Bofuri fails to be what many would consider a good show. In fact, it does have a lot of elements that I, myself, along with many others criticize in other fantasy (game) shows like this for being. The unexplainable game mechanics that make the game broken like any of Maple’s skill, replaceable, boring and boring side characters that have no place in the overpowered main character, and static characters without much motives are just some to point out.
But for me Bofuri was one of the most enjoyable shows of this season. It was also one of the more popular shows this season.
So what makes Bofuri more enjoyable than the likes of Darwin’s Game — another game centered show that aired this season?
The biggest difference between the two shows is how seriously it takes itself. Bofuri, from the start, establishes itself as a light hearted game. Something less significant than a test score from school. The main character, Kaede (Maple) receives the game from her friend Lisa (Sally) and plays the game with her pajamas on. We see a couple of times, throughout the show, that they log off from the game and even continue their daily lives. We see scenes of them at school or calling before and after playing their game. The game for both of the characters is like what games are for (most of) the audience: a fun, time passing activity.
However, unlike Bofuri, Darwin’s game establishes itself as a SAO-like death game. Immediately, we see characters die with gruesome visuals of blood, with our main character running away for his life. The show constantly invites the viewers to feel tension at the chance of death being apparent at any time. It tries to create an intense mood to get the audience to get engaged in the show through its music, colors, and sound that accompanies this premise.
The problem is, this doesn’t work.
I’m not saying that tension is bad. Tension is needed for any psychological or action shows like Darwin’s game to be great. I mean, how many times did Death Note or Fate Zero make you get on the edge of your seat at its most exciting moments? But Darwin’s game, although it tries it’s best to be an exciting, tense show, it utterly fails to be one. And the worst part is that the show itself fails to recognize this.
There are a few ways that the show fails to stay exciting. First, the game constantly adds new rules to the game. This strays the audience from a set mark they can base the stakes off of. Because the rules are constantly changing, the audience can just think that any problem or former stakes will be changed in the future so there is no need to get invested. Second, the characters are established as undefeatable from very early on. Although this isn’t too big of a problem if done well, the show fails to capitalize on the “die at any moment’ concept. Even if anyone were to die, because they don’t take time to make anyone other than Kaname, Shuka or Rein even remotely interesting, it really doesn’t matter at this point. The game itself strays too far from reality. The show doesn’t explain how the city is cleared out when cities are being destroyed and people are being killed and yet no one seems to question it because everyone was napping. These are just a few problems.
But the thing is, these aspects that fail to make Darwin’s game exciting are also mostly in Bofuri as well. For example, the admins constantly are nerfing Maple’s skills or making specific rules for each event. Like Kaname’s group, Maple’s group (or just maple) are also overpowered beyond belief. Both to a point where it gets ridiculous.
But this brings us back to my point about how seriously these two shows take themselves. Darwin’s game is using these aspects to create a tense atmosphere. Obviously, these elements stop it from being so. However, because Bofuri recognizes how ridiculous the show is, it plays off these overpowered skills as a joke. We see other characters constantly commenting on how ridiculous. This is to the point where the opponent kind of gives up after seeing Maple’s skills. Because of this, the show isn’t about how Maple uses her skills to defeat everyone (well slightly) but more of a character focused story on how Maple isn’t normal. From the start, the show shows clearly that her actions are not normal with her maxing out vitality points only. You can even see this from the title itself which directly translates to “I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense.” A hilarious title that reflects the hilarity of the show.
Of course, this light hearted-ness of Maple’s skills are matched perfectly with the cute character design. From the whole colors, characters, and the feel of the episodes, you can tell that unlike these serious death games, Bofuri is a cute girls show at its core. Being a “cute girls doing cute things” show, it succeeds in doing so in everyways. All the characters are adorable and fun to watch.
So in conclusion, what I’m trying to say is, Maple is cute.