[New Life+] Young Again in Another World, Vol. 1

By Mine and Kabocha. Released in Japan by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by David Teng.

This was the first of two new licenses from J-Novel Club where my reaction was somewhat… muted, shall we say? The description of New Life Plus (Which is how I’ll be abbreviating it) did not really make it stand out among the Smartphones of this world. And as I began to read it, I started to tick off the usual isekai boxes. Here’s God, yup. Somewhat eccentric – in this case, God’s given herself the body and personality of a hyperactive young girl. Lead who has been chosen to go to another world for vague reasons. He ends up stupidly overpowered because God doesn’t really pay attention well, so that’s in order. He rescues two girls from attempted assault by the male companions they were traveling with, and then helps to stave off a goblin raid (goblins, check). Finally, after arriving at the adventurer’s guild (check) and getting ID cards (check), he is convinced to join the two girls on their adventures, against his better judgment. Check. Sigh.

I will break this down into bad and good again, though in this case it’s more bad and “has potential”. A lot – in fact, the majority – of J-Novel Club’s series are light novels that were originally on the internet as self-published web novels, but I don’t think I’ve seen a single series where it’s more obvious than this one. The writing quality is highly variable, to the point where I was actually wishing it was worse in places just so that it would be more consistent. Our hero is the ‘grim, realistic” sort as opposed to the “kind, helpful” and “perverted but doesn’t do anything” sorts, which sadly means I started to compare him to the hero of Death March. It’s never a good sign when you’re trying to clear Death March’s low bar. The author also has a running gag where he (the lead character, but also the author) gets lost in describing the immense breasts of one of the characters – in fact, at one point he seems to get so lost that he starts mixing up the names. The book also does that webnovel thing where it enjoys making fun of isekai tropes, but never quite does it enough to make it a deliberate satire – it’s having its cake and eating it too.

Am I dropping the series? No, at least not yet. Why? Well, there were one or two moments where I genuinely laughed out loud, I will admit. These usually involved the eccentric God or the “so naive it’s bordering on hilarious” adventurer Shion Femme-Fatale, whose name alone made me slap my head. The gimmick – our hero was a former Chinese Mafia assassin and wartime hero who killed 5000 men with his sword, founded schools of fighting, and died peacefully at 94, THEN was reincarnated in another world – is a clever one, though I’d be more impressed if God hadn’t wiped his memories of his life on Earth. But yeah, mostly I’m reading this because of that one character type I really like. Rona Chevalier (take a wild guess what her secret is) is the owner of the large breasts I mentioned before, but I was far more interested in her as a scheming, intelligent woman whose “I’m not angry” face is absolutely terrifying. She is able to convince our hero that keeping Shion’s naivete from killing her is more than a one-person job. Basically, the two women in the cast are far more interesting than the male lead. Not uncommon in isekai, but I liked Rona enough that I will try the second volume.

This is now up to 17+ volumes in Japan, and I am hoping that as the writer gains more experience – or perhaps better editors – it settles down a bit and reads less like “I am typing words and then immediately posting them, done”. If you enjoy isekai, give it a shot. The cast oddly made me think of Library Wars – If you wanted to see Iku and Shibasaki fighting fantasy adventures with a super-powered Doujima at their side, this is definitely the book for you.

Also, illustrator, if the author describes the hero’s face as perfectly average, try not to make it so that you look at the cover and want to punch him.

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