In an interesting coincidence, the Winter ’23 season marks the second in a row that a farming-themed fantasy series has aired. While last season’s I’ve Somehow Gotten Strong When I Improved My Farm-Related Skills (hereafter Farm-Related) and this season’s Farming Life in Another World (hereafter Farming Life) do have a few things in common, they are remarkably different in their approaches. Based on the first eight episodes, the latter is the better one.
Both Farm-Related and Farming Life feature a young man dedicated to building up and/or maintaining a farm, both are mostly light-hearted (though Farming Life sticks to that more purely than Farm-Related does), and both feature a veritable harem of young women of highly diverse natures eventually gathering around the protagonist. That’s about where the similarities end, however. Whereas Farm-Related was a pure fantasy tale set in a world using game-like mechanics, Farming Life is an isekai tale set in a world which doesn’t use game mechanics at all – and unlike certain other isekai series this season, the protagonist’s otherworldly origin has a distinct impact on his actions here.
In Farm-Related, farmer Al Wayne became uber-powerful when his farming skills maxed out, synthesizing into some ridiculously strong advanced abilities. That allows his produce to be superior-grade and leads him to work part-time as an adventurer, which gets him involved in matters including a princess, a descendant of a Hero, a long-missing sister, and a Guild Girl with a trickier-than-usual background. Later episodes reveal that his strength comes partly from a ridiculously-powerful mother (how she knows no limits in her affection and punishments is the series’ most prominent running gag) but mostly from a frightful encounter he had as a child. While the farming always remains Al’s home base and figures into the plot at times (Al would certainly say he’s a farmer first and an adventurer second), this was more an adventure series than a fantasy slice-of-life tale.
Farming Life, on the other hand, is more true fantasy slice-of-life. Protagonist Hiraku died from long-term illness in his original life, but because his death was partly the mistake of a god, said god grants him a new life with a healthy body. The body has no powers, but he does get one perk: the Almighty Farming Tool, which can become any implement Hiraku can imagine – even a weapon. Further, he doesn’t tire while using it, does not need to use seeds to sow crops with it, and all crops sown by it grow extra-fast. He’s plopped down in the middle of a forest that he later learns is called the Forest of Death and uses the AFT to gradually lay out a farm, complete with a toilet and eventually a house, too. He manages to befriend both local wolves (by sharing shelter when the female wolf’s birthing is imminent) and a giant demon spider (it likes the potatoes he grows), and gradually expands his farm. Eventually, a steady stream of newcomers arrive at his nascent village and, for various reasons, decide to settle down there.
In other words, Farming Life is practically Sim Farm, and it uses both its eye catches and other occasional features to further that impression. Each episode features new expansions, rebuilds, and/or additions to the original farm, some done by Hiraku, others done by new arrivals. Each episode also features Hiraku trying out new crops and/or recipes as he attempts to recreate familiar foods and cooking from Japan, albeit not always successfully. Unlike Farm-Related, action scenes are kept to a bare minimum; the first eight episodes have only a couple of significant ones (a giant boar encounter in episode 1 and a wyvern encounter later on), while a couple of other uses of the AFT as a weapon are resolved so quickly that they don’t really count.
Farming Life also handles its supporting cast differently. While Farm-Related focuses more on diversity of background, Farming Life focuses more on racial diversity. Hiraku starts with intelligent animals like a greater demon spider and inferno wolves and then eventually collects vampires, angels (pictured above), elves, ogre maids, lizard men, beast people, a dragon (in humanoid form), dwarves, and even the daughter of a prominent demon. Outside of the lizard men and dwarves, nearly all of them are female, though at least in the case of the elves, there’s a specific reason that’s somewhat of a plot point: they’ve been a diaspora for centuries, with all of their men killed in the battles that destroyed their original home. All of the humanoids have different reasons for being there, too, ranging from being invited to stay by Hiraku to seeking a new home establishing trade relations to keeping tabs on a village recognized as a rising power by their respective factions.
As much as this might seem like an ultimate harem set-up, sex is not overtly part of this. Hiraku and the vampire Ru are informally married, but that they engage in sex off-screen is only vaguely implied; helping to service Hiraku is also only vaguely implied to be one of the reasons Ru invites the angel Tia to stay. (By reading between the lines, a high sexual stamina could be implied to be a side effect of Hiraku having a supremely healthy body.) They are shown to have their own separate rooms after a house rebuild, too. The elves actively talk about “repopulating our race,” but Hiraku, for now, seems to be avoiding having anything to do with that. No one so far is coming on strong to Hiraku, either. Matched with that is a surprising dearth of fan service; many of the female characters show off cleavage in their regular apparel, but that’s about it. Even one group bathing scene is minimalist about what it shows. This one is on the very low side of PG-13-level content.
Despite the minimal action, limited fan service, and some wholly unimpressive technical merits (especially in its quality control), the series is consistently entertaining, and to a surprising degree. Except for the wyvern incident, it mostly keeps things light and packs a fair amount of humor, which is used to enhance the show’s slice-of-life feel. A folksy musical score keeps the mood just right as Hiraku innocently goes about expanding what comes to be known as the Great Tree Village, while other powers in the area fret over the conglomeration of power building in that village. So far, no villain has appeared and there really isn’t any hint of an ongoing plot, but at this point, that’s just fine.
While I wouldn’t go as far as calling Farming Life one of the Winter season’s hidden gems, its first eight episodes offer plenty enough entertainment value that I can easily recommend the series, especially for those who like the more growth/development-focused isekai titles.
Rating to Date: B
3 thoughts on “Fantasy Farming Done Right”
Good review. This is one of my favorite series this season. Consistently entertaining, without trying too hard… which is exactly my speed.
I don’t know how it is in the LN, but in the manga, there is nothing implied. It goes full “ultimate harem”. Though it isn’t any ecchi’er