Clockwork Planet, Vol. 1

By Yuu Kamiya, Tsubaki Himana, and Sino. Released in Japan by Kodansha. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by fofi.

Ugh. I hate the (2) that’s sitting in the URL up there. Why couldn’t this book have had a subtitle like some other light novels? In any case, as the URL shows, I’ve reviewed Clockwork Planet before: the first manga volume, which Kodansha Comics put out back in March. And now we have the light novel it was based on. When I had only mild enjoyment of the manga volume, I was told a few times that the light novel is significantly better. And indeed those people were right, as my enjoyment of the novel was significantly better – especially in regards to Marie, whose inner workings (so to speak) are a lot more explicit and sympathetic than they were in the parts of the manga I read. That said, you can definitely tell that a lot of this is written by Yuu Kamiya, the creator of No Game No Life. It has the same… flavor, so to speak.

The premise is that a socially ostracized boy with a REALLY acute sense of hearing has an automaton crash into his apartment one evening. This isn’t as odd as it seems, because as the name might imply, the Earth now runs on clockwork in order to stop its death. This particular automaton, however, is one of a very special series, and had in fact been dormant for the last two hundred years. Fortunately, Naoto is able to “hear” where the problem is and fix it, and now he has his very own robot girl, RyuZU, who is devoted to keeping him safe and happy and abusing him verbally, not in that order. (This is where the NGNL author’s fetishes come into play, as I mentioned above.) The other half of the plot involves genius teenage engineer Marie and her calm bodyguard/babysitter Halter, who is mostly a cyborg himself. They’re trying to fix a gravitational error that might destroy all of Kyoto. And then we discover that this error is, in fact, b\part of a VAST MILITARY CONSPIRACY!

As you may have gathered, subtlety is not on the menu for this book, but it’s a decent thriller, and I enjoyed the characters while finding them somewhat exasperating. Because this is written for a male Japanese audience, there is of course a large color picture of a naked loli girl in it, so as always this isn’t recommended for casual fans. But for Kamiya fans, or those who like “steampunk” type stories, it’s a lot of fun. The second half is definitely better than the first, as things swing into high and we show off what all of our heroes can do. And there’s a setup for future books, which we actually see a bit of in the prologue, as well as another robot girl that needs to be rescued from the government/military complex. Unlike a lot of “first volume” light novels that may or may not become series, this looks like it was designed to have more to it. Good thing we’re getting more. Recomme3nded.

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