Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! ?
You know, it's kind of a wonder more of these super-powered isekai protagonists don't worry about how much they're carrying the people around them. Sure they plow through most threats they encounter with ease, but even they can't be everywhere at once. So what if a situation arises where their decidedly less-amazing party members have to deal with issues themselves? Such is the central quandary posed by this eleventh episode of the Average Abilities anime. As with previous episodes, it makes an interesting case in asking this kind of genre meta-question, but has few hard, serious answers to offer to it.
One distinction this series already has apart from other average entries is the point of how powered-up the rest of the Crimson Vow have gotten simply from associating with Mile. Them being recognized for their feats is what leads to their inflated ambitions driving the mission they take on here, and to its credit, the show's depiction of the powers of Reina, Pauline, and Mavis has been consistently deployed from the beginning, even nicely factoring into tying up character arcs a few times. But they've also been specifically depicted as still being behind Mile's particular curve, including last week's episode where they struggled taking on missions without her. So having Mile realize that they might be complacently relying on her a little too much is a natural follow-up.
As such, the twin themes of the team getting too confident in their abilities while also being too reliant on Mile's powers to bail them out should theoretically form the backbone of an interesting episode here. That Mile is the one voicing concerns about those issues is a good place for her character to come from: She's worried about the new friends that are so precious to her. The writing also brings in the very intimate familiarity with sudden death she must have as a truck-transported isekai protagonist, which just makes me wonder why more of those average guys aren't too worried about getting run over again in their own reincarnated role-play lands. What even happens if an isekai protagonist dies in the fantasy world? Could they get reincarnated into yet another alternate world? These are the real questions these supposed deconstructionist isekai anime should be asking.
But I must digress, as in spite of that enjoyably quirky framing, this average episode goes nowhere so ambitious. The biggest issue is how Average Abilities uses all those above parameters to construct an interesting gimmick for this outing, only to abandon it all too quickly. Mile resolves to hold back on assisting the rest of the Crimson Vow in their enchanted forest expedition, and for just a few minutes this seems to present a chance to see the remaining three girls in action, how they might surpass the struggles they were shown to have earlier and maybe come out with a little more of that vaunted individualized character development. But then less than halfway into the episode, the situation reaches a point where they all resolve that Mile's help is needed for practical reasons after all. There's one short scene demonstrating some power-ups the non-Mile party members apparently attained in training off-camera, which is played off as demonstrating to Mile that she need not worry about if they can hold their own or not. But it rings as unsatisfactory given how quick the turnaround is, especially when the rest of the episode returns to the business-as-usual Average action of the team effortlessly wiping the floor with whatever they encounter.
Alongside that, there is at least a decent mystery element propelling the rest of this episode. The driving question of just what is causing the forest's apparent magic ecosystem to go out of whack brings a lot of possibilities to mind, and it moves at a steady clip bringing in new elements and an oddly colorful group of distinctly-designed characters in extremely minor supporting roles. I've only remarked on this a couple times throughout this show, but whoever on staff was in charge of the looks of these effective NPCs clearly had plenty of fun distinguishing them. And the final location the girls find contains a boatload of possible hints about the very nature of this world and its isekai functions. It got to the point that it was frustrating that so little was said on it since the mysteriously modern-looking glyphs really piqued my interest in where all this has been going. But then I remembered that we're nearing the end of the season here, so a much more direct danger for the squad to deal with had to be dropped on them, hence their surprisingly turning out to be a dragon in this dungeon!
The ending cliffhanger business with this dragon actually pulls this episode's overall average up for me, since it does represent a few ideas uncharacteristically being brought functionally full-circle. First off is the obvious point that this elder dragon is specifically the high-level enemy that Mile's powers were ‘averaged’ against to result in her titular abilities. It was a comedic aside that nonetheless foreshadowed this being as an enemy that Mile definitely can't beat on her own. The other boon is that after this episode averagely chugging along with few references to those opening meta-questions posed, this situation brings them back up. Mile is down for the count and the remaining party members have to hold out against an enemy they're unprepared for. That makes for an appreciable, if belated, follow-up to the elements that this one got my attention with in the first place. Will that make for a strong continuation to this story next week? That's another question we'll have to wait until then to answer.
Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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