A normal, average life is often taken for granted, because it’s supposed to be normal, to be the default situation. The reality is that people are really very different from each others, and it could take a lot of effort to make and maintain normal relationships amidst all those differences. And that is something that the light novel Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life? highlights through its main character.

One day, Adele von Ascham regained her memories as a Japanese high school student named Misato Kurihara. She was a smart person in many ways, having achieved high scores in many exams, a good player in many sports, and so on, resulting in people putting high hopes on her. Unfortunately, that had made her lonely since everyone kept their distance from her, and she felt uncomfortable with that.

She died when she saved a child in a traffic accident. And here comes the classic plot of isekai stories: she was summoned by God, and then granted a chance to reincarnate in another world with the freedom to choose what kind of advantage she wanted. However, instead of choosing a super-powered ability, she decided on one simple request: “Grant me an average life!”

The story continued with her days in her new life in Eckland Academy. She might have wanted a normal, average life, but what she got instead was the “median” position, right in the middle between the mighty God and the weakest human. But since the human race as a whole is much too weak, even being in the middle of that hierarchy made her still too much strong among humans.

With that condition, she still try to live a normal daily life with all her might, even though it always ended the opposite. These lead her to a lot of troublesome incidents.

©FUNA/Itsuki Akata 2016

Other than having a girl protagonist, the contents of Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life? by FUNA and illustrated by Itsuki Akata doesn’t seem to be much different from a lot of isekai-themed light novels: overpowered character, too many explanations, a humble protagonist who rejects becoming too much powered, and so on. Everything about this novel is what you can usually found in most shousetsuka-type works.

But despite that, I eventually came to feel that this novel’s theme is quite relatable to our life: the desire of being average in order to fit in society.

As social beings, it is normal for humans to desire relationships with others. And to build relationships, there usually needs to be something that people have in common, something that could be shared with the person to be befriended with.

The troublesome part is, not all people can be the same with others. Being too different can make others feel someone is too difficult to relate too. And that could sometimes spark a desire to be more “average,” to be just the same as the others to better fit in with them.

©FUNA/Itsuki Akata 2016

That is a relatable issue, because as someone who loves to watch anime, and read manga and light novels, there were times when some of my classmates saw me as a different and strange person. Luckily, I’ve found some people with similar hobbies whom I can talk to, even though it takes some courage to do so. It takes a lot of effort to make friends from strangers for a withdrawn person.

Adele herself does quite well for herself. Despite her past as the unapproachable Misato, her complicated current noble family circumstances, and the problem of being overpowered, she still managed to get friends. At first, she tried to fit herself in to the society: by making herself seems as average as she could. But later, she realized that being different doesn’t mean she needs to change. What she needed to do is to become herself, and sooner she found comrades who understand her condition in a good way.

It wasn’t easy for Adele to start making friends. Even some of her classmates had thought of bullying her, because of her beautiful appearance and her innate hospitable nature. However, Adele managed to be kind to them, partially because she is so nice she didn’t realize that she was bullied, and soon after that, those girls had a deep connection to Adele. Even after they knew that Adele was different from a normal person, they still tried to protect her from some boys who started to approach her. That was when Adele realized that being different is not always a bad thing, and there should be some people who could understand her condition.

©FUNA/Itsuki Akata 2016

Being different doesn’t mean that all people will see you as a bad thing. Tough as it may be, it’s still possible to find someone who could understand, who would still be kind despite differences. That is what a friend truly is, what makes it really valuable. And that’s what Adele von Ascham’s tale could bring us to think about.

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The Indonesian Anime Times | written by M Razif Dwi Kurniawan

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