Loner Life in Another World, Vol. 1

By Shoji Goj and booota. Released in Japan as “Hitoribocchi no Isekai Kouryaku” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Eric Margolis. Adapted by Veles Svitlychny.

I can’t say I hadn’t been warned. Indeed, that’s the only reason I decided to read the book in the first place. I’m trying to stop reading “I got the worst powers when isekai’d, but it turns out they’re secretly the best” light novel titles, and that’s exactly what this is. The manga was already coming out via Kaiten Books, and I hadn’t read it. But then I heard that the original novel was apparently something of a legend in Japan for being hard to understand and difficult to parse, and that most fans agreed the manga was the way to go. Really, I thought? Now I’m intrigued. And so I picked up this very long book, and started it. About 1/3 through the book, I felt I’d made a mistake. Sure, our loner hero rambles – a LOT – but there wasn’t enough of the comedy I’d heard about to justify reading more. And then he runs into the girls in his class, and the book promptly falls off a cliff while screaming and flapping its arms.

No, that’s not our hero on the cover, as this is in the light novel genre of “why have a guy on the cover when I have so many heroines?”. Our “hero” is Haruka, an eccentric loner who likes to skulk in his class and read. One day his class is transported to another world, but Haruka, familiar with this plot device, leaps up, jumps onto the bookcases in back, and crawls up into the ceiling. This … did not stop him getting isekai’d, but it means he was not transported with the others, and by the time this world’s “god” finds him, well, there are no good skills left. Just a hodgepodge of ones no one wanted. The old “god”, feeling guilty about having Haruka separated from the others, and having trouble dealing with Haruka’s basic personality, gives him ALL the skills left. Including the negative ones. Can he survive as a loner?

God, I hope not, because the parts of the book where he’s by himself are the worst. As I said earlier, he rambles, he’s obnoxious and rude, and he has no common sense, but these things alone do not really separate him from other isekai weirdos we’ve seen before. It’s only when he runs into the 20 girls in his class, fleeing from an event that drove the class apart, that the book really takes off, because Haruka is SO bad at interpersonal skills that it’s almost magic. This is not something he gained from a skill, by the way – he’s called the head of the girls’ group “Class Rep” for the last 11 years despite them having always been in the same class, and in general it’s implied he’s just like this. This allows for the girls to become 20 varieties of tsukkomi (sometimes in unison, which is a trip), and also makes the book far more entertaining, as you keep waiting to see what bullshit he pulls next.

The book can be hard to parse at times, but that’s by design, as that’s how Haruka is. I think the translators did a fantastic job showing off stream-of-consciousness blabbering and how annoying it can be to everyone around you. The book… is not good, to be honest. Because Haruka refuses to think of his class in anything but their “roles” (Class Rep, mean girls, nerds, etc.) his narration does as well, and so there is a certain Goblin Slayer feel to the characters that I didn’t like in that book either. (It doesn’t help that it’s infectious, and Class Rep herself starts thinking in terms of those roles.) The denouement at the end of the book feels out of absolutely nowhere, with very little buildup from Haruka before it’s over. And, of course, it’s still a book about a schlub of a guy who amasses 20 pretty girls around him who are somewhat devoted to him but also yell at him all the time, which means that it won’t attract the sort of fan who also gets mad at Kirito.

But… there’s just something about it. I spent a lot more time screaming at this book than I have with any light novel in the past year or so. The lead’s lack of ANY sense makes your teeth grind. And… it is pretty funny in that regard. It also, honestly, had far less fanservice than I expected from a genre like this, even leaving aside that he names one of the class “Nudist girl”. It makes me want to read the second book, even though I know it will be like getting slapped in the face with a paper fan over and over again. If you want to read a series that dares you to read it, look no further.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind