Mar 25, 2020
Stark700 (All reviews)
There once was a shield hero who entered a parallel universe but after being betray- . Oh wait, wrong show. But granted, Bofuri does have a character with a big shield so what gets people watching this anime with a VRMMO setting? Virtual reality is no stranger to the isekai creative realm. Sword Art Online became one of the biggest franchise of the past decade. Bofuri has nowhere near that level of popularity in horsepower and for most people, they’re turning to heads and asking themselves, “what the hell is Bofuri?”

A good question. For the sake of this review, I’m addressing it just the anime as “Bofuri” because who really wants to read out loud the full title. At its sweet spot, Bofuri essentially drops our main character into a virtual reality world, based on a new game known as “New World Online”. As the character avatar “Maple”, she carries a vast amount of vitality but very low amount of offensive power. Hence, you can easily guess where the English version of the title came from. Maple, as her character suggests, maxed out her defense and doesn’t want to get hurt.

If we’re talking about realism here, putting all your skill points into one skill isn’t a clever idea. In a party, everyone has a role and sometimes, desperate times calls for desperate measures where you have to take on a role that you’re not prepared for. Now, you may be getting the idea that Maple made a critical mistake but fear not for she managed to obtain two important skills to aid her in combat. That’s the beauty about some MMOs. There’s choices that can be made and Maple’s choice managed to become a character of near unrivalled talent.

Maple herself is a young girl with enthusiasm, curiosity, and full of life. She and her partner Sally are our charming adventure duo who undertakes quests and completing tasks. Adapting an MMO 101 formula, a series like this heavily depends on our main cast to carry the storytelling. The author wanted us to understand our main characters and relate to them. And for that purpose, she made Maple into as ordinary as possible, both in-game and in real life. Chances are, you’ve probably encountered someone of similar personality to Maple in a MMO game before. The main difference is that she has max defense and essentially that tank you want in a party. And when watching Bofuri, it sometimes feels like playing a game. I’m not just talking about fighting a boss monster together or taking on some escort mission. I’m talking about social connection, a perk that every MMO game offers to its players. Maple is there to not just build her character, guild, or skills. She’s also in this world to make friends, companions, and even rivals to prove herself. In the early episodes, she builds an important relationship with Sally, who becomes one of her most trustworthy allies. Later in the series, she forms a guild together with Kasumi, May, and her friend Yui. They called it, the “Maple Tree”.

As the guild master, Maple has a lot of responsibility on her shoulders to carry as she has to unite together in this complex game. Under the virtual reality umbrella, anything can happen anytime in this series so their members must all be prepared. While most of the characters in the guild are friendly with each other, Kasumi does initially display a cold shoulder with her serious personality. It isn’t until she became more familiarized with Maple and her friends that she began to warm up and trust them. Blending between the line of fiction and reality, we also do see some of her real life scenarios when the opportunity arises. However, I would argue and say that her virtual life is far more ambitious than her real life counterpart. When it comes down to it, she’s too ordinary in real life and is portrayed as a generic teenager you’ve seen a million times before. In game, she has a more presence with not just her skills but ability to bring people closer together. I won’t be the grand judge on whether you prefer her in-game avatar or real life character. But if you ask me, Maple’s potential lies in her virtual adventures.

Up to this point, you may also be asking the glaring question about how far the anime focuses on the story. As an anime original viewer, I can only say that the story embraces its premise and promises a lighthearted fantasy adventure experience. The light novels contains a well-rounded amount of chapters that I have no doubt expands far more into what this anime adapted. But for references, I do appreciate that the author were able to capture the main concepts of the show at its core. From Maple’s sociable personality and selling the main concepts of a VRMMO game, it shows that Bofuri can make an identity of its own. Even in a floodgate of these isekai-esque game world settings, Bofuri is what I classify as a sparkling gem.

For Silver Link to take on this anime adaptation means you should probably lower some expectations. As much as I enjoy the world setting and fictional fantasy gags, there’s only so much this anime can pull you in on the artistic front. Character designs looks simple despite Maple wearing that heavy armor and wielding a shield almost twice her size. Other characters in the series has little to impress as most them look like premade characters from a video game. The bestiary is also more or less to get excited about as the majority lacks unique traits. On the hand, I do appreciate how the anime embraces idea of character classes and mostly stick to their guns. Mostly during combat scenes, we see the characters use their actual skills rather than pulling tricks out of their ass. And sometimes, these battles raises the stakes in later episodes with guild rivalries that can be worth anticipating for.

Bofuri ended up being one of the better fantasy shows this year from what’s shown us. It may be a bit early to call for now but from the endless lineup of generic isekai and game world fantasies, Bofuri managed to celebrate the essentials of adventuring. And with just 12 episodes, it’s easy for anyone to jump into. Prepare to be assimilated.