Content Warning: Brief fanservice.
What’s it about? Lloyd, the weakest person in his village, has traveled to the capital with hopes of becoming a soldier. He’s insecure about his skills, but what he doesn’t realize is that he’s the weakest member of the strongest, most dangerous village in all the land, which makes him heads and shoulders above everyone in his new home.
I’ll give Boonies this: when three of the five named female characters in this episode end up showing some level of romantic interest in Lloyd before the credits roll, at least I get it. He’s a sweet kid with good manners and he makes a mean stack of pancakes, plus the whole super-strength thing. That’s a lot more than your average Potato-kun harem lead has going on.
It was also a pleasant surprise that, outside of the obligatory title drop, this actually isn’t one of those super meta-fantasy MMO stories. All of the plot elements at least try to have an in-story explanation rather than using the thoroughly dead horse of “it’s just like that video game you played!” The setting is nicely rendered too, if generic, with vibrant colors that put me in mind of BOFURI.
Now that I say it, Boonies could stand to be like BOFURI in other ways too—namely, improving drastically from its underwhelming first episode.
Lloyd might be sweet, but that doesn’t make it less annoying that he’s a narrative black hole. The gimmick might be that he’s stronger than everyone he meets, but in practice what we see is him setting specifically women’s hearts aflutter by totally outclassing them, whether it’s the ultra-powerful leader of his village (a.k.a. “Grandma Loli”), the accomplished mage he’s staying with, or his fellow new recruit. And I extra-special didn’t love said new recruit, Selen, getting a scene in her underwear as she contemplates putting on makeup to catch Lloyd’s notice.
It sets the tone for something that always becomes exhausting as a comedic bit and immediately undermines itself if the show ever tries to do drama. After all, we know that ultimately their roles are all likely to, in some way, be about supporting the male lead. It didn’t help my suspicions on that front that the script is already prone to repetition, running the “Lloyd is strong but doesn’t know it” gag into the ground by minute ten.
The last few minutes of the episode do offer some kernels of promise: one is Riho, a mercenary who so far sees Lloyd as primarily a means of making cash; which, as part of a team with himbo Lloyd and already full yandere Selen, might make for good comedy. The last shot is also unexpectedly somber in an intriguing way, though I won’t say more to avoid spoilers.
It’s not outside the realm of possibility that, like a lot of comedies, a weak start might give way to a stronger offering overall. That said, unless fantasy comedy is really your bag, I’d recommend hanging back and waiting to hear if this one shapes up.