Loner Life in Another World, Vol. 8

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 Lorin Christie.

It feels odd to call a book that is 100 pages longer than the previous books a breather volume but that’s exactly what this is. After all of the plot going on in the last three volumes, Loner Life is returning to its roots, which means get ready for a whole lot of dungeon crawling. As always, you not only need to translate this book to English (and the translation is fine, I hasten to add – a) even Japanese fans say this is incoherent, and b) Haruka is meant to sound like this), but you also need to translate subtext into text. As such, the fact that we’ve moved from “let’s clear out all the 50-floor dungeons” and have now become “hey, all these dungeons are now about 90 floors” is a cause for great concern, and even small, supposedly random things like “Haruka is asked to make sanitary pads for the girls” delves into a critique on isekai stories in general as well as a dark examination of why Angelica and Nefertiri are only concubines. There is meat on these bones, under all that narrative bullshit.

The cover has Vice Rep B, but she’s no more prominent here than any of the other classmates not named Class Rep; the artist clearly gave her a cover shot to show off her assets, so to speak. After the civil war of the last two books, everyone is back in Omui, and there’s now a passel of orphan children with them. Most of the spare time is spent dungeon crawling, partly to get spellstones so they can afford any of the many things Haruka is making, but also partly to see what the dungeons are like after they’ve already been cleared once before. The answer is that the monsters are not QUITE as strong, but they’re still very strong, and more worryingly, the dungeons are deeper now. Haruka implies that any dungeon with 100 floors is a Very Bad Thing. Meanwhile, the rest of the class is getting stronger and stronger… but they still can’t hold a candle to Haruka, Angelica, Nefertiri or even the Slime Emperor. How can they possibly protect him?

There’s another reason Haruka’s doing all this dungeon exploration: he’s reached the limit of where he can go with just skills. Even though it’s very, very hard for him to accomplish, he’s going to have to start getting stronger and leveling up. Which means having to fight using actual COMMON SENSE, rather than fighting the chaotic Haruka way. It’s actually a bit heartwarming seeing him sparring with Angelica normally – though it leads the girls to assume, now that they can understand his moves, that they can defeat him. Hardly. Speaking of the girls, I’d mentioned the sanitary pads before (and Haruka observing that all the isekai books out there never bother to go into this sort of thing in their pre-industrial fantasy worlds), but it also brings up a melancholy subplot: Angelica and Nefertiri may look human and gorgeous now, and they’re both starting to communicate a lot better, but they’re still, at the end of the day, monsters. They don’t have periods, and they can’t get pregnant. This means that they want the girls to be Haruka’s wives while they remain his concubines… because the girls CAN get pregnant.

A somewhat sexist POV to have, but then this is a book that now uses sex like a comma (how in God’s name are the PG-rated manga and forthcoming anime going to handle this?). It remains not for everyone, but I still find nuggets of gold here. And I apologize for not mentioning the water park. Or the summer festival. Next time it looks like we start a new arc, as a (maybe?) good religious faction shows up near the end. Just… not 528 pages next time? Please?

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