My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World: Humanity’s Extinction Happens During Summer Vacation?!

By Tsuyoshi Fujitaka and An2A. Released in Japan as “Neechan wa Chuunibyou” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Elizabeth Ellis.

After three volumes, I’m still not quite sure how seriously I should be taking this series. Based on the premise and what actually happens in the books, you’d think the answer would be ‘not seriously at all’. And that’s probably the right answer, given the sheer amount of ridiculous things going on here. This is a parody of a certain melancholic series, and as a result is going to be over the top. At the same time, this is also the “this was a success, please expand on the plot and backstory a bit” volume, so we start to try to understand why Mutsuko is the way she is, and why Yuichi woke up one day seeing ‘roles’ over people’s heads. It’s a worthy goal, I suppose, but does mean you get a lot of wordy exposition at the start of the book, and if you think about it too hard it doesn’t really explain much at all.

The story picks up where we left off, with the club (and younger sister, who is there just because) heading off to a remote island, where Mutsuko has planned survival training. The remote island is a bit blatant, to the point where the characters spend several pages discussing the Haruhi equivalent without actually naming it. Once they get there, after conveniently jettisoning the minor characters, they find themselves drawn into a cult conspiracy to sacrifice virgins in order to resurrect an alien who is being worshipped as a god by the local anthropomorphic villagers. Yuichi, along with Natsuki, his serial killer-turned-love interest, is sidelined from the sacrificing for the most part, which is likely a relief, as when he does arrive to confront the God, he ends up one-shot killing it. In between these events, we get Aiko worrying about her vampiric heritage, Yoriko vacillating about how incestuous she really is, and Mutsuko being both obnoxious and disturbing at the same time.

When the book is being as light and frothy as this synopsis makes it sound, it’s excellent. Yuichi’s deadpan “well, whatever” reaction to events is shared by others in the cast now, and makes the whole thing less ridiculous and overpowered than it would sound if it was written in a more grandiose manner. Much as the series is riffing on Haruhi (to the point where much of the exposition discusses the idea that certain people can influence the world so that it obeys their whims, with the implication that Mutsuko is one such person), Mutsuko and Yuichi are only superficially similar to Haruhi and Kyon. Where the book falters a bit for me is when it does try to take itself too seriously. Kanako’s discussion about why she likes isekai stories hints at a much darker take on her character than I’d expected, and given how little she matters in the books to date it feels like pure setup and nothing else. Also, if you’re going to mock the “the sacrifices have to be virgins” cliche, don’t follow through with the “the non-virgins were raped and killed” part of that. You can’t mock your cliche and eat it too. That left a bad taste in my mouth.

In the end, this is an enjoyable series of books, but I find I’m enjoying the metatext a bit more than the text. the series walks a fine line between deconstructing this sort of light novel schtick and just going along with it. So far it holds up, but it needs to realize that dropping more serious content into the middle of it may be harder than initially thought. We’ll see what happens next – judging by its subtitle, the fourth book looks to double down on the Haruhi comparisons.

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