The last isekai review post I did was for the show In Another World With My Smartphone, and my opinion of that wasn’t great. I grew extremely tired of the overpowered main lead, who seemed able to be a master of magic within halfway through the opening episode. On top of this, the show as a whole didn’t really have much in the way of action, and instead turned into something pretty fluffy. Reading the synopsis of this show, I kind of expected the same thing. Have I really grown so sick of the isekai genre? I mean, we get around 3 or 4 of them every anime season now, sometimes more. I would have thought that studios would get the message and move onto something else by now.
I saw a lot of traits of In Another World With My Smartphone in Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!. The main lead, Adele (or Mile), is rather overpowered herself, despite the title of the show. Her past reincarnation, child prodigy Misato Kurihara, pleaded to be just an average person, but as we see even these ‘average’ powers are over 6,000 times more than a regular human. But what exactly does she do with these ‘average’ powers?
(By the way, Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! is a very long and awkward title to keep repeating here in this post, so I’ll just be calling it by its original Japanese short name, which was Noukin.)
I brought up In Another World With My Smartphone for another reason; it was a rather cliched isekai show with not-so-great animation, and combined with the overpowered main lead, it just did not become that great a watch. So with Adele being just as overpowered, what makes Noukin any different? Is it even any different? The show starts with Adele (who hides under the alias Mile) enrolling in a hunter’s prep school. Along the way she meets the noble yet inexperienced knight Mavis, powerful and tsundere mage Reina, and kind-hearted healer Pauline. At this prep school they decide to group together in their dorm and take on the world. I think this is one of many things that stands out for Adele. In her life as Misato Kurihara, her intellect and top marks at school meant she was unable to make any friends, and so here in this world, she is able to get very close to three characters who are still cute to watch, even if they are the kind of characters one would see in many other isekai shows.
Right from the first episode, it breaks the fourth wall and explains how Adele arrived in this world, why the all-powerful godlike being gave her ‘average’ powers that turned out to be far greater than any other citizen, and even an explanation of how magic works in this world. As someone who typically doesn’t turn to isekai shows, this turned out to be something that really stood out for me.
I look at some of the isekai shows that come out every season, and I see so many of them become so serious in their stories, their world-building, and their character designs. We end up getting bombarded with flat exposition and lengthy dialogue that ends up having next to no importance to the development of the characters. Here in Noukin, we don’t get any of that. We watch each episode, and see that there is no complicated story behind what the four of them do, and no deep backstories either. Jokes in the show start off as being a little cringeworthy, but get much better as episodes go on. It does not try to take itself seriously at all.
We don’t get any lengthy story about Misato Kunihara because it doesn’t matter. We get the bare basics on Adele arriving in this fantasy world, but we don’t get that much information in the being who brought Adele to this world because it’s not important. What is important is the here and now: Adele, Mavis, Reina and Pauline going on their cute little adventures. And you know something? It really did hook me in. I didn’t think it would, considering it has many things that an atypical isekai show has, but Noukin stood out for me because of how harmless it was. How much it didn’t care about being your average joe isekai show. Almost like it was ‘self-aware’. That along with many other little things…
We warm to all four main characters immediately. Sure enough, we know right off the bat that Adele/Mile is this overpowered girl that died and was reincarnated into this fantasy world, but unlike in In Another World With My Smartphone, she becomes someone far more relatable and someone we want to cheer for. Mavis, Reina and Pauline also have lots of qualities about them that make them just as relatable, which is an added bonus. This is something that’s extremely important in a show like this, because it makes us care about the MCs, instead of just being drip fed some flat backstory or exposition, ending up in dull MCs that we’ll forget about almost immediately after we finish the show. After some research, I discovered that this anime adaptation skips a few chapters of the source light novel (that talk about Adele’s old home life and how she was sent to boarding school only to escape) and dives straight into what really mattered. This was an excellent decision to make; adding all of that to the story would have just made the show not as fun to watch.
Along with the simple and easy-to-follow story, the animation in the show is pretty darn good. As I mentioned earlier, jokes in the show can sometimes border on cringeworthy; the first episode being a good example, when we discover the episode’s big bad villain only captured the town’s children so she could create some kind of bizarre harem of young girls that she could nurture and fawn over. The show’s self-awareness means jokes gradually get better, thus giving us plenty to giggle at. It has a perky and upbeat score, with cutesy OP and ED themes. It is just this crazy little show that actually put a smile on my face. And the fact that an isekai show could do that to me is remarkable itself.
Noukin is a cute show with cute girls going on cute little adventures and doing cute little things. This all might be a switch-off for a lot of people since it’s a genre that’s tried and tested and been around for a long time though, but Noukin was a fun little show to watch, to my surprise. And it stands out precisely because of its simplicity. Who was Misato Kunihara? Who was this god who brought her back to life? What is the history in this new world? What even is the name of the town Adele visits in the very first episode? Who cares. It’s a no-frills show about friendship that doesn’t take itself seriously, and I think we need these kind of shows more than we realize.