Fushi no Kami: Rebuilding Civilization Starts with a Village, Vol. 4

By Mizuumi Amakawa and Mai Okuma. Released in Japan as “Fushi no Kami: Henkyou kara Hajimeru Bunmei Saiseiki” by Overlap. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Maurice Alesch.

Last time I asked for Ash to have a few failures under his belt, and we do get a bit of that here, showing that he can’t do ANYTHING he puts his mind to. Food preservation is still a big problem, and the wonders of canned food will have to wait for more advanced techniques. There’s more good news: by now, everyone has gotten so used to Ash being the greatest thing since sliced bread that they’ve started to stop talking about it, which means less page count devoted to everyone praising him to the skies. That said, there’s a larger failure towards the back half of the book, as he chooses to try to save a village on its last legs, mostly due to sentimentality, and finds that while rebuilding civilization may start with a village, the village is not necessarily of one mind, and that humans tend to be lazy, cowardly and devious creatures. Fortunately, the next generation shows more promise.

On the cover are Renge, the maid who took a significant role in Book 3, and gets a much larger one here, and Suiren, her friend from a neighboring village. They had a falling out a couple years ago about the fate of Suiren’s village – the poor harvests have hit it particularly badly, but they’re too stubborn to give up or move. Now it’s a couple of years later, and things are even worse. Still, Renge is diligent, steadfast, and kindhearted, and wants to help them even though she’s been rebuffed. And Suiren is feeling regretful, and also the pangs of starvation, so is willing to accept the help. Everything is in place for Ash to test his new fertilizer experiments, and things seem to go swimmingly – until Suiren’s father, the actual village chief (who had been “ill” before) reappears to screw everything up.

For the most part, Ash is in “bad cop” mode throughout a lot of this book, and it’s not hard to see why. While he is resolved to help Suiren’s village because of Renge’s pleas, the village has not done a great job of even the minimal farming requirements. Even after he teaches them the right methods, some are better at them than others – and the ones who do poorly get less food. And when they’re proud of themselves for achieving results using the fertilizer… he points out everything they did wrong. It’s a brutal teaching method, and one that Maika and the others who’ve been around him just shrug off. Some, like Suiren, grow to be better, stronger people under these circumstances… and some, like her father, end up arrested and having their village taken away. Lesson learned: do what Ash says. Of course, this lesson does not apply to Ash himself, who tells the soldiers not to go to far trying to take down some treant monsters and then promptly goes too far. He is “do as I say, not as I do” in triplicate.

We’ve caught up with Japan, as the 5th volume of the book is not due out there till the end of July. So we leave Ash and Maika for a time. (He’s still not recognizing anyone is in love with him, and we can definitely add Renge to that list – though fortunately NOT Suiren.) Till then, let’s enjoy the fact that by now everyone has grown so used to Ash’s maniacal ideas that they take them in stride. Mostly.

Fushi no Kami: Rebuilding Civilization Starts with a Village, Vol. 3

By Mizuumi Amakawa and Mai Okuma. Released in Japan as “Fushi no Kami: Henkyou kara Hajimeru Bunmei Saiseiki” by Overlap. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Maurice Alesch.

It’s rare that you suspect that an author feels that his series has too many readers, but that seems to be the case with Fushi no Kami, which is really going to be pushing the limits of reader tolerance here in just how much the cast can praise every single thing Ash does. It really is ridiculous, and that’s not even counting Maika and Arthur, who are in love with Ash, or the maid that he gains in this book, who clearly is also falling in love with Ash. Now, to be fair, in their eyes Ash is this weird combination of Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, and God, so I suppose it is perfectly reasonable in some ways. Adn yes, Ash is trying to bring back many of the ancient civilization’s conveniences, as well as ruthlessly fending off assassination attempts. Still, I would love it if in future books he gets a complete failure or two under his belt.

We start off with Ash finding a new outlet for his creativity, and this time he isn’t alone. Fellow study group friend Hermes turns out to have an obsession with planes, and has built a model that is being made fun of by the local bullies. Naturally, Ash is over the moon about this, and decides to help him build, if not a full-sized passenger plane, at least a working model. Ash is also getting rewarded, as he gets a medal for taking out the demon monster in the previous book… which promptly gets stolen, leading a vengeful Maika to do some investigating. In the most serious story in the book, some spies have been snooping around from the capital city, and they are looking for a girl. Given this is happening at the same time as Ash’s class is doing survival training, he has to protect said girl while also drawing away the spies turned assassins who have been ordered to kill her. Which… sounds like a fairly sedate book for Ash, given the previous two.

Frustratingly, we still don’t quite get all of Arthur’s backstory here, but we get enough to know why they have to unfortunately return to the capital, though I’m sure we’ll be seeing them again in the future. Much is made near the end of their rivalry with Maika, and I agree they share wonderful moments of closeness, but let’s face it, Maika is going to be married to Ash eventually, he just doesn’t know it yet. I would not necessarily call her a yandere, as she doesn’t really fit the criteria, but she’s certainly obsessed with Ash to the point where it’s almost disturbing, and moves heaven and earth to make sure that he stays by her side for future books. The book’s chapter titles all deal with planes, which makes it a bit frustrating that we only get proper plane building in the first section – I hope they return to this again. More to the point, the cast have now graduated and are essentially adults… how much more can Ash actually pull off now?

As noted, these books require a lot of patience in terms of the cast calling Ash the greatest thing since sliced bread. There’s also what amounts to a torture scene about 3/4 through the book, and the fact that Ash does not realize what he’s doing does not really make it any less (deliberately) creepy. That said, Fushi no Kami remains resolutely readable, which is one of the best qualities in a book.

Fushi no Kami: Rebuilding Civilization Starts with a Village, Vol. 2

By Mizuumi Amakawa and Mai Okuma. Released in Japan as “Fushi no Kami: Henkyou kara Hajimeru Bunmei Saiseiki” by Overlap. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Maurice Alesch.

Not to spoil or anything, but around 4/5 of the way through this second volume, a demon monster shows up. It startled me, as the entire book before this had essentially been ‘let’s learn how to make fertilizer’ and ‘tomatoes are awesome!’. What I said when reviewing the first book goes double for this one: it’s a slow life book where the slow life is running at top speed. Indeed, the inability of anyone to stop Ash and his ideas becomes a running gag. But then ‘rebuilding civilization’ is in the title, and it can’t be denied that Ash’s ideas are very good. So the demon monster, just like the bear from the first book, is there to give Ash a chance to be a more typical hero, one that can fight against huge antagonists rather than simply be an intellectual. It’s a good fight, too. That said, I think I like Ash casually tipping over all preconceptions of what society is like a bit better than stabbing a creature through the eye.

Ash and Maika have arrived at the nearest city to continue their educations. It’s not the grandest city in the world… Ash is unimpressed. But it’s certainly got more books than his village had, and maybe here he can learn to make better fertilizer. His roommate is Arthur, a noble who is actually a girl disguising herself as a boy. Ash, sensing tragic backstory, doesn’t let on he’s guessed this and merely gives Arthur space every morning and evening. They’re theoretically there to learn reading adn writing, but both know how already, so instead Maika works on her martial arts and swordsmanship, and Ash works on overthrowing all common sense. He makes liquid soap… which turns out to be illegal, but eh. Semantics. He grows delicious tomatoes… which everyone thinks are poisonous, and he has to research why. Can he drag this city kicking and screaming into the modern world? And can Maika ever get through to Ash that she’s in love with him?

As with the first volume, the POV here alternates between Ash and various other characters to show both things happening when he’s not around/unconscious, or to show how others react to his eccentricities. Maika is the most interesting of these, as it’s become clear that her love for Ash is burgeoning on obsession, as she talks about making sure she’s worthy to stand at his side. Honestly, there’s a very messianic quality about Ash in general, not helped by the author’s afterwords supposedly being written years later showing us Fushi no Kami as a “history textbook”. The other main character introduced here is Arthur, and I was rather surprised that we only got a few hints of their rather unhappy life to date, and don’t get into the reason for the disguise. Arthur is mostly miserable, meaning their fake smiles piss Maika off, and seeing the three of them bond is the heartwarming part of the book.

Ash may not have magic swords or fireballs, but in his own way he’s just as OP as other isekai heroes. How much you enjoy this book might depend on how much you can tolerate everyone worshiping the ground he walks on. That said, it’s a very readable book, and you never feel bored, even when discussing things like “I need seaweed in order to take the next step in my plan”.