The Winter 2021 Preview Guide
Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town
How would you rate episode 1 of
Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town ?
What is this?
Lloyd is a novice adventurer whose dream is to discover “true strength” in the capital he's always admired, despite growing up with neighbors who always considered him weak. He departs his hometown, which just so happens to be located right next to one of the most dangerous dungeons in the world. Lloyd may think of himself as powerless, but when he goes to the city that serves as the starter town for adventurers, the difference between him and everyone else couldn't be starker. (from manga)
Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town is based on Toshio Satō and illustrator Nao Watanuki's light novel series and streams on Funimation on Mondays.
How was the first episode?
You know, what if a kid from the last dungeon boonies moved to a starter town? According to this premiere, he'd be absurdly strong, which we already knew; and all the girls would fall in love with him, which I didn't know but probably should have guessed.
This episode was actually pretty cute, all things considered. My expectations going in were low; I rarely enjoy stories about overpowered protagonists, especially in the game-inspired fantasy settings that have become standard in light novels. Rote adherence to tropes seems to be a feature rather than a bug in light novel adaptations these days, so when something deviates even slightly from the norm, it gets way more points in my consideration than would probably be justified otherwise. So, when there's no talk of levels or skills, when the protagonist doesn't immediately go to the adventurer's guild or rescue someone in the woods, I am immediately endeared. But that alone isn't enough, and Last Dungeon Boonies has enough charm to it to make the first episode an altogether pleasant viewing experience.
For one thing, Lloyd is just a sweet kid. He's not the most immediately dynamic or attention-grabbing protagonist, but he's kind and polite and I like him a lot more than either the Potato-kuns or jerkwads that populate similar series. He reminds me a bit of Tenchi, who may have had a reputation for being kind of boring back in the days of yore but is positively dynamic compared to many contemporary heroes.
Also like Tenchi, Lloyd's gentle good manners combined with his competence seem to be having the effect of making all the girls he meets fall in love with him. It's not my favorite plot contrivance, but I'll take this over, say, “doesn't torture his slaves” or “just kind of exists.” The girls are a bit of a mixed bag. Marie, with her bad luck and Curse of Minor Misfortune or whatever, is an entire mood and made me laugh anytime she was onscreen. (I accidentally wrote “anytime I was onscreen” right there and that Freudian slip will tell you a lot about my life.) Riho doesn't get much time and seems less smitten than intimidated. I didn't love how Seren immediately went full yandere, though.
My favorite part of the episode by far was its aesthetic. The pseudo-European fantasy town may not be original, but it felt warm and comfortable. The character designs are adorable, more cute than sexy, with great costume design. Even Riho's bikini top and Seren's frilly undergarments didn't feel like fanservice.
To be honest, I can't see myself watching Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town for very long. Even if I had no issue with – and even enjoyed – this episode, it's just not my thing, you know? However, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to someone who is more inclined to RPG-inspired fantasy stories.
I will admit that, despite its obnoxiously overlong title, it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out just what the angle was for Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town. The first half of the episode felt like any number of anime I've seen over the years that featured cloyingly plucky young adventurers cavorting around a setting plucked straight from the Generic Fantasy RPG Randomizer, and I wasn't getting any laughs out of the the jokes about Alka, the “loli-grandma witch”, and her grumpy apprentice/punching-bag, Marie. Studio Liden does a great job of making the colorful artwork and lively character animation pop, but I didn't “get” Last Dungeon Boonies until the gag that revealed how our hero, the preposterously named Lloyd Belladonna, sprinted across the entire continent in just a couple of days to meet with Marie, and how he considered all of the ferocious beasties that he encountered along the way to be your everyday woodland critters. He also applies potentially world-ending Rune Magic to handkerchiefs when he needs to scrub some dust off of the tableware, casually exploiting spells that Marie spent years of her life learning.
That's when I exclaimed: “Ohhhh, I get it! It's like he lived in the end-game region of a video-game his whole life, so he's naturally overpowered compared to all of the newbie stuff you fight in the starter town…just like it says in the title...” So yes, I'm kind of slow on the uptake today, but to my credit, it does take Last Dungeon Boonies awhile to get going. Even then, it isn't like the show is doing anything particularly novel. One-Punch Man, The Misfit of Demon King Academy, and every freaking isekai light novel adaptation of the past two-hundred years have featured protagonists who live life as absurdly over-powered god boys, though I appreciate that Last Dungeon Boonies is taking the OPM route of playing its hero's power up for laughs. Also like every one of those heroes (except for Saitama), Lloyd's status as a walking Gameshark cheat code index means that all sorts of scantily clad anime girls are vying for his affection, even though the simple boy just wants to make for a good soldier.
I don't expect that I will ever fall completely head-over-heels for this series, because the characters don't resonate with me much, so its one-joke premise can only go so far. I did like the flashes of weirdness that the show occasionally indulges in, like how the Belt Princess that Lloyd rescues from the world's stupidest hat will straight up break other girls' spines to get to her man. The end of the episode also shows us that there might actually be some token drama and conflict to Lloyd's quest to become the very best, like nobody ever was. Still, I suppose this one has the chance to overcome all of my pre-established quibbles and become a dark horse anime of the season, and that's saying a whole lot about how successful Last Dungeon Boonies is at what it's trying to do.
In a recent installment of a novel series that I am following, one character is dubious that he is strong enough to single-handedly perform a task that is assigned to him, as he cannot hold a candle to those he has been traveling and training with. However, because those individuals are among the most powerful beings in his world, he has no proper sense of scale about how overwhelmingly strong he is compared to normal folk, and so is able to complete the task with ease. That was just a relatively minor detail in that story, but such a scenario is the focus gimmick of this series. While it was played seriously in the other story, such is most definitely not the case here. That's decidedly for the best, as it turns a first episode which could have been a drab power fantasy into a surprisingly entertaining romp, one which ends with an equally surprising twist.
In fairness, the episode does have a couple of serious points. The military being desperate enough to get creative about who they accept is not a laughing matter, nor is the curse that the girl referred to as the Belt Princess (because an unremovable belt was wrapped around her head) was dealing with; hopefully we will eventually find out what such an odd curse was all about. However, those are about the only aspects of the episode meant to be taken seriously. It otherwise plays as a comedy, and a surprisingly funny one at that. Most of the jokes can be seen coming from miles away, but plenty of them still land; the Curse of Minor Misfortune powered by a seemingly-trivial use of an ancient rune – and the impact that it has on the witch – consistently amused, as does the way Lloyd woefully underestimates the feats that he is achieving. He seems to have a love interest in the Belt Princess, too. I could do without the “loli grandma” shtick, but even that had its own humor.
The technical merits here, from LIDEN FILMS, are nothing to speak of; this is maybe the least impressive- looking debut so far this season. First-time lead director migmi seems to know what they're doing on the comedy front, however, and the revelation at the end is an unexpected but potentially juicy complication. I may not end up watching this out, given how loaded this season is, but it won't be because it lacks entertainment value.
Overpowered fantasy protagonists have been an absolute blight on anime for nearly a decade now, and are so ubiquitous that if a show doesn't gloss over why its (usually) isekai'd hero is just miraculously more powerful than god, it's usually because it's parodying the concept like Cautious Hero from a while back. Also I personally just hate seeing fantasy worlds that run off of blatant video game mechanics, complete with stat menus and the like. So suffice it to say I was ready for Last Dungeon Boonies to be a tedious experience at the very best. Instead, I got a pretty reasonable and charming comedy.
There's two major factors to making this formula work. First is our titular kid, named Lloyd Belladonna, who's essentially a puppy dog with the power of Superman. He's established as so powerful an entire army of magic soldiers probably couldn't take him on, but is so sweet and humble that he's always apologizing and cooks his host breakfast first thing in the morning. He's a good boy, is what I'm saying, and his naive innocence is a welcome change from the cynical, genre-savvy otaku who typically inhabit his role.
The second factor is that despite being the central character, Lloyd isn't really our perspective character. Instead we bounce around between different members of the supporting cast and are invited to share in their reactions to this absurd, apocalypse-level cinnamon roll. The standout is Marie, Lloyd's witchy new mentor who is beside herself at the boy's power and how clueless he is about it – her reactions (and Ai Kayano's exuberant performance) carry the first half of this premiere, and the rounded, elastic character designs work well with the slapstick nature of the early gags. Things get a little shakier from there, with the introduction of Selen, a cursed noble's daughter whose lifelong magical affliction is casually (read: accidentally) cured by Lloyd's amazing magic handkerchief, turning her into an obsessed fangirl desperate to be by his side. There's a couple of decent gags in there, but that seems like a gimmick that'll wear itself thin very quickly.
For now though, I thoroughly enjoyed this premiere, and I'm hoping the rest of the show can keep up the good vibes and pleasant animation. If nothing else, I'm hoping it can help partially fill the BOFURI-shaped hole in my life while we wait for that second season.
Even though the idol shows outnumber the isekai this season, it's worth mentioning that, despite its title, Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Showed Up in a Starter Town is just straight fantasy. In fact, it doesn't even really rely on game mechanics – the title uses RPG terms as a quick way for readers (of the original light novels) to understand the difference between protagonist Lloyd Belladonna and the rest of the people in the story.
Not that Lloyd understands those differences himself. The thing is, Lloyd really is the weakest person in his hometown, the village of Kunlun. It's just that being the weakest there, in the town founded by the heroes who defeated the last major threat to humanity, still means that he's stupidly strong and powerful compared to the normal people in the rest of the world. So poor Lloyd, initially shown being unable to take down a fluffy bunny, thinks that dragons are just big lizards who happen to breathe fire and doesn't realize that the fluffy bunny is actually a cousin of the one in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
This is the basis of the humor for the episode, and while it's clearly an introductory one, it still manages to be pretty funny while setting up the rest of the series. The jokes run the anime gamut of gags – Lloyd's mentor is a granny who looks like she's ten years old, his new landlady Marie is the master of the overreaction to Lloyd's innocent use of world-altering powers, and Selen the Belt Princess is well on her way to yandere-hood after Lloyd saves her from a “bug” (giant mantis monster) and inadvertently breaks the curse that has had a belt wrapped around her head for most of her life. The episode also sets Lloyd up to be totally misunderstood by people who aren't skilled enough to sense his great power, because despite the fear he inspires in Merthopan, a soldier in charge of collecting recruits, and Riho Flavin, a skilled mercenary, he seems to have failed the solider exam. Whoops.
We are moving pretty quickly through the source material here, but not at a clip that necessarily worries me, since it feels like we're being set up for some flashbacks of how Lloyd managed to botch his exams. At this point the naming scheme – which you may have noticed has lots of vitamins, minerals, and poisons in the characters' names – doesn't appear to be intended to be anything but amusing, although the fact that Lloyd's last name is Belladonna (deadly nightshade, but the literal translation is “beautiful lady”) does feel like a jab at the fact that he has no idea how dangerous he is. But really this is just a lot of fun, and if it takes the manga adaptation route, which tones down how annoying Alka is in the novels, this could turn out to be a good choice for when you want something to make you giggle.
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