Mixed Bathing in Another Dimension: The Ancient Seawater Baths

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 Sophie Guo.

Last time we had a large focus on the adventures of Haruno’s party; this time they’re absent (except to get mentioned in the cliffhanger) and the focus is solely on Touya and his party. To be honest, for the first half of the book I wished we’d cut away a couple of times – while fighting mutant hermit crabs and stopping scheming merchants at an auction is all very well and good, there’s no denying that the volume tends to meander for over half the book till it gets to the plot it came here for. One it does hit that plot, though, things pick up, and the second half works much better, and introduces us to a new girl, though she’s not new to Touya: it’s his sister Yukina, who passed away three years earlier back on Earth, now resurrected into this world as a demon girl.

Oh no, I hear you cry, a little sister character in a harem series. And you are correct to do so, though the narrative is very odd in that respect. The illustrator is certainly down with Yukina as a sexy young thing, and we see Touya blushing at her – in the illustrations. Likewise, the afterword has the author bragging about how he finally got the “not related by blood yet related by blood” sister into the harem (she’s resurrected as a demon, see, so technically no longer Touya’s blood relation). What’s pushing back against this is Touya himself, who in the narrative shows absolutely no sign of seeing Yukina as anything but a little sister, even when they’re bathing together. Obviously, this will likely change, but for the moment Touya and Yukina read like a normal (if overly close) pair of siblings. Though she does get to do the jealous “cling to his arm and stick out her tongue at a rival” pose. So there’s that.

Speaking of Yukina, sometimes in this series, despite the depth that the author gives to the backstory and concepts, I feel as if he’s writing it very linearly, and I ended up thinking that here; Yukina and her death should have been foreshadowed at least two books earlier, particularly as it gives an answer to “why doesn’t Touya really care about getting home?”. Elsewhere, the bath levels up again a few times. Sometimes it’s sensible – we finally have toilets (with bidets), and the tub is now big enough to fit Yukina in along with everyone else – and sometimes it’s just silly, like the sink tap that dispenses orange juice and udon broth, which just puzzled me. Touya is a little annoyed about the blessings of the Goddesses being “had a really nice bath”, but honestly, he does pretty well with that bath. Don’t be ungrateful.

In any case, they now have a submarine, courtesy a mad scientist, which may come in handy as the cliffhanger reveals that Haruno and her party are in trouble. The 5th volume just came out in Japan this month, so I’m not sure how fast we’ll see it here. But, sibling love aside, Mixed Bathing remains a nice, relaxing isekai with attention to character and narrative. One of J-Novel’s best current series.

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