Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense, Vol. 12

By Yuumikan and KOIN. Released in Japan as “Itai no wa Iya nano de Bōgyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

I’ve said before that I think the Bofuri series works best when it’s just Maple and Sally taking on a fresh new challenge, and the author agrees. Actually, the author may be starting to agree a bit TOO much. This is the 3rd book in a row that’s been about 75% Maple and Sally, 25% rest of the cast. I joked on social media that the extended scene with Kanade was inserted at the request of the editor, as the author had forgotten who Kanade was. (Actually, Kanade gets more to do here than he has since he got his clone, mostly as a lot of the challenges involve translating ancient runes.) Likewise, Kasumi and Iz get one scene to show off, Mai and Yui get one scene to show off, and Chrome exists. Sorry, Chrome. That said, if you ARE here to read this series for Maple and Sally, you should have a lot of fun with this book, which has them both doing what they do best… for now.

Velvet is on the cover, possibly to draw in Fate fans who think there’s a Saber crossover, but she only really appears near the end, to help set up the next volume. Most of this book deals with the 8th level, which is set mostly underwater. Fortunately for non-swimmers like Maple, Mai and Yui, there are diving suits with oxygen tanks, and the more materials you find the better you can upgrade the suits so you can go deeper. It’s the sort of level that works best in small groups, so naturally Maple and Sally team up, rarely having problems with monsters due to their insane builds, but sometimes having trouble working out exactly what it is the game wants them to do. On the bright side, both Maple *and* Sally get new transformations, sort of. And then there’s the 9th level, which may make Sally’s dream come true.

We see Kaede and Risa for only about three pages, but they’re very important pages. I’m not sure if the author has an end to this series in mind (from what I understand, the webnovel is huge, and Vol. 17 came out in Japan last month), but time *is* passing in the real world, and the 12th book takes place about 18 months after the first book. This means that Kaede and Risa have started their second year of high school… which means soon studying will take precedence over games. Kaede’s grades are good, Risa’s are… okay… but it’s clear that Risa’s mother, at least, is not going to let her game her third year away. That’s why the next couple books may be very important, as they’re a PvP event where players can choose one of two sides. We know that Sally’s big wish is to fight Maple one-on-one, but she’s been putting it off, mostly as fighting a friend is just not Maple’s thing. But this might be a way to achieve it.

And, of course, there’s also the other guilds. Will they stick together? I realize that I just made this volume seem like a brief downtime while we wait for the next really exciting floor, but it was very good. And Maple and Sally held hands a lot.

Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense, Vol. 11

By Yuumikan and KOIN. Released in Japan as “Itai no wa Iya nano de Bōgyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

One of the more enjoyable things about the Bofuri series is that it’s NOT ‘we’re trapped in a game’, there are no real consequences, and everyone is free to do whatever. This is important, because it undercuts dramatic character development and potential angsty trauma. In addition to Maple, we’ve also been following the twins Mai and Yui, who are trying to do with Strength what Maple does with Defense. They’ve been pretty good at it, but are starting to hit a bit of a wall. This calls for deep thought. Should they try to experiment with non-strength things? Should they finally break free of the twin thing and actually take different skills, each one becoming their own person? Should they… grow up? Or should they, perhaps, find a way to use eight giant hammers at the same time? The answer is yes, they should octo-wield. This is a dumb game, they don’t seem to have any real life issues associated with it, and octo-wielding is hella cool.

Frederica is on the cover, but barely gets any page time, alas. The bulk of this book is taken up by a new event, which can best be described as “kill as many monsters as you possibly can”. There’s no PvP element to it, so folks are free to team up, and we see a few fun pairings. My favorite is Maple, Mii, and Velvet, aka Two Chuunis and a Dojikko. There’s also plenty of Maple and Sally, as we get to see them tackle a rarely used dungeon that basically thrown the monsters from all the previous floors at once. And eventually everyone has to team up to take down the giant final boss and his orb of power. the orb is far trickier than the boss, as the boss can be flattened by the Hammer Sisters, while the orb is made of sterner stuff. Amidst all this, is there time for… a different game?

The other highlight of the book is seeing Risa try, once again, to get over her fear of horror. It’s clear that the game is going to throw “6th level monsters” at them in the future, and Sally hates that she’ll always be useless when that happens (though she does OK in one fight by simply wrapping a blindfold around her head and firing off magic randomly, which I can’t wait to see animated). Her solution is to buy a really scary horror VR game and play it with Kaede, who has no issues with horror and is always down for a new game. Needless to say, it goes pretty much exactly as you’d expect. Risa being terrified of ghosts is just funny, especially with Kaede’s blase attitude towards them. We also once again get a tiny bit of “Risa REALLY likes Kaede” here, but blink and you’ll miss it. At least, unlike other authors, we don’t get a constant stream of “I’m straight, though”.

This should give Bofuri fans a good time, even though there’s no plot or character development. There won’t be, really. And that’s fine.

Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense, Vol. 10

By Yuumikan and KOIN. Released in Japan as “Itai no wa Iya nano de Bōgyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

Good news! This is a far stronger volume of Bofuri than the previous two were, and I think I can see why: the last book I really enjoyed was also pretty much just Maple and Sally, with the others barely appearing. I definitely enjoy the rest of the guild, there’s nothing wrong with them. But something about the main duo of the series causes the author to up their game. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s no major character development for Maple here or anything, she’s pretty much the same. (Sally… well, I’ll get to Sally.) But it’s simply fun and relaxing watching these two besties steamroll through the dungeons on earlier floors that they missed just to be able to see a really great view, or have a picnic, or learn about new ludicrous techniques. Well, only Maple gets that last one, as she manages to turn dark angel (scary) and also make her weird Atrocity ball do a Katamari Damacy (scarier).

Everyone’s still on the 7th level, and there’s no sign we’re seeing the 8th right away. So Maple and Sally decide to go sightseeing, going back to the earlier levels and taking in things they didn’t get to the last time around. They also meet new characters while they’re at it, because you can’t JUST have Maple and Sally and no one else, alas. Appropriately, of the two pairs they meet, one feels very Maple (Velvet, a brawler pretending to be an ojou, and Hinata, her introverted backup) and the other feels very Sally (Wilbert, an insanely powerful archer, and Lily, his maid backup… except when Lily is the powerful warrior and Wilbert is the butler backup). These two pairs make Sally worried, as she knows that they’ll be doing PvP before long, and she is concerned that she and Maple don’t have the synergy of the other two pairs… despite the entire book being evidence to the contrary.

The first anime had finished when this was being written, and I’m not sure if the author noticed the Maple/Sally yuri fans and decided to play it up a bit, or if this was always the case. Regardless, there’s a lot more yuri subtext than usual here, almost all of it on Risa/Sally’s end. Risa is a gamer girl who has struggled with the fact that her best friend has never really been able to keep up with her in any of them. Now they have this game, which plays to Kaede’s eccentric strengths, and it’s like heaven. She notes that she wants to keep playing with Maple like this forever (romantic, but hopefully not a death flag – I can’t see Bofuri ever getting dark), but she also wants to FIGHT Maple directly, even as she knows that Maple really isn’t into that sort of gameplay. It’s a combination of competitive tension and romantic tension, and it makes me wonder if the final book in the series will be Maple and Sally duking it out.

That said, pretty sure Maple will win. It’s her series. This was a terrific volume, though, and next time the rest of the cast should be back as well.