From Old Country Bumpkin to Master Swordsman: My Hotshot Disciples Are All Grown Up Now, and They Won’t Leave Me Alone, Vol. 1

By Shigeru Sagazaki and Tetsuhiro Nabeshima. Released in Japan as “Katainaka no Ossan, Kensei ni Naru: Tada no Inaka no Kenjutsu Shihan Datta noni, Taisei Shita Deshitachi ga Ore o Hōttekurenai Ken” by SQEX Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

It can be difficult when writitng a book to keep the reader’s attention. Conversely, one little mistake may make you lose all the goodwill you gained. A little ways into this book, there was a description of a character that was saw jaw-droppingly awkward that it took me right out of the book. The first thing I thought was “oh boy, this book is going to be A CHORE”. Now, I kept going, and honestly, the book turned out far better than I would have expected – the description really was just a one-off, not the sign of worse things to come. But it did mean it took till the final long chapter for me to appreciate that this book wasn’t making the mistakes that a lot of books in this genre make, but was instead basically doing what Der Werwolf does, and making fun of the Japanese habit of humility to ridiculous levels.

Beryl has spent the last twenty-odd years teaching kids in his father’s dojo. He likes to think he’s done a good job, and is quite happy to live his single life out in the boonies. But then he gets a request from one of his old students, Allusia. She’s now the commander of the knights in the royal capital, and she wants Beryl to go there to teach the other knights his swordsmanship. This is fine with Beryl’s dad, who kicks him out of the family home and tells him not to return until he’s married. So Beryl goes to the capital, and keeps running into old students of his, who all happen to be beautiful young women. That said, why are they all so interested in his teaching swordsmanship? He’s just a normal, average, everyday guy. Who can, um, win a battle against the second-in-command of the knights, the top-ranked adventurer in the country, and the top mage in the country. Yeah.

I picked up this series because I wondered if it would be similar to S-Ranked Daughter, and it is and it isn’t. It isn’t because, with no family to deal with here, all the girls he’s taught clearly have massive crushes on him. But it is because, to my surprise, that’s not the point of the book. The romance is actually ignored for the most part, and the focus is instead on Beryl being one of the greatest swordsmen of his generation but being totally unaware of it. This actually extends to every aspect of his life – he does not pick up on any of the signals other women give that they’re into him, and he even talks about his home village being “way out in the boonies, far from the capital” when it’s less than a day’s carriage ride away. How much you enjoy this depends entirely on how much you can tolerate “excessive humbleness” to the point of parody.

But yes, there were no annoying characters, the fights were cool, and I’ll give the next volume a try. Just please never say ‘She looked like a handsome man with breasts” ever again, I beg you.

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