The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Maple (Bofuri)

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.

Defence Specialisation and Christmas – A Bofuri Christmas and Celebrating Yuletide Joy At The New Digs

“Christmas is like candy; it slowly melts in your mouth sweetening every taste bud, making you wish it could last forever.” –Richelle E. Goodrich

On Christmas Eve, New World Online releases an update that adds a new area into the game. Maple and her guild are excited to check things out; they sign in and find themselves in a Japanese-inspired area. Everyone separates and goes exploring. Maple encounters Mii enjoying the New World Online equivalent of a cat café and joins her, while Sally runs into Frederica, and the pair enjoy a duel against one another to test their skills. Meanwhile, Kasumi falls in love with new weapons and armour that accompany the update and immediately sets about trying to unlock a new sword. Later, Maple runs into Payne, and the pair agree to go farming mobs together during an in-game event. As the event draws to a close, the New World Online administrators grant everyone a gift, and Maple invites both the Order of the Holy Sword and Flame Empire’s members to join them for a Christmas party. When they unbox their gifts, everyone gets Christmas-themed outfits and gear, which, to their surprise, provide unexpectedly good stat bonuses. Maple, on the other hand, ends up with a reindeer outfit. In spite of this, she enjoys the evening with the others. Meanwhile, New World Online’s administrators wonder what they’ll need to do in order to balance the game out ever since Maple ended up breaking the meta. Itai no wa Iya nano de Bōgyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu (Bofuri for brevity from here on out) first began airing three years ago, following Maple’s outrageous adventures in a virtual reality MMORPG – despite her near-total lack of gaming knowledge, her intuition and uncommon luck allowed her to create a character that was so overpowered that she’s been able to experience the game in a way even the developers did not find possible. Bofuri‘s charm thus lay in seeing what outlandish tricks Maple would have up her sleeve with every passing day, and along the way, other players begin to both respect Maple, as well as look at playing New World Online in their own manner of choosing.

Bofuri was built on the premise of the idea that unusual consequences can arise in a system, and utilised said consequences to simultaneously drive Maple’s adventures, as well as provide humour. In its first season, Bofuri was able to succeed because there was no reliable way of telling how Maple and later, her guild, would handle increasingly challenging events with the resources and know-how available. Although Maple’s overwhelming power meant that she was predestined to win, the joy was seeing how Maple’s guild-mates and friends would support her. Here in Bofuri‘s second season, it appears that besides exploring a Japan-inspired setting, Maple and her friends now have one additional challenge from the game’s developers – having now realised Maple’s single-handedly breaking game flow and balance, they’re struggling to determine how to best handle her without detrimentally impacting the other players’ experience. In games where player progression is tied to statistics, developers typically introduce caps to prevent individuals from trivially completing in-game objectives or gaining an unfair advantage over others in PvP. Similarly, certain game modes will introduce objectives that demand coordination or otherwise normalise a player’s performance. The Division 2, for instance, alters player specs when they enter the Dark Zone and limit certain gear set bonuses, preventing any one set from giving one overwhelming power. Similarly, raids make enemies significantly tougher to the point where even individually competent players are prevented from utilising their capabilities fully. This forces a player to alter their mindset and play-style, as well as lean more heavily on teammates, to complete their goals. This approach represents one way that Bofuri could proceed; while Maple could still retain her incredible power, increasingly creative situations can be utilised in the second season, giving viewers with new adventures that are fresh and exciting to watch.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Bofuri was originally a recommendation from a reader, and while I’d been busy with other series, the start of the global health crisis back in 2020 left me with a great deal of open time. I thus made my way through the series and found myself impressed with things. Bofuri had been a fantastic example of one of the approaches that Agent-Based Systems took towards solving a problem – by maximising one attribute, agents in a system could yield some unorthodox behaviours as they worked towards a solution.

  • I wonder if Yūmikan, Bofuri‘s author, has read any papers or texts on these concepts – multi-agent systems and agent-based modelling approaches formed the bulk of my graduate research back in the day, and one of the things that fascinated me most was the idea of emergent behaviours, which arise as a result of interactions between the agents and their environment. Although the individual agents might be given simple rules, the resulting behaviours can be surprisingly complex; Craig Reynolds’s BOIDS and Conway’s Game of Life represent such instances of emergent behaviours in an agent-based system.

  • Of course, multi-agent systems are probably far from the viewer’s minds, and for most anime fans, Bofuri remains a strictly average anime for the fact it is a low-stakes series that doesn’t aim to do more than providing an amusing set of adventures on a weekly basis. Such anime are difficult to write for, and in the case of Bofuri, Maple’s constantly shifting powers mean that it’s nearly impossible to try and forecast what happens based purely on what’s already known.

  • While the true nature of New World Online is such that the game’s limits aren’t clearly defined (unlike The Division 2, where there is a cap on what one can do, even with optimisations), what is known is that the anime has wonderful settings. Assuming that the remainder of Bofuri‘s second season is set in a Japan-inspired world, there is much potential for showcasing a portrayal of Japan that is similar to Azur Lane‘s Sakura Empire. This idyllic depiction of Japan is something I’ve seen largely in wallpapers, featuring fantastical architecture and eternal spring weather with cherry blossoms.

  • Because of her interest in all things Japan, Kasumi finds herself immediately at home in this latest world. Katana and other swords worthy of samurai are sold, along with their armour. Japanese swords are often held as being uncommonly sharp and superior to any European sword, but this is a fictional portrayal of the samurai and their combat prowess – a well-crafted European sword can perform on par with a well-crafted kanata, and at the end of the day, a good sword’s performance depends on how well it was forged, rather than the manner in which it was forged in.

  • Now that I think about it, Maple resembles Girls und Panzer‘s Miho in some manners – both are exceptionally powerful in their respective settings, are easygoing and quick to befriend those around them, and since Miho and Maple are normally seen wearing a smile on their face, it can be surprising to see them with other expressions. After suggesting everyone explore the new world independently, Maple spots an unusual sight: Guild-master Mii has changed her appearance and heads into what appears to be a shady establishment.

  • Given the nature of Bofuri, nothing of the sort has taken place – it turns out that, to get away from her duties (and the difficulties of maintaining a stoic personality befitting of a guild leader), Mii partakes in visiting the New World Online equivalent of a cat café. Maple decides to relax a little here, learning that the real Mii is very friendly and bubbly, but puts on a more serious façade while role-playing her character. Worried about others finding out, Mii asks Maple to keep this side of her under wraps. Maple has no trouble keeping this promise.

  • Elsewhere, Sally and Frederica explore the new skills added to New World Online and duel. The pair had developed a friendly rivalry since the events of the first season, and while Frederica is a skilled player in her own right, it does appear that overconfidence is her weakness. Sally is able to prevail in this duel, and it does feel as though Sally fulfils the same role in Bofuri that Miyu did in Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online, being the more experienced best friend to guide Maple and Karen through their games, respectively.

  • Looking back, Sword Art Online Alternative had come out right as Battle Royale games were becoming popular. In 2018, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds had gained momentum, and the genre had begun taking off. By 2020, Warzone and Apex Legends had joined Fortnite as being the biggest battle royale games around. I’ve never been a fan of these games, but I have heard that modern games trend in this direction because players want to feel special, whereas earlier games emphasised teamwork in a larger context, but did not do enough to differentiate victory from a loss.

  • Back in Bofuri, while testing out her new weapon, Kasumi is surprised to find that using this weapon has an unusual side-effect – it reverts her to a younger age. From a gameplay perspective, this wouldn’t normally be a problem so long as one’s attributes weren’t impacted, and in fact, most games will try to balance out items by giving them positive and negative traits, rather than altering the player’s in-game model. That New World Online chooses to change player appearance is more of a comedic element, but one wonders if this will come up again as an element affecting the story later down the line.

  • With the initial exploration phase over, New World Online’s administrators create a special in-game event that will allow players to unlock exclusive items. In-game events are a common part of contemporary gaming, and add to the seasonal cheer – Team Fortress 2 was my first-ever holiday event, and back in those days, a buddy and I bought keys so we could unlock festive weapons. The Division 2 was also quite big on events, offering holiday-themed game cosmetics, as well as a modified Thompson submachine gun that shot snowballs.

  • This still here captures the scope and scale of the new space present in New World Online. A lot of fantasy worlds seen in anime, especially in the isekai genre, set set in a high fantasy variant of Europe. Because so many series utilise this setting, this creates a situation where many isekai become difficult to distinguish from one another. The Japanese region in New World Online allows Bofuri to differentiate itself, and one thing I’ve always liked about Bofuri is that it’s plain everything is set in a sophisticated VR title, rather than an entirely separate world.

  • Maple’s “Machine God” loadout is one of my favourites – it gives Maple access to mechanised equipment that lets her engage multiple foes simultaneously, as well as independent flight. The sheer bulk of this gear brings to mind the likes of the RX-88GP03 Dendrobium’s Orchis armed base. Beyond the Gundam-like design and its utility, the Machine God also leaves Maple’s admittedly sexy navel in the open. While farming mobs, Maple ends up transforming into her Hydra form and runs into Payne. While their last meeting had been as competitors, the pair decide to cooperate for a while; Payne sees this as a chance to learn a little more about what Maple’s able to pull off.

  • If I had to guess, skills in New World Online appear to be dynamically generated and adapt to the player’s style, similarly to real life. The second season will probably explore this in greater detail, and I am curious to see how Yūmikan will continue to portray this world. Games typically do not use such a route because a system cannot be reasonably balanced this way, but for storytelling purposes in Bofuri, a dynamic skill system works well enough in driving the story, allowing for there to be no shortage of misadventure resulting from Maple’s unorthodox gameplay style.

  • In recent years, we’ve been using a turkey recipe that’s turned one of the trickiest meals of the year into a straightforward endeavour: per this recipe, the turkey is first stuffed with celery, carrots, onion, rosemary and thyme. It is then cooked upside-down, first at 400°F for twenty minutes, and then 325°F for two hours. From there, the oven temperature is reduced. The vegetables inside the turkey emit moisture, which the turkey re-absorbs. The end result is a moist, tender and juicy turkey: even the turkey breast is succulent and flavourful, and best of all, there’s no guesswork as to how long it takes to cook the whole turkey. Dinner concluded with Crème brûlée and a Yule Log.

  • My family’s Christmas traditions have been simple: we observe a more secular Christmas, and the most prominent events of a given day are the gift exchange and the dinner. While I’ve read stories about how some folks dislike Christmas because of an increasingly commercialised component (some stores begin promoting Christmas as early as November), for me, Christmas is a time of togetherness and of warming up the coldest, darkest days of the year. Seeing a majority of people fired up for the festivities makes me happy, too. It is possible to not be sucked in by the commercialism and at the same time, partake in the festivities.

  • Outside of the gift exchange and Christmas dinner, Christmas Day for me is extremely relaxing. As a child, I spent my Christmas Days building Legos, and then during the family Christmas dinner, I’d play Agent Under Fire with my cousins. Nowadays, it’s a peaceful day spent reading, watching movies and playing games: after our gift exchange today, for instance, I ended up playing Modern Warfare II‘s invasion mode. For this year’s Steam Sale, I ended up picking up the “Vault Edition” upgrade, giving me access to the Battle Pass and the Vault weapons pack.

  • The extra weapons add more variety to the gameplay in Modern Warfare II, and like Maple, I’m finding that I am able to play to my own style and have fun anyways. At this point in time, I’ve reached level fifty, and are maintaining a better KDR than I am in Battlefield 2042. While SBMM means that any time I do a little too well in one match, I’ll be placed into a sweat lobby in the next and find my face pasted into the ground harder than Maple can steamroll her adversaries. In spite of this, consistently levelling up weapons and unlocking attachments makes the process fun for the most part. I’ll return to write about these experiences in full at a later date.

  • With this post in the books, I would again like to wish readers a Merry Christmas! This episode was a pre-airing ahead of Christmas, and the second season will formally kick off on January 11. At present, I have no plans to actively write about Bofuri, at least, not in the same manner that I did for Yama no Susume – while Bofuri is an excellent series, it’s not an anime that invites discussions about equivalent experiences or other topics. With this being said, I am looking forward to Bofuri‘s second season once it starts in full. It’ll be nice to see Maple’s new adventures with familiar crews, as well as how the administrators’ attempts to balance things work out. For now, however, it is time for me to wrap this post up and get some rest: Boxing Day tomorrow means joining the crowds for some excellent discounts and waking up earlier to secure a parking spot.

Although during most in-game events, Maple and her guild are a formidable foe to face down, during an event like Christmas, all of the guilds set aside their typical sense of competition to celebrate, reminding viewers that peace and goodwill towards man is still very much alive. Christmas is a time of togetherness, and while Maple enjoys an extravagant party with fellow players and friends alike, this time of year is characterised by spending time with the people that most matter to oneself. For me, this Christmas represents a new milestone – it was my first Christmas at the new place. Although the scenery is different, traditions still remain. I still spent the morning opening gifts with immediate family, and then took the remainder of the day to help in the preparation of the Christmas turkey, the first time we’ve used this particular oven for such a meal. While it is inevitable that things in life are constantly shifting, there is also comfort in the fact that long-standing traditions endure – despite the long dark of winter, Christmas remains one of my favourite times of the year precisely because it is a time of togetherness, of spending time with the people closest to us. Bofuri manages to capture this feeling in its Christmas episode, and while Maple is celebrating with the folks she’s met in New World Online, the festive spirit is fully conveyed during this episode’s runtime. I imagine that many surprises will await viewers once Bofuri‘s second season launches in the New Year. In the meantime, it’s time to take it easy on this Christmas night: following a turkey dinner, there’s nothing left to do but unwind, appreciate the winter scenery from the warmth of home, and bring out the ol’ GameCube to play Agent Under Fire‘s multiplayer on the Town map, with the AI bots cranked up to maximum difficulty and aggression, just like old times.

Defense and Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning in Bofuri: A Whole-series Review and Recommendation

“Yeah. It takes us a while to get any traction, I’ll give you that one. But let’s do a head count, here: an invincible shield maiden, a lightning-fast swashbuckler, an elegant samurai, some dude who’d died and came back a thousand times, a master crafter, a genius mage with stunning puzzle solving skills, and two hammer-wielding brawlers. And you, big fella, you’ve managed to piss off every single one of them.”

“That was the plan.”

“Not a great plan. When they come, and they will, they’ll come for you.”

“I have an army.”

“We have a Maple.”

–Tony Stark and Loki, The Avengers

Kaede Honjō is a high school student who is introduced to New World Online (NWO), a VRMMORPG, on a recommendation from her best friend, Risa Shiramine. While an absolute novice in games, Kaede spins up her character, Maple, and begins exploring the world. Because she fears sustaining damage, Maple invests all of her skill points into vitality, and while her build initially appears ill-suited for NWO, she begins exploring uncommon ways of making things work. After Risa passes her exams, she joins Maple as Sally and decides to specialise in a swashbuckler class that maximises agility. During the course of exploring NWO, Maple and Sally participate in several events that bolster their infamy, and they create Maple Tree, a guild of a similarly eclectic members that Maple and Sally had met in their adventures, each with their own unique skill sets and roles. Word of Maple’s guild results in a highly spirited guild-based event, and in the aftermath, celebrate a time well-spent with their new-found friends from rival guilds. The game’s administrators, having long been concerned with Maple’s ascent, decide to leave her be, since she’s become a powerful advertising tool for the game, encouraging players to pick NWO up to either team up with her and explore, or otherwise power-level with the hope of besting her in PvP one day. This is Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense (Japanese title Itai no wa Iya nano de gyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu, Bofuri for brevity), an anime from the Winter 2020 season that has its origins as a series of stories posted to Shōsetsuka ni Narō in 2016 and published as a proper light novel in September 2017. Bofuri‘s success comes from its unorthodox execution; the very things that makes Maple successful as a player makes the anime successful as a series, and much as how Maple combines common techniques in curious ways to form her playstyle, Bofuri draws inspiration from Sword Art Online (VR elements), KonoSuba (humour resulting from in-game elements) and even Manga Time Kirara works (an adorable protagonist with a naive but well-intentioned view of the world) to create something that is uniquely enjoyable.

Maple’s experiences in Bofuri with optimising for defense at the expense of every other statistic was naively motivated by a very simple desire: to not die during gameplay while exploring NWO. Because she’s going in completely unaware of optimal builds, Maple tends to play things by the ear and use the skills she acquires to fill deficiencies in her build. In this way, Maple’s experiences can be considered a form of multi-agent reinforcement learning, where agents (Maple and the other players) act in a way to maximise some sort of reward (in-game currency, gear items, event rewards) and act against some sort of loss function (for Maple, “I don’t want to get hurt”). In practise, any sort of machine learning has the potential of yielding unusual results: during one study, in which a system was assigned to build a navy for engaging an enemy navy using a finite pool of resources, the two most successful results came from extremities. One solution involved deploying a vast fleet of suicide vessels to overwhelm the enemy fleet, while the other solution resulted in the creation of a single large, unsinkable ship that then proceeded to trivially eliminate other vessels from the enemy navy without fear of being sunk. While such cases usually only arise in highly abstracted systems (the parameters never specified whether the ships needed to survive, so the algorithm simply cared about achieving a victory state as quickly as possible), they also demonstrate that edge cases in a model shouldn’t be taken lightly. In Bofuri, NWO’s developers quickly realise this: despite being counter-intuitive to other players (Sally remarks that most players spec out a range of attributes, rather than just vitality), Maple’s play-style and with NWO’s unusual progression system, creates an emergent result where Maple becomes a living god in the game world from a consequence of making choices and decisions that more seasoned players would not make. Consequently, Bofuri becomes a wonderful and engaging (if highly simplified) representation of how unintuitive decisions can still provide optimal solutions in some systems. Of course, Bofuri is more than just a glorified introduction to the unusual outcomes resulting from multi-agent reinforcement learning, and the series’ theme is forward enough: there are many ways to have fun, and creativity can result in some unexpected, but entertaining results.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I was originally recommended Bofuri from a fellow reader and anime blogger back when the year started. It was a cold day, and at the time, I was busy going through Halo: Reach, so I remarked that I’d give it a go as time allowed. Fast forwards to early May, and I finally had an opening to do so. Right from the start, I found myself hooked: Bofuri does everything right, and in the beginning, Kaede (Maple from here on out) is introduced to a game, and finds herself initially drawn in by a rich world to explore.

  • Between KonoSuba and Bofuri, I suddenly have the inclination to return to Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and continue on in my journey: as a hybrid offensive caster and archer, I excelled at longer-range engagements. I still remember the feeling of starting my journey for the first time, and going to Whiterun was my first quest. On the way, I died to giants, but made it without other troubles. In Bofuri, Maple is able to talk to a few other players and get her journey started: she spends time messing with the mobs and then falls asleep, accruing a mad amount of skills in the process through passive means.

  • Maple inadvertently acquires a range of unusual skills as a result of her explorations: on her first adventure, she realises she has no offensive skills, and decides to eat her opponent over a seven hour period. No game I’ve played allows its players to so dramatically break things: it’d be akin to biting my opponents in a shooter after running of bullets, dulling my blades and losing my fists. However, Bofuri‘s NWO, being a VRMMORPG, lacks these constraints, and Maple finds herself with an excellent gear set, the Black Rose, which makes her a master of poison, and can consume what it touches, converting it into magical energy.

  • On her first event, Maple manages to place third: her gear set makes her uncommonly powerful, and together with her defense, she’s practically invulnerable to most forms of damage. A major part of an RPG is the constant replacement of gear, and NWO seems to eliminate this element entirely despite having levels: the rules are not specified, but it appears that gear one finds scales in accordance to player level. From an in-universe perspective, this allows players to explore a VR world more readily, rather than forcing them to grind out levels, as well as focus on in-game events. Since conventional games need a means of keeping players engaged, non-scaling gear forces players to continuously return and acquire new gear.

  • By the time Risa passes her exams and is allowed to game again, Kaede’s already gained a bit of a reputation. Risa decides to play as Sally, a swashbuckler blessed with high agility: while she reasons that a mage or caster would be great, she takes Maple’s approach and dumps everything into agility. Despite a later start, Risa is highly proficient with games, having won competitions previously, and she catches up to Maple very quickly, defeating a boss on her own as Maple did to acquire a solid gear set of her own.

  • The starting point in NWO is beautiful, with its gentle wooden town, verdant vegetation and floating fountains. For this reason, I’ve decided to focus the screenshots on moments that highlight how detailed and intricate the artwork of Bofuri is. The anime adaptation was produced by Silver Link (Non Non BiyoriBrave WitchesYurikuma Arashi, Miss Caretaker of Sunohara-sou and Stella no Mahou); despite a bit of controversy early in their career surrounding the production of Kokoro Connect, the studio has thankfully, overcome these challenges to produce many excellent series in the years after Kokoro Connect.

  • Maple and Sally visit several of the more picturesque spots in NWO, and I’ll take a few moments here to explain this unusually-written post, which goes over multi-agent reinforcement learning in the context of Bofuri at a very abstract level: I won’t be going into more technical aspects of what the implementation and implications are, and the definitions I use will be very general. An “agent” is composed of entities that can be represented by a tuple describing the object’s state, a set of actions it can perform, and a set of functions that determines what actions are carried out in response to its state. Then, a multi-agent system (MAS) describes a system with multiple agents and their environment. In Bofuri, players like Maple and Sally are the agents, and NWO is the MAS.

  • Reinforcement learning in an agent, then, is composed of a policy (set of actions the agent can carry out), reward function (goals the agent aims to achieve), value function (predicts what an agent gains by following a function in the policy) and a model that defines how the agent acts in the future. In Bofuri, the policy is all of the actions Maple can carry out. The reward function is new gear and skills, the value function is how Maple reasons she’ll finish a task, and then her model is how previous experiences impact what actions Maple takes in the future, whether it be going with what works or exploring new routes that may potentially yield better or worse results.

  • The end result of this is that Bofuri provides a surprisingly faithful, if highly-abstracted, presentation of reinforcement learning in MAS: the outcome of the anime indicates that reinforcement learning can yield some interesting, unexpected results. With this being said, this post is about Bofuri and not about multi-agent reinforcement learning, so there are many details I’ve elected not to formalise or cover. Because Bofuri‘s theme can be summed up to “being open to new experiences has dramatic but pleasant consequences”, and because many reviewers and viewers comment on very similar aspects of Bofuri, I’ve elected to go with a different approach and look at Maple’s performance as a more visual example of how unexpected certain decisions can be in things like machine learning.

  • While Bofuri is something I found to be a neat visual of a machine learning concept, it should be clear that one’s enjoyment of Bofuri is most certainly not contingent on having prior experience with multi-agent reinforcement learning; those looking for the fun in this anime will find it. After a gruelling fight against a named elite, it turns out that the developers had not intended for said named elite to be beaten in battle. Their choice of words suggest it was supposed to be invulnerable, so the fact that Sally and Maple manage to win anyways is the first sign to viewers that, like Miho Nishizumi and Donnie Yen’s Ip Man, their victory is assured.

  • After defeating the so-called unbeatable named elite, Sally and Maple unlock pets. Maple ends up picking a turtle that is faster than she is that she names Syrup, and Sally gains a fox that she dubs Oboro. I’ve never really been particularly good with pets in games, but when done properly, they can be excellent companions to have; NWO’s pets can also learn skills, making them useful as support for combat. In my World of Warcraft days, I had a companion of sorts as a warlock, who had minions that could fight on behalf of a player. I believe I got as far as unlocking the Succubus, but generally preferred the Voidwalker for its increased durability.

  • Bofuri‘s character dynamics become a bit more varied once Maple and Sally befriend Kasumi, a swordsman who resembles Strike Witches‘ Mio Sakamoto in manner and appearance. While she had intended to ambush Maple and seize their medals during the series’ first event, the group fall into a hidden dungeon and must work together to escape. In the process, they combine their skills together to reach an exit that individual, neither Sally nor Kasumi could reach, and in the aftermath, befriend one another.

  • To those familiar with games, Bofuri‘s NWO online is something that offers far more freedom than would be good for game balance. From a design standpoint, the ability to take on a class archetype, direct points towards character attributes and simultaneously acquire skills from usage, without a hard cap on attributes limit depending on level, creates a system where players with enough creativity can act in ways contrary to expectations. In games like Ragnarok Online, players can choose their own specs and optimise those for a class, while World of Warcraft had different races with attributes more suited for some classes than others. In both games, there are a set of skills unique to the class, and limits capped what players could do until they reached a certain level.

  • By comparison, Skyrim was much more open: players were classless, and could learn any skill in the game, but this took time, and attributes also had their limits. For a game, NWO would be considered broken, and the in-game meta would favour players who specialised a small number of attributes. However, for an anime, the design of NWO permits a very unusual story to be presented; Bofuri is an excellent example of a situation where certain design choices are made to accommodate the story at the expense of realism, and while some folks swear by realism in their stories, the fact is that realism is regarded or disregarded depending on what the author’s intents are.

  • As Bofuri continues, Maple begins to build a guild of sorts in order to enjoy the benefits of having a guild (most notably, their own in-game residence) and also to participate in guild events. Besides Kasumi and Kanade, both of whom Maple had met during earlier events, crafter Iz and great shielder Kuromu also joins their guild: Maple had met Iz and Kuromu early in her travels, asking the two for assistance and eventually purchasing custom-made gear from Iz. However, when it turns out the next event is a larger one, Maple sets off recruiting.

  • Back in the starting area, Maple finds Yui and Mai: the two lack confidence in their abilities and mention to Maple that they’ve spent all of their points towards strength simply because they wanted to see what it was like. Maple promises to help the two power-level, and in no time at all, Yui and Mai are now an integral part of Maple Tree, Maple’s guild: they take on an offensive role with their unparalleled brute strength, surprising enemies with their power despite a small stature.

  • Sally’s character is an amalgamation of Yama no Susume‘s Hinata and Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s Gin Minowa: confident, energetic and always looking for a good challenge, Sally continues to push her skills further in NWO. While ostensibly not as powerful as Maple, Sally’s profound knowledge of games, coupled with her athletic ability in the real world, allows her to pull off impressive manoeuvres that confer an incredible edge during PvP. Coupled with a deep understanding of NWO’s mechanics, Sally becomes a one-girl wrecking ball capable of tearing apart entire teams on her own. Her one weakness is a crippling fear of ghosts, and this has prevented her from completing quests set in haunted areas: it was only with Maple’s support that she pulls through.

  • Once Yui and Mai gain enough experience, Maple Tree is looking like a proper guild: Maple and Kuromu take on defensive roles, while Sally, Kasumi, Mai and Yui are offense-oriented. Rounding out the group is crafter Iz and caster Kanade, who fulfill a support role with their abilities. Despite their small size, Maple Tree has a collection of some of the most interesting players of NWO, and it is with this diverse bunch that she goes into the final event, a competition between guilds that brings to mind Ragnarok Online‘s “War of Emperium” event. One of my friends used to host WoE events on his private server, and I remember that setting up would take upwards of two hours, and to offset the fact that we had a smaller player count, our characters were buffed to ridiculous levels so attackers stood a chance of destroying the Emperium crystal to claim the castle.

  • The actual outcome was sheer, unmediated chaos – I remember single-handedly defending a choke point with Storm Gust and Meteor Strike as a High Wizard for a quarter hour until I ran out of mana points, after which my defending team was overrun. I’m guessing on a proper server with normal characters and larger guilds, WoE would be immensely fun in its own right. In Bofuri, Maple acquires the Loving Sacrifice classified gear set, which allows anyone within a certain radius to take on her defensive capabilities. In practise, this renders everyone invincible, and Maple Tree is befuddled – everyone agrees that it’s only okay because Maple is on their side.

  • After Maple Tree participates in their third event, Maple acquires the “wooly” skill, and the team visits the third level, Bofuri gears up for an event between guilds. We are now into the halfway point of May, and it’s the Victoria Day long weekend, a statuary holiday on the last Monday preceding May 25 in Canada.This morning, I would have been gearing up to go volunteer at Otafest, the local anime convention: I had submitted my volunteering application back in December, and April would’ve seen a volunteer orientation session. In light of the ongoing global health situation, there will not be the excitement and energy surrounding an anime convention that is typical for this time of year.

  • This is admittedly a bit of a disappointment; last year marked the first time I’d volunteered, and it was a superbly enjoyable experience that I would’ve like to partake in again. During the last convention, I ended up learning that the positions I was slated to volunteer in were actually a little more dull than expected, but owing to a shortage of volunteers, I found myself helping at the Maid Café and Bakery. This was a fun experience, since it was a busier one. I will note that in the close-quarters frenzy of trying to keep the stalls stocked, classic anime clichés that I normally count improbable did wind up occurring: while I often comment on probability of various anime tropes as being “unlikely”, like chemistry, close quarters dramatically changes things the odds, and I now understand how the “cute clumsy girl” and “flustered when around senpai” archetypes do, however ludicrous it may sound, have some basis in reality.

  • Lingering still in my memory is a fellow volunteer who’d I had worked with during a gruelling six-hour shift; her shy but dazzling smile helped me to get through two consecutive shifts. As a result of my experiences, for my application this year, I marked that I was more open to volunteering for the exhibition hall and Maid Café, which is where the convention is more festive (compared to the remote panel rooms). Overall, volunteering for anime conventions was a pleasant experience, and one does encounter interesting people in the process, which is what makes it fun. Back in Bofuri, while on a break from power-levelling, Maple and Sally enjoy the waters of NWO, giving the girls a moment to rest and the series to show off Sally’s lithe figure. It appears that NWO manages to import the players’ real-world physical traits for character appearances, so everyone in the game would appear similarly as they would in reality.

  • While Maple is adorable, bearing traits from lead characters of slice-of-life series I’ve come to greatly enjoy, Sally herself is also immensely likeable. Were Sally to be the star of the show in place of Maple, Bofuri would probably still be able to tell the same story of an overpowered character making grown men weep. When their break is interrupted by Frederica, a member of the Holy Sword Guild (home of NWO’s very own Thanos), Sally heads off to duel her to exchange information. During this fight, Sally fakes several skills with her own innate power, giving Frederica the impression that Sally has two evasive skills with a long cool-down, and Sally learns of the Flame Emperor guild’s setup in return.

  • On the day of the event, Maple Tree gears up to go out and play attack-and-defend with the other guilds. I note that of the combat sequences in Bofuri, they are quite amusing to watch, and screenshots alone do not do them justice, so I’ve elected to show off more ordinary moments in this post and will encourage readers to check Bofuri out if they’ve not already done so. Maple’s themed-naming is endearing in its own right: she originally chose a tree as her guild headquarters, and her turtle is deliberately named Syrup so together, she and the turtle become Maple Syrup (the national food of Canada). Simple but iconic, Syrup is best known as Maple’s preferred ride, and most guilds shit bricks upon seeing a flying turtle, which comes to foreshadow total devastation.

  • Maple Tree holds out fairly well in the event’s early stages, and Maple decides to take the fight to Flame Emperors to try and secure more orbs that need to be held for scoring. The page quote I’ve chosen here reflects on Maple’s ridiculous power, taken from an iconic moment in The Avengers: Tony Stark was utterly unimpressed with Loki’s efforts at conquering Earth, and his remark, “We have a Hulk”, is meant to show that Loki was doomed to failure regardless of his army because of the sheer power the Avengers had. By the time of Infinity War, Loki echoes this line to indicate that he’s become a hero, someone who cares for something beyond himself. While Maple Tree may not have a Hulk, they do have a Maple – in Bofuri, Maple appears as powerful as Captain Marvel.

  • There are moments where Maple’s facial expressions resembles those of Yama no Susume‘s Aoi: adorable in her mannerisms, Maple’s appearance belies an absolutely brutal and efficient combat style. Maple is voiced by Kaede Hondo, whom I know best as Kon of Urara Meirocho, Comic Girls‘ Koyume Koizukam, Iroduku: The World in Color‘s very own Kohaku Tsukishiro and even Magical Senpai‘s senpai. Hondo has a number of impressive works in her resume now, and I am going through Magical Senpai now before switching the party over to Nekopara. I do have plans to write about both series eventually.

  • After exploring brings her face-to-face with a cursed robot, Maple bests it in combat to unlock another gear set: the Machine God allows Maple to become a miniaturised GP-03 Dendrobium, capable of using directed energy weapons and powered flight. During the fight against Flame Emperior’s Mii during the guild war, Maple is forced to use this configuration, and she manages to push Mii into a stalemate with her power. Although lacking the aesthetics of Tony Stark’s Iron Man suits, the Machine God appears at least as powerful as any iteration prior to the Mark XLVII – as the Machine God, Maple can use Full-Burst mode the same way the Strike Freedom and Freedom Gundams could, giving her the ability to trivially clear away entire areas without difficulty. When ousted by Maple, the charismatic and cool Mii reverts to a childish personality, whining about how she thought defeat to be impossible. It’s an adorable touch that shows the characters are well-aware they’re in a game.

  • Because of how over-the-top the final few episodes are, and how outrageous the fight with the top-seeded Holy Sword guild’s best fighters was, I’ve chosen not to include the moments are: it takes place in the dark cave housing Maple Tree’s base and involves thrilling close-quarters combat. When it looks like Maple Tree are about to be overrun by Holy Sword’s best, Maple uses her “Atrocity” mode, which transforms her into an unstoppable monster that buffs her attack power and durability at the expense of mobility: “Atrocity” is similar to the Hulk in this sense, although Maple retains full cognitive function and is constrained by only being able to use this once per day of in-game time. Once Holy Sword is on the back foot, Maple decides to support Flame Emperors and blasts away the other guilds, prompting the GMs to end the event early, since there were no more guilds remaining.

  • To celebrate the outcome of their latest event, Maple throws a wild party at guild headquarters while the GMs decide to leave Maple as-is, noting her exploits have rendered NWO immensely popular. While I’m not familiar with what is and isn’t possible in NWO, and having not touched a fantasy-themed RPG for a while, the closest analogue I can think of is The Division 2, which is an RPG with a more modern setting. The Gunner Specialisation, in conjunction with the riot shield skill and gear pieces that confer armour regeneration bonuses, additional armour and health buffs, would probably the closest players can get to a Maple-like build. I recently found a gear talent that confers bonus armour on kills, and I note that against such players, the Sharpshooter specialisation is probably the best counter.

  • I find that for its unique approach in combining elements from the VRMMORPG, isekai and four-panel genres, Bofuri is deserving of a solid A- (3.7 of 4.0, or 8.5 of 10). There’s a second season in the works, and this will be fun to check out. Having said this, the exact date of release isn’t known yet, but it is simply nice to know there will be a continuation. With Bofuri in the books, I now turn my full attention to Magical Senpai and Nekopara: I do have plans to write about both series at some point. Finally, in the absence Otafest this year, it’s an ordinary, quiet and sunny weekend with an extra day of rest, and I’ll take advantage of the time to partake in more Halo 2‘s campaign such that I may join the Halo 2 Anniversary multiplayer as swiftly as possible.

Besides bringing back memories of my old multi-agent systems and biological computation courses, Bofuri held my interests because of its successful melding of multiple aspects from a range of different series to create a vivid world for Maple and her friends to explore. Much as how Maple uses her skills to augment her offensive capabilities and mobility, Bofuri combines traits for a range of genres to create a highly unusual, but engaging result. Maple herself resembles Yama no Susume‘s Aoi, GochiUsa‘s Cocoa and Kiniro Mosaic‘s Shinobu in manner, with a fondness for all things adorable. This conceals her fearsome capabilities in a game that takes the sophistication of the different titles seen in Sword Art Online; NWO is as advanced as the worlds that Kirito and his friends must navigate, although without the threat of death hanging over their heads, Maple’s time in NWO is much more laid-back in manner, and Bofuri makes it clear that while PvE and PvP engagements can become very heated, at the end of the day, NWO is still just a game. Because NWO is about fun, first and foremost, this allows Bofuri to capitalise on Maple’s outrageous capers as a source of humour. The comedy in Bofuri, not as outlandish or perverse as something like KonoSuba, nonetheless has a similar effect of creating a light-hearted atmosphere that reassures viewers. Finally, with her absurd durability, fights involving Maple inevitably resemble those of Girls und Panzer in that, while it is a foregone conclusion that Maple and her friends will find ways to succeed, the path towards this victory becomes the most exciting piece to watch (rather similarly to how Miho’s victories are almost always assured, and the fun comes from the journey rather than the outcome). Altogether, Bofuri acts as a very meta presentation of how unusual combinations can succeed, and in conjunction with Silver Link’s excellent adaptation (fluidly-animated fight scenes, a vividly-presented world that feels life-like, strong voice acting and a good soundtrack), Bofuri is something that proved unexpectedly enjoyable: this is a series suited for folks who are looking for a series about VR gaming without the gravity of something like Sword Art Online, or else are in the market for a series with some isekai elements without being set in a parallel world or a moody story. Finally, news has reached my ears of a second season for Bofuri, and I would be interested to see where things go from here on out: I would not have any objections to viewing and writing about Bofuri‘s second season once it becomes available.