Episodes 8-9 – Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout

One of Total Fantasy Knockout‘s biggest strengths and greatest weaknesses is its commitment to the bit. Whatever joke it decides to run with, it sticks with for as long as it can get away with before moving on. At its best, that dedication drives simple, funny gags to greater heights of absurdity and makes for some of the best punchlines in the entire show. At worst, the joke isn’t funny to begin with, and it can wind up dragging an episode into the muck for half its runtime because by god, we bought this dead horse, and we’re going to get our money’s worth no matter how much the corpse starts to smell.

That’s more or less what happens with Shen’s semi-introduction in episode eight. While there are a few funny moments or chuckle-worthy faces hidden in there, the first half of the episode is just one big joke about how Shen is totally trying to assault Jinguuji, and it’s a rough sit. I understand the humor of the entire show is based on every character being some kind of jackass, but there’s limits to what you can get away with while keeping the characters likable enough that they don’t actively detract from the humor. Thankfully, the show deflates the whole situation with the reveal that Shen was actually trying to give Jinguuji a deep tissue massage to relieve his fatigue, so we don’t need to add “attempted rapist” alongside “admitted slave trader” to his bio. But that doesn’t do anything to make the preceding five minutes any less of a chore to sit through. Nor does it make it suck any less that the only out-and-out gay character in the show is defined by being a creeper who invades personal boundaries, and sadly that bit isn’t going anywhere.

After that though, the show returns to its strengths, as Tachibana and Jinguuji once again wreak havoc upon an unsuspecting fantasy establishment. This time it’s the Goddess of Love’s main church, which of course winds up being a bacchanalian night club devoted to every kind of skinship imaginable. Though there’s actually a clever bait-and-switch with that at the start, before our heroes predictably wind up picking a fight with their patron deity’s own religion. It’s not the height of the show’s comedy, but it’s a formula that works, and leads into the much more interesting introduction of the kingdom’s royal princess, Ygraine.

Ygraine is another comedic in addition to the lineup, and there are some solid jokes surrounding her, especially once Tachibana accidentally agrees to start a full-on war to overthrow her own father. But what’s striking is that she’s the first character beyond our main couple who gets some genuinely sentimental treatment. That’s mainly because she’s positioned as a potential rival for Tachibana’s affections – though neither Tachibana or Jinguuji will admit to that situation – but also because of her similarities to Jinguuji’s stifling upbringing. It seems like Tachibana has A Type and it has nothing to do with appearances. He just can’t ignore a lonely person who’s too proud to ask for help when they need it. I don’t know if Ygraine will stay around past this pitstop, but if she became our first permanent addition to the party, I think she has a lot of potential beyond just jokes.

Granted, the jokes are still the main goal, and the royal palace is filled with some great ones. The barely-clothed king belting out the Goddess of Love’s valley-girl prophecy with the reverence of an opera had me rolling, partly because it reminded me of the greatest joke from Love Lab. It’s also hilarious watching Jinguuji desperately telling himself he’s definitely, totally, for sure not jealous about Tachibana being friendly with the princess. The mental gymnastics both of these idiots are doing to deny their chemistry would sweep the Olympics, I swear.

Overall these episodes exemplify the volatile nature of Total Fantasy Knockout‘s sense of humor, for better and for worse, but the note this episode ends on does give me hope. Or rather, the next-episode preview does. That’s right – the man, the myth, the total dipshit, Schwartz von Lichtenstein Lohengramm is coming back to save the day. I cannot wait to see what dumbass dangers he trips dick first into.

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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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