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.

High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World!, Vol. 2

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 Thrasher.

I really have to hand it to the writer of this series, they know how to keep a reader’s attention distracted. There’s romantic subplots (none of which are going to go anywhere given the nature of Tsukasa, but hey), there’s political intrigue, there’s starting a revolution by starting a religious movement, there’s a big-ass fight (literally in some cases) near the end of the book, and there are even moments of pure horror in a “welcome to our totally average town, weary travelers!” sort of way. And then you get to the end of the book, and you realize that the entire thing was incredibly dumb and full of holes, with one plot getting dropped so fast that I’m concerned my digital book was missing a chapter. Last time I said that this series is popcorn, which is very true. You eat it and enjoy it, but if you want an actual meal, look elsewhere.

Unlike the manga, the light novel covers are allowed to have more than Lyrule on the cover. Here we see Ringo, who doesn’t really do much here besides build power plants and get really jealous of Tsukasa and Lyrule’s relationship. Life is tough when you’re the unlucky childhood friend. The book deals with the aftermath of the coup that has happened. There’s a lot still to achieve. They need to figure out a way to unite the people regardless of class. They need to figure out ways to keep up their modernizations. And they need to worry about the neighboring Duke, who is made entirely of fury and condescension, and also has a magic firebomb that can take out a city. Even Shinobu, who is traveling towards the capital to try to get the lay of the land, runs into trouble when she gets to a village that is glad to eat her — I mean, meet her.

I will say one thing, which is that the book’s message of “the rich hate everyone else and will happily watch them die purely for entertainment” is a very 2020 mood, even if the book was written five years earlier. It tries to distinguish between “normal” nobles who are just rude assholes and “evil” nobles who are doing things like raping and murdering, but it doesn’t quite get it. Shinobu’s subplot is good and also quite dark… but then gets resolved so fast, and dropped so hard, that, again, I worried a section was missing. And then there’s Aoi, who in the grand finale volunteers to help a guided missile reach its target (a magic spear of fire) by running along side it… then hitting it with her “honed glutes” to get it to change course… then smashing her “sizable breasts” against the missile’s air vents to get it to change course AGAIN. The scene is so dumb your jaw drops, and sexist as hell, but you have to admire the bravado of writing it at all. I imagine this must have been something to see animated.

So yeah, this book is dumb but highly readable, provided you are not troubled by plot, or characterization, or thematic unity, or overt fanservice.