri accomplishes best isn’t pushing the envelope for some life-altering, trope-subverting experience, but instead, it aims to be pleasant comfort food to help make the day all the easier to go through when you see Maple having fun coasting through an MMORPG with defensive skills. If the side quests were more meaningful than video gamey fetch quests or boss fights, it would arguably be a wonderful healing anime that could be used to relax and unwind from otherwise tense obstacles throughout the day. And with so much happening out in the real world, it is useful to have a series as cozy as Bofuri to tune out and watch to see Maple and her friends mull through an MMORPG with humorous abilities and an overall goal to just have fun together.