Sora TokuiWataru HatanoJapanese
Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!
Also known as: Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne!
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2019
Director: Masahiko Ohta
Writer: Takashi Aoshima
Original creator: FUNA
Actor: Azumi Waki, Fumiko Uchimura, Hiyori Kono, Masumi Tazawa, Sora Tokui, Wataru Hatano
Keywords: anime, fantasy
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=22283
Website category: Anime 2019
Review date: 23 November 2020
Watashi Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne
I quite enjoyed the first two-thirds of the series, but I then went off it. What's more, flicking through earlier episodes revealed that I'd lost patience with silly stuff I hadn't previously minded.
The premise is amusing. Mile is an isekai heroine, reincarnated in a fantasy world after she died heroically in ours aged 18. The twist is that her old self was Little Miss Perfect, good at everything except making friends. Therefore, in her new life, she's determined to be normal, average and popular. Unfortunately, the angel who reincarnated her was overly literal with the word "average". She has "average" magical abilities in that she's halfway between this world's weakest inhabitant and its strongest (an Elder Dragon). Her social status is the average of a peasant and a king.
She's going to make friends, form a party with them and go on fantasy adventures. They'll defeat wyverns, hunt bandits, etc.
The cast I like. Mile is a sweet-natured otaku, geeking out over rock golems and comparing herself with Doraemon. Her friends are Reina (a slightly tsundere mage with a tragic past), Mavis von Austien (a not-too-bright swordswoman from a noble family) and Pauline (a smiling, scary merchant's daughter who's been toned down from her borderline evil portrayal in the light novels). I enjoyed spending time with that lot. The art has a knack for likeable, happy faces.
Oh, and this show's magic comes from nanomachines, which Reina can talk to. She's told them to turn themselves into a cartoon animal called Nano. Ep.12 has some interesting suggestions about the nature of this world, which promise well for Season 2 (although I'd be surprised if one happened).
My problem is with the show's tone. It's deliberately playing up the cliched nature of its own plot beats. Villains will be silly and overplayed. Our heroes are capable of comedy reactions that would be impossible from real people. When Reina tells us her backstory in ep.5, the show can't resist using everyone's reactions as a punchline to make the drama look weak. In ep.8, Nano actually comments on Mile's tendency to undercut the drama of serious scenes.
Admittedly, there are more serious episodes, e.g. ep.6, but ironically that's half the problem. Had the whole show been candyfloss, that would have been okay. Some episodes are less lightweight, though, e.g. the finale... but the show's burned its boats. There's no sincerity left. I don't care and I'm not involved. Potentially dramatic lines just come across as cheesy, e.g. "you made me angry". Then, in addition, we have annoying storylines and implausible plot points. Mile thinks she can't tell her friends about her past... until she does, but then at the finale she thinks she can't tell them. Again. For no reason. The maid cafe thing can piss off. The gang are idiots in ep.10. I had limited patience for Mile's plan in ep.11 to reduce her friends' reliance on her.
Even the animation's dodgy at times. This was not an expensive show.
This is the kind of show where heroes never kill baddies, because the whole thing's just fluffy nonsense. (The only exception is in Reina's backstory.) The problem isn't merely a failure to achieve dramatic tension, but instead a self-aware glee in puncturing it at every opportunity. This show can be entertaining and even charming, but by now I'm just annoyed by its love of undercutting itself. It is cute, though.