Tag Archives: light_novel

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 1 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 1

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

Hajime never expected his class to get summoned to a fantasy world. But the dream-like awakening everyone else experienced never came for him—he’s just as average in his new life as his old. Worse, the prettiest girl in class won’t leave him alone . . . which results in him falling to the depths of a monster-infested labyrinth. He’ll need to change himself drastically if he wants to have any chance to survive.

This was more interesting than I initially expected, although parts of Hajime’s journey feel rather compressed.

I liked that Hajime loathes the way Kaori pays attention to him, because he’s not interested in her, and he’s also become the target of all the guys who are. Even when he finds out her true reason, he doesn’t seem interested in her at all as a girlfriend. He’s just trying to get her to go away in the nicest way he can think of. Because her attention is poisonous to him, and she either can’t see that or refuses to.

It’s also interesting that the biggest “villain” of the piece is likely Kouki, whose inability to accurately perceive and react to the world around him is causing all sorts of problems, even when he’s trying to be helpful. And because nearly the whole class got pulled over, Hajime remains the target of the people who tormented him.

The labyrinth part felt like it could have been several books, instead of about half of one. This is where I would have liked to see far more of Hajime’s adventures in the depths, but what we do get is still a lot of fun. I had to laugh when he starts lovingly describing the features of the various guns he’s creating, although my favorite moment by far was the exchange:

“Don’t mind me, shoot!”
“Wait, really? Thanks.” Bang!

Although the bit where he’s completely ready to ignore that sealed block is probably my second favorite scene. Him figuring that if someone went this far to hide something, it’s probably better off sealed was hilarious. Hajime is not interested in the typical heroic tropes for the most part. He’d rather avoid the trouble.

I’m not that fond of Yue. She’s more interested in sleeping with Hajime than anything else—and picking the middle of a fight to seduce the man is not conducive to anyone’s survival. I also really dislike the trope of making a very young-looking girl legal by saying she’s a few hundred years old, she just stopped aging early. And she won’t take him telling her no, so it feels like she rapes him in the end.

Overall, though, I’m at least interested enough to see where this goes next. I can’t wait for his reintroduction to the classmates who think he’s dead, as that should be entertaining in a lot of ways (Hajime’s stay in the labyrinth was brutal, and his body reflects that). I rate this book Recommended, as long as Yue’s visual age and sexual aggressiveness isn’t a barrier.

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That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #4 (Light Novel)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #4

Author: Fuse

Format: Light Novel

Having taken care of the most pressing issues, Rimuru and his monster allies are busy building their town. Part of that is establishing trade with the various surrounding nations. They need supplies, and Rimuru also hopes to convince everyone that even though they’re monsters, humans can deal with them just like any other town. But as they move onto a bigger stage, they also attract entirely new enemies. . .

This volume was enjoyable, but also a bit scattered. Rimuru has been having dreams that feel like Shizu is trying to communicate with him, but he’s also not in any particular hurry to pick up on them. The tour of the nearby countries is rather relaxed despite the fact that he’s trying to forge alliances.

It was amusing to see Rimuru finally sign up to be an adventurer. Aside from the funny way he gets his license, this now means he can actually get paid to do what he’s been doing all along in killing the monsters in the Jura forest that pose a danger to his town. Of course, basic economics says that if he actually tried to cash in all his monster parts he’d drive the guild broke.

This volume also introduces the kids Shizu was formerly teaching. It’s neat to see how Shizu’s relationship with the Demon Lord Leon is more complicated than it initially appears. She had been angry at him for a few things, but also appreciative that what he did for her saved her life. And Rimuru, who decided to inherit her will, is trying his best to figure out what she actually meant when she sent him after Leon. Because he’s starting to think Shizu didn’t exactly mean to kill Leon.

The other interesting thing here (although it ties in with the main frustration) is that Rimuru finally meets other summoned people from Japan—and he figures out too late why Heroes are so highly regarded . . . and feared. He’s been able to mostly coast thanks to his unique abilities Predator and Great Sage. But he’s not the only one with unique skills. And when one of the summoned who has made it her life’s mission to eradicate monsters clashes with him, he finally has to fight against someone incredibly stronger than he is.

And that’s the main irritation here: the cliffhanger is brutal. And the next book isn’t out for several months. If that bothers you, read the rest of the book and save the epilogue until book 5 comes out.

Overall, despite not much of impact happening for Rimuru himself, I enjoyed seeing the expanded world. The focus on the practical issues of building a civilization and running a town, the furthering of some earlier plot threads, and the hints of some really big things to come make this a solid read. I rate this book Recommended.

The Rising of the Shield Hero #12 (Light Novel)

Title: The Rising of the Shield Hero #12

Author: Aneko Yusagi

Format: Light Novel

Naofumi is still working on building up the village. Between raising a gifted dragon egg and dealing with the crazy girls after him, he doesn’t have a lot of time to rest. News of Itsuki fighting in the Coliseum, though, forces him to detour to try to recruit the last Hero by whatever means necessary.

This book is a mess. Structurally, it doesn’t hold up well. The plot has three separate main conflicts going on, and they aren’t tied together very smoothly. It’s more like two and a half shorter stories bludgeoned into a novel-length book.

I hate this segment of the village life even more than the previous book. Alta lost all my sympathy after she got healed and started being a creeper on Naofumi, but she’s finally gotten so bad that Naofumi is jumping at the chance to run away in a manner she can’t follow. The whole harem aspect isn’t even done well, as pretty much all the girls except Raphtalia have a single character trait they beat to death and virtually nothing else (it doesn’t help that they’re all very much underage). When I find myself wishing that something would just come along and kill them off, they’re an active detriment to the story.

In a related note, Naofumi’s attitude about slavery is getting worse. This isn’t helped by all his slaves enthusiastically supporting him as their owner. Forget being slaves, these are kids. I’m shocked none of them have any issues with him bossing them around, even if he is telling them the fastest way to get stronger. I don’t actually mind Naofumi personally seeing this in a wrongheaded way, as that’s part of his morally grey character, but it’s a bit too much when everyone else decides to worship his decisions.

Gaelion is better. I liked that Naofumi finally got a dragon and decided to raise it, although predictably things go sideways before too long. I appreciate that Naofumi actually chooses a male, since the cast has been way too imbalanced towards the girls for too long. Although it’s not the same case as Filo, Gaelion ends up as someone else Naofumi can talk to, and one of the few people around him who isn’t interested in jumping him.

Itsuki’s confrontation with Rishia was also decent. Rishia’s been overcoming all her past limitations, and now it’s time to go back to the person who both inspired her and rejected her. But Itsuki never thought much of Rishia, and his curse series has even further stopped up his ears, so their actual battle is an amusing sequence of “Hey, the person fighting you is over here!” I am disappointed the book never confirms which curse series he unlocked, as several guesses are offered but none confirmed.

The last part of the book is the only part I actually enjoyed. Sadeena has some interesting comments about Raphtalia’s family, and that turns into a big mess by the end and gives Naofumi a new goal. I’m pretty sure this will be related to one of the Sacred Beasts as well, so that should hopefully bring the story out of this slump and back into a better plot.

Overall, it’s been an extremely rocky road through this arc, and although I still have hopes the series overall will get better I’m getting less enthusiastic about having to buy the next book to find out what’s next. I might look for the web novel to get an idea if the plot actually gets better or if the tacky harem plotline continues to dominate. I rate this book Neutral.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #3 (Light Novel)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #3

Author: Fuse

Format: Light Novel

With the orc lord defeated and his army disbanded, Rimuru is turning his attention back to building a town. Or rather, it’s starting to look more like a nation. With their first treaty signed, he’s moving onto a bigger stage. But the demon lords have also taken note, and have sent their own investigative team . . .

I like a lot in this book, but since I’m not really fond of Milim, that takes it down a notch for me. (And that cover. Ugh. Talk about books I am glad I got digitally because it would be too hard to explain in public.)

I enjoy reading about the little details of building a town. In this case, the various sanitary improvements Rimuru is trying to implement in his monster town. Toilets. Showers/baths. All very difficult when you neither have a good way to pressurize plumbing (if you can even lay all the piping) and no obvious way to heat the water. Rimuru himself may not need to use some of this, but his formerly-human sensibilities demand a much higher level of cleanliness than anything this world can provide. To be honest, I wish the books had gone into this level of detail on some of the other things too. I love the nitty gritty of working out these engineering issues with magic and a very primitive technology.

I also find it hilarious how Rimuru mentions his town is getting really GOOD at the whole “drop everything and evacuate” routine because of all the ridiculous monsters that have been showing up spoiling for a fight.

There’s also a good look at some of the various major powers in the world, from the demon lords to the dwarf king, and how they’re reacting to the gathering power in Rimuru’s town. For the demon lords, who are themselves extremely powerful, this is just something to keep an eye on to make sure it doesn’t get out of control. But for the dwarven/human kingdoms, Rimuru’s pace of development is frankly insane, and worrisome. And both groups would be happy to trap Rimuru in various schemes if they can, so he’d better learn to be a politician quickly.

The big bad in this one feels less like an immediate threat and more like a chess piece. We have a mysterious organization that may or may not be working on behalf of a demon lord, the demon lords themselves, and Tempest caught in the middle. Given Milim’s presence, though, it’s hard to put as much tension here as there was in the battle against the Orc Disaster.

Overall this is a solid continuation of the story. I rate this book Recommended.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #2 (Light Novel)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #2

Author: Fuse

Format: Light Novel

Rimuru and his allies are busy laying the groundwork for the city that will become their new home. But something is stirring in the Forest of Jura. An army is on the move, displacing monsters and devouring anything that they can catch. It’s Rimuru’s first real taste of war . . . and can his small group of followers conquer such a vast number of enemies?

It’s just one thing after another for Rimuru ever since he left the caves where he was reborn. This time around, a massive army of orcs is advancing into the forest, which is upsetting the local monsters. And these are no ordinary orcs. They’re being held together by an all-consuming power that has turned them into a single-minded swarm bent on only one thing: devouring everything in an attempt to fill their insatiable hunger.

I really like this arc for a number of reasons. The orcs, lizardmen, and ogres show a broader view of the Forest of Jura—and in the case of the lizardmen, a bit of civil unrest as the war creates divisive opinions on how to fight.

It also shows how names, something Rimuru takes for granted because of his memories as a human, can totally change the course of a monster’s life. Perhaps in keeping with the game-like mechanics behind skills, a named monster is more powerful than its unnamed kind. And something Rimuru totally fails to notice is that a named monster is ALSO loyal to the one who named it. So in handing out names because he can’t otherwise figure out how to talk to specific monsters, he’s single-handedly evolving pretty much every monster he meets . . . and creating an ever-growing group of allies willing to help him with his dreams of civilization. Titles also work to boost skill—the monsters Rimuru calls “king” and “lord” grow right into that.

There’s a lot of work that’s going into the town Rimuru is creating, but I like that for now much of it is still so preliminary that they haven’t constructed much. He’s determined to do things right from the ground up.

I’m also hugely amused that Rimuru, who naturally has no sense of taste in slime form (nor, if the magic concentration is high enough, even a need to eat at all) is a real foodie. Now that he has human form, he wants to enjoy all the dishes he liked before he was killed. Figuring out how to recreate them here is problematic from a number of angles, and I like seeing how he starts to work through them.

Then there are the orcs. This large-scale war and its accompanying complications provide for a lot of great fights, not only by Rimuru but also by his allies. I’m particularly fond of the first battle in the book as well as the final battle. Rimuru’s solutions shows he’s growing and adapting–and also that at his heart he’s just someone who wants real peace.

Overall this is a fun read, and a good continuation of the story. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #1 (Light Novel)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #1

Author: Fuse

Format: Light Novel

Satoru Mikami had just gone out to meet a coworker for lunch, but a thug wielding a knife put an end to his ordinary life. As he’s dying, he hears a strange voice responding to his thoughts . . . and when he wakes up, he realizes life is going to be very different from now on. He’s no longer human, and the various abilities the voice had mentioned are now his to command. This begins his adventures as a slime . . .

I saw the first few episodes of the anime and got intrigued about this, and too impatient to wait for the rest of the episodes to come out to learn what happens next.

This is a game-flavored story for sure, but it doesn’t lean too heavily on those mechanics. The skill system seems to be run by some gigantic computer-like entity, but other than that more of the story proceeds like a fantasy than like a game.

I really enjoy watching Rimuru (Satoru’s new name, eventually) learn about himself and his environment. He’s still got all his human memories, but now he’s got a body where none of that applies anymore. He doesn’t breathe, doesn’t really eat, doesn’t excrete, and obviously has no limbs to speak of. So he enters this new life blind and confused, and his explorations often have comical results. As a migrant soul, he’s definitely got some overpowered skills, but he’s still figuring out the best ways to use them. (And unlike similar types of series like Overlord, most people who arrive or reincarnate from another world get overpowered skills, so he’s not the only one with an ace up his metaphorical sleeve.)

And Rimuru can use a mimic skill on things he’s eaten, so he gets a number of fun transformations as he confronts various monsters. His reaction to some of their skills as a giant NOPE was funny too.

Rimuru is also a pretty cheerful main character, eager to explore, and easily talked into helping out the various monsters he encounters who are in trouble. One thing I also appreciate about this book is that the majority of the focus stays on the monster characters, whether it’s the dragon Veldora, the goblins, etc. Ranga was my favorite, because giant storm wolves for the win. Humans exist, but they’ve got a more minor role so far.

But this isn’t a novel about everyone fighting. It’s actually got quite a bit of construction as Rimuru and his new monster allies work on building themselves a place to live. I liked reading the details of how they intend to set up a town, and the various people they recruit to try to make it work. He certainly isn’t planning on something small, but given his propensity to recruit powerful allies, everything’s more or less working out.

Overall this is a fun story that opens what looks to be a promising series. If you want a bit of a different twist on a story about traveling to another world, this would be a good book to check out. I rate this book Recommended.

The Isolator: The Stinger (Isolator #4)

Title: The Isolator: The Stinger

Author: Reki Kawahara

Series: Isolator #4

Still reeling from the aftermath of his previous battle, Minoru is determined to improve so that the people around him won’t be hurt. But the newest Ruby Eye proves a huge challenge—someone who attacks Jet and Ruby Eyes alike, and has a more dangerous ability than anyone they’ve met so far.

I liked this, but it feels like a big step back from the previous books.

The biggest issue is that it feels like more of the same. The new facet to Minoru’s abilities is immediately overshadowed by the Stinger’s attack, and the story never really gets back to it except to prevent him from trying this with someone else. Although we get a lot more insight into Liquidizer and Trancer, there still isn’t much about the Syndicate’s real goals. And it’s never clear if the Stinger is even human, much less what his actual abilities are.

I’m also really frustrated with turning the Professor into the latest girl in love with Minoru. For starters, she’s ten. And even if she wasn’t ten, she’s still presented as someone who has no handle on emotions, just super-smarts for logic. So the whole bit where she’s playing “little sister” comes off as creepy, like she’s aping the trope in an attempt to figure it out and make Minoru more attached to her. I also completely fail to see what she sees in Minoru other than a mystery she can’t solve, as his direct interactions with her are (as Suu accurately identified) basically ignoring the person in favor of the ability.

The fight scenes are still a lot of fun. I’m always up for more of Divider’s random sword skills, or Trancer’s clever use of water phase changes. And the fact that THIS enemy is targeting both sides leads to some initial misunderstandings followed by unlikely teamwork. I really liked seeing that Minoru’s big stand against Liquidizer in the last book actually shook her up enough to seriously consider his words.

And I love the science, especially this little gem in the author’s note afterwards:

To sum it up, weak forces are carried by elementary particles called weak bosons, strong forces are controlled by gluons, electromagnetic forces are what make giant robots move and stuff, and gravity is what makes them fall when they’re defeated in battle.

Overall, I really hope the next book has more progress on some of the bigger mysteries. I’m still enjoying the series but I miss the way the earlier volumes did so much more to expand the overall world. I rate this book Recommended.