BOFURI Series Review

Bofuri Review

I don’t want to get hurt, so I’ll max out my defence – not just the title but the pretty much the whole plot.

Bofuri: I Don’t Want To Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense (or Itai no wa iya nano de bougyoryoku ni kyokufuri shitai to omoimasu) joins the list of anime that really just needed a much shorter title. No surprise the source of this one is also a light novel and so the ongoing trend of light novel authors cramming their entire premise into their title continues. And with that, I’m out of complaints about BOFURI.

It isn’t that BOFURI is genre defining, a marvel of animation, or even that the characters have a lot of depth. Realistically on almost any particular attribute that you could measure the quality of an anime, BOFURI would come up pretty much average.

What that doesn’t account for though is the fact that somehow when you mix all the ingredients together somehow they’ve managed to cobble together a combination that no matter how absurd they push the over-powered nature of the main character and no matter how low the stakes are and regardless of the fact that the cute and sweet main characters in this story decide in one of the final conflicts of the series that the best way to win is to just slaughter all the competitors (yeah, that happens).

Despite all of those things, BOFURI is one of those shows that episode after episode just leaves you smiling and feeling pretty happy about the world.

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While normally characters shouldn’t review their own story, Sally and Maple here are pretty much summing it up.

I started watching BOFURI as it was airing back in Winter 2020 but didn’t finish it due to my unscheduled break. So it made sense that I would pick it up and finish it off now that I’ve returned. As I watched I wondered just how it was I managed to take a break in the first place.

For those who don’t know, BOFURI uses the tired old characters playing a game setting that we’ve seen a million times. Naturally it is a virtual reality so complete it may as well just be its own fantasy world except for all the game gimmicks such as skills and levelling up. Where it is a little different from other similar anime is that the characters aren’t trapped here, they log in and out at will, there’s no evil conspiracy at play, and basically there’s no stakes at all.

Kaede (who will be called Maple in the game) tries out the game at the behest of her in-real-life friend and as the title suggests she decides that she doesn’t want to experience pain and so she puts all her skills into defense. It leads to an unorthodox playing style and she begins to acquire quite a collection of unusual and ultimately game breaking skills becoming increasingly over-powered and gathering an assortment of odd-ball players around her as she starts a guild and they take on various events.



Now even without any external pressures or villains, this set up could still allow for the guild to make enemies and be striving toward clearing the game or something however Maple and best friend Sally remain true to their absolute goal of having fun playing. Whether they are wiping out other players in an event, splashing around in water, clearing a dungeon, or just hanging out with their guild, they are all about enjoying themselves and the tone of the story reflects this.

Where other game based anime would look at the choices people make in games, such as the choices to kill other players, as some kind of moral guide for how people behave in reality, here they just let the players have fun and the final episode actually has several guilds coming together with Maple Tree (Maple’s guild) to celebrate the previous event even though they had been on the receiving end of Maple’s severe over the top skills.

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Okay, it is over the top but it is also adorable.

However, it is because the characters are genuinely just having fun that the audience can too. It really is a joy watching them get increasingly more ridiculous skills and watching the interesting ways they utilise them in the various challenges. Even rival characters are actually pretty good people who just want to play the game their way and enjoy it.

The glimpses of the game chat show a genuinely positive gaming community who are fascinated by Maple’s journey and the game-masters themselves are frequently baffled by her actions but seem pretty curious about what she’ll do next. In other-words, incredibly fictional compared to most actual gaming communities where there is always a fair number of people who insist on being trolls despite the general community largely just wanting to play the game.

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Now, I will admit, usually something where there is no particular end goal for the plot or characters and where there seem to be zero internal or external stakes I would get bored or start wondering what the point of all of it is. Realistically if there was a second season of this, I might even end up feeling that way about BOFURI. However, for 12 episodes they managed to be consistently entertaining and spread out the power-ups, skills and events nicely so there was always something new to enjoy just around the corner.

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Yep, BOFURI did keep blowing my expectations away.

It also helps that the action in this game world is good. The way damage is shown through purple cubes, the movements of the characters, the way skills manifest… while it isn’t the most remarkable animation around it never gets dull to watch. There’s also some good pace to both the action and even the more slice of life moments as nothing really lingers too long or starts becoming dull.

Honestly, there’s not a lot more to say. It is a bright and happy anime about characters playing an RPG and enjoying it. The powers and skills they learn are quite ridiculous (ludicrous even by the end) but that just makes it more fun. I absolutely loved this and finished the series with a smile knowing that my initial worry that Maple would get dull mid-way through the series never came to fruition. Maple was highly entertaining from start to finish if for no other reason than I also wanted to know just what she would do next.

Images used for review from: Bofuri. Dir. S. Oonuma. Silver Link. 2020.


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Karandi James


Would Bofuri work if the protagonist wasn’t a cute female character?

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I’m no stranger to discussing the appeal of cute or kawaii characters in anime (previous posts including “Just Add Cute” and “Is Being Kawaii Enough To Make You Watch an Anime?“) however today I really do just want to discuss the Winter 2020 anime Bofuri also known as “Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu” or ” BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense”.

At the time of drafting this post, we are two episodes in and what I know about Bofuri so far is that it is about a girl named Kaede who, at the invitation of a friend, decides to play a VRMMO for the first time and without knowing anything about character construction she decides she would be sensible to stack all of her stat points into defense. And that’s about it. It is perfectly delightful viewing but would it still be so delightful if the protagonist wasn’t a cute female character?

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Kaede isn’t trapped in this game unable to escape.

The game isn’t glitching and trying to kill the players.

The other players aren’t trying to kill one another either in the game or in real life.

There’s no mysterious secret hidden in the game or some family legend or some angsty back story to uncover.

And there’s no one dying who has a last wish of conquering the game.

There really is zero tension or drama in the story so far. Kaede is a complete newb and because her friend is banned from playing games until after exams she starts out on her own. Happily she asks some random players for advice about where to start and then off she trots (very slowly because she has no agility points) into the forest where we learn that her build is pretty much invincible and she can literally just let things hit her until she builds up a resistance and then squish things to death with her shield.

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Strong? Maple laughs in the face of danger (and then hides behind her shield).

Even soloing a dungeon isn’t a problem for our intrepid adventurer. Trapped in a boss room and out of weapons? No problem. Just eat the boss gaining skills in the process and then a very sweet new set of armour and a shield.

The second episode brought along a tournament where players tried to fight each other but again Kaede’s character build is just unbeatable but there were no claims of cheating or bitterness. Nope. One comment about the build being broken and then a lot of admiration for the new shield user who owned a whole bunch of other players.

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We also finally got to see her playing the game with her friend and her friend has decided to go for an unconventional character build as well. And that’s the state of the story after two episodes.

Normally, if someone pitched a story like that to me for an anime I’d have to ask them, “What is the point?” If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you know I’m very easily bored by anime that I don’t feel are ‘going anywhere’. I don’t mind if it is a character journey or a plot driven journey but normally I need to feel like something is going to be accomplished somewhere along the way.

Bofuri literally has nothing that would indicate there’s a greater story at play. Kaede has no goal outside of enjoying playing her new game with her friend. There’s no goal for either of them outside of playing and levelling up and having fun. While I’m sure they’ll go on quests, encounter other players, maybe join some more tournaments, there’s no end game in sight.

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Neither character has some deep flaw or trauma that needs to be worked through. They are both perfectly pleasant people who seem pretty well adjusted. So character development doesn’t seem to be the goal either.

Yet despite this lack of tension, purpose, or depth of character, Bofuri is fairly delightful to watch for the sheer joy Kaede seems to have at playing the game. The characters are cute, Kaede’s reactions when she succeeds at something or even when she’s startled, are adorable, and now that her friend is playing with her we have a second personality for Kaede to bounce off of and that only added to the enjoyment of watching the anime.

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All of which made me wonder if I would forgive the story for being practically non-existent and the characters for being generic and the only real thing the anime has going for it being the practically invincible gimmick due to Kaede’s own misunderstandings about how to build a character, if the anime wasn’t cute?

What if Kaede, our central character, was a surly, teenage boy who for shits and giggles decided to build a broken character to play the game. Would I be as delighted traipsing through the forest with him as he shield bashed rabbits to death? Would his eating of a boss have been an adorable epiphany moment where the character comes up with an unconventional solution or would it have been just terrifyingly gruesome?

What if Kaede was not in school but actually in her thirties or forties and a mother who decided to try a game for the first time but was relatively inept? Would the story still fly or would we want more information about why this mother suddenly decided to play a game other than her friend invited her? Would it still be relaxing to watch or would I be more judgemental about all the things the anime lacks?

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It’s all just hypothetical of course because Kaede is in fact a cute, female anime character. Her character design is relatively ordinary but they’ve made some lovely choices in her clothing and the fact that she’s a shield user helps her stand out. The rest of the cast are so far pretty cute to and the whole gaming world is just nice to look at. Generic for an in-game world as depicted in an anime, but perfectly pleasant.

I really have enjoyed the first two episodes of Bofuri. I think it is great fun to watch so far and I’m looking forward to seeing what Maple and Sally get up to next inside the game. However, the question remains whether or not this anime would work without the cute factor and that’s really quite hard to answer. I’d like to think it would, but I also know that objectively there’s little else as a claim to the appeal of the anime so far.

If you’ve tried Bofuri, what do you think? Would Bofuri work if the protagonist wasn’t a cute female character?


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Karandi James


BOFURI Episodes 7 + 8 Review

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More Power and Then Still More

These two episodes seem to exist just to see how many costume and character changes we can put Maple through and they are delightfully silly and fun to watch. Bofuri continues to borrow ideas from other anime but combines them in cute and interesting ways that makes it feel like its own unique creature (not unlike a giant turtle blasting a laser beam from its mouth while being watched by its owner who is surrounded by a ball of wool during a boss fight).

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Maple’s guild are working hard to level up in preparation of the third event and each of them offer something different to the guild. The twins are with Maple doing ‘speed’ runs of a dungeon and gathering game breaking skills. Other characters are collecting resources. They also send the guy who can only remind me of Klein from Sword Art Online (I legitimately have no idea what the guy’s name is in this anime as I just think of him as Klein 2) on his own quest and he gets himself a new set of gear (not to mention some time with the cute turtle mascot).

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Where Bofuri is really working is that it is telling its own story even as it borrows from other stories and genres. Maple is becoming a genuine phenomenon within the game and one thing I’ve enjoyed each week is the final scene where we see the game’s chat rooms going crazy because of her latest stunt. The game masters are also well aware of the problems she’s potentially going to cause long term but seem to be in a knowing state of denial as they watch things unfold. For Maple the goal is simply having fun and she certainly is but there’s still a sense that we’re moving forward as the guild grows in strength and prepares for the next event which is a guild event. Given the timing it also kind of feels like it might be the final challenge for the season and that could be a fairly awesome way to go out if we see these guilds going up against each other.

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THE COMPLETE ART OF GUILD WARS (HARDCOVER)

However, there’s also no denying that a lot of the fun from these episodes came from moments where you had to do a double take because you were wondering where you’d seen a very similar scene before or because Maple’s latest image was just totally different. After using one of her new skills, Atrocity, we get the scene below which completely reminded me of Evangelion and one of the earliest angel fights. Which is kind of amusing right after Maple’s previous demonstration where she pretty much transformed into an angel with halo and everything.

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Basically, for an anime that seemed to have only one joke (Maple is unkillable in the game), Bofuri has continued to surprise and has found ways to keep itself fresh and interesting. The larger cast support Maple well even if individually I’m struggling to care about their names and the game keeps offering up new challenges and has now opened its third level presenting a very different setting than the previous two levels. It makes each episode just fun to watch as you are never quite sure what you are going to get next. I know I wasn’t expecting Maple’s mecha girl transformation and I just can’t help but wonder what she’ll pull out next.

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Karandi James


BOFURI Episode 6 Review

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The More The Merrier in Bofuri

Bofuri continues to be light and easy to watch requiring very little thought process but remains pleasant. Episode 6 however is possibly falling more into the forgettable realm as unlike the previous two episodes which focused on Maple and Sally taking on bosses and collecting medals, this episode focuses very much on bringing all the characters we’ve encountered together into a new guild made by Maple.

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That doesn’t mean there aren’t some fun moments along the way. It is all good fun. I really liked watching Kaede (Maple) in the real world trying to adjust to not being in the game anymore. I’ll confess that after marathon sessions playing a game I have trouble sometimes not seeing glowing outlines around shapes or indicators above people because my brain is just running in game mode. So watching her trying to use a game skill while playing real world dodge-ball was pretty entertaining.

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After that though, the rest of the episode has Sally and Maple house-shopping and then they decide they need some extra people because the house is too big. They do eventually tell us there’s a guild event coming up and so recruiting more people is actually a little more urgent if they are going to compete, but mostly this is just Maple rounding up all the people she’s gotten friendly with since starting the game.


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We also get back to the twins that we kind of encountered earlier and naturally Maple invites them to join. It turns out that their players builds are also a little on the broken side so they’ve been struggling with finding anyone to play with so are more than a little happy that Maple extends a hand and are suitably confused by her flying turtle.

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Now they’ve got some levelling to do and some preparation for the next event. And that’s really it. As usual the episode of Bofuri was pleasant, the encounters between characters were sweet, the few gaming moments when they took the new recruits to fight a boos were nicely animated, as there’s little to criticise about this show except perhaps that once the episode is done it leaves little impact except a sugary sweet taste in its wake.


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Karandi James


BOFURI Episode 5 Review

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Adorable and Deadly – Go Bofuri

The second event is drawing to a close as Sally and Maple continue their enjoyment of the game. The brief encounter with a hostile player from the end of last episode comes to a close when Maple causes the group to fall through some sand and into a dungeon where they are forced to work together. Making new friends and avoiding giant, glowing snails, leads to them conquering yet another dungeon, claiming some medals and heading their separate ways.

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I am a little curious about the sheer number of female characters we’ve seen playing this game. While the representation of the gaming community as a whole hasn’t been exactly realistic with everyone being way too relaxed about Maple’s broken stats, it is interesting how many female characters Maple and Sally seem to encounter. And they all seem to be fairly nice, level headed individuals who are happy to sit and play a game in the sand rather than engage in PvP.

It’s a little odd if you try and apply any realism to the situation and yet it is infinitely relaxing and adorable to watch. And clearly, the writers were not going for realism anyway.

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Still, the girls are running short on time to get the full number of medals they need to gain a skill at the end of the tournament and so follow a puzzle they are given. It leads them to an underwater dungeon with a boss who is pretty scary and seemingly unreachable for Maple given she isn’t a swimmer.



Of course, Bofuri doesn’t let that tension last for more than maybe a minute before Maple decides on a simple but effective solution to destroying a boss in the sea. Even Sally was a bit stunned by that effort. It does kind of make it clear that we just aren’t meant to ever fear for the safety of these characters because they will definitely be fine.

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However, the best moment in the episode goes to Sally. One day remaining and still two medals short, Sally decides it is time to take on some other players. This is something Maple has no interest in and so rather than push her friend, Sally tells Maple to chill for a bit and goes on her own hunting trip. This is Sally unleashed and she is both terrifying and too cute.

I wonder how Sally would have played the game from the beginning if she hadn’t invited Maple to play the game? She doesn’t strike me as a wonder around and making friends with random players type of person. You have to give her credit for supporting Maple’s first gaming experience and helping Maple to enjoy the game world even though the experience is so different to how Sally seems to want to play.

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On that note, I’ll leave you with a final surreal image of a flying turtle. Great episode – looking forward to more.

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Karandi James


BOFURI Episode 4 Review

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Just Like Maple Syrup

The second event has begun and Maple and Sally find themselves in a field of grass and floating rocks. Turns out this event will feel like a week in game and so they’ve got plenty of time. As the adorable duo begin their exploration and search for medals they encounter a number of bosses and other players with each part of the episode being nicely animated and the two main characters being just super cute.

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It is just so much fun exploring with these two friends. They are always upbeat and curious and they dive into things just to try them out. Their combination of skills makes them very compatible and they the fight sequences continue to be utterly delightful to watch. Which is probably a good thing given this episode delivers two of them and the second was quite a protracted fight, at least by Bofuri standards. Compared to something in the shounen genre it was positively speedy.

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It’s also in the second fight that we finally see Maple take some damage. Turns out the boss they end up against wasn’t supposed to be able to be defeated (which makes me feel bad for the party Maple and Sally let go before them because clearly they got wiped out – a serious case of good intentions going wrong). I love that after this fight we cut to what must be the game masters who are scrambling to make sure Maple can’t get another skill that will make her even more broken should she end up having enough medals at the end of the event.


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Meanwhile, the anime also takes this opportunity to introduce two mascot characters as the girls claim two eggs after defeating a boss and then hatch a turtle and a fox. They are every bit as cute as you would imagine and when you combine the two cute female characters with two cute animal mascots you are seriously heading for cuteness overload. Incidentally, Maple decided to name her turtle Syrup so that together they could be ‘Maple Syrup’. It’s terrible and yet perfect simultaneously.

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I really just love watching this show. It is so relaxing and fun. There’s just nothing to complain about because it isn’t as though it feels like nothing is happening. The girls are in the midst of an event. They are clearly working toward collecting medals. With two boss fights in the episode there’s enough action to break up the sleepy calm of the inbetween bits. Bofuri just works.


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Karandi James


BOFURI Episode 3 Review

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You Are What You Eat

Sally and Maple are back playing the game. Admittedly the rules have been tweaked a bit to actually stop Maple being completely broken with a limit on how many times she can use a skill and the addition of attacks that can actually hurt her despite her defense. But if anyone thought that was going to make the tone of this anime start to be a bit more serious than this episode most definitely proves that these girls are in the game for fun.

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This week in Bofuri the girls decide to see a bit more of the first level before moving onto level 2. They also are trying to pick up a few more skills before the next event, which they learn while eating in a cafe begins next week. I’ve never really got the whole point of cafes in virtual worlds and the characters going all ga-ga over food they aren’t really eating, though I will admit that food looked good. And when they finally get to the second level, they eat some more only it is a truly special meal and one that has some interesting, if temporary, effects.

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As for everything else, despite the low key nature of the tone, there’s yet another decent boss fight. It might be easy to overlook with so much of the time being spent with the girls just playing around but when the action scenes happen in this anime they actually look pretty good. Maple breaking through the defense of the enemy before getting knocked out was great to watch and Sally’s far more energetic fighting style came across beautifully in the sequence.

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ZOMBIE LAND SAGA: SAKURA MINAMOTO

There was also a bit of focus this week on introducing some of the other players and giving them a bit more of a personality. I suspect this will continue in future weeks. Despite the Sally/Maple duo being great fun to spend time with it would be great to see a bit more of some of the other players.

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All and all, there’s no real complaints about Bofuri. It most definitely isn’t high stakes or dramatic but it is definitely doing fun and relaxed well. So far I’m loving the tone and I enjoy the dynamic between the two leads. Looking forward to more of this one.


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Karandi James


BOFURI Episode 2 Review

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You Do You

Bofuri is so sweet it is almost cavity inducing and I’m not actually complaining about that. It is almost as though the writer was looking at the toxic gaming culture that has been dominating discussion over the last decade and decided they wanted to remind people what playing games was actually about – just having fun with friends. Of course it isn’t coming across as a reprimand or even like it is really trying to be social commentary, it is just clear through the characters and their interactions that at every point these girls having fun while engaging with a massive multiplayer game is the main focus.

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This week Maple participates in an event that turns out to be fairly easy for her given none of the other players can get through her defense. Just by staying still and countering those who came to attack her she ended up coming third. I do like that the spectators were relatively positive about the whole thing and even though one of them quite rightly asked if her build was a bit broken (and yes, yes it is) no one was calling her a cheat or getting angry at her. It doesn’t in any way reflect the reality of gaming at the moment but it is just perfectly pleasant to watch.

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However, the real fun comes when Maple (or rather Kaede) talks to her IRL friend about her experiences and explains her build. Her friend then starts thinking about the character she’ll create and decides on her own unconventional build to compliment Maple’s but still have a unique spin. It’s so cute watching the two of them geek out about gaming because they are just having so much fun.



The second part of the episode then has the two of them adventuring together looking for white scales so that Maple can have materials to have a shield made. In the meantime, Sally, is levelling up but holding off on spending all of her stat points until she decides what skills she’s going to use. Sally is a bit more experienced than Maple at gaming and so this allows some natural explanation of various mechanics and strategy through the conversations they are having. At no point does it feel like an exposition dump as someone tries to narrate the gaming world rules to the audience.

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Ultimately, this anime isn’t terribly exciting. Even with a tournament and a boss fight this week, there’s zero tension in the story. Normally that would make this one an anime I’d avoid because I generally find a lack of tension or drive a bit dull, and yet I’m just enjoying the characters and their enjoyment so much. It’s cute. It’s fun. It’s easy viewing. Definitely staying on the watch list this season.


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Karandi James


BOFURI Episode 1 Review

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Let’s Put Some More Points Into Vitality

Alright, Bofuri or  BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense or Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu is essentially what Sword Art Online would have ended up being if they hadn’t been trapped in the game, they weren’t actually going to die, and if the story focused on Asuna’s character from the word go who was more of a newb to the gaming world when it all started. So basically nothing like Sword Art Online except that there are some key images with the device they are using to enter the virtual world that just clicked that connection into my head and it is never going away.

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Bofuri is about Kaede whose friend has talked her into buying a VRMMO but is unable to play until after some tests are finished and so Kaede logs in alone to try it out. She chooses the name Maple because she’s ‘Kaede’ which made me wonder if Kaede actually meant maple and it turns out it does so there we go – anime taught me something new yet again. Then she decides to put all of her points into defense in one of the clearest cases of the overly long title describing the entire concept behind the story that I’ve seen in awhile.

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She then, like any new player dropped into a massive open world without friends or guidance, kind of fumbles about heading in the direction she’s pointed and ‘fighting’ some monsters. I use the term fighting loosely given she has almost no attack capabilities despite having a sword, but her defense is so high she mostly just lets them pummel her, building up various resistances, before some accident allows her to squish them with her shield or actually land a blow with her short sword.



This one doesn’t feel like it is going to be overly plot heavy, however they’ve already done a pretty good job at establishing Kaede as a pretty charming character and introduced the rough framework of the support cast. I’m looking forward to getting to know these other players and the various colourful characters bouncing around in the introduction.

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So far no tension or particularly high stakes, just some silly fun about a gaming world that isn’t taking itself overly seriously given how Kaede defeated her first boss. It’s enjoyably pleasant and so far hasn’t had an excess of fan-service or anything really objectionable in the story. Kind of looking forward to something light and silly each week.


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Karandi James