What’s it about? After Machio Hiraku passes away from terminal illness at 39, God offers him a second life in another world. Hiraku’s wish is simple: a chance to become a farmer.
If you are a regular reader of Anime Feminist and/or a leftist generally, there’s a pretty high statistical likelihood that you know someone who’s talked about running away to start a farm or commune. These tend to be terrible ideas that implode or become cults at least three times in five, but it’s an understandable fantasy (and we shouldn’t forget its much more beneficial cousin, community gardens!). After a life of anxiety around resources, who wouldn’t want to live someplace self-sufficient? Alternately, if you are reading this there’s a non-zero chance you’ve sunk way too many hours into Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon. Either way, Farming Life in Another World is looking to catch your attention. It’s going to have a tough time though, because it’s about as boilerplate as they come.
I have to admit, including a scene in your wish-fulfillment isekai by having God literally apologize for putting the protagonist through a shit life and say that his Second Life (now with farming DLC!) is “penance for [His] mistake” sets a tone. A tone that says, “subtlety is for cowards and artists.” It’s similar to, say, starting with a cold open where you assure the audience that the protagonist has become mayor and lives in a thriving commune inhabited almost exclusively by hot ladies, as though you are afraid they might not be sure what to expect from this fresh new narrative.
I’m being mean, but in truth Farming Life is relatively inoffensive in the grand scheme of things. The bevy of women we meet in the beginning are mostly pretty buxom and/or wearing your standard impractical fantasy outfit, but the camera isn’t particularly leery and the tone is more “happy community (of hot girls)” than “every one of these girls is lusting after
you the protagonist.” It also understands a key factor of wish-fulfillment isekai that so many of these series forget: the importance of immediately getting some good doggos. 11/10 on the good puppy front.
Farming Life’s biggest problem is that it has the trappings of being a hobby/special interest show but doesn’t seem interested in the obscene level of detail that draws people to the genre. Having a magic farming tool that ignored unromantic details like soil viability and hard, inhospitable ground is one thing, but you’d think harvesting seeds would be a great chance to soak in the grandeur of nature and showcase the fantasy world Hiraku is living off. Nope! Instead, he wakes up to discover the rows he tilled the night before have sprouted perfectly placed and varied little seedlings.
Every time a potential conflict is introduced, it’s almost like the show forgets about it. Hiraku isn’t sure how he’ll build a shelter because he doesn’t have adhesive or nails; later in the episode he’s built a house using slats and wooden pegs, but there’s no process of discovery or even remembering something he read once. He didn’t know, now he does, moving on. Every time he kills an animal, there’s a weirdly insistent emphasis on the fact that it was comin’ right for him; lest, I suppose, he have to grapple with the steps required in eating meat like the Breakwater girls. It sucks the vicarious joy out of watching things come together and starts to feel more like watching someone’s speedrun. And while Hiraku is far from the most irritating Potato-kun of his ilk, I’m not exactly sticking around for his charming aura.
The hook for the second episode introduces the girl most prominently featured in the opening, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the farming stuff effectively fades into the background in favor of a gotta-(inadvertently) woo-‘em-all sort of story. And that’s a shame, because there’s a lot to farm out of a crop-raising hobby show. Ah well. Maybe Campfire Cooking will better scratch that fantasy food porn itch.