Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! ?
Four episodes in now, and this show with the Average title has seemingly settled into its niche. The setup's definitely in the vein of your ‘standard’ isekai, with its overpowered reincarnated protagonist. But the choice in characters making up the party of adventurers and how it chooses to lean into all that overpoweredness lends it more of an easy-going multi-girl-ensemble slice-of-life vibe. In this way it's quite similar to Endro~! from a few seasons ago, though that one lacked the isekai angle that allowed for more snarky pop-culture references. But the point is, that makes this Average show the unholy mash-up of two genres often characterized by skating through with little conflict or tension. This fourth episode definitely runs into that storytelling issue throughout much of it, though it does pick up just enough at the end to maintain an average amount of interest.
The first half of this episode is pretty by-the-numbers in terms of putting the girls of the newly-minted Crimson Vow party through their paces as a fully-fledged adventuring group. There are monster-slaying fetch quests aplenty to be done in this world, of course, and how else are they going to make enough money to move out of the inn where they also have to work at the maid cafe? At this point, at least, I still found myself missing the more questionable party dynamics the girls had back in the first half of the second episode. They're all just so generally sweet and accepting of working with each other at this point, and while I'm not saying I want the series to force drama into the proceedings, acknowledging the friction that could come from their different backgrounds, worldviews, and goals might bring out more interest in the characters themselves.
Fortunately their own unique quirks keep things up enough anyway. Mile is still consistent about bringing in her knowledge from her non-fantasy-world home to the adventuring proceedings, using equal parts basic biology and Ultraman attack trivia to take down the big lizards they fight. It seems she's constantly having to refer to old toku shows for inspiration on how to handle herself here, no wonder I dig her. We also finally get to see a little more of Pauline's true nature, her background in a merchant family coming in handy in exposing the shady businessman they were doing this quest for in the first place. It's not much, and it doesn't feel like contributing to story progress so much as just showing off those aforementioned character traits, but it's nice to see regardless. Some of the other supposedly-quirky character jokes are already wearing thin though, like Mile's consistent ‘old family technique’ excuse for her overpowered skills.
The second half of the episode has a little more going on in terms of conceptual stuff alongside its budding character work. Honestly, just having heroes in a fantasy setting like this acknowledge the immediate difference between fighting humans rather than monstrous wildlife for a quest is a good way to catch my attention. Average Adventures hadn't really gone into the deeper aspects of its setting yet, save for that odd aside explanation in the first episode that everything here is actually controlled by nanomachines (which the show hasn't even done anything with since). But this seemingly simple point about fighting humans ends up precluding the fact that a little more is going on in the show as the Crimson Vow accepts this merchant escort mission. Even as the job kicks off with everyone lightly bantering about what great friends they are, the direction makes clear this is leading into somewhat meatier character work for resident mage Reina.
But before that there are cute asides and odd fanservice jokes to make. While I can appreciate the bit about them constantly putting Mavis in more masculine clothes because ‘girls who like Takarazuka’ requested it, the shots of the others in outfits and the merchants' reactions to them get a bit leerier than necessary, especially when Pauline's skimpy attire makes the scene. And then that's followed up by jumping abruptly into a fight with bandits and Mile busting out an absolute combo platter of easy-win isekai protagonist powers. Though this is one case where the overdone elements actually end up cancelling each other out, as Mile's overt otaku leanings lead to her geeking out over an enemy mecha so much she happily lets it rocket-punch her in the face. It's a laugh-out-loud moment that then makes deft use of a dissonant mood to transition into teasing some tragedy Reina experienced.
The rest of the robot fight goes about how you should expect if you've seen the average episode of this show and others like it, but the infusion of Reina's background is what gives it life for me. We're barely given the details, but are shown enough that we can guess at the bad basics: Her father was killed by bandits when she was a young child, and she was threatened with being kidnapped and sold into slavery before she (perhaps unintentionnally) unleashed her full magical powers and burned the two bad guys to death. A surprisingly grim surprise lurking in the back of what had stuck to a nicer playbook for most of this episode, to be sure, but not unprecedented given what other bad guys had gotten up to by this point. The episode cuts off on a pseudo-cliffhanger of Reina asking her other party members if they've ever actually killed other people, and there's portents for where the rest of the story could go in that.
Mile's desire to live an entirely average life in this new fantasy world has, in its roundabout way, recruited her a party of friends like she's always wanted, but also resulted in them concentrating a tidy amount of powers and skills in one place. As so many isekai have already shown, these kinds of fantasy worlds are hardly easy living for those who aren't reincarnated main characters. And you know how that saying goes about great power. It could be that Mile, along with her friends, will have to resign herself to using the amazing abilities she was bestowed with to actually better this setting that results in a little girl having to immolate a couple of guys to save herself a life of slavery. That's against her initial wishes, of course, but a higher purpose could be what Mile was searching for along with some friends all this time. Or this could all be speculation and the Average Anime will sweep these concepts under the rug to continue being average. At this point, at least, this episode worked as a proof-of-concept for the show's breezier side, with a last-second helping of more complex ideas that could help carry it as it goes along.
Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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