Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Fantasy Bishōjo Juniku Ojisan to ?
Community score: 4.1
Adding new characters in a comedy is always a bit of a gamble. While new personalities can enhance or expand a show's comedic potential, they also threaten to disrupt any chemistry you have going already. It's a bit like cooking, where you need to consider how each ingredient will meld with the others, and whether you're enhancing the flavors or merely muddling them. So far, with its latest addition to the cast, Total Fantasy Knockout hasn't quite found the right balance of spices.
That's not to say Telolilo can't be funny or a solid addition, but as of this episode the series hasn't quite demonstrated what she adds to our lead couple's established dynamic. Sure, it's a funny idea to have the typically graceful and ethereal Elvin Queen of the forest be a vain and petty little gremlin, but that's a swerve plenty of similar fantasy comedies have played with. More importantly, the half of the episode focused on her just doesn't give her any real material. Like, it's kind of funny the elves take their long ears as blessings from the Goddess because she has rabbit ears, but otherwise her argument with Jinguuji is just her being self-centered and the rest of the cast commenting like “yep, she sure is all about herself, unlike what you'd expect from an important leader!” and that gets old real quick.
There's also the possibility of her turning into the show's resident butt monkey, and that doesn't fill me with a lot of optimism. You can certainly make a character hoisting themselves by their own petard funny, but if you don't craft their personality just right, you risk making them too irritating for the comeuppance to matter, or likable enough that it just feels mean to constantly undercut them. Telolilo is kind of a jerk, sure, but no more so than Tachibana or Jinguuji, and she at least has a legitimate complaint against them murdering her tribe's sacred animal and burning half the forest down. So if the joke is just going to be that she gets routinely dunked on by the universe at large, that's probably not gonna fly too well.
Thankfully, things pick up in the back half of the episode, as our leads leave the mess they've caused in the rearview and spend the night getting tipsy. While this episode isn't as heavy on shipteasing as the previous ones, it still offers us another look into the pair's history together. They're both jerks, but jerks who have a rapport and camaraderie that makes their meanest dialogue still feel like friends ribbing at each other. The detail that Tachibana entered Jinguuji's name for the heroine in an RPG when they were kids is cute at first, then gets just a little bittersweet as he drunkenly reveals it was meant out of spite, trying to tease his friend for his equally “girly” given name, but it took 20 years for that to register. There's also a hint that Jinguuji has some kind of baggage involving his family, and that being in this new world might be a genuine reprieve from it.
There's some pretty good jokes from Tachibana too, as he slowly acclimates to his new body. Sure, part of him genuinely enjoys all the attention and praise his (literally) supernatural beauty draws, but it's still an entirely new physiology and self-image he has to figure out. Getting drunk off a single beer because he's no longer in a body used to slinging back alcohol and energy drinks to make it through the day, or needing Jinguuji to show him how to properly take care of his new hair—moments like these are funny, cute, and just make good use of this setup for something besides the game of Gay Chicken these two find themselves in.
And at the end there's even a tiny bit of contemplation on Tachibana's part about what exactly “gender” is. That's an incredibly complex and personal question that is far beyond the purview of an anime review, but I do like that he's asking these questions, and I especially appreciate Jinguuji's answer. Ultimately, what feels right to any one person is what's right for them, so whether Tachibana actually reconsiders his gender identity, or he just has to adapt to sitting down when he pees, the final call is his to make.
So yeah, this is decidedly not Total Fantasy Knockout's best outing, but it found its footing again by the end of things. We look to be introducing the Kirito knockoff next episode, and there's a lot of potential fun to be had there, so let's hope the show can starting marching forward with confidence.
Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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