I’ve Somehow Gotten Stronger When I Improved My Farm-Related Skills – Episode 1

By: Alex Henderson October 9, 20220 Comments
Closeup of a brown-haired man wiping his brow. Subtitle text reads: It's about time for harvesting!

What’s it about? In a world where everyone is aware of their stats, humble farmer Al Wayne notices that he’s become unexpectedly high-levelled from all his work tending to the fields. All he wants to do is harvest his precious crops, but when monsters and demons attack the royal capital, he might be the only person who can save the day.

Down to the fields we go to check on the season’s crop of isekai. It ain’t much, but it’s honest work.

Honestly, there’s nothing bad about Farm-Related Skills. It moves along at a pace that makes sense for the length of the episode. There’s nothing offensive in its imagery or ethos, so far. There’s a reluctant hero and a plucky princess who needs rescuing and an evil demon lord and a monarch wearing what looks like a Burger King crown. The costuming and setting is Generic Medieval European-ish Fantasy Land, with the uncreative and familiar mish-mash of aesthetics you might expect from that. Its flavor isn’t gross, it just tastes like nothing.

A princess and a king in generic European style fantasy costumes, frowning at something offscreen. Subtitle text reads: How boring!

The gimmick where everyone has access to their stats, skills, and special attacks—like they’re all aware they’re characters in a video game or a TTRPG—would honestly be kind of interesting and funny if approximately a hundred thousand other series hadn’t already done it. And I get the gag, I do. Popping open a stats menu is such a staple of fantasy gaming that, well, wouldn’t it be fun to imagine that it’s diegetic and everyone in this fantasy universe can do that? The answer to that question is “sure” and the follow-up query is “but are you going to do anything interesting with that concept?”

Honest to goodness, please let me know in the comments if you’ve watched or read one of these fantasy series that runs inexplicably on video game logic and this element has been interesting or rewarding in some way. I’m sure it can be done well, or at least add to a narrative, but in my experience it most often just feels like a cheap shorthand that takes away from the story. Who needs worldbuilding when you can just ask everyone to assume things work like a generic RPG? Who needs character development when you can put their personal growth into numbers and levels?

A blue holographic screen displaying a character's statistics and skills, hovering against the sky. Subtitle text reads: Gardening complete. Level 10.

Apart from this grumble, there’s the female characters to consider, which are also nothing to write home about. The opening credits feature several cute ladies hanging around Al. We’ve only met one of them, Princess Fal-Ys, and she doesn’t inspire much confidence. When we first meet her she’s being kidnapped by a random scoundrel we never see again, and only Al with his super mega high-level skills is able to rescue her. He does this again later in the episode, and I can only imagine he will do so again throughout the series. She is chirpy and perky but also serious and noble in the most predictable princess-y way possible. At least her design, apart from being a bit odd (see above nit-pick about the mish-mash of historical aesthetics making nothing and no one feel cohesive) isn’t skimpy or sexualized, so… yay!

Al Wayne himself (yes, that is his name) has one personality trait and it is Wanting to Harvest. You could do worse—he’s not a creep, just fundamentally Some Guy.

I have already forgotten most of this episode, and as I continue about my day I have no doubt the remaining details will sift from my mind and blow away in the wind. I’m not even going to lay into the clunky CGI used for the monsters, because that feels like a low blow in this era of production crunch, and also there are innumerable things I’d rather do with my afternoon that keep thinking about this little show.

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