Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town ?
It's been a series predicated on predictability, subverted or otherwise, and so LasDan ends predictably well. It's once again as ‘fine’ as I've come to expect from the show, the heroes having been mostly assembled last week to take down the fully-revealed formation of villains. There are a few last-minute motivation drops here that dial up the stakes, making things about as serious as this show could potentially get; in fact, apart from a few aside gags and recurring character bits, this is a rather surprisingly played-straight finale for the show. That's partially the point, possibly: since LasDan's power-level upsets had been established, it could show off how a genuine struggle for its overpowered main character might look, like some fantasy-flavored diet One-Punch Man. Thus, maybe the most shocking development is how, in the couple of places in Last Dungeon's last episode where it tries getting really clever, it actually succeeds in doing so!
Before digging into those indulgences though, the basics of LasDan's last stretch here bears reviewing. I guess right away my most obvious gripe is going to be the way Micona continues to get the short shrift, story-wise. At least they bring her back instead of just forgetting about her after her unceremonious defeat weeks ago, but her motivations and even potential for a redemptive character arc the way Merthophan so entertainingly enjoyed are pretty soundly ignored. She's a prop to power Lloyd's final battle with a giant golem, taken out to allow victory by that running gag about Riho's panties returning for one more round. It's not a case of me liking the character particularly much or even expecting any exceptional nuance from the kind of show I know LasDan is. Rather, Micona had enough time spent building her up in previous episodes, with enough potential alluded to in her relationship with Marie, that seeing her reduced to a pure plot device after all that just makes it feel like wasted energy. I'd have at least been okay with them spending all that building up to end on a cheap joke, had it actually been a funny one.
I complain about that as a point of comparison because LasDan proves in this same episode that it can explore some compelling character conceits when it isn't using its lesbian character as a punching bag. There are little moments throughout – like the King refusing to be part of the villains' scheme specifically because he was already manipulated once before – that show how the kind of genre-savviness a series like this has can be decently amusing. Even better is the show finally elaborating on the bad guys' motivations beyond that: It turns out Eug's world-remaking compulsion was just the most bog-standard of the group's goals, while the likes of Shoma just wants to increase the excitement factor in the world so his little bro Lloyd can feel like the ‘Hero’ he always dreamed of being. That kickstarts a conceptual analysis that crests even higher as we get to know the other member of this little Legion of Doom: Sou, who turns out to be specifically created as a ‘Hero’ originally!
It's a genuinely surprising revelation that actually isn't played for any kind of laughs, but does give way to the more metatextual genre analysis that enriches this last episode. Heroes in fantasy stories are as much constructs as any fictional presence, so what happens to one created to save the world once the world they've saved just keeps on turning? Sou's recurring question to others of how he appeared to them at first seemed like a simple running character quirk, but it turns out to be an illustration of a whole core idea LasDan is tackling: ‘Heroes’ as a concept aren't defined by what they think of themselves, but by how others regard them. This in turn leads to Lloyd's definition in the face of his consistent lack of self-confidence. Lloyd doesn't believe he's strong, or a hero, or someone who can beat that big golem. But all the other characters, as well as the audience themselves, recognize him as ‘The Hero’ of this show, and it's that, more than any amount of his comical super-strength, which allows him to win after all. It makes for a tidy example of why the idea of ‘power levels’ in storytelling is so thoroughly useless, since character ability usually comes through according to arcs and narrative priority instead.
Now that's obviously not the most deep or clever conceptual illustration in an anime, and it perhaps even comes off just a bit undercooked with how it's only shunted into the very end of this show. But it is something in a series where I really wasn't expecting it at this point, and I daresay succeeds at making the show feel worth watching all the way through. Even apart from the salient thesis statement, the setup allows for a decently-amusing resolution with LasDan's trademark anticlimax: Of course Eug's plan wouldn't go through since the motivations of her and her cohorts were so divergent in the first place. It still ends with them all retreating to fight another day (presumably through future light-novel plots), but what would an effective sitcom be without a relegated return to most of the status quo? Even Selen's annoying traits get played up as an asset in getting her beloved belt back. There's nothing I can say about any of the other aspects in this episode of LasDan that I didn't already cover in the previous ones, but for actually having a bit more thematic ambition, and especially succeeding in it, I'll happily send this one off as a more interesting finale than I was admittedly expecting.
Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town is currently streaming on FUNimation Entertainment.
Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.
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