I Shall Survive Using Potions!, Vol. 1

By FUNA and Sukima. Released in Japan by Kodansha. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Garrison Denim.

This was honestly not at all what I expected. I expected this series to be a very ‘slow life’ sort. The heroine would be reincarnated in another world, start a potion shop, get a couple of assistants, etc. Kind of like Killing Slimes for 300 Years, that sort of thing. This is 100% not that sort of series. Kaoru is not interested in a quiet life, just a life with freedom. Like Katarina from My Next Life as a Villainess, she has “evil eyes”, i.e. the sort that slant up, and wherever she goes she changes the lives of people around her. But Katarina is a sweetie pie, whereas Kaoru is more of a tactical nuclear missile. As the book moves from place to place, and Kaoru and her potions affect more and more people, the reader’s jaw begins to drop as to what will happen next. And woe betide the evil baron or sketchy gate guard who gets in the way of a really good plan. Kaoru is here for one reason alone: Kaoru.

A brief summary: Kaoru is a 20-something OL who’s on her way home on the train when she literally EXPLODES and dies. This is the fault of higher beings who were trying to do something else and she got caught up in it. They offer to reincarnate her in a medieval-style world, and she proceeds to ask/blackmail them into giving her a LOT of things. Language skills, a box of infinite holding, etc. And the ability to create any potion she can think of, along with containers for same. The kicker here is that she thinks she’s going to be in a standard light novel fantasy world. But no, there’s no magic here beyond dragons, and it’s more ‘hunting’ than ‘adventuring’. As such, when Kaoru uses her potions to heal a gravely wounded hunter, the general reaction is “WHAAAAAAAAAT?”. Now Kaoru finds herself moving from kingdom to kingdom, getting involved, healing people with potions, and trying to live a free life.

There are so many light novels out there that are male power fantasies, where the hero gets a harem of slave girls, awesome adventurer powers, etc. that it’s weird to read a female power fantasy like this. Most of the other series we’ve seen over here with female protagonists (including Make My Abilities Average!, by the same author as this) tend to have them as nice girls who are “plucky”. Kaoru is not that sort of heroine, and is almost anti-plucky. Occasionally she is in mild danger, such as when she’s captured by the evil nobles who want to get her potion abilities, but she’s got a plan, which involves knocking out the maid, dressing up as her, stealing the entire room, and walking out. (The poor maid eventually gets her dress back, and we’re reassured is not beaten or anything.) That said, most of the people whose lives Kaoru makes miserable are men, and sometimes you get the feeling she’s going out of her way to be awful to them. That said, she really does help a number of people suffering from grievous injuries, rich or poor. As well as, um, de-aging a female knight who’s too old to get married so she can try again.

By the end of this book I was enjoying it quite a bit. I will warn that it may make some readers uncomfortable. Kaoru is a lot to take, and can tease men or destroy their lives at a whim. But then, that’s what it means to live the free life, rather than the slow life.

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