The following contains spoilers for Episode 9 of My Isekai Life, "We Fought a Fire Dragon," now streaming on HIDIVE.
My Isekai Life is an action/adventure isekai anime of the Summer 2022 anime season, and a passable anime like this one is only enjoyable if fans have the right approach. Anyone expecting the next Re:Zero or Shield Hero will be disappointed since the hero is OP and the battles rarely generate any true suspense or tension. But it's not all bad news.
My Isekai Life is an example of how some protagonists are fun to watch not because they are relatable underdogs, but because they regularly put on a show with their incredible powers and their epic-scale boss battles. My Isekai Life does that often, such as in Episode 9, and that should appeal to any casual fan who just wants summer blockbuster-style action and nothing more.
Episode 9 of My Isekai Life continues where the last episode left off, with protagonist Yuji and his animal friends fighting for their lives near a volcano town as the Godzilla-like red dragon emerges from the volcano's caldera. In Episode 8, Yuji obliterated 202 lesser fire dragons with ease, but this time, things are different. Yuji spends more than half the episode battling the titanic fire dragon, and by his standards, that's saying something. It's no fun to watch him massacre lesser dragons or easily kick around insidious cultists, but the red dragon is a different story, and for once, Yuji gets a serious workout while fighting the great fire dragon. He must use all his wits to win, and that calls for some magical creativity on his part.
In earlier episodes, Yuji amused and delighted anime fans when he cleverly combined his beast tamer and mage abilities to create all-new battlefield tactics, such as using an array of slimes to cast a spell from several angles at once or spying on his enemies with invisible slimes. Yuji does the same in Episode 9, combining his spells and barriers to fight the mighty red dragon and overcome it. In particular, Yuji makes good use of the terrain, elemental magic and even barrier spells to fight, including damming up a river with his barrier before releasing a deadly flood once the fire dragon wanders into position.
There was never any doubt that Yuji would win this fight, but at least he can make a good show of things, and he does just that. If nothing else, My Isekai Life's best action sequences are flashy, brutal and witty in nature, which somewhat makes up for the total lack of actual suspense. If Yuji's going to win every time, he might as well make it look good.
It's true that on some levels, My Isekai Life is still at its weakest when Yuji is fighting, as he has no personal stakes in these fights and there is little suspense about how or whether he will win a particular battle. It's also true that My Isekai Life has a "monster of the week" approach to all this, with Yuji's various foes having no connection to one another. These are all major strikes against My Isekai Life, but on the plus side, casual fans can watch this anime not for the plot or suspense, but for the One-Punch Man approach to combat. In this way, the anime makes for amusing filler in between episodes of more substantial shows in the Summer 2022 lineup.
Even if My Isekai Life has only a fraction of the appeal of One-Punch Man, at least it follows the same formula. Both anime series understand that the OP protagonist cannot generate meaningful suspense to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Instead, these shows make the hero a vehicle for flashy spectacles, making Yuji and Saitama more like battle-oriented performers or one-man circuses than relatable underdogs. When done right, a protagonist can be merely a vehicle for outstanding action sequences, and for a forgettable anime like My Isekai Life, that may be sufficient. Between his propensity for colorful action sequences and his amusing attitude as an isekai tourist, Yuji might be halfway compelling after all, even if he's a far cry from Rimuru Tempest or Ainz Ooal Gown. Episode 9's thrilling spectacle is solid evidence of that.