Tag Archives: neutral

Record of Wortenia War #1 (Light Novel)

Title: Record of Wortenia War #1

Author: Ryota Hori

Format: Light Novel

Ryoma isn’t your typical high school kid—he’s used to training with his grandfather to use martial arts as a deadly weapon and not a sport. So when he’s summoned to another world, it doesn’t take long for him to realize it’s his life and future on the line, and react accordingly. But antagonizing the Empire that summoned him is a dangerous game. If he can’t slip past the borders before they catch him, he’ll have a very short life in this new world . . .

The main attraction of the first book is Ryoma himself. He’s not motivated by revenge particularly, at least at first, but he is smart enough to find the summoning a bad idea with only one way out—and he has no hesitation murdering the people trying to enslave him. It’s a nice touch that many of the castle people are presented in terms that would otherwise make them sympathetic, if they weren’t totally convinced otherworlders like Ryoma are just tools to be used at their convenience. And Ryoma knows that most of the people he’s killing aren’t monsters (although a strong argument could be made for Gaius being one), but he’s willing to make the pragmatic choices to ensure his own survival.

I love the following quote and I think it sums things up perfectly:

“This is what I think: you’re free to try and take advantage of me, and I’m free to defend myself. I’m not dumb enough to think that if I hit someone they won’t try to hit back, though. And it’s exactly because I know they’ll hit back that I try not to hit anyone, unless I’m prepared for them to retaliate… And when I’m resolved to kill anyone who dared pick a fight with me.”

But Ryoma isn’t the only part of this book, unfortunately. His encounter with two scantily-clad sisters that immediately enslave themselves to him is the worst part by far. These aren’t characters, they’re caricatures that bundle a bunch of annoying tropes into a book that so far had been doing a good job avoiding the worst of them. I hate these characters. They have no personality beyond “yes, Master.”

I do know from reading ahead that future books minimize Laura and Sara’s roles to a level that’s more tolerable, and that the series improves from here. But their awkward inclusion leaves me disinclined to recommend this except as the backstory to the much better second book. I rate this book Neutral.

To the abandoned sacred beasts (Anime)

Title: To the abandoned sacred beasts

Episodes: 1-12

Hank was once the captain of the Incarnates, an experimental squad of humans who can transform into mythological beasts. But once the war ended, the Incarnates find themselves unable to return to normal society. Their bodies have increasingly succumbed to their transformations to the point where many of them can’t revert to human anymore, and worse than that, many of them also lose their minds. So Hank determines to fulfill the last wish of their creator, Elaine, and hunt down all the Incarnates before madness consumes them all.

This was something I wanted to like more than I did. Shapeshifting people with alternate mythological forms? I am SO down for that. But as the title might suggest, this is mostly a series of vignettes that are uniformly tragedies, with a larger plot involving Hank’s hunt for one particular Incarnate that just kind of sucks.

The worst of it for me is that there’s no evidence Schaal is wrong. Schaal is the daughter of one of the Incarnates, who pursues Hank relentlessly once he kills her father. She thinks there’s no need to kill the Incarnates, even if they can’t transform back, and that they can integrate back into life. I think there’s actually strong evidence in the show that she’s correct—Siren, in particular, shows no signs of being unduly influenced by her more bestial form. Although some Incarnates have certainly lost the battle to madness, it seems horribly preemptive to call this inevitable and just slaughter them all whether they are insane or not.

But instead of looking for a way to redeem the Incarnates, both Hank and Schaal have given up on them and go around killing them.

The animation isn’t usually great, but it’s serviceable. I do appreciate that the Incarnates are hand-drawn and not CG. The overall story doesn’t exactly wrap up, but they tried to give it some sense of closure, as Hank and Schaal have both decided what they are going to do with their lives from here out, even though they haven’t reached their goals.

Overall this is an odd little show. It had plenty of moments of pathos, even if Cain was exaggerated evil and basically invincible (daylight doesn’t seem to bother him, and you can’t physically hit him, so I do wonder how Hank intends to kill him). And despite knowing that every little mini-story was going to have a bad ending, it was fun seeing the various Incarnate forms and personalities. I rate this show Neutral.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #6 (Light Novel)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #6

Author: Fuse

Rimuru became a demon lord without thinking much about the consequences—but those consequences are now demanding his attention. The other nations that surround the forest of Jura have questions about him and the army he wiped out. More importantly, the other demon lords have yet to weigh in on what they feel about a newcomer. If Rimuru handles this badly he could make enemies of some of the most powerful beings in the world . . .

This is the first novel in the series that felt like it was really dragging. The various treaties and discussions Rimuru does are important to the overall plot, but rather dry, and might have been better as a shorter summary (if this ever gets animated I would expect the first two chapters, for instance, to be significantly cut down).

Thankfully there are several different battles that take place, both with Rimuru and with his companions. Of special note, Shuna gets her own fight this time, and it’s one of the more detailed fights in the book.

It’s also interesting in that it’s the first look at many of the other demon lords. Rimuru’s poor opinion of Ramiris aside, pretty much everyone but Clayman gives him pause. I liked seeing how they were all masking their strength in some fashion, which leaves even Raphael in the dark about how to handle them.

And Veldora is always SO much fun. Rimuru is going nuts trying to handle the now-manga-obsessed dragon, but he’s probably the only one who can, as Veldora is one of the worst calamity-class monsters.

Overall, although this is a necessary link in the story, it’s also one of the weakest ones. With an unidentified mastermind, a bevy of new demon lords, and hints about the Empire, the future is sure to be more interesting. I rate this book Neutral.

Wise Man’s Grandchild (Anime)

Title: Wise Man’s Grandchild

Episodes: 1-12

Shin was someone who died and reincarnated in a world of magic. Picked up by Merlin, a famous wizard, he grows up away from the rest of the world. When he turns 15, his grandfather realizes that he’s been taught nothing BUT magic and fighting from his grandfather and his friends, so they opt to send him to a magical university to learn how to interact with people. Shin is unaware of how much his unconventional magic will change the world.

I was looking forward to this since the samples I read of the light novel were enjoyable, but as a show it’s a mixed bag. Many of the more interesting parts of the story, like the war against the demonoids, and the bits focusing on anyone who isn’t Shin, get truncated in favor of spending more time on the tired cliche elements that do the story no favors (hot springs episode being the worst offender).

The story does have some good elements. Shin uses what he knows of science to visualize process instead of result for his magic, which is what makes his spells so powerful. The story also isn’t afraid to kill off some characters (none of the main cast, though), and the villains in general have decent backstories. Especially Kurt, who looks so much like a typical noble jerk until you see his family and realize there’s more to the story.

That said, it devolves at many points into pandering or just spends too long on things that can be found in dozens of other series, so overall it’s just too much of a mixed bag to really recommend. I liked seeing a few of the fights from the light novel animated, but I think if I ever pick this up it’s probably just going to be the first volume of the light novel (before the plot starts going downhill). I rate this show Neutral.

Isekai Quartet (Anime)

Title: Isekai Quartet

Episodes: 1-12

Four different isekai protagonists and their companions push a mysterious red button and find themselves in another world, where they must attend school. But can these doubly transported misfits get along?

The four series highlighted are: The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Overlord, Konosuba, and Re:Zero.

I’ll say up front comedies aren’t usually my thing, so I only found this mildly amusing outside of a few specific gags (Subaru and Kazuma being carried by their physically stronger female party members being the best). That said, the shorter episode format means the recycled-from-base-series gags tend not to drag on too long, and some of the interactions between series are funny. I need more of Tanya and Demiurge plotting together how to make the rest of the students miserable.

One major weakness is that the series does rely heavily on done-to-death comedy from their original series, like Darkness from Konosuba going on and on about being tormented (she gets several long monologues in this vein). The humor is better when it’s doing something different than re-applying old jokes, even if they are between characters from different series. Another possible downside is that many of the school events are such staples they’re obvious, although this one is mitigated by the crackpots who have to actually do these events.

Overall this is watchable if you haven’t seen all four series, although some of the more subtle jokes will likely only make sense if you know the characters in their regular setting. It was interesting enough to get me to watch Saga of Tanya the Evil, which I appreciated more than this show. I liked it enough to watch weekly, but it lacked more than one or two scenes that I would watch again. I rate this show Neutral.

Changing World: How It All Began

Title: Changing World: How It All Began

Author: Sergei Katz

Dave is a stock analyst with a disability. When he’s offered the chance to beta test a newly developed full-immersion virtual reality game, he’s all in. But a few early mistakes puts him at a disadvantage starting out, and it will take luck and cleverness to ensure his character isn’t eliminated early on.

I probably should’ve stopped reading when the first chapter was pumping the main character up as a super-awesome stock analyst with an unbelievable ability to make money. It would have been a more engaging story if it had focused more on his disability and how going into the game world changed that.

It was also a very odd choice for a disability–the inability to see colors doesn’t seem to be as compelling a reason to abandon your everyday life for three years as perhaps some others might have been. And Dave doesn’t seem like much of a gamer otherwise. His main draw for playing is supposed to be getting around this disability.

And that all ignores the fact that after the very beginning, his life and personality outside the game has no relevance.

The actual game begins the litRPG aspect. Unfortunately, the story has a tendency to play up whatever the main character is finding or doing as awesome, without giving a good sense of the strengths or weaknesses of others. This makes the story as a whole less interesting because the stakes are either not there or poorly defined.

The fights, for example, tend to describe what’s going on by what’s happening with HP bars, rather than focusing on specific skills or strategies by both sides (and when it does try to show what both sides are doing, it tends to give a tiny bit of detail and then go back to talking about HP bars). So the fights are no fun to read because of their vagueness and lack of detail in the important parts, and excessive detail on the unimportant parts.

Both of his pets bother me. The bird in no way acts like a bird, which could be partially explained by this being a game, except nothing really indicates this is pet behavior specifically.

Overall, this has the bones of an interesting story, but the execution falls flat in a number of areas. I rate this book Neutral.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 2 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 2

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

Hajime and Yue have conquered the first labyrinth dungeon, but their troubles are only getting started. Once they’re finally free, they run into bunny-girl Shea, who’s fleeing for her life. Although Hajime isn’t thrilled about it, they eventually join forces, as Shea may be able to help him find the next dungeon. He plans to conquer all the dungeons, learn their ancient magic, and somehow get himself home.

Shea is the most annoying character in this book. Her willful misreading of every single situation to conform to the way she wants it to be has the makings of an extreme villain. But of course she’s supposed to be comic relief.

“Please don’t talk about me like I’m dense or something. In fact, why don’t you learn to read the mood instead? You’re always trying to twist every situation into an opportunity to satisfy yourself.”

At least Hajime gets it.

I don’t find her funny, I find her insufferable. And since the whole book is about her, more or less, that made a good deal of this one hard to read through since I mostly kept hoping something, somewhere, would finally kill her.

At least the new dungeon was more amusing. This time Hajime, Yue, and Shea are challenging a dungeon built by a real sadist, whose annoying traps are much worse than the monsters they faced previously.

And there were some bits of genuine humor.

“Did you get her?!”
“Shea, anytime anyone says that the enemy’s alive.”

Overall, this book firmly cements the series as going the harem route, which is a shame (Hajime’s opinion, once again, is firmly discarded by absolutely everyone—what Shea wants, Shea won’t stop until she gets). I plan to go on long enough to see Hajime’s eventual reunion/confrontation with his classmates, but I disliked a huge amount of this particular book. I rate this book Neutral.