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BOFURI: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Max Out My Defense. Season 2
Episode 4

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 4 of
BOFURI: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Max Out My Defense. Season 2 (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.3

BOFURI has always excelled at demonstrating the appeal of hanging out online with your friends. What it's done only intermittently, however, is sell the act of actually playing the game everyone's using as a glorified Discord server. Part of that is the show understands the inherent gag value of Maple and pals inadvertently steamrolling over some epic-level challenge. We also have questions about the show's production values, which came up in last week's episode. I wondered if BOFURI had succumbed to the same second season curse that so many other anime struggle with. If the series can't appealingly portray action, maybe it ought to settle in for fluffy fantasy-background travelogs while Maple acts like a doofus.

Fortunately, for this week, the show gets back on the ball pretty appreciably. That tower-conquering event that kicked off in the previous episode is followed up and finished here, and it's done so with enough style and structure that it just about felt like the old BOFURI I'm glad to have back. It is a sequence of escalating boss battles centered around just Maple and Sally. But a few plot details backing those battles, and the depiction of them, manage that uncommon trick for this show: It makes NewWorld Online look kind of cool, and convinces me I might enjoy playing it with my friends.

That is, rather literally, by design. The game's devs, including that ambitious new one added this season, discuss their efforts at expanding NewWorld Online's appeal and engagement, specifically how Maple is at the center of that. It's a unique design challenge to create something that can make the likes of Maple work for a win while also being fun for any other player to fight. It's a cool thread to follow since it synergizes with one of the themes of BOFURI's first season; Maple's presence and fame inspired so many other players around her to branch out and try their own unique, offbeat character builds. Now we see that same philosophy rubbing off on the game designers, outright mimicking Maple in many boss-character concepts to make the game more advanced, engaging, and thus fun.

It expands the idea that Maple's nontoxic positivity has a net good effect on the online gaming space. Yes, she's gotten some of the leaders of these hardcore gamer guilds to open up and participate in pure friendly competition. But now her outlandish manner of playing that, by pure accident, exploited the thoroughly busted nature of NewWorld Online, which was itself a running gag in that first season, has motivated the devs to fix their game. It fits with that goofily heartening tone of BOFURI, and the idea that one person can change the world, even if said world is virtual.

Its growth is propped up by the series utilizing its humor and action in equal measure. Sure, the subject of vore has now come up with enough regularity in this show that I have to assume it's a fetish on some part of the authorship. But I won't deny I sputtered in laughter at Sally hiding in her wife's mouth as a way to handle her hated haunted house segments. And that works as an example of the interchanging support roles that Maple and Sally play throughout the fights in this one. Even Maple can't beat everything, so we see Sally come to her rescue on multiple occasions, solidifying that even when the devs are hard-countering Maple's myriad of massively overpowered abilities, maybe the real game-breaking powers were the friends she made along the way.

If the animation still hasn't quite gotten up to the levels of the best fights from the first season, there are at least hardly any CGI shortcuts in sight for the big showcases this week. And what we get is both amusing and appreciable action. BOFURI always brings out the extra artistic sauce when rendering Maple's Machine God form, but here we turn that up to eleven with the girl doing her best Gurren Lagann impression. The battle against the final boss then turns to full fundamentals, trusting us to follow along with what we know about Maple and Sally's abilities at this point and appreciate them pulling off an earned win against a purposefully challenging boss. No undercutting exploits or anticlimaxes, BOFURI delivers a genuinely engaging battle out of what is watching two gamer girlfriends stream their battle against an event boss and makes it work. Most notably, in this context, it doesn't just look cool; it looks fun.

Episodes like this assure me that BOFURI is well and truly back. It embodies the basics of the show, and it's getting those right. And it's doing so with additional elements like focusing on the developers' efforts or taking moments to meditate on Mii's mindset, which we're now internally aware of. Fun as it looks, I don't know that I'd ever actually have time to personally play an MMO on this level, so I'm glad an episode like this can at least provide me with a half-hour out of the day to settle in and vicariously vibe with the experience.


BOFURI: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Max Out My Defense. Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Chris is a freewheeling Fresno-based freelancer with a love for anime and a shelf full of too many Transformers. He can be found spending way too much time on his Twitter, and irregularly updating his blog.

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