You Call That Service?, Vol. 1

By Kisetsu Morita and Hiroki Ozaki. Released in Japan as “Omae no Gohoushi wa Sono Teido ka?” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jasmine Bernhardt.

This book lets you know right away that it’s a comedy, and, with the exception of one or two bits near the end, does not really let up on that throughout the volume. The characters do comedic things, the setup is written to be highly amusing, there’s a lot of boke/tsukkomi humor, and you get the standard harem novel staples, lots of girls after the hero, misunderstandings, etc. There is even a psycho lesbian and a yandere stalker girl, which Japan seems to find far more hilarious than I ever have. Actually, that seems to be the issue I have with this entire book. It really really sets itself up to be a laff riot, but it’s not particularly funny. There were times I smiled at an obvious gag, and there were points where you could clearly tell I was supposed to laugh, but the laughs just were not coming across. Which is a problem when your series is a comedy.

Our hero is Ryouta, whose grandfather made a misplaced wish that has cursed him to be attractive to all girls around him, which is a pain when the girls are mentally unstable or his immediate family. He’s walking in the mountains one day to get away from it all and happens on a city… and a young girl, who quickly bites him on the neck. She’s a vamp–erm, part of the Sacred Blood Empire, which this entire city is now made of, and wants Ryouta to be her minion. Sadly, he’s less obedient than she’d like. As they live together and go to school, he meets more Sacred Blood denizens, all of whom have their eyes on him, and learns about the Emperor, all the while yearning for the one girl in his life he actually felt love for, his elementary school crush. In the end, all these plotlines converge and Ryouta has to decide who he wants to be loyal to.

This was written in 2011, which is several generations old in light novel years, and it shows. The lead girl, Shana… erm, Taiga… no wait, Louise… Nagi? Ah, I got it, Shiren, cries out to be played by Rie Kugimiya, and Ryouta is the sort of bland, nice-but-snarky harem lead that you get in this sort of thing. The first 2/3 of this book is mostly them interacting, and while it’s comedy that I don’t find funny, it’s not all that bad. Shiren is clearly desperately lonely, and Ryouta realizes this fairly quickly. That said, there was one part where I did actively scream “fuck this”. As I said above, I’m not fond of “psycho lesbian” as a character trait to begin with, and this one went from zero to murderous in about ten seconds… then, after being forced to lick our hero’s blood in order to avoid dying, suddenly is into him as well. It’s one of the plotlines you’d assumed writers had given up on because it always gets bad press these days… but here it is.

The author is VERY prolific, having also written I’ve Been Kiling Slimes for 300 Years (which IS funny, though not always as funny as it wants to be) and the upcoming A Mysterious Job Called Oda Nobunaga. Both of those are likely better than this, which I recommend only to those anime fans who want to watch anything with a small, angry blonde with twintails.

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