After-School Dungeon Diver: Level Grinding in Another World, Vol. 1

By Hitsuji Gamei and Karei. Released in Japan as “Hōkago no Dungeon Diver: Nihon to Isekai o Ikiki Dekiru Yō ni Natta Boku wa Level Up ni Isoshimimasu” by GCN Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hiroya Watanabe.

So much about this book just made me angry. I probably could have saved myself a lot of grief if I’d just read the afterword first. The author states they just wrote this for shits and giggles, as opposed to the two titles that they clearly took seriously (The Magician Who Rose from Failure and The Magic in This Other World Is Too Far Behind!). And sure enough, everything about this has a feeling of “eh, this sucks, but lol” to it. The After-School premise is pointless since we never once see our protagonist interact with anyone from Japan this entire book. The level-grinding isn’t really true either, since he refuses to let the guild raise his rank (despite a high level) because it will force him to actually assume responsibilities. Even the art is sketchy and not that good (Sorry, Irina the Vampire Cosmonaut fans). And that’s not even getting into the cliches of this genre, which are dripping from this book’s every orifice.

Sometime before the events of this book, Akira and a friend of his tried to come up with a way to get isekai’d… and it worked! Now he can go back and forth as he pleases between Japan and this other world, which is made up of dungeons and guilds, you know the drill. As our book begins, he spots an elf… pardon me, long ears… girl who has been enslaved by a group of humans. Unfortunately, the group of humans has also been killed by a nasty floor boss, leaving Akira to kill the boss and rescue the girl. He can even get her slave collar off, which is supposed to be impossible. She promptly falls for him, in a “mild tsundere” style. Later, he meets a “tail girl” (beast girl) who is running from something that I can’t describe in this review without it becoming 18+, and he saves her too. She immediately also falls in love with him. Despite all this, he maintains an “I don’t care I just do what I want” attitude the entire book.

It would be quicker to list the things that didn’t make me groan and hold my head in my hands. Akira is that combination of “smug coolness” and “I will save everyone but pretend I’m not” that is super aggravating. Scrael the long-eared girl goes back and forth between “it’s not like I want to go adventuring with you or anything” to naked bathing with him and being surprised that this arouses him. Eldrid is basically a golden retriever in a human-ish body, and thus her immediate love for Akira is a bit ergh. He has a mage mentor who hides in his shadow all the time, who gives him dangerous assignments to help him grow and offers rewards like “I’ll let you feel me up”, which he takes. There is a serious side story about a young potion maker trying to survive in the cruel city, which just makes me angrier because it’s well written but is then followed by “lol, all Japanese okama are sexual predators!” as a gag. Oh, and the other world is gaga over soy sauce. Wait till he brings in mayonnaise.

Everything about this is meant to appeal to the lowest possible denominator. If that’s you, go nuts. As for me, I even feel less happy about the author’s other two series now.