Mixed Bathing in Another Dimension: The Hero of the Unlimited Bath

By Nagaharu Hibihana and Masakage Hagiya. Released in Japan as “Isekai Konyoku Monogatari” by Overlap. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Dan Luffey.

One of the benefits of rock-bottom expectations is the numerous ways you can be pleasantly surprised. Light novels in general, particularly those licensed in North America, tend to cater to the older teen/younger adult male reader. “Isekai” books, where our hero is transported to another world, are already a hoary cliche. And let’s face it, this was advertised as a harem novel which features the hero bathing with any number of girls. It had the potential to be bad on a monumental scale. Luckily, it isn’t. Now, don’t get me wrong. The plot is still as traditional as heck, it applies that weird harem logic whereupon our hero is deeply in love with a girl till she vanishes from his sight and the next one comes along, and there is endless talk of butts, boobs, and naked flesh. That said, let me tell you why I actually enjoyed this.

First of all, there is the twist in the premise. Yes, this is a standard “Japanese kids brought over to fantasy world to save the kingdom from invasion by demons” plot. Each of the five summoned (though we only really deal with two, our hero and first heroine) get a power that is supposed to help then become a hero and destroy evil. The snag is that Touya’s power is the ability to open a door to a standard Japanese bathroom wherever he is, with unlimited supplies of water, shampoo, etc. The fun here is seeing not only how he uses this in the ways you’d expect (he’s in medieval fantasy land, so the idea of shampoo is amazing to them), but also in ways that would never occur to you (the final boss battle in the book, which is so hilarious I don’t want to spoil it). Touya is a clever kid, and I like how he keeps thinking of both the strengths and weaknesses on his useless power. (Note this isn’t a hot spring or public bath – it’s a bath you’d find in a home, and seats two if they’re very friendly.)

The other, even more surprising thing is how the main characters actually communicate with each other. This is a harem adventure, after all. You expect tsunderes left and right, the hero tripping and falling into boobs, lots of lecherous grins, etc. But no, Touya is a normal teenage boy. Which means that yes, he thinks of sex all the time. But it’s not taken to any pervy extremes. More importantly, he actually communicates with the women he meets! Consent is super important throughout this book, and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to type that. Over and over again Touya tells the girls the nature of his magic bath, the fact that he has to be *in* it to have it work, and that yes, nudity will probably be involved. He asks if they’re OK with this at every single step. And they are, of course, though they’re nice girls too. In fact, Touya and Haruno falling for each other, although swifter than you’d like, is really cute and sweet. They even kiss! Halfway through Vol. 1! What kind of harem adventure is this?

A few more minuses – in addition to the basics I mentioned in the first paragraph, there’s that odd Japanese idea that thinking about sex AT ALL makes a person a ‘pervert’, which I’ve come across in more works than this. And once again we get a hero who has to emphasize over and over that he’s not gay, just in case the presence of other men in the narrative – even if they’re giant lizardmen – might cause the reader to question their sexuality. But overall, this was a lot better than I expected, especially on the romantic end. I’d still only recommend it to male readers, but if you’re wary of the ‘traditional’ harem story, you should give this one a try.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind