Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Another in a long line of newer isekai (alternate fantasy world) anime, BOFURI introduces VRMMO gamer Kaede Honjo as her online character Maple, in the game New World Online. As the long title rather cheekily suggests, Maple doesn’t fancy getting hurt in any way, shape, or form, and so maxes out her defense as much as possible, with cascading consequences!
In any online RPG, hell in pretty much any video, PC, or even live-action game these days, there is the danger of twinks. That is, folk who for one reason or another, load out their character to be as overpowered as possible, complete with cheat codes and whatever other hacks they can get away with, epic legendary weapons they obviously didn’t obtain the ‘right’ way, a completely unearned sense of superiority over all the newbies to the game, and a determination to make playing the game hell for whomever they encounter, usually through seriously mismatched PVP or player-versus-player duels and the like. And while it seem like Maple is a twink in the purest sense, this is a slapstick anime full of heart that finds sweet Maple and her maxed-out defense getting better and even more overpowered, making friends and a Guild and sharing her astounding skills, much to the dismay of the NWO usagi plush-like gamer Gods!
So, Maple begins as a shield-user with maxed-out defense stats, which makes sense to me given her predilections, though most gamer-girls don’t usually start out with such a crippling loadout. Maple continues to put every single subsequent status point she earns into defense, resulting in very slow movement speed and no magic at all. But honestly Maple doesn’t need it, and both of those things are addressed when she begins making friends and allies in the game – all the people in her party need to worry about are ricochets offa her shield!
The very first episode sees Maple off on her own, to tackle a damn Poison Dragon, and not only does she beat it in the most creative way possible and earn Poison Immunity, the manner in which she beat the Dragon has her gain alllllll of its abilities and a unique set of armor to boot! Soon will be a Battle Royale game for all the players and Maple is making friends and allies in the interim – along with the swashbuckling Sally, the character of Kaede’s real-world friend Risa Shiramine, is Kuromu the fellow shielder and Iz the crafter, and May and Yui the dark-and-light hammer wielding twins, who all form the basis of the Guild they end up building around Maple and her God-like defense skills, aptly dubbed, Maple Tree.
The list of skills and abilities Maple acquires through her stubborn defense gets quite staggering, especially for the first season of the anime – beating the ice bird boss Silverwing gets her and Sally monster eggs, that hatch into a pet turtle Maple inevitably dubs Syrup, who can freaking fly and get large to defend or attack the bad guys after Maple make him a Mobile Fortress; the skill Loving Sacrifice that allows Maple to share her amazing defense with her guild members, and also alters her appearance to look like a blonde Raphaelite angel, complete with astonishing wings; on the flip side of RPG gaming Maple earns the Machine God skill which basically makes her into an entire interchangeable Mecha, complete with guns and anti-tank-like missiles; the form of the skill Atrocity, which basically turns Maple into a Alien xenomorph-like horror creature, the polar opposite of Loving Sacrifice but just as powerful, if not more so.
How many different video game genres – horror, sci-fi-, fantasy-adventure, TPS, RPG and more – can they stuff into Maple’s bag of staggering defense? BOFURI is currently airing Season 2 on Crunchyroll now!