The Ideal Sponger Life, Vol. 1

By Tsunehiko Watanabe and Jyuu Ayakura. Released in Japan as “Risou no Himo Seikatsu” by Hero Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by MPT.

I had reviewed the first volume of the manga here two years ago, and we’ve had several volumes since then. Reading the light novel shows that the manga compressed quite a bit, probably sensibly. Anyone who is reading this book for the hot woman on the cover and hoping to get some nookie is going to be wildly disappointed by the 20-page discussion of hydroelectric generators, as well as the fact that the book pretty much cuts away whenever there is going to be some loving. That said, when this series first came out as a webnovel, it was SUPER popular, and there’s a hint of why that is here, as there’s some very nice political intrigue and worldbuilding, especially once we realize that our overworked salaryman hero, despite his stated intentions, is going to be proving that title wrong fairly quickly. Indeed, he does so almost immediately, as many of the things he has brought over from Earth are unknown here, ranging from glassworks to Microsoft Excel.

Our hero is Zenjirou, a young man in his mid-20s who works at a very busy Japanese company. On his off day, as he’s biking back home with food, he finds himself in a palace in another world – transported there by the beautiful young Queen, Aura. She’s looking for a husband and father to her children. As it turns out, due to various political reasons, she doesn’t want to marry any of the candidates in her own world. Plus Zenjirou does have royal blood in him, as it turns out his ancestors came from this world in the first place. After some questions and negotiations, he agrees to marry her, and the wedding comes off relatively well. That said, he may not be able to be a layabout for long. His own overly polite and deferential manners are greatly at odds with what people think a royal should act like. And those other marriage candidates aren’t going to stop trying to gain power just because the Queen married someone else.

This first volume is mostly setup, and it does drag a bit in places. There’s a point where Zenjirou returns to Japan for 30 days to settle his affairs (after this, he won’t be able to return for 30 years due to the way magic works), and we see why he would be so willing to cut ties with things, but I would happily have cut most of that to a 3-page montage. The main reason to get this is the worldbuilding and politics, both of which are quite good. Zenjirou manages to bring over a generator and several appliances with him, and so we see this medieval fantasy world getting used to fluorescent lighting and air conditioning. Aura picked an outsider as she wants to actually reign as Queen, and knows that in this patriarchal society anyone who marries her would immediately force her out of power. That said, she and Zenjirou fall in love fairly quickly, and even if he is sharper than she might have liked, I think she’s quite happy.

Zenjirou stays mostly cooped up with the Queen and servants this volume, but that can’t last. I suspect we’ll be seeing lots of ‘lets see how he handles this situation!’ plotlines in the second volume. Till then, this is a decent isekai title, less salacious than the cover and premise might suggest, and definitely worth a read.

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