Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town ?
The developments in last week's episode of LasDan had me questioning the exact trajectory and motives of the show's plot. Obviously the pile-on of climaxes was mechanically in service of taking us to the ending of the first novel volume/storyline (a fact shamelessly underlined by the title of this week's episode), but with shocking betrayals and perilous cliffhangers juxtaposed against the jocular series setup and comical characters powering this series, it resonated vaguely. Were we supposed to take all this laborious escalation seriously, or was it purely parody of the kind of conventions the show's been riffing since it described its base premise? Thankfully, this episode doesn't waste too much time making the truth clear: They're absolutely taking the piss.
As an aficionado of terrible jokes, I have to applaud how all the overt story setup was in favor of the gag that gets paid off by the beginning of this episode: That the dramatic reveal of the dormant Demon Lord as the one possessing the King clears Lloyd to be able to assist in what is, for all intents and purposes, the final battle of a campaign. Marie's conclusive reaction is the best part for me, since it encapsulates the frustration so many of us have had sitting through mediocre fantasy storylines hinging on cheap mechanical linchpins: That this whole storyline could have been avoided. For all the stressing they set us up to feel for Marie previously, deflating it by having her break that tension into a scattered slapstick escape is an entertaining way to set the true tone of the story. LasDan has affected its most entertaining humor so far via the contrasts between its stock setups and Lloyd's effortless breaking of them, and here that extends to work with other characters like Marie disregarding any inherent drama as they realize this all occupies a sequence-breaking speedrun more than any immersive RPG storyline.
With other characters getting in on the joke, Lloyd himself splits the difference in his all-powerful babyface bit and the more earnestly endearing elements of his worldview. Comparing him to others of his ilk, I feel Lloyd is probably the best possible interpretation of the ‘Overpowered Fantasy Light-Novel Protagonist’ archetype. His abilities come from a quickly-understood genre gimmick, and instead of being aware of how top-tier he is and simply acting blandly nice or, even worse, smugly entitled about it, he's blissfully unaware of how he's placed in the current setting's power scaling. It lets the earnestness we expect of a true RPG hero to shine through – he genuinely believes that upstarts like Allan are stronger than him and worth putting faith in – communicating the idea that Lloyd's empathy and sense of justice might be as naturally leveled-up as his fighting ability. True, making the powerful protagonist amicably dense isn't the most original writing trick to conceive of, but it's still among the ones that work best.
That does lead some of the plot points to be at odds with Lloyd's simply-endearing nature when the writing's trying to expound on concepts beyond ‘Lloyd is nice’. Even if it ends in a silly misunderstood anticlimax, Lloyd's motivational restoration of Merthophan's humanity by invoking the supposed inherent morality of soldiers is a bit side-eye worthy, especially with how much military enrollment factors into Lloyd's own ongoing character arc. Granted, given the deflation that scene ends on, it's clear LasDan isn't the kind of silly show I expect to tackle the complexities of a monarchy-managed military complex. Still, that just makes the resolution smack of the writing slotting in any kind of schmaltzy solution they could conceive of. And when the humor isn't succeeding so well with the aforementioned clever contrasts and anticlimaxes within the genre, it continues to shoot for those oddly-askew adult gags. For every hilarious segment of Lloyd beating the Demon Lord with what amounts to a Mister Clean Magic Eraser, we get an extended sequence of Selen repeatedly hoping to invoke some tasteful nudity in a rescue scene. I feel like these are the kinds of light-novel tropes that would be better referred to here if it felt like the show was actually sending them up, rather than simply acknowledging them.
Apart from the various awkward distractions though, LasDan puts on a pretty strong fourth episode here, even if, less than a month in, it feels oddly like a season finale episode. There's actually some fairly nice clips of animation in the little bit of serious fighting we see, and in true finale fashion, nearly the whole back-half of the episode is dedicated to come-down and wrap-up with worldbuilding setting up the next story. That's actually kind of interesting to me, seeing a story like this load its next set of bases in ways I've seen before, and knowing that I'll actually get to see the payoff within the same cour of television and, if what we got this episode is any indication, there might be some funny surprises in store when it arrives. I'd say that makes this a satisfactory introduction to the series as well as a clear showcase of its highs and lows for those deciding if they were going to keep following it moving forward.
Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town is currently streaming on FUNimation Entertainment.
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