Tag Archives: fantasy

The World’s Least Interesting Master Swordsman #4 (Light Novel)

Title: The World’s Least Interesting Master Swordsman #4

Author: Rokurou Akashi

Format: Light Novel

Sansui has been reasonably comfortable with his life, but when a berserker named Ran shows up out of nowhere to challenge him, he faces his first real moral dilemma. At first he spared her, but her impulsiveness and strength makes her a real danger, and her presence soon becomes a source of conflict between him and those he serves . . .

I like that these volumes continue to push into new territory. Here, the ever-affable Sansui is finally faced with a situation where he actually disagrees with his orders. It isn’t like Douve ordering him to be a bit more sadistic than he thinks was needed—this is something where they fundamentally disagree on how to handle a situation.

Because Ran is dangerous. Sansui sees no problem with eliminating her before she does something irreversible.

After so much focus on the national level in the past volumes, it was nice to get a more individual story. Like before, the story isn’t particularly interested in easy answers, as both Sansui, who thinks he should have killed Ran, and those who want Ran to live have solid arguments backing their side.

Overall if you’ve been following the series this far, this is still a good continuation. I rate this book Recommended.

The World’s Least Interesting Master Swordsman #3 (Light Novel)

Title: The World’s Least Interesting Master Swordsman #3

Author: Rokurou Akashi

Format: Light Novel

Now that Lain’s true identity as a former noble of the Domino Republic is out, she’s in danger from multiple sources. The new head of Domino has been killing all members of the old royal line, and the king of Arcana is worried he’ll challenge Sansui in order to enact his vengeance. And even though Domino the nation is ready for peace, there’s still the issue of its escaped nobility . . .

I do find it hilarious that the next book after I complained that Sansui’s training method makes no sense, the story itself points that out. And it also points out that Sansui is growing in experience because he STOPPED that same-as-always training and is actually doing things now.

The most interesting part to me was the end. After the usual action scenes are out of the way, a discussion ensues about the escaped Domino nobility and how to handle them. What is the just response? What is the practical response? Who is guilty of what, and how should it be punished? I found it fascinating how the various powerful people present are talking through these issues, their options, and the various pros and cons to each choice. In the end, it’s hard to call the decision unjust, despite the seeming contradiction of it.

And that one conversation (though it is a fairly long one) elevates the book above its predecessors for me. There’s still a lot of meta commentary on isekai and how wild delusions and power imbalances play out against people who aren’t just there to be setpieces, which is particularly evident with the new head of the Domino kingdom, who himself reenacted a common plot of raising up the downtrodden masses to overthrow their corrupt rulers. Only to find, as it were, that humans are still humans, and simply putting different ones in charge does little to change the overall propensity towards using power to enrich oneself at the expense of others.

Overall this has been getting better as it’s gone farther, and I’m interested to see where it will go next. I rate this book Recommended.

The World’s Least Interesting Master Swordsman #2 (Light Novel)

Title: The World’s Least Interesting Master Swordsman #2

Author: Rokurou Akashi

Format: Light Novel

Sansui still considers himself an apprentice, not worthy of taking apprentices himself, despite being the strongest fighter the world has seen. But when he ends up with permission to teach, he somehow finds himself teaching. In other parts of the country, House Caputo is defending itself from an invasion—but their ace is even deadlier than Sansui . . .

As much fun as the training segments were, I have to question Sansui being able to fight at all at this point. Sure, he could have learned how to do a perfect swing using the methods he described, but he’s contradicting himself. How would he have learned to move naturally into openings during combat if he’d never BEEN in combat? Him training his own hopefuls by having them spar is a much better route.

In almost direct contrast to Sansui, we have yet another ace: Shouzo, another transferee who apparently wished to be the most powerful mage. Like Sansui, he got way more than he expected with his attempt to re-live his favorite isekai adventures. His bits are more comedic, as Lady Poulette and everyone around her are driving themselves mad trying to keep him from killing himself and blowing up half the country with him.

This is still best as a popcorn read, and from that perspective isn’t bad. I just wish Sansui’s training routines with his master weren’t so obviously wrong to prepare him to actually be in a fight. I rate this book Recommended.

The World’s Least Interesting Master Swordsman #1 (Light Novel)Title:

Title: The World’s Least Interesting Master Swordsman #1

Author: Rokurou Akashi

Format: Light Novel

Sansui Shirokuro had the misfortune of dying because God messed up, so he jumps on the chance to reincarnate into a different world. Of course he asks for amazing powers—but all that really bought him was a particularly unusual master and school of swordsmanship. Now an Immortal, Sansui has incredible powers compared to normal humans . . . and the least interesting life imaginable, because all he’s ever done is train. When a few civilians stumble into their training ground, he ends up with the task of raising the baby left alive, and sent back into the mortal world.

Despite the title, this actually was a fairly interesting book. Sansui is pretty laid back about everything, and sees his power as complete overkill. He can’t even relate to his initial longings anymore. Now training is just a lifestyle. As a bodyguard for the spoiled and somewhat villainous young lady, Douve, he’s content to act on her orders and keep most of his commentary to himself.

I thought it was interesting how he points out her flaws, while not really condemning her for them. He’s trying to take a bigger view of who she is and what she’s doing, and even when she’s wrong he’s not interested in correcting her much, even though he’s also not a complete yes-man for her. (I do hope the whole issue of marrying him off gets dropped, although given the nature of these types of novels I suspect it will be an ongoing plot development.)

It was also amusing to see Saiga, whom Sansui dubs the typical harem protagonist, and the little ways Sansui makes fun of him (though never out loud) for all the typical plot developments.

Overall this is a decent story, though whether the supporting characters and the overall political mess can carry it for more than a few books remains to be seen. I rate this book Recommended.

There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF! #1 (Light Novel)

Title: There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF! #1

Author: Hagane Kurodome

Format: Light Novel

Kinemitsu Sago is an ordinary kid with an ordinary life—until the day he discovers he has telekinetic powers. Naturally, he expects novel-like developments, especially as he continues to train his powers to truly awesome levels. But nothing happens. Real life goes on. He grows up, goes to college, gets a job . . . Realizing that if he doesn’t take the steps himself, nothing will change, he decides if the plot developments won’t happen TO him, he’ll MAKE them happen.

Aside from the ethical issues, this is a fun story. Sago is all prepared for his life to change drastically when he finds he suddenly has powers. Only it doesn’t. Where it’s probably going to get sketchy for readers is that he decides to live out his dreams, not through himself, but through chosen children that he’ll gift supernatural abilities and set them to fighting an entirely fake enemy.

The mechanics of setting all of this up—how to structure the lore, how to find worthy candidates, how to guide them through an adventure—take up most of the story after the initial training is complete. Personally, I liked Ig the best. She’s a hilariously unexpected addition to the crew and one of the most difficult.

I do think the story leans too far into various peeping scenes. Worse, one of the big color illustrations is of course on the most useless scene just to get the two main women naked. I wish the story and the art would respect the girls enough to focus on the story and not the fact that the main character can’t keep himself from prying into things he should leave alone. I’m also thoroughly sick of filler scenes being added simply to ogle the girls.

Overall I still found this a mostly fun setup, and at its best when it leans into the frustration of pushing supernatural powers to their ultimate limits only to find that power, in and of itself, is an empty goal. I rate this book Recommended.

Jujutsu Kaisen (Anime)

Title: Jujutsu Kaisen

Episodes: 1-13

Yuuji Itadori was a normal kid, until the day he began to see curses. After a brush with death left him with the king of curses living inside him, he’s now faced with a cruel choice. But he’ll do what he can to help people, learn to be a jujutsu sorcerer himself, and put off his own execution as long as he can . . .

I wasn’t familiar with this series at all until I saw the first episode, and that was when I started binging the manga to read ahead. This is an amazing show on multiple levels. On a technical level, the production is excellent, with usually one big fight scene per episode, showing off some of the best animation can do.

On a plot level, this is also really good. Yuuji feels way more like a normal guy than most shounen heroes (and Nobara may be caustic but she’s also the closest character I’ve seen to a normal girl). He’s into pop culture (and the show has several neat references, especially with the movies), and doesn’t really get the whole deal with curses. And as Nanami later points out, jujutsu sorcerers are people who make a lot of really hard choices, which he isn’t emotionally ready for. He’s still, in many ways, a child.

I adore the characters. Nanami is my absolute favorite (Gojo being a very close second). His world-weary ex-office-worker take on life is balanced out by the way he truly cares about the people around him, especially the way he points out that he, as an adult, has responsibilities he in no way expects Yuuji to imitate at present. And then we have Gojo, the super-powerful blindfolded joker, who can’t seem to take anything seriously. But why should he, when he can pretty much curbstomp everything with no effort?

Overall I was surprised how much I liked this once I started watching it, and it easily became one of my new favorites. I can’t wait for the second part of the season to air. I rate this show Highly Recommended.

Ascendance of a Bookworm (Part 3 Volume 2)

Title: Ascendance of a Bookworm Part 3 Volume 2

Author: Miya Kazuki

Format: Light Novel

With the Harvest Festival coming up, Myne is busier than ever. As High Bishop, she’s responsible for handing out the annual blessings—and Ferdinand tacks on some additional collection duties. In addition, her plan to make a new orphanage in Haase has some unexpected complications . . .

I like how these books deal so unflinchingly with the culture shock Myne experiences in this new world. Orphans seem like such a straightforward topic that Myne is baffled by the number of landmines she’s triggered just by doing what makes sense to her. Why wouldn’t the town (AND the orphans) be happy she’s building a new orphanage? But the traditions within the culture aren’t what she expected, and that makes the consequences something that she never would have imagined.

It’s the details like that which make this feel like a fully realized world of its own. Myne is now stuck with some of the nastier sides of the nobility she’s entered into, and her only choice now is to find the least objectionable way to fulfill her new duties.

Like always, though, there are a number of other things all going on at once. The restaurant is opening, the printing presses are advancing, and the season’s turning marks the availability of the first of the many ingredients she’ll need for a medicine to cure her mana blockage.

Overall this remains a wonderful series, especially if you like deep worldbuilding. There’s still plenty of humorous moments, like forcing the utterly spoiled Wilfried to try to live a day in her shoes (the fact that Ferdinand about has a stroke over it is just the cherry on top). I rate this book Highly Recommended.

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Movie)

Title: My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising

Format: Movie

Deku and the rest of class 1-A have their provisional hero licenses, and are taking the next step in their training. They’re filling in for a retired hero for a small island until a permanent replacement can be found. But a group of villains has their own scheme going, and their next target lives on that same island . . .

I’ll say up front this is less good than the first movie in a lot of ways. The plot is barely there and mostly exists as an excuse to get 1-A and a new group of villains in the same place fighting each other. There isn’t as much tying it to the main storyline, either, other than a few small hints on the villain side and one interesting twist on the hero side (that looks like the end of the movie wiped out so as not to affect the canon).

That said, the fights are pretty spectacular. The whole class participates, so if you had a favorite character outside of the main few, there’s at least one nice fight sequence for them. (Except for the invisible girl, because I can’t remember her actually DOING anything in the fights themselves.)

Also, Chimera is the best. I hope he comes back in the regular story at some point because his design is just too good.

Overall I feel like this is something more to watch for the animation than the story, and as such has a lot less re-watch value than Two Heroes did. It’s a fine piece of filler until we get a new season, but ultimately doesn’t provide those bits of extra content, like how the first one fleshed out All Might as a young man. But if you like the series, it is worth a watch to see everyone pushing their powers to their limits. I rate this movie Recommended for fans, otherwise Neutral.

The Reincarnated Prince and the Haloed Sage (Reincarnated Prince #3)

Title: The Reincarnated Prince and the Haloed Sage

Author: Nobiru Kusunoki

Format: Light Novel

Herscherik has stalled on his investigation into the ultimate source of the drug problem, so he’s now openly baiting his enemies. But his actions garner an unexpected response—Barbosse decides to engage his daughter to the young prince. In addition, the Church seems to be playing a game of its own, with the mysterious mage the prince befriends . . .

Shiro is so much fun. He ends up getting nicknamed by Hersh because he won’t introduce himself, and then gets pulled into a lot of things because Hersh likes magic (despite not being able to use any), and Shiro is a mage with free time . . .

My only regret is that Shiro doesn’t get as much focus as Octavian or Kuro in their introductory books, because probably half the book is focusing on the parallel plot with the whole engagement. Herscherik, who still thinks of himself as the woman he used to be, finds the whole situation difficult to handle, especially when he meets the young woman in question.

I think my favorite part, though, is how Hersh manages to break out of a particularly nasty illusion spell–the one thing that’s “too good to be true” is hilarious.

Overall this continues to be a good series, with each book mostly standing alone but also advancing some of the overall themes. I rate this book Recommended.

The Reincarnated Prince and the Twilight Knight (Reincarnated Prince #2)

Title: The Reincarnated Prince and the Twilight Knight

Author: Nobiru Kusunoki

Format: Light Novel

Slightly older, but still just as prone to getting into trouble, prince Herscherik is still digging into the depths of the corruption in his kingdom. And because his father wants his son to have more protection than just a butler, Herscherik is forced to take on a knight of service. But the man he chooses has no desire for the job.

I really like the way Octavian is presented here. He’s surly in a different way than Kuro, and completely unimpressed with being asked to protect a 5-year-old in what is probably a lifetime assignment. But it’s more than teenage grumpiness that drives him. And when Hersh offers to help with his goals, he’s at first incredulous, then slowly finding his emotions changing.

Herscherik (formerly Ryoma) still has no special abilities to speak of, but the memories of his previous life give him a fair amount of insight. He really is stuck depending on Kuro and Octavian to handle most of the problems, but he’s still the main driver of the investigation.

Overall these continue to be solid stories that could be read alone, but start to form a nice arc when read together. They’re a bit slower paced than the usual light novel, but the worldbuilding and characters tend to be more complex and solid because of it. I rate this book Recommended.