BNA: Brand New Animal, Assimilationism, and the Myth of the Model Minority

There are anime where, if you really sit down and try to read deep underneath the surface for messages, you’ll find some surprisingly political messages. Then there’s BNA: Brand New Animal, which says to hell with subtlety—we are going to talk about racial politics, and we’re going to juuuust barely disguise it with furry characters. BNA is a story featuring stark looks at the act of othering, the specter of assimilationism, and the way society and government create negative stereotypes of minorities to then use those fabrications to push racist policy.

BNA takes place in a world where humans share the world with part-animal beastmen. Kagemori Michiru is a human girl who one day finds herself as a tanuki, and must deal with anti-beastman prejudice. She travels to Anima City, a city built and run by beastmen, in order to find answers. There, she meets a wolf beastman named Ogami Shirou who considers it his mission to protect his fellow beastmen. Michiru soon finds herself further embroiled in the complicated politics of both Anima City itself and its relationship with the human world. 

One of the major points of conflict in the series is how humans perceive beastmen. Some are well-meaning but prone to exoticizing, others believe beastmen are inherently inferior. Even Michiru, once human and now beastman in appearance, has a perspective that is both insightful and limited due to her unique situation. She knows what it’s like to face prejudice but does not have the lived experience of those who are born that way. 

Also important is that the very purpose of Anima City is to provide a safe haven for beastmen, but its astounding success and prosperity are seen as a nuisance by powerful forces—including those that ostensibly support Anima City. Though I do not know if this is a direct reference, the city has parallels to Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma—aka “Black Wall Street.” A predominantly black space where residents thrived commercially and financially, Greenwood was burned to the ground in a racist massacre in 1921 due to the absolute fear and resentment from white people towards the notion of black success. 

As BNA moves towards its climax, events similar to Tulsa begin to emerge, particularly by outside attempts to frame beastmen as being inherently one step away from violence and chaos. Michiru and Shirou, as well as their allies, must fight against the racist idea that the beastmen must be “saved from themselves,” presenting an argument against what Ibram X. Kendi (author of How to Be an Anti-Racist) calls “assimilationism”: the flawed belief that a race can improve itself by behaving more like a “superior” race. The climax of the series even includes something about constructed notions of racial purity, and how flimsy they are when scrutinized to any real degree. 

Due to some muddling of metaphors, BNA’s approach isn’t perfect. A racist viewing this series could potentially use it to reinforce their own beliefs because of the human/beastman distinction, and allegory often gets lost on those who ignore it, even when it’s this on-the-nose. However, the series ultimately rests on the notion that those who are disingenuous about equity and equality will constantly move the goalposts in order to maintain their oppression, rendering the notion of achieving success as a model minority is inherently limited.

While there’s the possibility that I’m reading too into a show about a tanuki girl and wolf guy, Studio Trigger’s previous works show an awareness of politics in the US and elsewhere. Promare features a thinly veiled reference to ICE (Immigrations and Custom Enforcement) known as Freeze Force. A very special episode of Inferno Cop has a fat and obnoxious parody of Donald Trump. Because of the content of the anime itself and this history, I think BNA can only really be interpreted through the lens of racism, both in its effects on society and its perpetuation by the powerful.

Tan-June: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for June 2021

Last year at this time, it felt like the world might not ever be the same again. This past month, I became fully vaccinated.

While I’m still exercising caution in a lot of different ways (including wearing a mask in public), the extra safety a COVID-19 vaccine has provided has helped tremendously to alleviate some of the psychological pressure I’ve been feeling since 2020. For the first time in a long while, I feel like I can grasp some sense of the normal again. I’m still undecided if I want to attend the recently confirmed Otakon 2021, though.

I just hope that we actually learn from the mistakes we’ve made on a social and political level, and that we must create a better “normal” than the one that resulted in a global catastrophe powered by greed and willful ignorance. I’m fortunate to be in a place where I could obtain a vaccination after a year and a half of keeping safe, as not everyone has been able to do that. The real failures—whether they’ve been in the US, Japan, Brazil, Sweden, China, India, or elsewhere—are the consequences of poor leadership above all else.

I can’t make anyone get the vaccine, and availability varies from place to place, but I hope everyone does what they can to at least protect themselves and those they care for.

Thank you to June’s Patreon sponsors, with special gratitude to the following.

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from May:

Miura Kentaro, Berserk, and the Pursuit of Perfection

Thoughts related to the untimely passing of the author of Berserk.

Miss Nagatoro and the Teasing Girl as Goldilocks Archetype

An exploration of the appeal of teasing girls.

Witch Hat Atelier: The Fantasy of Science, the Science of Fantasy

My review of one of the best fantasy manga around.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 40 continues to have Jin’s mom, Reika, steal the show.

And here’s more from Kio Shimoku’s Twitter account.

Closing

I just learned that Zettai Karen Children is ending soon after 17 years. It’s amazing to see a series that ran for seemingly forever actually reach the finish line. Authors and artists, take care of yourselves!

Skate or Cry: SK8 the Infinity

SK8 the Infinity is an anime with great potential for mass appeal, but rather than catering to a “general audience,” it’s more a series that crosses over so many different niches that it merely appears generic from a distance. The series combines the thrilling world of skateboarding, the involved races of Initial D, the designer+pilot friendship dynamic of Gundam Build Fighters, the over-the-top characters of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and the nudge-and-wink male “friendships” of Free! If you have a passing interest in just two or more of these elements, there’s a good chance you’ll get a kick (flip) out of the whole thing.

The story: Langa is a half-Japanese, half-Canadian teenager who has just moved to Japan with his mother. Reki is one of Langa’s new classmates, and he’s obsessed with skateboarding—a world that Reki is eager to introduce to Langa. While Langa doesn’t know the first thing about it, the way he approaches this unfamiliar sport reveals another side of him: Langa is actually an expert snowboarder who lost his spark after the death of his father who taught him. With Reki’s knowledge and passion, as well as Langa’s unique talents borne out of his history on Canada’s snowy slopes, the two are poised to take the world of underground skateboard racing by storm. Looming in the shadows, however, is the mysterious “Adam,” an antagonistic figure who is one part Dio Brando from JoJo, and one part flamboyant matador.

SK8 the Infinity fires on all cylinders, providing compelling characters and a beautiful story of friendship, but also a kind of ridiculousness that can only come from trying to portray the high-energy world of extreme sports in as loving and passionate a way as possible. The best episodes offer some of the best animation quality you’ll find in a sports series, and the relationship between Langa and Reki takes a lot of twists and turns that feel natural and personal. It’s the kind of anime capable of bringing a lot of disparate groups together, and it’s just plain fun.

Miss Nagatoro and the Teasing Girl as Goldilocks Archetype

The anime adaptation of Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro has put the “teasing character” back in the spotlight, and what I find interesting is how strongly this archetype draws fans in. I see the teasing character as a sort of middle ground between different preferences (and fetishes), and this positions it to hit a variety of targets simultaneously.

In a sense, the “teasing character” can be viewed as the grandchild of tsundere and the direct offspring of the yandere. The tsundere is all about the prickly personality, often portrayed as a character who tries to deny their own feelings or reluctantly develop them. They might attack the love interest, but they’re typically built as reactive or passive characters in the realm of romance. The yandere, however, is the twisted mirror image of the tsundere: an obsessive and dangerous love whose thrills border on horror. The teasing character, then, is a sort of a compromise between the two by being more aggressive than the tsundere but lacking the morbid violence and emotional intensity of the yandere. They actively pressure their possible love interest, throwing them off their game and rendering them helpless. Any romantic feelings are covered in layers of snark and smugness, but unlike the tsundere, the power resides primarily in the teaser. 

If tsundere is too tepid and yandere is too scalding, then the teasing character might be just right. Even then, it should be noted that there are differing degrees of teasing characters. Nagatoro’s bullying isn’t quite the same as the heroines of Teasing Master Takagi-san or Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out, who are more prankster and brat, respectively. 

I also find that the “Goldilocks”-esque nature of the teasing character extends beyond the tsundere-yandere spectrum and into other territories. So much like how the teasing character is like “tsundere but more aggressive” and “yandere but without the obsessive physical/psychological violence,” you can describe the archetype in similar ways relative to other fetishes. It’s NTR (a form of cuckolding, for the unfamiliar) but without the betrayal aspect—the powerlessness of the audience character is there, only not in as soul-crushing a manner. It’s S&M but primarily emotional and without cold contempt, meaning that all the pain and pleasure isn’t in the realm of physical pain—and it’s not the Blend S-style distanced masochism. A lot of relationships in storytelling are about power dynamics, and the teasing character is right in the thick of it.

I’m actually not that into the teasing character type (or everything I’ve mentioned beyond possibly tsundere), so my observations are limited by my lack of personal connection. If there’s more insight to be had, I’m interested in hearing from the true fans. 

Show by Rock!! Stars!!

The original Show by Rock!! anime was a surprise hit for me. “Cute animal-eared girls in bands by Sanrio” sounds fun but not especially amazing, but the execution turned out to be magnificent. Between the fluid animation and excellent comedic timing, I still think fondly of the series and its immediate sequel, Show by Rock!!#. The third season, however, didn’t quite hit the mark with me. The relatively low-key Show by Rock!! Mashumairesh!! took place in the same general setting, but it just didn’t have the charm or humor that made the first two anime such winners. 

I’m not sure if the aim of the fourth season, Show by Rock!! Stars!!, was to bring back some of that old magic, but it pulls the “crossover” card and decides to combine the old and new casts together. Now, the band Mashumairesh (whose name still confuses me) has joined up with the original heroines, Plasmagica, to participate in an all-star band competition. The crossover isn’t limited to the characters either, as the staff includes talents from all the previous series. 

The result is that Show by Rock!! Stars!! brings back much of that old magic. From the very beginning, it feels closer to the earlier seasons. Mashumairesh, new to the big city that Plasmagica calls home, accidentally ends up doing some serious property damage that gets them landed in jail and facing a criminal trial. “These are the absurd antics missing from the Mashumairesh!! season,” I thought while watching it. By the finale, I think it’s largely satisfying and captures  most of the spirit of Show by Rock!! at its best, though it doesn’t go quite as far as I hoped.

Ultimately, I think the problem is that Stars!! focuses much more on Mashumairesh. While the fourth season brings snappier writing and performances to the story that helps elevate the Mashumairesh girls, they and their surrounding cast just don’t strike the same strong balance between friendly personalities and character flaws that help define Plasmagica and friends. Though Howan is by no means a poor character, Cyan makes for a more appealing protagonist. Plasmagica’s ChuChu has a personality of tempered ruthless ambition that’s just absent among the Mashumairesh members. Moa the alien sheep is the best, as always. And how do you beat the overwrought melodrama of a band named SHINGANCRIMONZ, whose band leader is adored as a man among men by the other members because he holds steady employment as an accountant? None of the all-guy bands originally featured in the Mashumairesh!! season even come close.

That’s not to say Show by Rock!! Stars!! is a failure. For the most part, the series is highly amusing and does a good job of bringing out the best qualities in its many characters. It elevates a B+ cast into A-rank players, but I still wish I could have seen more of the S-rank superstars.

Kakushigoto: Refined Absurdity

The style of manga artist Kumeta Kouji is unmistakable. His brand of comedy focuses heavily on humorous misunderstandings combined with rantings by off-kilter characters eager to point out the absurdities of the world while blissfully unaware of their own eccentricities. Previous anime adaptations of his work have totally embraced and even enhanced this manic energy (Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Joshiraku), but the anime version of Kumeta’s Kakushigoto takes a relatively more mellow approach. It makes sense, given that Kakushigoto is a more subdued and down-to-Earth story by the artist’s standards. The key difference between Kakushigoto and his past works is an emphasis on the tenderness of a father’s love for his daughter.

Kakushigoto is the story of Gotou Kakushi, a manga artist and single dad who will go to any length necessary to hide his profession from his young daughter, Hime. Specializing in ribald humor, Kakushi’s greatest fear is that he will permanently embarrass her, make her a laughingstock among her peers, and ruin her life. Luckily for Kakushi, Hime is extremely naive, though that doesn’t stop them (and everyone they know) from getting caught up in humorous misunderstandings. As fitting the manga author, the title of the series is a pun on the fact that it can mean “something you hide” (kakushi goto) and “a job where you draw” (kakushi goto). 

Many of the jokes revolve around Kakushi’s job, and like Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, there’s a lot of inside baseball about things like deadlines, color pages, industry trends, useless editors, and decency standards. These are often the source of many of the aforementioned Kumeta-style rants (and Kakushi himself shares Zetsubou-sensei’s voice actor), but because the general subject of these ravings are smaller in scope than the societal condemnations of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, it actually gives Kakushigoto a noticeably more intimate feel. Because of this, as well as the focus on Kakushi and Hime’s relationship (and some extra familial drama with his in-laws), I find this anime to be more accessible and enjoyable to a wider range of potential fans who might get exhausted by Kumeta’s other works.

If Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is a spicy ketchup, Kakushigoto is a high-quality tomato sauce. 

What I mean is that Kakushigoto has a certain kind of maturity, and a willingness to try to find a middle ground between the unadulterated creative style of Kumeta and something that can speak to others beyond those already familiar with his work. It’s a tricky balance to strike, reminiscent of Shinkai Makoto’s your name. and its greater mainstream appeal compared to his older films. Importantly, Kakushigoto does not abandon Kumeta’s signature style, but rather refines it into a more well-rounded experience. 

MinMAY: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for May 2021

There’s a lot going on in the world that seems out of strangest dreams and nightmares, but within the specific realm of anime fandom, the big news has been that licensing rights for the Macross franchise have, at long last, been resolved. It’s like seeing pigs fly, then transform into Gerwalk mode. For all fans who have wanted to support Macross more directly but haven’t had the means to do so, this is our chance to let the creators and everyone else know what an impact Macross has had on our lives. I haven’t written any blog posts about the topic, but I don’t have that much to say except “Listen to my song!”

There’s not much out of it yet, but in the meantime, the official YouTube channel has uploaded the full Macross Flash Back 2012 (a sort of music video compilation) for a limited time. “Tenshi no Enogu” best song, by the way.

Oh, and despite the title of this month’s update, I’m Team Misa all the way.

Moving on to May’s Patreon sponsors, I’d like to say thank everyone, especially everyone here:

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from April:

Courage and Experience: “Hakai-oh – Gaogaigar vs. Betterman Part 2” Novel Review

Part 2 of 3 of my Gaogaiger sequel novel reviews!

Minmaxer Fiction: The Intersection Between Dungeons & Dragons and Isekai

Thoughts on how one of the most typical modern light novel setups appeals to one of the classic Dungeons & Dragons player types

Violence Miu: 22/7 Anime Review

How a unique(ly violent) protagonist makes this idol anime memorable.

Apartment 507

Early reviews of Tropical Rouge! Precure and Burning Kabaddi.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 39 continues to have Jin’s mom, Reika, steal the show.

Also, I have two posts highlighting the best of Kio Shimoku’s Twitter account!

Post 1

Post 2

Closing

My second COVID-19 vaccination is this month. If you have the opportunity to get one, I highly encourage you to do so!

Violence Miu: 22/7 Anime Review

Warning: Full Spoilers

When I first started watching the 22/7 anime TV series, what stood out to me was how generally serious it was—not only compared to other idol anime, but also what I knew of it from one of its official Youtube channels. Instead of the off-kilter hijinks of a bunch of virtual youtubers, the anime follows a formula of introducing the backstories for each character in order to show how they became who they were. While all of them have some element of drama or tragedy, with the recurring theme being that they weren’t all born with the personality and attitude they have now (especially when onstage), all of them are well within the boundaries of what one would expect out of idols, especially fictional ones.

By the finale, however, the one big exception to those confines is the main heroine, Takigawa Miu. I don’t know if I’d call her my favorite character of the series, but she ends up being the most memorable part of the 22/7 anime.

The first couple of episodes revolve heavily around Miu, who’s shy and unconfident to the point that it loses her a much-needed part-time job, and who has some sort of trauma when it comes to playing piano. At first, she’s extremely reluctant to join 22/7 and become an idol, but over the course of the series, she opens up and becomes more comfortable with her fellow members. We learn about the other girls as well, and then we reach episode 11, which focuses on the childhood of Nicole, the one among them who gave Miu the hardest time early on. What we see in that flashback is that the two knew each other in elementary school, and that a single event would tie the two together.

Unlike her current self, Nicole was very shy and quiet, often being bullied by other students. When it came time to put on a school play, Nicole’s name was volunteered by her tormentors to play the evil queen, and they play a prank on her in an attempt to embarrass her during the performance. Miu, who’s also in the play, runs onstage and tackles one of Nicole’s bullies. 

At this point, I think most idol anime, which tend to be kinder and gentler, would make that tackle one of the big moments. It would cut away and all the characters would gasp. 22/7 takes it a step further, and shows Miu actually wailing on the girl with closed hands—albeit, not as punches or anything, but more like the flailing hammer blows you’d expect from a little kid. Not only does this differentiate 22/7 from so many of its peers, but highlights a certain depth of character to Miu. She’s not just the girl who lost confidence and found it—she’s someone who has a strong sense of fairness, and is willing to throw hands to make her feelings known about that.

That was the past, and it doesn’t entirely gel with the image we have of her in the present. However, as the series nears its climax, the mysterious “wall” that was giving them instructions all along reveals that it is actually an AI that had been manipulating the girls for its own purposes and no longer needs them. As the 22/7 girls strongly plead to let them join back together instead of disbanding, the AI refuses to budge. When hope is all but lost, Miu steps up to make her intentions known…by hitting the wall with an armchair.

What really impresses upon me in this scene and the one Snow White performance in the flashback is that Miu’s actions aren’t portrayed as “wacky” or “cool.” They’re expressions of frustration and indignation over perceived malicious acts, and they come from someone who lashes out despite her lack of confidence because of what she believes in. It’s a far cry from a pillow fight or some slapstick antics, and it’s what establishes the 22/7 anime as a little more than just some forgettable idol fair. 

Graveyard Smash: Kemono Jihen

Kemono Jihen is an anime that succeeds in just about everything it aims to do. As a shounen action series with a bit more of an otaku bent than the big traditional Jump titles, it manages to straddle the line between “energetic young kids fighting” and “entertaining character-interaction comedy/drama.” 

When a private investigator named Inugami comes to a rural inn to investigate some mysterious animal mutilations, he discovers a boy named Kabane who seems to be hated by his adopted family. Inugami soon discovers that Kabane is actually a half-human kemono (monster) capable of immense strength and with an indestructible body. After faking Kabane’s death, Inugami takes him to Tokyo, where he becomes one of a trio of young teens who work for Inugami’s detective agency. Together, they help to solve supernatural crimes, which sometimes involves having to get their hands a little dirty.

Kabane is in many ways a typical shounen hero: unusually strong and enormously naive. However, he’s not quite a Goku or a Luffy. While I might be dating myself a bit, if you’ve ever watched the old “Coneheads” Saturday Night Live skits (or even the 1990s film), Kabane has a similar kind of tendency to talk as if he’s not entirely sure how words and emotions work, while being both blunt and kind at heart at the same time. The other characters—like the brash yet slightly tsundere spider boy Shiki and the effeminate and social media–obsessed snow boy Akira—provide Kabane with personalities to bounce off of, as well as allies to bond with. A later side character, a kitsune girl named Kon, is my favorite character in terms of her interactions with Kabane, as they’re equally charmingly dim. Kabane and Kon give me a vibe very akin to Denji and Power in Chainsaw Man

As for the series being more otaku than the norm, I think this comes across mainly in the character designs. They’re not egregiously pandering by any means, but they possess a general cute yet cool aesthetic that seems to be leaving the door open for all manner of fanart and fan interpretations to happen. Which is to say, I wouldn’t be surprised if the fan base was mostly a combination of those who love fights and those who love young and charismatic characters.

Action-wise, Kemono Jihen stands quite well on its own, and the superpowered fights that do occur are refreshingly straightforward and easy to follow without too many special attacks gumming up the clarity of a battle. The contrast of those cute characters fighting somewhat brutally might not appeal to everyone, but it’s never excessively grotesque.

Will Kemono Jihen stay a relatively down-to-Earth story about investigating mysteries, or will it lean towards escalating power levels and big fights? I actually don’t mind either direction because the characters are so endearing. In a way, that’s some of the best praise I can give.

Minmaxer Fiction: The Intersection Between Dungeons & Dragons and Isekai

I saw a tweet recently from someone complaining about isekai series that introduce and highlight stats and numbers the way an RPG would despite ostensibly being set in non-game fantasy worlds. 

In response, I  wrote the above tweet to give my two cents on the appeal of such an approach. However, it also got me thinking in another direction that takes this RPG fantasy game genre all the way back to one of its roots—good ol’ Dungeons & Dragons—and I realized something: these game-esque light novels feel like they’re written by what tabletop RPG players call “minmaxers.”

I was introduced to playing D&D thanks to Alain from Reverse Thieves, and after years of playing with him, I’ve come to learn firsthand that roleplaying is a very different experience compared to prose fiction or a television show. Essentially, it’s more like collaborative interactive storytelling compared to other mediums, and one aspect of this nature is that many different people with different goals come to the same table. You might have someone who’s more into exploring the world. You might have someone who wants the glory of slaying the monster and saving the day. You might have someone who wants a dramatic narrative. Because this dynamic is so important, many people have devoted many hours to categorizing the various D&D player types and thinking about how to best cater to them or even deal with their worst excesses.

Among these player archetypes, a common one is the minmaxer: the person who’s all about designing strong characters from a statistical perspective by minimizing certain scores and maximizing others, often prioritizing power over all else. There are also less extreme versions of this, such as someone simply interested in game systems and how different stats interact with one another, but it falls in the same general space. However, whereas a Dungeon Master running a game might have to take into account all the potentially different priorities of their players, a web novelist or light novelist can write the stories they want without necessarily taking into account an audience composed of varying tastes, and instead tell a story where the “game mechanics” are front and center. Adding to this intentional rigidity is the fact that many of the light novels that fall into these minmaxer worlds are clearly more inspired by video games such as Japanese RPGs and MMORPGs, where mechanics mastery is often highly valued and encouraged by the games themselves—sometimes even over storytelling.

When you look at the typical trends of protagonists within these game-style fantasy worlds, this angle becomes all the clearer. Many isekai heroes are able to peer deeper into the inner workings of the world (So I’m a Spider, So What?), have some kind of special ability that lets them defy stat restrictions (Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?), or just know that there are game-like qualities to their world (My Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!). What these features have in common is that they “break” the rules, and it’s even easier when the rules are just numbers and calculations. If you’ve ever been or seen someone who wants to be praised for an interesting build or stat investment in a game (“Check out how I combine Helmet A with Sword B to deal with Situation C!” “I gave my monster 248 speed instead of 252 so I could add 4 to defense!”), it’s that same energy. When you combine it with the glory-seeking player type, you get the overpowered perfect light novel protagonist who masterfully exploits the mechanics, defeats the villains with ease, and gets the harem.

A picture of the four personalities of Kumoko from So I'm a Spider, So What? All of them are excited in different ways.
So I’m a Spider, So What?

Which isn’t to say that the minmaxer approach to writing stories is inherently bad or incapable of making for good stories. Rather, where I think the disconnect between those who want more classical fantasy stories and what light novels are offering today is that the minmaxer is traditionally very much not the kind of person who gets into writing or reading fantasy novels. To be that way, you have to come from an environment where numbered stats are even a thing in the first place, and that can only be the result of a world where Dungeons & Dragons popularized the notion of codifying fantasy-genre elements into stats with pros and cons for the purpose of gaming—a quality that then became the basis for many of the JRPGs that have influenced a generation of Japanese people, among them the writers of web novels and light novels. It’s a far cry from Lord of the Rings.

This contrast actually reminds me of an episode of the sitcom Home Improvement, of all things. In it, the mother character, Jill Taylor, is asked by her father (a retired colonel) to review his autobiography manuscript. But try as she might, Jill finds it incredibly boring and sleep-inducing because her father mostly writes about battle strategy and military formations, as opposed to dramatic exploits or anything emotionally resonant. Her father clearly values the mechanics of war, but what he wants his book to convey is not appealing to those with little interest in such things. Given this example, it’s also worth noting that D&D itself is descended from a miniature wargame called Chainmail, and one of the ways that D&D would eventually expand its audience was by adding elements that would appeal to those who care about things other than combat.

So while fantasy traditionally caters to those who want to witness a world of swords and sorcery where the sense of the mysterious and unknown is paramount, the minmaxer fiction that is so ubiquitous in fantasy light novels over the past decade or two is almost the opposite. In these worlds, all surprises can be overcome with deeper or prior knowledge. It’s no wonder why the latter approach can be so bothersome to those who seek the former, and there’s no Dungeon Master who can try to cater to both in real time.