BOFURI: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Max Out My Defense.
Episode 5

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 5 of
BOFURI: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Max Out My Defense. ?

Bizarre time dilation aside, BOFURI's coverage of this two-week-long event Maple and Sally are into has me questioning how the girls are getting through it. How much fatigue do they feel as they trek across these lands looking for medals? We know the game system allows eating, but do they feel themselves getting hungry as time passes? What about sleep? There's a montage of fun game-playing times partway through this episode that addresses none of that. Not thinking the design of the game through has been an ever-present aspect of BOFURI (in-universe, a lack of oversight is the reason Maple's her game-breaking self to begin with), and while it's always soldiered on as perfectly entertaining apart from pedantic concerns like that, it perhaps speaks to how easy-going this episode was overall that I took any time to question it.

Not that this week's entry is completely uneventful. It actually picks up from a cliffhanger, Maple and Sally confronted as they were last episode by a very pink samurai-lookin' girl, who turns out to be named Kasumi. That previous episode also saw Maple easily brush off the possibility of PvP in this medal-hunting event, but as it comes up more and more this week it becomes apparent that she might not be able to avoid it forever. Spending so much time viewing it through Maple's lens makes it somewhat hard to get a handle on the tone this show actually takes towards PvP. Maple and her singular brain cell seem to operate on the idea that avoiding fighting with others at any cost is preferable, primarily aiming to make friends with fellow players instead. But Kasumi, for her initial challenge of the main characters, isn't presented as harboring any ill will towards them, and Sally takes her on with a similarly cavalier attitude.

Similarly, at the end of the episode, Maple is just fine with letting Sally go off on her own to do that kind of dirty work to net them the remaining medals they need. Sally's exploits are detailed as her ‘cutting loose’, wrecking huge parties of anonymous players and being shown through their eyes as some sort of angel-of-death figure. It's interesting, since we know it's all a game, one that thus-far hasn't been shown to have any sort of sinister secondary systems running below it. And Sally seems to be having plenty of fun herself, while Maple takes her 'out of sight, out of mind' approach, despite us knowing from the second episode's battle royale that she's every bit a walking murder-machine as her wife. That second episode also contrasted Maple's cute, fun-loving antics with the necessary brutality of MMO battles, and between that and some gags at the very end of this one, seems like BOFURI just likes mining that dissonance for humor. If nothing else, it's appreciable how it doesn't color the RPG system entirely in an effort to completely present this as a candy-coated slice-of-life series.

All that aside, what we get from Maple this week is here to show that her offbeat approach to the game can still work. Sally and Kasumi are all ready to go to town on each other in that opening fight, when Maple inadvertently crashes into them, sinks them all underground, and gets them stuck in a magical get-along shirt that necessitates the three of them learning some good old-fashioned teamwork. At the end, everyone goes home happy with more medals and new friends on their list. In another instance, we see Sally scouring the ocean for medals, while Maple builds a sand castle with her new friend Kanade and gets a tip about where to go next. Each time is BOFURI demonstrating how non-violent interaction with players can produce results just as well as ambushing them and taking their stuff. Along with tying into the possibility that Maple doesn't want to take any chances with combat on account of her driving phobia of getting hurt in-game, it's also notable as something she learned when she was just starting out: She received the starting advice from friendly passerby that led her down the path of the defensive domination she exercises today. So it's not arbitrary, Maple definitely seems like the type to just keep doing the first thing that works after she finds it, even if that's as simple a strategy as ‘be nice to people’.

We do get yet another demonstration of Maple's unconventional approach to combat with monsters though, in a battle with a giant underwater squid beastie that sees her using her Hydra attack to just poison the entire area and take it out. Along with some other elements this episode, this seems to highlight that Maple's absurd ability level hasn't suffered too much under the nerfs she got hit with a few episodes ago, and she's blissfully on her way to becoming a ‘final boss’ among players, something the adorable little mod-monsters apparently running the game are becoming concerned about. There's a charming distinction between the whims of Maple's in-game decisions and how they come across to others: She uses poison to block a cave just so she, Sally, and Kasumi won't be bothered, only to have passerby remark that it seems like the place a boss monster may be hiding. She uses her skill points reward from the event to grow her pet turtle Syrup to massive size and let it fly so she can ride on it, but her using her attacks from that perch provokes concern from others over her ‘raining acid hellfire everywhere’. It's that dissonance I talked about earlier, lending some silly flavor to these otherwise fluffy proceedings.

It's a good thing BOFURI has all that flavor going, since the procedurality of this episode means it feels a bit thinner elsewhere. Sure it still looks pretty good and there are cute antics and cool fights, but so much of it feels like a disjointed montage of smaller events within this event, and that's without counting the actual montage that pops up halfway through (a technique BOFURI has been deploying a little too much for my tastes). The new characters are okay additions, but Kasumi doesn't have much personality beyond her role in the story and how it leads to establishing the friendship, while Kanade is a near-total blank slate so far. They currently don't live up to the lovable rapport set as standard by our main couple. It leaves this as an episode that feels like it didn't do a whole lot, even as there were technically lots of little incremental occurrences. But at least we had a fun time, since the characters did.

Rating:

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


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