「防御特化とクリスマス」 (Bougyo Tokka to Christmas)
“Defense Specialization and Christmas”
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Maple and the folks of Bofuri traverse through New World Online to share fun, light-hearted, and broken adventures together. Although there are sure to be risky obstacles that her guild Maple Tree as a whole will have to navigate throughout the season, this first episode gives us a great icebreaker with Maple as she celebrates the holidays.
GRINDING TO KEEP SANTA KARNA HAS BEEN ROUGH
It makes sense that this pre-aired before the holidays because this premiere is centered around an in-game Christmas event. Nothing beats a good in-game Christmas event! The music, the snow, the charm. I still think of the frosty winter nights in FGO when Santa Saber Alter set up a roulette wheel of freebies as you gather fried chicken buckets and fight buff reindeer, guys. But in New World Online, the kinds of wonders that a holiday event has to offer involve nice hunts and the soft, sakura petals that adorn an Edo-period Japanese village.
The event itself isn’t too stressful on the characters, but that’s the charm of Bofuri. I’ll be honest, isekai or MMORPG anime aren’t exactly my forte, and every time I take on one, I feel like I get dunked on pretty easily by those more familiar and more devoted to the subject matter. For Bofuri, however, the stakes and atmosphere are chill enough to capture the feeling of using these games to unwind and de-stress rather than aiming to be the very best, like no one ever was.
Maple is a very chill protag, but my theory is that the show has this kind of charm because it plays out more like an esport than an MMO. Rather than being entrenched in the internal politics of the game’s story, the characters are focused more on self-improvement, leveling, grinding, gathering items, and gaining new abilities to help them get through dungeons, events, and competitions.
Rather than being a jerk-off fantasy where the game exists solely for the main character to feel special, it gives Maple and the other characters an incentive to get better at the game than they currently are. Even though the mods are tearing their hair out to figure out a way to nerf Maple without breaking the game, the players don’t throw their hands up and let Maple take care of playing the game for them.
It’s a cozy enough atmosphere that everyone has a chance to be as broken and proficient in their craft as Maple is, and even she has some growing pains with some of her wonkier skills. I forgot she had the ability to transform into a xenomorph, so I was cackling when she was having a strategic conversation with Payne while in said form. Maple’s nervous, modest voice is hilarious when paired up with the distorted vocal filter and the cute girl gestures being acted out by a sleek xenomorph.
BOFU DEEZ NUTS
But even with the Christmas event’s biggest stake being who gets what Christmas outfit, the show still manages to shed some spotlight on the other characters. Sally has a habit of playing second banana to Maple, but she’s been having her own adventures as well with her rivalry with Frederica. She can regularly win against her, but it should be interesting to see if there are any repercussions to over-relying on a hidden skill as a crutch to avoid dodging.
Kasumi gets a ton of exposure in this episode, for better or worse. At first, it seemed that they were going the FGO route of making Kasumi’s upgrade a form with fewer clothes. But as it turns out, they went the Fire Emblem Heroes route by having her take on a loli form when she expends such abilities for 10 minutes. It’s the closest Bofuri has gotten to questionable fanservice, but they manage to make it more modest than some of its contemporaries so it could’ve been worse. At least, I hope they manage to make it less of a big deal, or I’d have less incentive to cover this season much beyond the initial preview episodes.
I was most appreciative of the development Mii-san received in this episode. She’s spent so much of the first season being stoic and modest that it comes off as very wholesome and relatable that she’d break character to secretly dip into the snuggly cat monster village to show them some love. Not only can she confide with Maple about her secret cheerier side, but it also gives her an outlet to not have to feel like she needs to be a stoic leader 24/7 in the game.