Episode 7 – Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout

It’s always going to be a case of give and take with this show, huh? Last time, I was really hoping that Telolilo’s introduction would let her grow into something beyond the show’s resident buttmonkey, and that does come to pass here. There are still jokes at her expense, like everyone else, but she’s much more active as a personality this episode, and even gets some cool moments to compensate for the blows she takes. She’s still not as outright funny as Schwartz was, but she’s done more than enough to win Most Improved since her first appearance.

Unfortunately Total Fantasy Knockout pairs that redemption with the introduction of its least enjoyable character so far. I don’t even know if they drop his name this episode, but the credits tell me he’s called Shen, and he was already on thin ice when he showed up as the kidnapper who sold Telolilo off for sacrifice last week. I don’t care what a character’s gimmick is, starting them off as a part-time slave trader is a bad call, and having him insist he feels kinda bad about it doesn’t really change that much. Especially not when nobody actually gives him much grief over it, not even Telolilo herself.

Things get dicier still, when he also develops an obvious crush on Jinguuji while they start plotting to rescue Tachibana/kill the village’s Squid God. Considering just how much this show prods – even jokingly – at various intersections of queerness, having a guy who’s into other guys with none of the genderflipping plausible deniability is actually a pretty solid choice. The issue comes in the execution, where his entire joke is obviously flirting with a visibly uncomfortable Jinguuji for the rest of their shared scenes. It has yet to cross the line into outright gay panic, but it’s a pretty questionable call from a show that’s already tiptoeing a tight rope over a massive pit of homophobia. No need to add a tap dance to the routine. More to the point it’s just not a strong or unique punchline, and that drags the first half of this episode to a crawl when it comes to laughs.

Thankfully the episode recovers in the back half, as Jinguuji and Tachibana’s relationship – past and present – takes center stage again. The show’s always been at its most sincere when it’s expanding on our central pair’s longstanding friendship, and we again get some hints about Jinguuji’s troubled family life once they’ve made up. Plus the jokes are just stronger overall once Tachibana’s bewitching beauty starts wreaking havoc again – this time by making the whole village think he’s a witch seducing the townsmen, and nearly getting him burned at the stake before the squid monster can even get there. Telolilo even gets a big hero moment, courtesy of Tachibana’s shopping channel knife set, before grilling the creepy sea creature for good measure.

Overall though, this is a weaker episode on just about every front. The gags are slow to start, and a lot of the character-based humor feels like it’s drawn from the same well a few too many times. Honestly, the funniest jokes were little incidental ones, like the cast eating a creepy, still breathing squid for lunch and hearing it go “ouch” as they chowed down. We also get some plot with those mysterious demon generals, but the biggest development is they’ve discovered Jinguuji’s strength wanes when he’s not around Tachibana. There’s probably a reason for that, but for now I’m sticking with my theory that his strength actually comes from the power…of LOVE, and he needs his Best Bro in mind to truly unlock his potential. Or the Goddess of Love is pulling some tomfoolery. Either way, we look to be on to another new town next week, and I hope it offers more plentiful spoils than this port.

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Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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