Didn’t I Say it was About Time we Shortened the Titles of These Light Novel Adaptations?!
What’s the Story?
All her life, Mile has longed to be average, to spend her days just doing normal things with normal friends. Unfortunately for her Mile is one of those Japanese kids that have been reincarnated into a fantasy world and, more to the point, there was a bit of a clerical mix up when she crossed over. You see when Mile asked for her completely average life, she forgot to specify that she wanted an average human life and as such was reincarnated with half the power of an elder dragon! Now Mile is a hunter, working with her friends to battle everything from dragons to trouble-making soldiers, all the while searching for that perfectly ordinary life (which Mile has no chance of ever finding!)
You know, I found the perfect description for this series in the comments on Crunchyroll (looking at the comments, I know, I like to live dangerously), an isekai sitcom, because that’s exactly what this show is. Oh sure, the series has it’s heart-warming moments, but it never takes itself too seriously and, more often than not, it’s always building up to one joke or another. Most episodes centre around Mile and the gang dealing with one situation or another, such as Mile trying to pass for normal in the hunter training school, or Mile’s friends deciding to throw her a secret party and all the misunderstandings that spring from that. It’s never really laugh out loud funny, but it always manages to be warm and sweet. Add on to that all the nods and references to other anime as well as a charming cast and you get a very refreshing, if decidedly average, isekai.
A part of me feels bad for calling this show average, because while the analytical part of my brain points out that the visuals, outside of some cute character designs, are nothing special and the story is nowhere near ground-breaking, that doesn’t stop the other parts of my brain squeeing with delight whenever I get to hang out with Mile and the gang. Yes, the story never takes itself seriously enough to wring out all the potential it could from some of these situations, but my heart still aches when Reina talks about her back story, or the shock I felt when Mile came up against an opponent she can’t one shot. I care about these characters, deeply, they’re so sweet and charming and all four voice actors have amazing chemistry with one another. I would quite happily spend the rest of my days watching the antics of these four.
That being said, the charm of the main cast isn’t the only strength of this series, for one it’s an isekai that actually remembers it’s an isekai! (I’d remark on how rare this usually is, but Ascendance of a Bookworm did the exact same, which has got me wondering if people are finally putting effort back into isekai). Yes, the fact that Mile is reincarnated doesn’t play a major narrative role in the series, outside of a few parts of the final episode, but I guess I just appreciate the fact that it’s there. Also I like playing ‘Guess What Mile Is Referencing This Time’, it’s a fun game and while I admit I only got the references about half the time, the jokes around the references are still funny even if I don’t recognise the specific source. That is one thing that I wanted to see more of actually, how Mile’s otakuness is slowly spreading into this fantasy world, from getting the other girls involved in a super sentai parody, to starting the world’s first maid café and even producing figures for sale to the general public. You could really make a whole series just about that, but it never really gets that much focus, as the series has other jokes to make. I suppose that’s the other strength of this series, it doesn’t limit itself to just one joke.
Yes, the main joke of the series is that Miles wants to be average more than anything else but, between how overpowered she is and her scatterbrain tendencies, her chances of accomplishing this are the same as me finding a portal to the future behind my sofa (that is to say, zero), and yet the series doesn’t rely on this joke alone. While Mile never forgets about her goal for an average life, the jokes soon begin to transition away from that and more about just the ridiculous ideas that pop into her brain, like her ‘solution’ to dealing with an enemy that’s out of reach (it involves picking up and throwing her friends). It also helps that the same silliness soon spreads to her friends so then everyone can get in on the act. It keeps the series from ever going stale, as I could always look forward to whatever crazy otaku-inspired idea was about to come to Mile (also I just love all the reaction shots in this show).
Like any good comedy though, it knows to apply plenty of heart to its humour, which brings me back around to the characters. As I said, I care about these characters deeply, and what makes each and every laugh all the warmer is the fact that I feel like I know these characters. Sure the series never tries to dig in too deep or really blow up the bank with regards to story telling, but it doesn’t need to. It shows us just enough of the struggles to make those laughs all the sweeter when they do come back (usually a couple of minutes later). I guess, in the end, being average isn’t so bad. This series knows exactly wants to be and it just is it, it’s fun. That’s all it needs.
In the end, Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life isn’t a ground-breaking series, but it is an incredibly fun one. The cast are stellar, the four main voice actresses have amazing chemistry and you really feel the bond between them. I’m not sure if an isekai sitcom is a thing, but it’s the perfect descriptor for this series’ gentle humour and situational hijinks, as well as its more tender and warm moments. If you’re in the mood for a light, fluffy and occasionally heart-warming take on the isekai genre, then definitely check this series out.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.