Title: Bofuri: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Max Out My Defense Vol. 1
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Publisher: Yen Press
By now, I feel like the anime community has been well acquainted with Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense. Now, fans get to experience the Light Novel version in the west with the release of Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense Vol. 1. To preface the review, I would say that this is a charming title that doesn’t rely on heavy fan service or a significant understanding of the Isekai genre. Instead, we get a series that plays off the familiar tropes of MMORPGs that serve to highlight their more comedic systems, but readers could also use this as an introduction to the gaming genre.
Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense Vol. 1 introduces your average girl Kaede who has been invited to play a new virtual MMORPG by her friend. Although her friend, Risa, is currently grounded, Kaede jumps in early to better understand the game and its systems. She decides to name her character Maple and put all of her skill points into VIT. This is where the overall hook of this series comes into play. Maple doesn’t want to get hurt, so she essentially breaks the game in several ways during her first few days playing. Her strange ways of approaching an MMORPG is nothing an average player would do, so she’s gaining all of these skills that players wouldn’t receive in the early game.
Maple enjoys her time playing and even finds herself making a few friends as her OP in-game character climbs the leaderboards faster than any player. When her friend Risa joins the game, now named Sally, the two work together to create a character who aims to take no damage. Sally is skilled at MMORPGs and sets up friendly competition with Maple as they each learn new skills and become stronger. Their friendship is extraordinarily stable, and their teamwork helps them overcome a few challenges, but there’s rarely anything that can touch them or cause harm. Sally’s character is the only one you actually care about when they are fighting since Maple rarely if ever, takes damage.
The tension builds after an update that causes Maple to actually learn to play the game. I’m sure this will affect later volumes since she continues to dominate the game through nontraditional means. However, as she understands the nuances and skills required to play, she becomes knowledgeable of the basics and becomes even stronger through those abilities.
The best thing about this light novel is how easy it is to read. It’s pretty hysterical as Maple learns all of these skills that I relate to when I’ve been beaten in games by friends who don’t usually play games. There’s a dash of beginner’s luck, but sometimes non-gamers are the ones that attempt things a skilled gamer would never think of. Through these pages, it’s possible to understand that thought process, but there’s very little explanation done outside of general MMORPG terminology and gaming lingo.
I like the way the narrative slyly makes jokes at the expense of Maple’s actions. She’s clearly the only reason you’d want to be reading this, as her ways of approaching conflicts are often hysterical, especially if you’re a seasoned gamer. This makes moments where Sally is the lead not that interesting, though. Sure, it sets the baseline for how players are supposed to play this game, and she essentially shines a light on elements like quests and material grinding, but her character just wasn’t that interesting to follow.
Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense Vol. 1 does an excellent job of setting up this game and Maple’s simple way of playing. However, the later volumes really need to keep that hook of Maple breaking things in unique ways. I liked this message board style narrative where we say how other gamers felt about Maple and Sally, but the last few chapters didn’t feature this insight. This is a low-barrier of entry read, which is fun for those experienced with the genre and those who have benefited from beginner’s luck. Either way, Maple is such a good protagonist, and I hope to learn more about her thought process in later volumes.
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