Title: Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne! / Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?
Length: 12 x 24 minute episodes
Genre: Comedy, fantasy
Year of release: 2019
The setup of this gimmicky-heavy isekai is that Mile is actually a reincarnated girl from our world. She was so significantly ahead of her peers in intellect that, when she died, she wished to be average in ability and have an average life with average friends; the Gods misinterpreted this information, giving her ‘average abilities’ but did not scale this up in terms of humans, but from ants to elder dragons – so her magical capabilities and combat prowess far outstrip her human peers! However, shortening the extraordinarily long title (and sales pitch) down to ‘Average Isekai’, surprisingly, leaves the show with quite a lot of content, because the show doesn’t bounce off of this too much. In fact, after Mile gets enrolled as a beginner hunter and forms her party, the show gets comfortable in playful day-to-day anime routines in a fantasy land, with a convenient excuse to move between plot points.
As a world, Average Isekai is rather cliche other than detailing the magical system running on ‘nanomachines’, however, our media-savy protagonist makes a good job of picking this apart. Mile’s humorous retorts, which regularly give the surrounding cast question marks, are some of the best parts of the show, as she’s not genre limited at all. At its best, Average Isekai shows Mile’s party reenacting poses from super sentai shows; the cheesy stuff about friendship is typically given a wink-wink nudge reminding us of ‘anime things’. However, at its worst, there’s quite the poor comic awareness, and that’s a much more malignant symptom than off-putting boob jokes centred on a tween-aged cast.
Mile’s party quickly go quest-hunting, utilising their different abilities and backstories for some amusing fluff. However, the show’s inability to keep the tone straight isn’t just lacklustre – it’s utterly dire. Consider when Reina, the fire-using flat-chested tsundere, goes through a backstory arc; the show enters full melodrama territory, while also attempting to make light of the situation with some hackneyed spinning of the scenarios. The levity is lost, and the jokes jar more than amuse, and the situation can become extremely grating. One only has to go back to the first episode to see how bad this aspect is, where Mile feared her friend was being raped while a comically-tuned mental-image demonstrated what she thought rape was. Throughout Average Isekai, the ability to tell a story is undermined regularly, and the entire series becomes a mess because of it.
Much of the bigger moments don’t just fail because of a sense of jar, either. There’s not much interesting to these heavier stories. Reina’s backstory is delivered via a campfire chat; tomboy Mavis and well-endowed Pauline have a shared backstory arc as the latter is to be wedded, against her will, to Mavis’ brother. The situations are passable, but not funny enough in comic decoration to become watchable, nor particularly well-directed to become quick and enjoyable spikes of depth. It’s not even pretty to look at, with stuttered animation meaning fight scenes are more of a chore than a reprieve.
But it’s still worth going back to basics and totting up just how much of the runtime Average Isekai really dedicates to this more serious nonsense, because it’s actually less than half. The low-ticket-admission light-hearted sequences are generally amusing, though not without a few missteps. It’s napkin maths, but I’m beginning to realise that Average Isekai isn’t just underperforming as a cute-girls show. Rather, Average Isekai is below average, failing to consistently amuse and failing to stir the imagination.