Reborn as a Vending Machine, I Now Wander the Dungeon, Vol. 1

By Hirukuma and Ituwa Kato. Released in Japan as “Jidou Hanbaiki ni Umare Kawatta Ore wa Meikyuu wo Samayou” by Kadokawa Shoten. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Prowse.

If you’re going to be selling, as a regular series, a story about a guy reincarnated as a vending machine, you’d better go all in. Some stories work better as parodies (see the upcoming “Do You Like Your Mom?”), but I’m pretty sure this would not be any good if it weren’t 100% serious about its vending machine hero and the world he now lives in. The author says he wrote the book as a sort of push against the typical isekai harem protagonist, and I can see that. Yes, the machine gets a “blessing” that allows him to have a super cool force field, but it uses up HP fast, and its airtightness means it’s hard to keep humans inside. He also can’t move – he’s a vending machine. And his conversation is limited to six programmed phrases – he’s a vending machine. And he’s not getting a harem… well, OK, that remains to be seen.

Our hero is Boxxo (yes, really – thankfully it’s not his own choice of name), a young Japanese man obsessed with vending machines and the things that come out of them, who one day is killed in a brutal vending machine accident. He wakes to find he is now a vending machine, dispensing mineral water and corn soup. Unfortunately, he is sitting at the side of a lake deep in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by frog enemies trying to break him, and if he doesn’t sell things he’ll eventually run out of lifespan. Then he meets Lammis, a super strong, super spunky, super naive girl who has been abandoned by her party and is on the verge of death. He gives her food and drink, and in return she picks him up and carries him to the nearest settlement. (I did mention the super strength, right?) As the book goes on, he finds he can add new items (provided it’s something he previously bought when he was a human), camouflage himself, and other cool adventure powers. As for going on quests… you’d be surprised how important convenient food and drink can be in a battle.

As you can see, the premise can be as silly as you’d like. This is absolutely ridiculous. But the characters are all treated as real people rather than stock isekai types, even the guards at the door, the innkeeper and her daughter, and the town madam. (Oh yes, Boxxo can also sell condoms. I was surprised it went there, but it’s handled quite well. No, Boxxo is not going to be using them, he’s a vending machine.) Boxxo and Lammis get on great from the start, she’s very good at figuring out what he means when he’s using his stock “welcome!’ phrases, and having her around means the story is not totally stationary. I mean… the book has a subplot of Lammis falling in love with Boxxo, and it actually plays out as really sweet and cute rather than weird and creepy. I could have done without the constant breast size discussion, but that’s what you get in this genre, and at least Boxxo’s lack of a human body means he’s rather blase about it all – mostly.

I was going to be cute and say this was the best vending machine isekai I’d ever read, but that’s selling it short – it was a really good read, period. I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected, and definitely want to see what happens next. You will believe that a fantasy world can be transformed by a simple machine that gives you Pringles when you want them.

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