REVIEW: ‘Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense’ Volume 1 (Manga)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Bofuri Volume 1

Everybody loves a isekai manga, especially if that manga has a good take on the often generic formula, something that Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense Volume 1 has in spades. Bofuri Volume 1 is published in English by Yen Press, with art by Jirou Oimoto, original story by Yuumikan, character design by Koin, English translation by Andrew Cunningham, and lettering by Rochelle Gancio.

Bofuri Volume 1 follows Kaede Honjou, a high schooler without much interest in video games, let alone virtual reality ones. When her friend Risa Shiromine convinces her to buy NewWorld Online, the newest VRMMO, she begrudgingly hops into the game and becomes completely obsessed with it. Using the in-game name Maple, she puts all of her skill points into defense, unintentionally becoming one of the game’s most powerful players.

While it might seem a bit absurd at first glance, Bofuri Volume 1’s titular gimmick really does help it stand out from its contemporaries. In the hands of any other character, the idea of someone putting all of their time and effort into one specific skill would just fall flat. Maple, however, is such a genuine, naive, lovable character, that it is just impossible to not fall in love with her. Sure, she might be overpowered, but the way she handles that power feels so wholesome that it is impossible not to love her.

Every other aspect in Bofuri Volume 1 serves as a complement to Maple and her journey to infinite defense. Other characters, such as Maple’s best friend Sally, fail to really stick out, putting an emphasis on how important Maple is to the story. Similarly, Bofuri Volume 1’s setting (New World Online) also fails to stick out; it’s just another generic fantasy world.

Oimoto’s art isn’t necessarily bad, but, similarly to many parts of Bofuri Volume 1, it fails to stick out from the mold. In fact, the art is actually to the volume’s detriment, taking away from what makes Bofuri special: Maple and her goofy journey.

Bofuri Volume 1 is a bit of a special case for me; it’s the first time I’ve ever read a series’ original light novel before reading its manga adaptation. Honestly, I’m glad I did, as Yuumikan’s wonderful story doesn’t really stand out when put into manga form. Sure, the story is almost exactly the same, meaning many things I loved about the Bofuri light novel is still there, but it feels like something is missing in the manga adaptation. Perhaps it’s the lack of many inner dialogue sequences or the fact that Oimoto’s art is simply bland and generic. I can’t quite say for sure, but Bofuri Volume 1 is definitely something you should read in light novel form instead of manga form if possible.

All in all, Bofuri Volume 1 isn’t bad, but it isn’t special either. Seeing as how Bofuri’s light novel is one of my favorites, it was disappointing to see how a truly special novel translated into a bland manga. The generic art, side characters, and world really stick out in the manga, taking away from Maple and her journey. If you want to experience the story of Bofuri, the manga is an okay way to do it, but the light novel (and even the anime) may leave a longer-lasting impression.

Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense Volume 1 is available now wherever books are sold.

Bofuri Volume 1 (Manga)
2.5

TL;DR

All in all, Bofuri Volume 1 isn’t bad, but it isn’t special either. Seeing as how Bofuri’s light novel is one of my favorites, it was disappointing to see how a truly special novel translated into a bland manga. The generic art, side characters, and world really stick out in the manga, taking away from Maple and her journey. If you want to experience the story of Bofuri, the manga is an okay way to do it, but the light novel (and even the anime) may leave a longer-lasting impression.