Tag Archives: highly recommended

The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic (Web Novel)

Title: The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic

Link: https://www.novelupdates.com/series/chiyu-mahou-no-machigatta-tsukaikata-senjou-wo-kakeru-kaifuku-youin

Usato was never meant to be summoned to another world, but when a chance encounter with two perfect people from his school means he’s standing on top of their summoning circle, he ends up there anyway. Unlike them, he has no aptitude for great feats of magic. He’s a healer. But in this kingdom, healers are under the thumb of a tyrant named Rose . . .

This was awesome. Usato basically gets kidnapped twice: once into the fantasy world, and once into Rose’s squadron. Technically, she’s running the kingdom’s Red Cross. Their job is to run out into the battlefield, “kidnap” injured fighters, and bring them back to the healer’s base for treatment.

In Rose’s perspective, that means her subordinates need strength, endurance, stamina, and the ability to take a lot of pain. So she trains them with the most hellish boot camp imaginable, because after all, they can just heal themselves . . .

“I push myself to my very limits and use healing magic. Then I push my healing magic itself to its very limit, until I can no longer use it. I repeat this over and over.”

This leads to one of his friends commenting later on a fight he had:

“It was all hand-to-hand combat without any magic… I don’t blame you for being surprised. After all, Usato is a healing magician that’s all brawn.”

One joke is that Rose’s whole squadron is basically ogres, as anyone who actually makes it through her training comes out mentally twisted and physically buffed past the point of being human. Usato, as Rose’s favorite, ends up as her second-in-command.

Overall this was so much fun I’m going back to read it again now that I’ve caught up to the last released chapter. Highly Recommended.

Reincarnated Prince (Web Novels)

Title: Reincarnated Prince Series

Link: https://www.novelupdates.com/series/prince-herscherik-and-the-kingdom-of-sorrow/

Ryouko was a 34 year old woman who reincarnated into a fantasy world as the seventh prince of the line. Her former life was an internal auditor, and despite her royal heritage, her new life lacks any great powers. In fact, in her new country the corruption runs rampart and the king is mostly powerless to stop it. As Herscherik, as someone who feels his position now comes with both benefits and responsibilities, he aims to root out all the corruption he can find.

The gender-bender aspect, while interesting, is in the end more of a footnote. The one place that it’s had a somewhat significant (and extremely funny) impact is how Herscherik breaks out of an illusion in one of the later books—via a method the caster undoubtedly never guessed.

These are slower paced novels with some political maneuvering and a fair amount of slice of life. Herscherik, due to his memories of his previous life, is quite a precocious child—but what he can actually do is quite limited. Each book so far follows him as he tracks down one larger mystery and inadvertently draws some excellent subordinate to his side.

I like the various friendships he forms. Kuro, the man he meets as they’re both sneaking around the castle at night, can’t figure out the leniency this prince displays towards his intrusions. Oran ends up in the very last place he wanted to be, but that gradually becomes the most important place for him. Shiro is an oddball and an outcast, but Herscherik’s gentleness gradually draws him in.

Herscherik can be a little too perfect in these books, but at the same time his lack of personal ability helps to keep him tolerable. It’s bizarre to me that his instructors in swordsmanship and riding give up on him at three years old, as a certain level of proficiency will come with practice, but this in some ways gets redeemed later by years of repeated practice having little effect.

Overall I liked this enough to muddle through a machine translation for the un-translated volumes, and very much look forward to the fan translators making even more of this understandable. This is another one I hope gets licensed. Highly Recommended.

Villainous Daughter Aims for the Last Boss (Web Novel)

Title: Villainous Daughter Aims for the Last Boss

Link: https://www.novelupdates.com/series/akuyaku-reijo-nanode-rasubosu-o-katte-mimashita/

Irene wakes up to the reality of having been reborn into an otome game* as she’s being dumped by her fiance in front of everyone– the villainess’s ending. Given her former fiance was the crown prince, this leaves her in a precarious position, but she’s nothing if not proactive. Determining her best option is to marry into power, she immediately sets her sights on the outcast first prince, who is the prophesied demon lord with power over all monsters . . .

Irene is such a blast. Her very first words to Claude are a proposal (she doesn’t even bother with hello), as she knows she’s on a three-month-countdown to her death or exile if she can’t shake things up before then. She’s unconventional and aggressive at going for what she wants, but she never quite crosses over into being really annoying. Claude himself (the man she’s supposedly seducing) points out she’s really bad at being a seductress.

I love Claude to bits. Claude takes taciturn to the extreme, because he has so much power his mere emotions will rock the weather around him—and Irene is someone who regularly provokes those reactions out of him (it takes her a bit to realize she’s the one causing him to rain down lightning). He is fully aware of his own superior power, and does his best to keep the world safe from what he could do to it—and the world reciprocates by doing their very best to avoid him.

I especially like their first exchange, where Claude is trying to figure out why Irene wants to marry him, and asks if she actually likes him. Irene says no. But she points out that love is a feeling that can be nurtured between two people, and she intends to do just that.

And when Claude does come out of his shell more and start interacting with people, his enormous power makes this just as funny as her single-minded pursuit of him. He has no concept how actual human beings deal with each other. The side story in the second volume with his new guards (aka toys) is especially good. When asked if Claude would be angry if he were betrayed, Claude instead replies he would be sorry for them—“What are you going to do against me?”

I really want this one to get licensed ASAP so I can buy the novels in a language I can read. Highly recommended.

*Otome games are novel-styled games where the protagonist is a young girl aiming to romance one (or multiple) possible partners.

Ascendance of a Bookworm: Part 2 Volume 2 (Light Novel)

Title: Ascendance of a Bookworm: Part 2 Volume 2 (Apprentice Shrine Maiden #2)

Author: Miya Kazuki

Format: Light Novel

When Myne learns her mother is pregnant, her book mania takes on a new goal: to create a picture book for her new sibling. To that end, she struggles to create ink, images, repeatable printing, and more. But while her monofocus blinds her to everything else, Ferdinand is trying to grow her into a proper blue robed shrine maiden. Because he’s aware, even if she’s not, that Myne holds much the nobility covets, and if she can’t deal with them on equal footing she’s liable to lose it all.

Ferdinand’s exasperation is one of the highlights of this novel. From Myne refusing to reduce her reading time to her musical aptitude to the way she can’t pick up on his attempts to be subtle, he’s often thrown for a loop by this precocious young girl. Her sidetracking him into a conversation about how to catalogue books of magic according to the Dewey Decimal System was a particular favorite (please revisit this in full later, author!).

I also love how Myne’s reaction to a device that can read her memories is to refuse to disconnect until she can do it again. The fact that she was told this is something used on criminals or suspected traitors is of far less importance than the ability to re-visit the books, food, and people of her previous life.

As usual, though, there are some heavier undercurrents to the slice-of-life plot. Myne doesn’t really appreciate what she means to this world at large, since her only focus is books, but Ferdinand and Benno, particularly, are aware of what she represents and are trying to corral this in more positive directions. But once Myne spectacularly blows her cover, even Ferdinand may not have the ability to protect her from what’s to come.

Overall this is another excellent continuation of the plot so far. Myne’s technological progress is offset by some social setbacks, and now that she’s being noticed by the wider world, her future is in question. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Ascendance of a Bookworm (Anime)

Title: Ascendance of a Bookworm

Episodes: 1-14

Urano loved books more than anything else—so after she died and woke up as Myne, the daughter of poor working class parents in an era where books are a luxury only nobles can afford, she determines to make them herself. But the road to books is a long one, and Myne’s sickly body may not hold out long enough.

This is more of a drama than a fantasy, although magic has a few crucial roles, especially by the end. If you’ve read the books, this is a very good adaptation (though I wish the last negotiation towards the end had gotten more screen time instead of just a one-sentence summary).

Myne may think she’s in it for the books, but the heart of the show is her relationships with the people around her. She’s undeniably a strange one, but with the support of Lutz, a boy next door, and Benno, a merchant fascinated with the potential profit she represents, she introduces revolutionary concepts into her world.

But these are logical and realistic “inventions”: home crafts, recipes, and the like.

And her immediate family is also a real treat. Her dad’s undeniably infatuated with his daughters (and not in a perverted way) and loves his wife. Her mom does her best to be supportive, and her older sister Tuli takes on a lot of the burden of looking out for her little sister. It’s so nice to get a genuinely healthy and supportive family, who loves Myne even though they don’t pretend to understand her.

I still think the best moments are the surprise confrontations. Lutz figures out that Myne knows way too much for a girl of her circumstances, and their conversation about it is one big highlight of the season. It’s such a rarity for stories like this to have people honestly confronting their uneasiness about this familiar stranger.

Overall, if you’ve never read the books this is a great place to dive in (though I would still recommend them to get more of the tiny character building moments that just couldn’t fit in a show this long). It can be a bit slow-paced, especially at first before Myne’s world really opens up, but the lack of action is more than compensated for with the rich character drama. I rate this show Highly Recommended.

Demon Slayer (Anime)

Title: Demon Slayer
Episodes: 1-26

Tanjiro lost his family to a sudden demon attack—all but his sister, who was infected to become a demon herself. Determined to get revenge, and protect his sister, Tanjiro trains hard to become a demon slayer. But the road to mastery is long, and the demons are powerful . . .

It’s so nice to have a protagonist like Tanjiro, whose main personality trait can probably be summed up in “big brother.” He’s kindhearted enough to care for everyone around him, and he never loses sight of the fact that the demons he’s killing were at one time victims themselves to the same curse that infected his sister. But underneath that kindness is a steel determination to save the only family he has left, and he won’t back down from anything that tries to separate him from his sister.

If I have one complaint, it’s that Nezuko, his sister, has a very small role. She’s mostly either asleep or acting cute in a way that makes her feel more like a pet than a person. Hopefully future seasons will flesh her out more.

Inosuke and Zenitsu are two other novices that eventually join Tanjiro on his missions. Although both of them have annoying traits, they also both quickly show deeper backstories, and both of them contribute a lot to the more humorous moments. (Although Zenitsu is at times extremely annoying, as his main schtick is being a wailing  coward whenever he’s awake.)

Ufotable did a wonderful job with the visuals. The fight scenes are sharp, and the special abilities are done in traditional Japanese art style, which makes them look surreal and beautiful. It’s also a real treat to see Tanjiro go from a countryside that looks like a historical drama to the electric lights and trains of the big city. The modern citygoers have no room for “demon slayers”, not even realizing that the demons are walking among them.

Overall this is one of the standouts on nearly every level. The story is compelling, the art is fantastic, and I can’t wait to see where this is going next. (A movie is already announced for the next arc.) I rate this show Highly Recommended.

Winds of Choice (Unexpected Heroes #1)

Title: Winds of Choice

Author: Marty C. Lee

Series: Unexpected Heroes #1

Ahjin wants to skip his vocational testing. He already knows what he wants to do with his life: be a skydancer, just like his parents. But when his assigned vocation is the worst thing he could imagine, a priest, he flees. Simply running away doesn’t stop him from hearing the gods . . . and the gods are going missing. Ahjin may have to fight for them, if he wants the world to continue.

This was amazing fun. I love how the rather typical earth/air/fire/water split was reflected in the physiologies of its peoples: wings, water-dwellers, shapeshifters, and the desert dwellers. Frankly, with winged people and shapeshifters it’s pretty much pegged my interest right from the start.

It helps that the writing is strong, as well as funny. Ahjin is absolutely adamant that he wants nothing to do with “his” god, and as the story goes on it’s very clear why he’s holding that position. It’s also ironic that this deep distrust is what eventually wins him the trust of the other gods, who don’t like his god much better than he does.

Overall this is an excellent story and I’m so glad the first book mostly focuses on the winged people. I rate this book Highly Recommended.