Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town ?
For all its efforts at farcical sitcom shenanigans, I thought the previous storyline in LasDan ended up working better when it just cut straight to the simpler fantasy adventure stuff. Apparently the show itself agreed with me, as this next plot throws the cast of Last Dungeon into their first dungeon! This is technically a single-episode plot, but with lots of gestures towards overarching elements that the story will keep pursuing; backstories, villain introductions, follow-ups on previously-established plots, that sort of thing. While just checking off the things that happen in this episode can feel a little tedious at times, the episode actually turns out to be surprisingly entertaining by the end.
The most serious conflict pursued this episode follows up on Micona, the cadet in love with Marie we met a few weeks ago in one of LasDan's previously scattered sections of story setup. Right out of the gate, the way Micona's inducted into her role in this story honestly makes for a rough impression. In a series that's been earnestly good-natured in most of its portrayals of the characters surrounding Lloyd, having Micona fall back into the 'scary, possessive lesbian' trope as her motivation against our hero just comes off as cruelly cheap. LasDan is a simple show that loves engaging with stock elements, true, but like some of the odd sexual humor that still crops up, Micona's characterization comes off as dissonant to the irreverent silliness we usually see Lloyd and the others handle things with. It makes you hope there's a comparatively pleasant resolution coming up for this, but sadly, the show under-delivers on that front too.
It sucks because I enjoy Micona as a character concept. As long as the show's goofing around with the various love polygons surrounding Lloyd, it might as well add in some other character connections. But the writing so readily portrays her as a threat to her supposedly-beloved Marie, enthusiastically transforming herself into a literal monster at the drop of a hat over her spurned impulses, that any arc she could have had is reduced to a simple baddie-battle of the week as LasDan puts on its best adventure-cartoon framework. That Micona's feelings aren't clarified to Marie or resolved in any way before she's unceremoniously yeeted out of the episode, not to be seen again for the rest of the runtime, only exacerbates the question of how much we were really supposed to care about her plot beyond giving Lloyd a cool fight scene. I know LasDan largely thrives on irreverence, but this swings maybe too far into callousness towards its own story.
To its credit though, it does result in a very cool fight scene. I don't think LasDan's been super-fancy with its battles before now, so the dialed-up sakuga for Lloyd's rumble with Micona's twisted treant form is an extremely pleasant surprise. It's also a nice indicator, I think, of Lloyd having just a little more serious self-awareness of his combat chops. His casual swatting away of giant bugs and the like was a fun gag at first, but if One-Punch Man could realize that there was real potential for entertainment value in the lavish presentation of even fights that we fully expected the hero to win, then this more modest fantasy equivalent can work the same way. As long as LasDan is getting by on being as simple as possible, it can supplement that with the basic pleasures of fun action scenes.
That aspect of fun permeates much of the rest of this episode, balancing out the rather dour portrayal of Micona's situation. The plot has basically been reduced to a procession of characters looking for each other, which is an effective simplification that allows us the opportunity to see stuff like Alka really cutting loose for once. I love the enjoyable directness of a super-powered character like her just punching her way through the walls of the labyrinth instead of actually exploring it, and the show payoffs that kind of humor well with the revelation that Lloyd utilizes the same strategy, culminating in the inevitable result that comes with knocking down all those load-bearing walls: the collapse of the whole dungeon. I also like the way the portrayal of their antics intersects with the introduction of Vritra, the giant snake monster who's actually the amicable guardian beast of that titutar last-dungeon town. It breezily communicates the point that all the epic-level residents of that revered area are ultimately just people, folks with their own goofy idiosyncrasies who don't think of themselves first in terms of absurd power-levels. It's that irreverence for its own setting that makes LasDan's style of comedy work, I think.
There are still a few other odd swerves that this episode takes even while those other bits are working well enough. Newly-introduced villain Sou is perhaps played up a bit too mysteriously, with the writing being overt with his obtuse ominousness. His rather sudden murder of Vritra at first seems like naught but for shock value, but it's revealed later that the snake didn't really die anyway and just got his personality shunted over to Selen's belt. That's fine, I guess – that belt was already effectively the mascot of the show, so making it an actual guy makes sense. And I did really enjoy how the development prompted the revelation of the incredibly pedestrian origin story for the thing, demonstrating more of that funny irreverence. But it still comes off as one more component of perhaps a few too many plot pile-ups at the very end of this episode in service of setting up whatever comes next. You don't need to try all that hard, LasDan, I was perfectly happy with you just chucking the kids into a dungeon and showing me a cool fight scene with a tree-person. Just keep doing that kinda thing, and maybe also find a satisfying way to resolve that Micona storyline?
Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town is currently streaming on FUNimation Entertainment.
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