High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World!, Vol. 5

By Riku Misora and Sacraneco. Released in Japan as “Choujin Koukousei-tachi wa Isekai demo Yoyuu de Ikinuku you desu!” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nathaniel Hiroshi Thrasher.

Churchill once said “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried”. Leaving aside his own legacy for the moment, there was sort of a minor fandom kerfuffle at the idea of the prodigies coming into this world and introducing the people to the wonders of free elections. It felt a bit condescending, to be honest, and the cynicism that some of them seem to wear around them at all times did not help. This volume serves to try to balance that out a bit. Democracy is happening, but what actually comes of it is anyone’s guess. We see the formation of two factions, one isolationist and one interventionist, and they both have good points. Certainly the interventionist one would be better for our heroes of their won. Sadly, they’re already corrupt from within and loaded with people who want perks and bribes… which is, let’s face it, another part of democracy.

There’s actually an extra story taking up most of the first third of the book, where some “bandits” have taken over a stronghold and are wiping out the military trying to stop them, mostly as the military still isn’t used to fighting against modern weapons. Ringo could fix things immediately, but instead Tsukasa leaves it up to a child genius girl, who is very much the classic princess curled OHOHOHOHOHOHO! sort, and also sadly has invented one of history’s most infamous weapons. The book proper is devoted to a plea from one of the Yamato princesses to save her country. Tsukasa is not interested in that, but might be interested in saving her people… if she’s telling the truth. And for once the prodigies are not united – the fellowship is broken as Masato and Tsukasa disagree on their next step, and he heads off to a port as part of his own agenda.

Unlike previous books in the series, this one does not have any glaring horrible bits in it, it’s very readable. Though I wish that all the talk about saving Roo’s dream had been done with Roo in the room… or even in the book, which she isn’t. There’s a sense throughout the book that we’re setting things up for the back half of the series (we’ve halfway done by the end of this book), and indeed the Yamato problem is not remotely resolved by the end of it. Everything else seems to be simmering but not boiling over as well, including Tsukasa’s love triangle, which is a very awkward one indeed giving he’s ignoring both love interests… well, the love part, at least. There is a crisis of conscience from Prince, who feels weak and feeble compared to the others, but I gotta be honest, I find Prince dull so it didn’t really resonate with me. And the illustrations are laden with service, though I was amused at Shinobu literally calling attention to her own shower picture in the novel text.

This feels like the sort of book that will feel better after the next book is out. Till that, I’m giving it a B minus.

High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World!, Vol. 4

By Riku Misora and Sacraneco. Released in Japan as “Choujin Koukousei-tachi wa Isekai demo Yoyuu de Ikinuku you desu!” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nathaniel Hiroshi Thrasher.

While there are no long-term disasters here, it’s safe to say that this might be the first volume to actually belie its title, as the High School Prodigies don’t really have that good a time here. Trying to get their kingdom to stand on its own so that they can make preparations to go home turns out to be easier said than done. The actual way to go home seems to be offered up to them on a plate… but what’s the catch? Aoi finds that it’s not enough having a really strong sword, she needs a really strong CURSED sword or she’s screwed. And worst of all, economics happens. All of this barely leaves time for the love triangle that still inhabits the heart of this book, but rest assured there’s still time to deal with that. And, thankfully, there’s a minimum of Keine here, so we don’t need to worry about any questionable medical practices.

The book is divided into three, with two medium chunks and one long one. In the first, the prodigies go to negotiate with the Empire, currently being ruled by a proxy, and finds things go… suspiciously well. What’s more, said proxy is also from a different world. In the second story, Lyrule and Winona try to teach Jeanne how to cook, which is interesting more for Lyrule’s own tortured love life than anything else. The final story features the new nation of Elm, with Elch as its new Finance Minister, trying to introduce a new currency to the other nations. Masato is there as well, but he’s trying to be hands off so that the natives can attempt to handle things themselves. m Unfortunately, he underestimates Roo, and thus everything turns out both better and much worse than it could have gone.

Changing a world is not particularly an easy task, and the Prodigies have limited themselves to merely one part of it. When visiting the empire, they get a glimpse of the slave trade there, and we see a maid of the main villain of this book who is horribly abused. But she’s not there to be rescued later on, and indeed isn’t; she’s there to show us that you have to fix what you can for now. Which here mostly means the currency, as there’s a lot of back and forth, deals, secret deals, and endless piles of backstabbing. We get to learn firsthand the difference between politics and economics, and also see what I feel may be the first of many attempts to lure one of the prodigies to the enemy side. (It doesn’t work.. yet.) We also get to see how Roo has been soaking up information and tactics like a sponge from Masato, and though she still ends up getting tricked and almost killed, her resolve is impressive. (I do sort of wish we’d seen more of her after this scene.)

Overall I was pretty happy with this book, and the cliffhanger clearly introduces what’s likely to be the Big Bad of the series. It’s never going to be what one might call a good light novel, but it’s perfectly serviceable popcorn.

High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World!, Vol. 3

By Riku Misora and Sacraneco. Released in Japan as “Choujin Koukousei-tachi wa Isekai demo Yoyuu de Ikinuku you desu!” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nathaniel Hiroshi Thrasher.

I’m not even sure where to begin. It’s sad that this is a book where our heroes literally fire a nuclear weapon that destroys a stronghold, and yet that isn’t even close to the most appalling thing that happens in it. I am familiar with the light novel cliche where, in order to show that your morally vague heroes are on the side of goodness and niceness, you need to show that the bad guys are evil, raping the virgins and biting the heads off kittens sort of guys so that the audience says “they had it coming” to any punishment they may get. I had thought dropping In Another World with My Smartphone would mean I might see the end of that. And yet here we are. For now, I will merely content myself with saying lobotomies are bad, were historically mostly done on women, and please do not use them as what amounts to a comedy punchline – even if I grant you the author does not want us to find it funny.

Keine’s on the cover, and also gets the biggest fanservice in the book. The plot of this volume mostly involves gearing up for the next steps – trying to get a republic started. Tsukasa does not want him and his geniuses to stay here forever, of course, and knows that a democracy band-aid is not going to cut it. And “the nobles rule, we just serve” is pretty ingrained into the people. More troubling is that they’re running out of penicillin (which Keine and Lyrule take care of, inventing sulfa drugs) and the other nations are starting to want to stop this before it goes too far. And let’s not even get into the fact that the supposed saviors the Blue Brigade are actually mostly bad guys. It’s getting so that he can’t even go out on a note date with the girl who’s crushing on him!

So yes, I could have done without the entire Keine chapter, which seems to simply show off that she’s a sociopath. And, as I noted, we get not one but TWO sets of villains who talk about raping young women. The best chapter in the book, hands down, was Ringo’s date with Tsukasa, and its general tone of “you are already losing to the girl who got the cover of Volume 1, do something or you will not be able to catch up”. The date went well considering Ringo’s extreme introversion (we also learn about her past, which is sort of what I expected) and Tsukasa’s deliberate obliviousness. She also gets the emotional climax, where it’s her turn to remind Tsukasa that he is in fact a real human being who is allowed to feel things, and this time it’s Lyrule who’s on the outside looking in.

That said, in a series about establishing a new political landscape and finding ways to defeat bad guys who seem to be unkillable, the fact that I’m focusing on the love triangle is not a good sign. The High School Prodigies may be having it easy, but they’re giving me trouble.