The Infinite Zenith

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Bofuri 2: Creative Gaming and A Whole-series Review and Recommendation

“Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else ever thought.” –Albert Einstein

When New World Online‘s developers release an update that allows players to begin taming monsters as companions ahead of a major in-game event, Maple Tree’s members set off with the goal of finding monsters. Since Maple and Sally already have companions, they help Iz to find ingredients for potion-making, and Maple winds up earning yet another skill after defeating a sea monster. Prior to the event, Maple and Sally encounter crystals, and after finding all of them, they discover a portal that takes them to a special area that allows Syrup and Oboro to evolve, and after a preliminary event, Maple Tree is finally ready – the event entails defeating powerful foes to earn medals that can be exchanged for in-game skills and items. Maple Tree, Order of the Holy Sword and Flame Emperor all perform well, but when the administrators modify the event parameters, the three guilds decide to band together and cooperate to survive to the end of the event, where they take down a leviathan of a monster through their combined efforts. Back at Maple Tree, Maple and Sally decide they’ll save their medals for use once the new content is released, and while enjoying a quieter time together in New World Online, some players express curiosity in seeing whether or not they’ve got what it takes to challenge Maple and her allies. Thus ends Bofuri 2, the second season of Itai no wa Iya nano de Bōgyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu (I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense); this anime gained a reputation as being a fun-filled series following Maple’s outlandish adventures, and upon the conclusion of the first season back during the winter of 2020, viewers were informed that a second season would be in the works. Three years later, this second season has materialised. Offering a significantly more team-based experience for Maple and her friends, Bofuri 2 also gives viewers a subtle sign that Bofuri won’t be ending just yet – with a mysterious new group of players seeking to disrupt the status quo and dislodge Maple Tree from their throne, the cliffhanger ending of Bofuri 2 is hinting at a new continuation that will continue to show Maple’s outlandish adventures, and if the existing storyline is anything to go by, any third season of Bofuri is sure to continue on in the manner of its predecessors and offer viewers with a highly engaging, fun experience where the only thing at stake is a good time and a chance to make new friends through their shared love of a game.

Bofuri 2 does not have any overarching themes, in the sense that Maple and her friends do not experience any lessons within New World Online, that substantially alter their world-views or beliefs. Maple and Sally were already well-adjusted individuals who play New World Online purely for fun, and their experience in the game reflects this. Between Maple’s unorthodox means of having fun (such as using her “Wooly” skill to goof off and completely ruin the tenour during a duel between Mii and Payne) and Sally’s generally relaxed manner even when she’s engaging others in PvP, there are no stakes in Bofuri, and this allows the series to simply show the spectacle of battle whenever the game’s top players set off to participate in an event, as well as how Maple’s open-mindedness and creativity allows her to play the game in ways that are unorthodox. In most modern games, players often strive for what’s known as a “meta” setup, the most optimal way of playing given the game’s parameters and properties. While this way of play optimises efficiency, it also locks players towards certain loadouts and play-styles, discouraging players from exploring all that a game has to offer, when in reality, exploring alternate loadouts and setups might confer a unique or notable experience. New World Online does not appear to have this constraint, and this is how Maple is able to perform outrageous feats during her time spent in game. In this way, Bofuri acts as a celebration of creativity: since Maple doesn’t appear to be someone who reads strats ahead of time, she adapts and improvises depending on the situation, using whatever tools she has available to her, and in the process, ends up having a fun time of things. Since the whole point of a video game is to give players a chance to have fun, New World Online has completely succeeded in its function, and Bofuri 2 wholly captures this. Further to this, New World Online‘s developers are quite aware that, despite the fact that more players are catching on and adapting Maple’s approach, of using skills in a creative way to defeat even the toughest foes, they’re having a wonderful time. Bofuri 2 thus suggests that what makes a game fun isn’t necessarily the difficulty level, but rather, giving players the freedom to play in their own manner of choosing. Because Japanese games have traditionally counted on difficulty to compel players to invest time into improving and feeling a sense of accomplishment, Bofuri does appear to be prompting an alternate way to play games, one that still challenges players, but without constraining them to the meta loadouts and setups.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Originally, Bofuri 2 was scheduled to finish back in mid-March, but production delays resulted in the seventh episode airing a week later than expected, and subsequently, the final two episodes were pushed into April. While this has meant a slightly longer wait to see where Bofuri 2 would end up, the episodes still aired in a reasonable timeframe, and without any compromise to quality: New World Online‘s game world still looks incredible, battle sequences remain superbly animated, and the adventures Maple partakes in are just as enjoyable as they’d been previously.

  • Much of Bofuri 2 follows the characters as they gear up and delve into New World Online further: PvE is the focus of this second season, and at least a handful of readers have expressed disappointment that there hadn’t been more PvP engagements for Maple Tree. This is a non-issue for me – I generally prefer PvE over PvP because the former provides a much more relaxed environment for exploration, and the competitive sweat-fests that is PvP makes it a decidedly unenjoyable mode of experiencing a game. In the former, I’ve found that being able to play at my own pace is what makes things fun, and more so than the first season, Bofuri 2 conveys this through a host of PvE events.

  • From what is seen in Bofuri 2, the PvE modes are about as challenging as Modern Warfare II‘s DMZ mode: this addition to Modern Warfare II has entertained players who were feeling disappointed by the poor support for Warzone 2, but one of the primary frustrations about DMZ was the fact that the AI is obscenely overpowered. The mode is balanced for pairs, trios and quads, but for solo players, it is very demanding. I imagine that as a solo player, New World Online would be remarkably unfriendly, but fortunately for Maple Tree’s members, there’s always someone on hand to help out.

  • In this way, when Yui and Mai set off to try and earn their companions, they receive some initial help from Maple and Iz (the latter provides a speed-boosting potion that gives the girls bunny ears), but otherwise, resolve to continue trying until they succeed. There’ve been moments in games where I’ve felt overwhelmed and wondered if that was as far as my journey went, and my solution’s always been the same as when I’m stalled by a roadblock at work – take a step back, regroup by doing something else and then reattempt the problem afterwards.

  • Kasumi experiences the same challenges in finding her companion, and so, when she meets up with Yui and Mai later, the three encourage one another to keep at things until they succeed. Having a companion in an MMORPG can be quite helpful, and in World of Warcraft, all players had access to mounts that made moving around a map significantly easier. Some classes also gain pets and summonable entities that can draw aggro or otherwise fulfil an offensive role. However, unlike Bofuri, where summonable companions fulfil multiple role and can greatly augment one’s combat performance, pets in most games are actually balanced well: a lone player and their companion will have no chance of soloing a raid meant for 40 players in World of Warcraft, for instance.

  • I therefore gain the sense that Bofuri‘s author, Yūmikan, believes that games should be fun, first and foremost. New World Online‘s dynamic skill system is, to any seasoned RPG player, fundamentally broken and impossible to balance because skills have no restrictions and appear to be fully effective from the moment they are earned. In most games, skills are limited to certain classes and players must rank them up to fully realise their potential. Skyrim was unique in that it does allow players to level up any skill, allowing them to play the game to their liking and rewarding them for emphasising certain skills. For me, I ended up running a ranged character with access to a range of spells and archery. In this way, Skyrim is an example of what New World Online would probably look like if developed by a competent studio – the game offers the same level of openness as New World Online without creating a scenario where characters can become as broken as Maple.

  • Yui and Mai are given a bit more of a presence in Bofuri 2 and despite their adorable appearance, their emphasis on strength means they become the damage-dealers for Maple Tree. I am rather fond of the pair: their mannerisms mean they evoke the same aesthetic as the pair of stuffed bears I have. Befitting Yui and Mai, their efforts to win over a pair of bears are successful, and in this moment, I am reminded greatly of Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear‘s Kumakyū and Kumayuru. It suddenly hits me that this marks the first time that Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear and Bofuri had aired in the same month, and while both stories share in common a fantasy RPG world, the two series are completely different in their focus. Bofuri is explicitly a game, and this allows the story to be a little more laid-back than if things had been an isekai.

  • By the end of their companion hunt, Kanade gains access to a slime that can shapeshift, Kuromu secures a haunted, sentient suit of armour, Iz finds a færie, and Kasumi gets a snake. Everyone’s excited to try their new companions out in a live combat scenario, and I recall the same excitement that accompanies unlocking something new in a game, or buying a new piece of hardware in reality. What makes an item worthwhile is the utility it can provide, and with everyone receiving something suited for their playstyle, Maple Tree is able to keep up with things: other guilds have similarly earned companions that bolster their capabilities further.

  • It suddenly hits me that, aside from Maple and Sally, who know one another in reality, none of the members in Maple Tree know one another in person, and further to this, New World Online looks like it gives players some options for customisation – Mii looks quite different in her guild master appearance. As a result, it’s safe to suppose that, save Maple and Sally, who look like their real-world selves, the other members of Maple Tree could be rocking modified appearances.

  • Sally’s fear of ghosts is adorable, and she shrinks away in horror when Frederica offers to show Maple and Sally her companion, fearing it’s a ghost of some sort. It turns out Frederica’s companion is a bird. I had been hoping that New World Online might’ve had a positive impact on some of the characters, but because Bofuri is largely set in the game world and deals in the game experience, versus the social implications of games, this aspect remains unexplored and likely will remain the topic for other series. This isn’t necessarily a strike against Bofuri, since the series excels at what it does cover.

  • In my original discussion of Bofuri, which I’d written three years earlier amidst the early stages of the global health crisis, I drew upon my experiences with max-min optimisations and machine learning to discuss how seemingly unorthodox systems might result in the best results for a given problem. In the case of some agent-based systems, application of machine learning and evolutionary algorithms may find that sometimes, it makes sense to go all-in on a solution. In other cases, however, algorithms may end up settling on a more balanced solution. Whether a balanced or max-min solution works is dependent on the situation, and my talk of the first season was more of a discussion of how Bofuri acted as a rather visceral show of one of the concepts I learnt in graduate school.

  • By focusing on max-min optimisations, my first talk on Bofuri ended up being a rather unorthodox commentary on Bofuri. Compared to that post, this whole-series discussion of Bofuri 2 is rather more conventional – I imagine most readers aren’t interested in principles of multi-agent systems. Bofuri never really had a central theme resulting from the characters’ growth as they played the game, and instead, the series sought to convey the worth of creative problem solving and adaptivity. In this way, Bofuri 2 and Bofuri‘s themes are identical, and since I didn’t cover these elements three years earlier, now was a good time as any to take a look at the series through my usual perspectives.

  • Because Bofuri is significantly more relaxed than other anime of its setting, I imagine that writing for this series in an episodic fashion would’ve been quite difficult – it takes several episodes to showcase an event, and even smaller activities, like finding companions, take a few episodes. Coupled with the absence of events that drive character growth in individual episodes, I ultimately found it easier to write about Bofuri from a big-picture perspective. To the best of my knowledge, there are no substantial episodic reviews on Bofuri 2  – reaction posts cheering the characters on do not qualify.

  • For me, “wooly” is my favorite skill to see in use, as it perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Bofuri. With a bit of creativity, Maple uses it in unusual ways, and the results are always hilarious, standing in stark contrast with how her fellow players wield their skills. Moments like these allow Bofuri to give viewers a chance to check out more of New World Online‘s environment, and after the visually distinct levels Bofuri 2 had opened with, later levels are a bit more familiar in design. Here, Maple and Sally pursue a side quest after coming upon crystals, and for kicks, Maple calls in “wooly” to help her and Sally get around more quickly.

  • I have heard that for many viewers, Bofuri 2 was a disappointment compared to its predecessor on the grounds that this second season focuses on PvE over PvP, arguing that fighting other players is what had made the first season enjoyable. A lot of gamers out there believe that PvP is a true test of skill; their rationale is that, since human opponents can think, form strategies and act in an unpredictable manner, victory is all the more rewarding. However, I’ve found that PvP modes are a chore because more often than not, rather than using legitimate methods, most players will adopt a “win at all costs” mentality and resort to everything from poor teamwork tactics (like camping), to outright using cheats to preserve their all-important KDR.

  • Conversely, when it comes to PvE, any sort of game where there’s also cooperation among multiple players means that game developers are able to create scenarios where working together to overcome a given challenge creates a truly rewarding outcome. Because the need to compete is removed, and everyone shares a common goal, this sort of environment is more conducive towards understanding and teamwork. This is precisely why extraction modes are starting to become popular: they emphasise squads of players working together to complete tasks and escape. While games like Modern Warfare II‘s DMZ still allow for PvP, players did initially observe a gentlemen’s agreement not to go after other players unless they came under fire first.

  • The extreme aggression and competitiveness that comes with PvP is why even well-known streamers are known to use cheats of some sort. For instance, despite countless claims otherwise, the streamer “nadia” is certainly known to be using cheats in order to keep their viewers. Conversely, in PvE modes, players have no incentive to cheat because the goal is to cooperate and complete goals together. Players, whether or not they stream, simply need to have fun in order to create an engaging session with their viewers. As a result, I find the arguments favouring Maple and her friends going up against different guilds unconvincing – if anything, Bofuri 2 shows that the concepts in this series are viable regardless of whether the objectives are PvE or PvP driven.

  • Further to this, PvP players aren’t necessarily more skillful than PvE players. While PvP can be a show of skill and game knowledge, PvE demands similar knowledge and adaptability, since some foes can be significantly tougher than any human opponent. I do not doubt that Bofuri is an anime that can successfully do this for viewers, I find that the gripes about a lack of PvP in Bofuri 2 to be unconvincing. The series’ biggest strengths lie with how it shows the formation of friendships, how cooperation can create novel experiences and how the thrill of a game lies in working together, rather than rubbing one’s skins the the faces of everyone that one meets.

  • Whether it be PvP or PvE, Bofuri manages to highlight how New World Online accommodates for both, and this strengthens my enjoyment of the series. Maple and Sally’s pursuit of crystals for a side-quest end up taking them to a hidden sanctuary of sorts, and here, Syrup and Oboro immediately display restlessness. As it turns out, this area is a special place that levels up one’s companions. The splendour of settings in New World Online is most apparent in Bofuri 2, and when there is no need to worry about other players, Bofuri‘s second season is able to give viewers a chance to really appreciate just how intricate and majestic the scenery of this game world is.

  • Silver Link has done a fantastic job of bringing New World Online to life, and this has meant that, outside of a single scene earlier in the season, Bofuri 2 is consistently solid from an animation and artwork perspective. Following their latest adventure, Syrup and Oboro are more powerful than before, and this leaves Maple Tree ready to handle whatever follows in the season’s capstone, the eighth event. The fact that Maple and Sally could upgrade their companions through a quest, and gain access to cosmetics on top of upgrades suggests that New World Online lacks any sort of pay-to-win or loot box elements: everything worth earning can be done purely through in-game means.

  • Loot boxes containing abilities impacting gameplay have always been controversial, and following the debacle that Star Wars: Battlefront II created with its Star Card system, all gaming studios of note have universally agreed to ensure that only cosmetics should be unlocked via micro-transactions, lest they run afoul of legislation that categorises loot boxes as being equivalent to gambling. Here, Maple leads her guild into the event’s first day: the object of this event is simply to hunt monsters, and defeating tougher foes will earn medals that can be exchanged for skills and cosmetics. I wish The Division 2 would implement such a system: when I stopped playing, I had found all of the exotics that could be found without playing raids.

  • To this day, I still don’t have the Eagle Bearer, Bighorn and The Ravenous, and with Ubisoft planning on releasing The Division: Heartland at some point in the future, The Division 2 will likely be sunsetted. I am hoping that they add these three exotic weapons to the pool so that all players have a chance at unlocking them. Back in Bofuri 2, after Maple and her friends hit their quota, Maple decides to go exploring, winds up inside an alligator and uses her wooly skill to explore. She interrupts Payne and Mii, who decide to engage in some PvP just for fun, but Maple’s appearance completely spoils the mood, causing them to suspend their duel.

  • As the first day draws to a close, Maple’s guildmates whip up a comfortable base so the team can rest and await events of the next day. In trying to ramp up difficulty, the developers end up introducing several twists into the game, including separating the guild members and shrinking the map in a similar manner that battle royales might, but Maple and the others end up working around this to continue earning medals. PvE really allows Maple to cooperate with others, and this is where Bofuri 2 excels: I find that those who were lamenting the lack of PvP may have fundamentally missed the season’s goals. The first season had shown what an unorthodox play-style and creativity could do, so here, the second season acts as more of a breather that lets Maple and the others interact in an environment that isn’t quite so competitive.

  • Seeing different combinations of characters working together was fun; ordinarily, everyone operates together in their own guilds, and separating the characters gave the series a chance to mix things up. The cast is quite large in Bofuri, which allows for all sorts of combinations, and most viewers report that this was an enjoyable watch, some fans of the light novels were quite vociferous in voicing their disapproval of how separating the characters, was suppose to be a very severe moment in the light novels that forces character growth. However, Silver Link’s handling of things is in keeping with presenting Bofuri as a light-hearted and fluffy series – people take games too seriously as it is, and it is refreshing to see a series step away from this mindset.

  • Unlike the smaller variants that were encountered earlier, the final boss is comparable in size to the Zillo Monster, and it was only through a protracted battle, with the combined might of Maple Tree, Order of the Holy Sword and Flame Emperor that everyone is able to prevail. The final battle is titanic, worthy of a season finisher, and Maple ends up using her signature “devour” skill to carve a hole through the leviathan after the others have whittled its health pool down. Once this monster is downed, the skies suddenly clear, and New World Online announces that this latest event has drawn to a close.

  • Triumph in a particularly difficult PvE event is significantly more rewarding than coming out on top in a PvP, and this trend is slowly starting to make its way through the games industry as extraction royale games (such as DMZ and Escape From Tarkov) become increasingly popular because they allow players to do more than hunting foes: the thrill of finding in-game items and evading both AI and other human players to get one’s stuff out gives it an additional thrill, and moreover, because the aim is more than just eliminating enemies, players have even more freedom to play in their own manner of choosing. New World Online‘s eighth event does have extraction royale elements, and the idea that guilds must survive in order to collect their rewards created an emergent behaviour in which guild would actually work with one another to ensure everyone succeeded.

  • This aspect is ultimately what makes Bofuri 2 so enjoyable, as it also shows how versatile New World Online is. While Maple and the other guilds celebrate their triumph, earlier today, I stepped out to help adjudicate the city-wide science fair. Owing to a minor hiccough with the registration system, I wasn’t receiving updates, but a few nights earlier, I was able to get in touch with the organisers and get things sorted out. Earlier today, I stepped out to the event venue and participated in my first in-person judging since 2019. It was a joy to be able to speak with the students and do a face-to-face conversation with participants, both students and fellow judges. The projects I were assigned this year were at the primary level, but I found myself thoroughly impressed with how detailed and thoughtful the projects were. Similarly, it was clear that the students did know their stuff, and I had no qualms issuing high scores for the teams I evaluated (of note was a very well-done project on leaves and their properties).

  • I’m glad that Bofuri ended up with a continuation, and admittedly, I was quite surprised to see time pass by so quickly: Bofuri originally began running three years earlier, and one of my readers had recommended the series to me on the basis that I was a bit of a gamer, myself. When my schedule opened up after the global health crisis shut things down, I sat down to watch the series, and I was left with a decidedly positive experience. The lack of drama, and emphasis on fun meant that Bofuri is ultimately an ode to what gaming should be: bringing people together through fun experiences. Bofuri 2 continues on in the same manner as its predecessor and gives different characters a chance to shine, expanding out Maple and her guildmates’ friendships, both with one another, and members of other guilds.

  • Towards the end of Bofuri 2, as Maple and Sally explore the starting regions of New World Online for old time’s sake, several other players express an interest in squaring off against Maple Tree and demonstrate the confidence that they’ll prevail. Some folks speculate that they’ll employ psychological warfare to achieve this aim, but I disagree, as this contradicts the themes of Bofuri. Rather, I imagine these other players will do as I do: Maple’s tough, but she isn’t invincible, and Bofuri 2 makes it clear she’s weak against attacks with armour piercing properties. On top of Maple’s low mobility, a skilled player similar to Sally would be able to contend with Maple. Maple Tree’s a competent guild, but they are not unbeatable, and as such, I expect that, should there be a continuation of Bofuri, viewers will be treated to other guilds and players employing creative strats to give Maple Tree a hard time. Such an outcome will likely be superbly fun to watch, and as such, I would certainly like to see a continuation of Bofuri.

Despite being remarkably entertaining, bombastic and fully capturing the fun that Maple and her friends experience, Bofuri 2 raises a curious issue that arises whenever a story features overpowered characters and over-the-top antics: throughout Bofuri 2, the developers are shown as being engaged in an arms race with Maple. As Maple levels up further and burns through boss fights, the developers must continue to alter the game and prevent Maple from using similar tricks to beat future bosses. This creates a situation where bosses become increasingly powerful, in turn forcing Maple to resort to increasingly wild techniques to eke out a win. The difficulty scaling, from a gaming perspective, results in situations where casual players wouldn’t stand a chance, and from a storytelling perspective, it causes the need to constantly write increasingly exciting scenarios. The constant arms race is not especially sustainable, as there is a limit to how far things can be taken. In reality, this is why there are level caps and limits (in The Division 2, for instance, I cannot just stack explosive damage bonuses to the point where I can one-shot everything on any difficulty), but as this does not appear to be a part of New World Online, there is no real cap on what’s possible. Fortunately, it does look like Bofuri‘s author has accounted for this – a hitherto unseen group making a declaration to beat down Maple Tree, and if they’re confident they have what it takes, this suggests they’re not worried about Maple’s power. This is likely the case because these unknown players likely have strats on their side. Girls und Panzer had taken a similar route: after the fight against the University All-Stars Team and their overwhelming firepower in Der Film, Das Finale sent the story in a different direction as teams employ improved strategy to pull off unorthodox wins. This could be the case in Bofuri, and it could be the case that ordinary skills, when applied in clever and novel combinations, might be enough to give even Maple trouble. A third season of Bofuri could therefore be entertaining to watch, and regardless of how this confrontation actually turns out, one thing is inevitable: Maple will likely exit any encounter with a bunch of new friends in tow, much as how she had befriended Mii and Payne, and gained the respect of the members in Order of the Holy Sword and Flame Emperor.

Bofuri 2: Review and Reflection After Three

“The beast’s hide is too thick to be pierced from the outside. I must cut through it from the inside!” –Drax The Destroyer, Guardians of the Galaxy 2

With Christmas Break over, the Maple Tree guild work towards clearing the fourth world. Maple herself is out with a cold, so she ends up resting. After she recovers, she returns to New World Online (NWO) and solos the boss while helping Frederica’s party; while she’d previously ended up fighting another named elite, Maple ends up with yet another powerful skill. She later meets up with Yui and May and help them defeat a named elite gaining access to the sixth level. This horror-themed space overwhelms Sally, who’s too frightened to even set foot in the world, and Maple decides to accompany Sally when the latter expresses a want for some loot from a haunted house landmark. Although they end up failing, Maple will later return and solo the haunted house. While Sally explores other levels, Maple hangs out with Mii; after they defeat foes giving Mii some trouble, the pair hang out at a café, where Mii wishes she could be herself in-game. Later, the developers start another in-game event, and despite the challenge specifically surrounding the instance Maple and Sally are given, the pair manage to clear three floors within the tower despite initially struggling with foes that were custom-made to give Maple a tough time. This is where Itai no wa Iya nano de Bōgyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu‘s second season (Bofuri 2 from here on out for brevity) lands after three episodes. After doing a special pre-airing prior to Christmas, Bofuri is set to continue on in the same manner as its predecessor, following the RPG novice Kaede Honjō (Maple), and her best friend, Risa Shiromine (Sally) as they explore NWO and its unusual mechanics. Along the way, thanks to Maple’s near-total absence of knowledge surrounding gaming, and her propensity to go with what works, she ends up having a wonderful time in the game, frustrating the developers, who appear to be at their wits’ end when it comes to handling Maple and her now-infamous guild.

After the first season had ended, I concluded that Bofuri had been an excellent example of an unusual optimisation solution in some multi-agent systems: in the typical RPG, players pick from a wide range of statistics to build characters suited for their class and play-style. Because Maple had lacked any gaming knowledge, she maximises her defensive capabilities and instead, draws upon a very unusual set of skills to advance her experience, and in the process, she ends up having a fantastic time. The lessons seen in Bofuri (and doubtlessly, Bofuri 2) is a simple one: having a varied skill set and an open mind leads to a good experience. This particular theme is general enough such that it could apply to all walks of life, and mirrors the easygoing tone in Bofuri; NWO isn’t a death-game like Sword Art Online, the competition between the different guilds are friendly, and Maple has a tendency to befriend those she meets. In the absence of high stakes and interpersonal drama, Bofuri isn’t going to tell any inspirational stories, nor is it likely to change my worldviews on a given subject. However, the series is relaxing and fun: a part of the enjoyment stems purely from seeing what outrageous solutions Maple applies towards a given problem, and watching the developers squirm as they realise nothing they propose is working. Not every series needs to compel viewers to think, and Bofuri is an excellent example of how important it is to simply focus on having fun every so often: Maple herself isn’t worried about the in-game meta or about playing the game a certain way, and as a result, she is able to have extraordinary experiences. While this means I won’t be discussing the series’ themes and their implications as I am wont to doing, as a bit of a gamer myself, I do relate to the idea of purely having fun in a game without concern for playing something “the way it’s meant to be played”.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As it turns out, the Japan-themed world in NWO was only one step of the journey, and by the time Maple has a chance to play through things following Christmas, her friends have already cleared it and are exploring higher level spaces. One thing I’ve never understood about Japanese games is why open levels are referred to as “floors”: in older RPGs where the setting is a dungeon or large building, floors make sense, but when it comes to wide open spaces, the nomenclature is misleading. Calling them “worlds” or “levels” is more appropriate a descriptor.

  • All of the RPG games I play are completely open-world, being set in large maps subdivided into large biomes, and there’s no need to clear a boss fight in order to enter new biomes. In World of Warcraft, regions do have a level requirement to dissuade low-level players from rushing ahead, and Skyrim is completely open for players to explore, as enemy difficultly scales with the player level. Japanese games are built on different philosophies than Western games, and while elements from the former have strongly influenced the latter, cultural differences result in dramatically different experiences.

  • For me, both games have their merits (I’ve found things like Valkyria Chronicles and Street Fighter just as engaging as Sim City and Battlefield), but on the whole, I generally prefer games that don’t demand a large time investment in them. The idea of spending hours upon hours levelling up and picking up usable gear isn’t something that appeals to me, and so, when games take a fair approach towards things (anything worth earning should take some effort, but not demand more effort than work), I find myself more inclined to enjoy things.

  • From what I’ve seen of NWO throughout Bofuri, the game’s biggest draw seems to be a dynamic skill system that allows players to pick up any skill and use them in conjunction with one another. Maple uses them in unorthodox ways to trivially solve most of the challenges she encounters, and I am reminded of the classic game, Magicka, a satirical game that allows players to combine magic in different ways to solve puzzles. Most RPGs don’t allow players to combine skills in an unusual manner (for instance, a World of Warcraft mage can’t use spells to bring the dead back to life, and shamans can’t use powerful frost spells to control crowds) with the aim of preserving balance.

  • Maple’s first adventure after returning to NWO from a cold is to solo the boss in the Japanese level, and then she joins her friends in the subsequent world to mop the next boss. Her overwhelming power leads the others to wonder if there’s anything left to do, and I am left to feel that Maple is similar in Donnie Yen’s portrayal of Ip Man in Ip Man – Yen’s Ip Man always finds a way of winning the most important fights and tends to draw in fights of lesser significance. While an indestructible protagonist is generally counted as being dull to watch because there’s no struggle and payoff, stories can still make such characters work.

  • This happens when the protagonist is made to learn that power isn’t going to be the answer. Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is a fine example of this – although Yuna is exceptionally powerful, she finds that jumping into the middle of a problem and solving it with her fists or magic won’t cut it all the time, and in doing so, she slowly learns to listen to the world’s inhabitants. Here in Bofuri, it appears that Maple’s state in the game is such that she’s able to purely focus on having fun, but I do find myself wondering if the story is set to go further than this.

  • Bofuri‘s ability to vividly render every region is impressive: Silver Link has spared no expense in making sure every world is vividly rendered and packed with detail. The animation and artwork in Bofuri is of an excellent standard, and this shouldn’t be too surprising – Silver Link has an impressive repertoire, ranging from Non Non Biyori and Brave Witches to Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow and Kokoro Connect, and most of their shows have been well-presented.

  • The sixth world, a horror-themed space, might hint at what’s upcoming in Bofuri 2 – although Sally is a remarkable player who built her character around agility and has a reputation similar to Maple’s, her fear of all things horror means that she’s left conflicted as to whether or not she wants to play on. On one hand, Sally doesn’t do well with ghost stories, but on the other hand, she’s tempted by some excellent gear that’s said to drop in this region.

  • Using game spaces to help characters grow as individuals wouldn’t be a bad idea, and having spent the whole of the first season showing how Maple’s able to visit all sorts of spaces without worrying about being defeated, it would be nice if Maple could spend more time with her friends and help them with various in-game objectives, in time, coming to learn more about their real-world traits and potentially using the game to help them overcome an individual shortcoming. In the present, Maple agrees to accompany Sally into a haunted house where some interesting gear is set to drop.

  • If I had to guess, once players acquire a skill in NWO, the skill’s performance probably scales as one levels up. This would allow Maple to continuously use her old skills in higher levels without worrying about them becoming obsolete. The Division and The Division 2 had a similar mechanic in play, allowing seeker mines, explosive drones and remote turrets to do more base damage as one levelled up, so that they would remain useful as one hit the endgame. By using her Machine God ability, Maple carries Sally through the haunted house, both literally and figuratively.

  • Maple’s firepower actually does tangible damage to whatever ghosts are in this world, and as such, it stands to reason that, had Sally simply stood her ground and fought back, she’d be able to hold her own. However, since her fear of ghosts and spirits surpasses her confidence in NWO, she ends up being ineffectual during the exploration. I recall a similar scene in Metro: Last Light, where during the mission to save Pavel, Artyom has a frightening vision where hands of the damned protruded from the walls while he follows the Dark One. Back then, I only had a GTX 660, but I was still able to run the game at high settings and maintain 60 FPS with the 1080p resolution.

  • When Sally gets separated from Maple, her ensuring reaction is adorable. This was a somewhat unexpected side to her character, and although I vaguely remember Sally being uncomfortable with ghost stories and the like, seeing moments like these really accentuate her dislikes. Admittedly, it was also quite amusing to see the otherwise cool-and-collected Sally reacting in such a manner. In the end, she does manage to link up with Maple, who uses her latest ability to give Sally a chance to regroup, and when some other adventurers enter the house, they draw the spirits off the pair, allowing Sally and Maple to escape.

  • Sally’s original quest of gaining some new items ends up unsuccessful, but for their troubles, she and Maple both gain access to a new skill. While I’ve never had an experience quite like Sally’s in a game before, I have had times where I entered a mission thinking I had what it took to complete it, only to get stomped. This most often happens in games like The Division – after I completed my six-piece Classified Striker’s set, I foolishly thought I was capable of handling Incursions solo and found myself hopelessly outmatched; this activity had been scaled for four players with good gear. Similarly, in The Division 2, I’d imagined that the Hunter’s Fury would be an asset when I tried to solo the raids, but during the airport level, I couldn’t even make it off the tarmac into the terminal.

  • As a predominantly solo player, I definitely wouldn’t make it very far in NWO unless I managed to make a Maple-like build. Back in Bofuri, after logging out, Sally is surprised to find her home empty; her parents are working late, and she’s still a little jittery following the excitement of having just escaped a haunted house. The real world is rarely shown in Bofuri, but I am fond of its portrayal, since it does remind viewers that this series isn’t an isekai, strictly speaking, and as a result, the stakes are much lower. A few months ago, I would’ve been a little envious of Sally’s home setup, but post move, I’ve put together a setup of my own that has suited my needs.

  • Luckily for Sally, Maple’s on hand to talk her through things. Moments like these speak to what’s really important in gaming, and while Bofuri doesn’t have the same high stakes as the typical isekai or something like Sword Art Online would, the change of pacing makes this a relaxing series to follow. Understanding this about Bofuri means managing my expectations accordingly: I’m not here looking for a world-class, life-changing tale, but instead, it’s sufficient to see characters learn and grow alongside one another in a world where the only aim is to have a good time, something that many streamers and gamers in the present seem to have forgotten.

  • In the end, Maple ends up soloing the haunted house and secures all of the stuff that Sally had been looking for. In the time that has passed between Bofuri and Bofuri 2, I’ve managed to finish The Division 2 fully – seeing the excitement in Bofuri 2 about loot brings back memories of when I’d spent my downtime after work running through Washington D.C. doing various things for exotics. In The Division, I ended up joining random groups in order to complete legendary missions, but with the presence of exotic crates in The Division 2, I was able to amass a reasonably extensive collection of exotics without needing to play the toughest content.

  • My old Hunter’s Fury gear set, paired with the Chatterbox and Ninja Bike kneepads, allow me to trivially beat missions in PvE – the fact I get health and armour back on each kill, coupled with the fact that every kill also returns a third of my ammunition, and the Chatterbox’s ability to increase its firing rate when near enemies, renders this the perfect setup for PvE. On the other hand, against individually strong opponents, the Hunter’s Fury loadout I have now is quite ineffective. My approach towards The Division 2 was partly inspired by Bofuri, and since I have no intention of playing PvP or the game’s tougher content, things work out well enough for me.

  • The main reason why I’ve not returned to The Division 2 since finishing the Faye Lau manhunt had been because for most of 2021 and 2022, the game went on a bit of a hiatus as no new content was added. Ubisoft had launched a roadmap indicating that new content would be added, along with a new free-to-play title, but having felt I’d gotten my money’s worth from The Division 2, I ended up moving on. Back in Bofuri, after receiving a request from Mii, Maple joins her and uses her newfound defensive buffs to give Mii a chance to use her powerful, but slow-to-deploy AoE skill. This particular spell brings to mind Megumin’s ex~PLOSION~!, which similarly was damaging but was stymied by a high magic requirement and long charge time.

  • On the topic of Megumin, it turns out that next season, Konosuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World is going to be released. This spinoff will deal with Megumin and show her life prior to meeting Kazuma, and I’m rather looking forwards to seeing how things turn out. During the start of the global health crisis back in early 2020, I found myself with an abundance of time at home, so I spent most of it powering through anime I hadn’t had time to watch. Konosuba was one of them, and in this series, I found comedy of a consistently good quality. Besides KonosubaKuma Kuma Kuma Bear is also going to get a second season.

  • While I don’t typically watch or write about isekai anime, there are a few series that do catch my interest from time to time – I prefer to watch the more relaxed and comical series over the serious ones. Back in Bofuri, Mii and Maple swing by an in-game café following their adventure, and the conversation switches over to something on Mii’s mind; she’s been wanting to be herself, but obligations to her guild means she must maintain a more serious persona. Hanging out with Maple allows her to relax and show her true self, and I am hoping that at some point, seeing Maple doing what she does best will also help Mii to relax around others.

  • When conversation turns to hanging out with folks one otherwise normally wouldn’t, I am reminded of how slice-of-life anime are able utilise their casts and have different characters interact with one another, in turn creating new experiences that may differ in tone and outcomes compared to what is seen with the lead characters. GochiUsa had done an especially good job with this: while Cocoa and Chino carry most of the show in earlier seasons, later on, episodes give the other characters a chance to shine. Episodes of Bofuri around other characters in the Maple Tree guild, or even the other guilds, could act as a fun way of showcasing more of NWO.

  • Bofuri is wasting no time on pushing ahead – by the game’s seventh major event, Maple and her friends are fully ready to take things on. This time around, rather than a large-scale event involving multiple guilds, small groups must take on instanced areas. The idea of an “instance” originates from World of Warcraft, where small groups were given their private copy of a dungeon to take on. The term itself comes from Object-Oriented Programming, where an instance of an object is a occurrence of an object that can be acted upon. The easiest way to describe this is with physical entities: supposing that Person is a class describing people, then Maple would be an instance of the Person class. The term stuck, and since then, private dungeons have been referred to as instances.

  • Maple and Sally end up taking on their instance together, but unbeknownst to them, the developers have altered theirs so the pair end up with far tougher foes than necessary. As Maple and Sally destroy their opponents, the developers watch in horror; nothing they have seem to work. However, their conversations also suggest that these foes were designed to be challenging, but not unbeatable. The problem NWO’s developers have stem from a fundamental design problem in their game: caps to skill power and statistics, coupled with limiting what combination of skills can be equipped and earned, would’ve eliminated most of their headaches.

  • Game balance is eschewed in Bofuri precisely to accommodate Maple’s outrageous adventures, and as such, the developers find themselves on the backfoot. Battlefield 2042 had suffered from this – originally, the class system was abolished, and this reduced the incentive for teamwork. The reintroduction of classes is intended to ensure that players are locked to a specific role, increasing the need to work as a team. Here, Maple equips her Wooly skill: this one is one of my favourites because Maple’s response to using it is always adorable. While outwardly envelopes Maple in wool, she is able to utilise it in a creative way.

  • Writing for Bofuri is admittedly a bit of a challenge: since the anime’s objective is simply present a fun experience, there isn’t much to do in the way of speculation, either. As such, Bofuri is one of those series where it’s easiest to kick back and watch things as they unfold. With this in mind, while I’m writing about both Bofuri and Mō Ippon! in the same manner, the latter does provide more opportunity for the sort of discussion I’m partial to; I’m not sure how many readers here follow my references to games, for instance.

  • Back in Bofuri, upon fighting their first foe, Maple and Sally initially have a tough time damaging its exterior. Once they spot that the monster’s mouth might be a weak spot, Maple decides to cut it up from within. This is the inspiration for the page quote, sourced from Guardians of the Galaxy 2, during the opening fight against a multi-dimensional monster known as the Abilisk. When Drax determines that the only way to deal damage to it is from the inside, both Gamora and Peter Quill are perplexed, since skin is supposedly the same thickness from the outside as it is from within. However, there is merit in Drax’s argument – the fleshy interior is probably not as tough as the exterior, so more damage can be done.

  • In this way, Maple and Sally conquer the first floor without too much trouble and move onto the second, where they fight a foe that takes the form of a large book and utilises Maple’s own skills against them, while at the same, preventing Maple from using any skills it’s taken. This enemy is actually pretty cleverly designed and brings to mind the likes of Aaron Keener, who had access to the same plethora of skills as the player’s Agent. Against Keener, I found the best way to handle him was to continuously push the offensive – staying behind cover isn’t too effective, and I found that it was by getting up close and personal that let me do effective damange.

  • The visual quality in the second floor’s fight is degraded somewhat, as the character models become more blocky in terms of appearance. The darkness in the room somewhat masks this, but it was still noticeable. Silver Link generally has a solid history of producing visually consistent works, but there have been cases where things have seen slippage (such as 2016’s Brave Witches). However, if their record is anything to go by, Bofuri 2 shouldn’t see any delays to its schedule: it is possible that some shortcuts were taken to ensure that episodes aired in a timely fashion.

  • The fight against the second floor’s boss ends with Sally using her speed to overcome it, and the two advance to the third floor, which is controlled by an elemental golem. Initially, the environment resembles World of Warcraft‘s Molten Core, but after Sally begins using cold spells against it, the golem switches over to cold-based attacks. Maple ends up using her Atrocity form and consumes the golem, defeating it instantly and giving the developers more headaches. At this point in time, it almost feels like Maple and Sally would be better served as play-testers brought on before a game ever hit alpha stage: their unconventional play-styles would expose problem areas of a game that can then be fixed.

  • Having said this, with the way Maple plays, one might be inclined to consider fool-proofing certain things, and this approach towards development does have its detriments. One longstanding axiom in software development is that users will always find ways of breaking something no matter how well-guarded something will be. For NWO’s developers, it may not be a meaningful exercise to keep up with Maple, so here in Bofuri 2, I am curious to see how they react as the story continues. Viewers will likely have an excellent ride ahead, and I look forwards to seeing what the second season will present. In the meantime, it’s time to call it an evening: I’ve returned from my first dinner out with the extended family to celebrate the Chinese New Year, and after an exquisite menu, which included a whole steamed fish and fresh lobster, I’m inclined to do as Maple does and enjoy some time in a game.

The ability to play a game in any manner of one’s choosing is a topic of debate amongst those who partake in video games. On one hand, game mechanics may lead to certain tactics being more effective than others, and in PvP environments, this can result in heated exchanges regarding whether or not said tactics are fair. For instance, the practise of camping in a first person shooter is regarded as dishonourable because it gives the camper an advantage over their foes. By staying in one spot and remaining hidden, one can defeat unsuspecting foes with ease. There is, however, one legitimate use of camping: if one has just exited a firefight and needs to regenerate their health, it is perfectly acceptable to hide behind cover or somewhere safe while awaiting recovery. If one is ambushed in the process, there’s nothing unethical about defending oneself. In PvE games, play-styles are irrelevant, and one can choose to have fun in any manner of their choosing. The whole point of gaming is to have a good time, and this is why for me, single-player experiences are my preference. I can do something in my own manner of choosing, in an environment where my mistakes won’t harm any teammates or allies. Similarly, when I play PvP experiences now, I enter a match without any expectations: the goal isn’t to help my team win or maintain a positive KDR, but rather, to have a blast, and I’ve found that when approaching games with this mindset, I tend to do better and have a better time of things along the way. Bofuri celebrates this approach towards gaming. With all of the streamers out there trying to engage their audiences by using meta loadouts and strategies exclusively, as well as viewers who try to emulate them, the spirit of video games is somewhat diminished, so Bofuri acts as an amusing counterargument for this in suggesting that even using the so-called “off meta” methods and equipment can still be viable so long as one has an open mind, and above all else, a willingness to have fun in the process.