Aspiring To Be Perfectly Average
Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne! or Didn’t I Say To Make My Life Average in the Next Life is kind of every reviewers worst nightmare. It is the anime that aspires to be charmingly ordinary and succeeds. It never reaches higher and misses the mark or falls overly short of being light entertainment (even the obligatory beach episode wasn’t that bad) and yet there’s a tangible feeling that this anime didn’t really do much except kill twenty minutes of time each week with a few laughs and smiles along the way.
What the anime is about can be very simply summed up: Reincarnated teen lives out a power fantasy in a fantasy world. ‘Mile’ uses her knowledge of the modern world as well as her incredibly over the top stats to try to pretend to be an ‘average’ girl but always stands out. She makes some friends while training to be a hunter and the group go on adventures doing silly things along the way. There’s not a lot more to it than that.
While there are some attempts to build back stories for the characters and even to resolve past tensions, overall Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life is the story of Mile who is determined to be average and due to a twist of fate (or an incompetent god) she fails miserably each and every time because her abilities are average for all creatures and not just humans. Admittedly, I think if we look into that concept more there ends up being a few glitches in the process because she seems pretty much unbreakable and indestructible and while there are certainly some strong dragons and the like there’s also plenty of weakling creatures that really should have balanced her a bit more. Fortunately, Average isn’t wanting you to think that hard about it and it doesn’t give you any reason to go pulling at the edges of its concept because you already know that this is light fluff and it isn’t supposed to be anything more.
From the ridiculously upbeat OP to the character designs the intention of this anime is clear and on display. These girls are cute and having fun and you, the audience member, are pretty much told to get on board or go home. Incidentally, I love that OP. It just sounds like they are having so much fun and it set the tone each week for episodes that largely delivered on being entertaining even if not terribly original or deep.
Now, this is an anime that I actually read the source for prior to knowing it was getting an anime release. I actually read the first four light novels in the series and the anime more or less finishes at that point by a really weird coincidence. However, I’m going to be honest and point out that the anime actually nailed adaptation. It keeps some of the plot points and the characters but discards characters and details that would slow things down or just feel like they were there because they are in the source. Sure, they might be needed later, but like Mile’s backstory, they can fill it in after the fact. One of the best decisions they made was to start the anime series from where Mile joins the hunting school, skipping over her home life, getting sent to a boarding school and running away. We get bits of the details of these incidents later in the anime, but they aren’t really necessary to enjoying the story anyway and what we do need we’ll be told when it is needed.
One of the best things about Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life is Mile herself. I did read some reviews during its airing where viewers weren’t so thrilled with her character, but for me she was gold. Her constant surprise that her latest ploy to be average had failed never missed its mark for me. Nor did her ridiculous schemes or self-aware comments. I loved her introducing anime concepts to the rest of the team and their debut at the final exam of the hunters academy was absolutely perfectly silly.
Okay, in fairness, visually this anime is pretty average and for a 2019 anime it is actually probably a little short of the mark. There’s a reliance on the cute character designs to distract you from a lot of fairly still images with little animation. There’s also a lot of reaction shots and the like from the characters. Honestly, the Fall 2019 Anime season had a lot of characters pulling weird faces but Mile and her crew definitely held their own in the weird face department.
Throw in monsters and enemies that are also poorly designed and at times don’t really move at all (most of the fights against dragons and rock lizards consist of the creature staying perfectly still while Mile or one of the other girls zipped around) and while the colours are bright and the girls look cute, that isn’t enough. Given the nature of the story the lack of excellent visuals isn’t really going to make or break this for you but I can’t help but think it would be a lot more thrilling to watch with more impressive animation in the crunch moments. Then again, given some of the other works from the studio (Project No. 9) maybe I should be happy the visuals and animation were as nice as they were.
If you are after depth of story or characters, this comedic isekai isn’t going to be for you. However, if you like cute girls doing cute things, a bit of self-aware comedy, and you enjoy isekai and actually like the idea of having a female lead who is completely overpowered compared to her companions, you’ll probably get a bit of a laugh out of Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life. While this isn’t an anime I’m going to rush to watch again, much like with reading the books I just had fun with this while it was airing and I looked forward to my twenty minutes of silliness each week.
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Images from: Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne! Dir. M Oota. Project No. 9. 2019