Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout
Episodes 1-2

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Fantasy Bishōjo Juniku Ojisan to ?
Community score: 3.8

How would you rate episode 2 of
Fantasy Bishōjo Juniku Ojisan to ?
Community score: 4.2

Writing critically about media is always an act of interpretation. Sure, depending on the material, it may be easier or harder to come to a general consensus on a piece of art, but even for very simple and straightforward fiction, everyone's going to bring their own experiences to the table when discussing it. What you find funny or relatable or offensive or eye-rolling or sexy will necessarily differ from others, and that will inevitably affect how you respond to something as subjective as entertainment. Which is all a long way of saying there are a number of different ways one can react to the premise of Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout (Well, except for the name. We can all agree that title is terrible, yeah?), and writing with any sort of authority is going to be tricky, so please bear with me on this one.

Really, though, how one reads the central premise/joke of The Extraordinary, Ordinary IseGuy will absolutely be the decider in whether or not it's worth your time. If you see these two idiots constantly freaking out at the idea of catching feelings for each other as a tired exercise in “comedic” gay panic, I don't blame you at all for peacing out, because there's certainly room in this setup and the remaining episodes for it to take that route. But at the same time, there's just as much room to see these losers fleeing in fear from their own attraction the same way countless blushing anime characters have in other romcoms. Only time will tell how that plays out, but for now I'm at least enjoying the act of finding out.

A lot of that comes down to the comedic timing. While this show's direction isn't anything to write home about, the setup and payoff of its punchlines has been stellar so far, always knowing just how long to hold on a line before moving on, and it keeps each episode moving forward with an infectious energy. It's also willing to delve into full-on cartoon slapstick that heightens the material as it plays with otherwise familiar RPG and romcom shenanigans. That's perhaps my one big gripe with the show – it's yet another “fantasy” world that operates like a game, menu screens and all. That kind of setting is popular, but it only ever serves to pull me out of the story. It's thankfully less egregious since this is a screwball comedy, and there are some pretty fun gags like Jinguuji's “Charmed” status marker undercutting his poker face after catching a glimpse of Tachibana's newly acquired cleavage.

That dynamic has driven these two episodes so far, and while it's mostly been for yucks, there's also a healthy amount of characterization – and subtext – to these two “best friends,” both before and after they get abducted by an isekai goddess. Jinguuji has gotten the lion's share, with episode two exploring just why Tachibana's friendship means so much to him, as well as how that companionship may mean a bit more than he's willing to admit. Do note that his thoughts flowed from reminiscing about Tachibana helping him into “So cute. Let's get married” well before he got hit with that “Charmed” debuff. While the characters (and possibly the show itself) might insist that's the work of the mysterious curse placed on them by the Goddess, it's equally possible this genderbending chicanery has just opened the door for both parties to consider possibilities they never dared to consider while both had male bodies.

Then there's Tachibana who...well, look. I'm a cis dude, so I'm always going to be working from an outside perspective when it comes to potential trans storylines, but it's kind of hard not to read something from Tachibana reveling in the attention that suddenly presenting as an attractive woman brings. Maybe that's just meant to be part of the joke – somebody so average and unremarkable before now is so completely taken by the adoration that there's no time for any dysphoria to kick in – but every time the topic of making Jinguuji admit he thinks his friend's new body is totally hot comes up, I hear the sound of an egg cracking, if you read me. Either way it's still a great bit, and makes the slower-paced second episode as funny as the first, seeing the entire bandit horde cut each other down over their newly-discovered wife as Tachibana looks on with a mixture of horror and a slight self-confidence boost. With Jinguuji there to play foil, it makes the whole endeavor really entertaining, and I hope we delve further into it all later on.

Maybe (almost certainly) I'm just overthinking all this, but I'm honestly thankful for the opportunity to do so. I like romcoms a whole lot, but they're not always the most conducive to weekly conversation. There are only so many ways to say I smiled real big when the two anime characters blushed and made eye-contact, y'know? So I'm grateful to have something with a more layered premise and more to dig into this time around. Like I said, there's still room for things to go south, but so long as the characters stay likable and the comedy keeps the laughs coming, I'm down to see where this whole mess ends up.

Rating:

Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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