Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town
Episodes 1-3

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town ?

I gotta admit, I think I'm starting to understand the upshot of the Light Novel title economy. Time was when a story would at least have to get me to check out a dedicated synopsis to figure out how interested I was in its premise. So here comes this series, stepping out of the shadows to intone like an inquisitive Jonathan Frakes, “Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town” and, simply by being familiar with the outlandishly unrealistic power scales of role-playing games, I immediately understood the gimmick. Upending the natural order of level progression in this kind of setting should be an easy path to mining irreverent humor from fantasy funtimes. So with that laid out, it's easy enough for me to dive right into this series, providing that I can first come up with something shorter to call it first.

Hold on, let's see...the official website just addresses it as ‘LasDan’? Yeah, that'll do.

Overpowered fantasy light-novel protagonists are of course a dime-a-dozen these days, but LasDan's implementation of its particular powerhouse, the adorable and awesomely-named Lloyd Belladonna, does an interesting job from the start of uncoupling his role from the actual focus of the story. Lloyd's still comparatively light on personality compared to characters in bigger, badder fantasy books, but that's less down to him being a self-insert cipher and more to do with the unique combination of his absurd natural strength and blissful ignorance of what that means for his station in this setting. Instead, he's treated as an x-factor that upsets all the tropes, characterizations, and story beats set up in this supposed Starter Town, turning LasDan into more of an ensemble piece as all those other characters react to Lloyd and what his presence brings.

That ensemble setup also interestingly obfuscates some of the plot elements that pop up by the third episode, which is honestly an impressive trick for a little show like this to pull off, but I'll address those ambitions a bit later. For the beginning of LasDan's story, the titular Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies is treated like nothing so much as a fantasy-world One-Punch Man, a comical force of nature who can take on any challenge at whatever speed is funniest. That works fine for the first episode, doing things like changing the trajectory of Selen, the ‘Belt Princess’, by casually undoing the curse her entire long-term quest of self-actualization was based on. Having Lloyd fail to make it into the military in Episode 2 works along that same idea of setting up situations for the rest of the cast to react to, sending the other characters on a mad dash to find the Kid Of Infinite Power only to bump into him working a part-time job at the cafeteria down the street.

As much as I'm onboard for irreverence in a series like this, sometimes it feels like LasDan can tip things too far in different ways, to the point where I'm not actually sure where it's going or who it's for. For as on-point as the humor can be a lot of the time (the prospect of a duel between Lloyd and an upstart cadet turns into an uproarious setup), it just can't seem to avoid some of its expected otaku-demographic light-novel excesses. So you get annoyances like the Belt Princess regularly reduced to a screaming yandere stereotype (yandereotype), or Lloyd's mentors from both sides of the map openly lusting over his questionably-aged frame. That culminates in the third episode with ‘Chocolate Banana Yum Yum Time’ which...you know, if you haven't seen the series, I'll leave that to your imagination, since the show itself really doesn't.

But where I most come away kinda confused by LasDan's ambitions is when the actual plot kicks in. There are shades of it picking up speed in the second episode, but that still unfolds in a way that seems to be about illustrating all the moving pieces happening around Lloyd while he's unknowingly occupied with the world's most epic case of Impostor Syndrome. But by the third episode, the various characters in the ensemble we'd mostly gotten used to just being here to make reaction faces are conspiring and discussing various angles of a king-manipulating-cum-warmongering plot that warranted little attention up until it picked up this much steam. It's almost impressive that a series that comes off like a farce half the time has this much going on in the ‘regular’ fantasy plot it dropped its ridiculous main character into as an outrageous agent of acceleration. As I said, the impressive part is how the show uses its comical chops and ensemble structure to hide what would be rote plot-twists in plain sight: Marie actually being the disappeared princess of the kingdom almost feels like a choice that came out of nowhere, but it ultimately just adds even more to the character's endearingly exasperated antics. Similarly, the revelation of Merthophan as the King-manipulating warmonger fits, but catches us so off-guard since the character was neatly folded in with the comic antics of fellow dummies Selen and Riho.

But despite landing some genuinely shocking twists, the way they pile up, especially by the third episode, leaves me a bit baffled as to the intent behind the story's escalation. By the end of Episode 3, the things going on, including the King revealed to be possessed by another villain who was double-secretly manipulating Merthophan, are barely adjacent to the accelerationist parts of the plot ostensibly tied to Lloyd's arrival. At times I almost thought I was supposed to see it all as a parody of three-car-pile-up RPG plots, reinforced least of all by Chrome actively referring to the proceedings as an ‘arc’ that needed to be finished. But then finer elements, like Marie's confrontation with the possessed King, still come off with a serious quantity of gravitas. Three episodes in and with at least another episode of this self-described ‘arc’ to go, it has me questioning what LasDan is actually trying to do here. Though I'll admit a certain level of entertaining surprise at it turning out to be a much denser, wilder ride than its high-concept title synopsis might have initially led me to believe.

Rating:

Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town is currently streaming on FUNimation Entertainment.


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