Loner Life in Another World, Vol. 5

By Shoji Goji and Saku Enomaru. Released in Japan as “Hitoribocchi no Isekai Kouryaku” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Eric Margolis. Adapted by Veles Svitlychny and Lorin Christie.

I’ve talked before about how I enjoy the Loner Life light novels a bit more than the manga because the manga makes things lighter and fluffier, but trust me, I 100% get why nearly everyone says “skip the books, read the manga” when it comes to this series. Leaving aside the writing style, which is still so rambling and broken that at times I wasn’t sure if I had spotted an editorial mistake on Airship’s part of just Haruka repeating himself for no real effect, there’s the fact that the plot meanders and wanders all over the place. At the start of the book we learn that war has been declared on Omui, and it’s not until 350 pages later (these books are loooooong) that we finally start the process of taking care of that war. What replaces it? Mostly Haruka making bras. Lots and lots of bras. Because this series is also still deeply, deeply horny, another aspect mostly lost in the manga adaptation.

Class Rep is back on the cover art again, which means Haruka is on the “alternate cover”, just like the first volume. He’s crying and hiding his face, though, which reminds you that there’s a core of real pain and anguish behind all this nonsense. Most of the book involves the girls all trying to get past Level 100, and also defeat a dungeon boss all by themselves with no help from Haruka, Angelica, or Slimey. They succeed in the former, but not quite in the latter, partly as they’re too wedded to the “fantasy” aspect of this world to realize, as Haruka does, that he can use normal science-based solutions. Elsewhere, an assassin, who turns out to be the Princess’ maid and childhood friend, comes to kill Haruka, which goes about as well as you’d expect. And then there’s that pesky war…

Everyone is familiar with the meme “I know writers who use subtext, and they’re all cowards!”. If you take that and add “no” before the word subtext, you’ve got Loner Life, a series which requires you to read between the lines to have any hope of enjoying it. So much of this series is a meditation on grief and mourning, about trying to improve daily lives so that people don’t have to live in fear and can think of the future. Haruka remembers everyone he couldn’t save, and all those deaths haunt him almost to breaking point. Class Rep talks about the girls going nuts over food and clothing mostly so that they don’t end up crying in despair over never being able to see home again. The owners of the inn where they’ve been staying just cry silently as they watch Haruka rebuild it into an eight-story inn/bunker that will be a safe haven for innocents during the upcoming war. As for the bra scenes… yeah, OK, sometimes it’s not subtext but text. The bra scenes are there to titillate. Still, it’s nice that the girls all have well-made underwear now.

The volume has no real ending, and you get the sense we got to page 420 and the editors said “just stop here and we’ll begin Book 6 where you left off”, which is the danger of webnovels. If you enjoy overanalysis and ridiculousness, Loner Life continues to provide. But prepare for incoherence as well.

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