I Saved Too Many Girls And Caused The Apocalypse, Vol. 3

By Namekojirushi and Nao Watanuki. Released in Japan as “Ore ga Heroine o Tasukesugite Sekai ga Little Mokushiroku!?” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Adam Lensenmayer.

I had made much in my review of the first volume of this being a parody of the harem genre, and also talked about the humor in it. Book 3 is sadly lacking in good humor (R is barely in it), and the parody aspect is also starting to slip a little too, as we meet our hero’s female counterpart and find that she’s luring him to the dark side. Not that he’s turning evil or anything. But Hibiki also gets caught up in stories, as the heroine, and one of her friends – OK, if we’re being honest, her only friend – was injured because of that and is now in a coma. So ‘the dark side’ in this case means the darkness of the soul, where you wind up pushing everyone away because you don’t want to see them get hurt. And she infects Rekka with this mindset, which is a problem, because the entire premise of the series is therefore at risk.

Fortunately, despite this volume being far more serious than the previous two, it holds up pretty well. The situations are still cliched, but having only one heroine to worry about much of the time streamlines things a bit, even as we still have to solve multiple promises. (Arguably the fox girl is a second heroine, despite Rekka’s cluelessness, but I’ll worry about that if she ever comes back). Rekka manages to overcomes his self-doubt, pushed along by a lack of confidence (something R lampshades, as she is wont to do). And the old heroines all get something to do. The scenes with Satsuki and Harissa are quite good, as thanks to Rekka pushing her away Satsuki has her own crisis of conscience. She’s known him the longest, after all. But Harissa is the ‘purest’ of the girls in terms of her love for Rekka, so she’s able to teach the valuable lesson this time, at least once she wakes up.

The big drawback to this volume, unfortunately, are its heroines. Hibiki is meant to be a female mirror of Rekka, and also show what he could be if he went down the wrong path. As such, she’s a bit of a mess, starting off strong but eventually just hanging off the villain’s arm waiting to be rescued. Also, it feels weird to have one tsundere a mere volume after the classic example of Tsumiki. Hibiki’s crush on Rekka simply doesn’t feel earned, not the way the other girls’ do. As for the other ‘heroines’ here, the fox girl is cute but basically frets constantly the entire book, and Meifa is a living reward who doesn’t even get to speak at the end of the book. I realize that it’s hard to create strong characters every time, but given the premise the author has made for himself, it’s something he’s going to have to muscle up and do.

So I’m a bit annoyed, but in the end turning more serious did not break the series, and there were several cool fight scenes. It looks as if Rekka has remembered the core to his series, which is ‘solve one girl’s problems using another girl’s talents’, and given Vol. 4 is back to three girls on the cover, he should be fine.

(Oh yes, and don’t use alien races as a metaphor for racism if your magic solution is “turn everyone white”. Just… don’t do that.)

I Saved Too Many Girls and Caused the Apocalypse, Vol. 2

By Namekojirushi and Nao Watanuki. Released in Japan as “Ore ga Heroine o Tasukesugite Sekai ga Little Mokushiroku!?” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Adam Lensenmayer.

This was a surprising license for J-Novel Club. Not because of the premise – honestly, the combination of harem parody along with the genre mashing of fantasy, SF, school life, and everything in between is highly appealing to North American markets. No, it’s just that this novel series is 16 volumes long in Japan, which is pretty lengthy, especially for a budding LN publisher. Thankfully, the 16th book seems to be the final one, so we don’t need to worry about it becoming a massive behemoth like A Certain Magical Index. And to be fair, judging by the lengths of these first two novels, 16 Little Apocalypses may be the equivalent of eight Devil Is a Part-Timers. The reason I bring all this up is because we not only get three heroines introduced here, but roles also for the first book’s heroines, and the introduction of (presumably) the next heroine at the end. By Book 16, what will the pileup look like? Well, probably like an apocalypse.

Of course, not all heroines are created equal. Poor Harissa doesn’t really get to do much here except fret and use the occasional spell, and Iris is sent off until the thrilling finale requires her. Satsuki plays a larger role, but that’s more due to her magical wikipedia ability than anything else. This makes sense, given that we get three new girls here, and have fun seeing Rekka try to intertwine their stories in order to solve the problem. Fortunately, two of them are already intertwined: Tetra is essentially a shrine maiden devoted to doing something about the seal that is currently holding back a powerful monster, and Leviathan (aka Lea), the monster in question who turns out to have been imprisoned there falsely. The third heroine is more down to earth: Akane Tendo (cough) pardon me, Tsumiki Nozomuno, who family owns a failing restaurant and needs her to come up with a dramatic menu item to save the day, despite the fact that anything she cooks ends up as a poisonous black sludge, and also the fact that she’s a massive tsundere.

This volume is not quite as good as the first – I suspect the author forgets that he’s writing a parody of the harem genre at times, and when he does, things get rather tedious. The villain was quite good, but the introduction reminded me a lot of Kyubey – possibly deliberately, as I think Madoka Magica was airing when this was being written. There are funny gags, although Rekka in a magical girl outfit is not as funny as the author – and indeed the rest of the cast – think. Worst of all, R’s snark is few and far between here, though when she does make a comment it’s as hilariously sarcastic and bitter as ever. She’s still easily the best part of the book.

As I said, we get a cliffhanger ending to this book, which seems to introduce the subject of the third book. Will it limit itself to just one girl this time around? If we assume 3 girls per book, that would be 48 girls, which is edging close to Negima territory, so I’m hoping that we back off a bit. I’m also hoping for a bit more making fun of the harem comedy and less conforming to it. Still, this is easy reading and fun enough for those who enjoy the genre.

I Saved Too Many Girls And Caused The Apocalypse, Vol. 1

By Namekojirushi and Nao Watanuki. Released in Japan as “Ore ga Heroine o Tasukesugite Sekai ga Little Mokushiroku!?” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Adam Lensenmayer.

To a certain extent, a lot of light novels in Japan have a certain level of knowing irony built into their very frame. You don’t have a genre with that many long-winded over-dramatic series titles and not know that your tongue is planted firmly in your cheek, though by now, a few years out, I suspect many of the imitators may have bypassed the irony in favor of “long titles sell”. But if you do understand, and your audience does as well, there’s a lot you can make fun of. Especially in the so-called “harem” genre, something which has been around in North America since the dawn of manga here (see Ranma 1/2 for only one example) and is even more rife in Japan. Jealous childhood friends, wishy-washy male leads, cripplingly shy yet adorable girls who always enthrall the male audience yet never actually win… we all know the type. It’s ripe for being made fun of.

Our hero is a young man who only wishes to live a normal life. Sadly, Rekka is told by his father on his 16th birthday that he’s inheriting the birthright of being the “final hero” – i.e., when a crisis is happening somewhere and a hero is needed but has not actually materialized, died, or failed, Rekka will be called to action to get the girl, kill the baddies, and save the entire planet. The keywords here being “get the girl”. Shortly after this, a young girl from the future, R, pops up to tell Rekka that he made too many girls fall in love with him doing this, and his inability to settle down and pick one has led to a future apocalypse. R is here to help prevent this. And right after this, the hero stuff keeps pouring in. His childhood friend is secretly a mage, an alien princess wants to marry him, and a shy sorcerer needs hims help to defeat the Demon Overlord. The conceit is that this all happens at the same time.

I must admit, my expectations were somewhat low for this release. The dire but similar “My Little Sister Can Read Kanji” release by J-Novel was so bad I wasn’t even able to finish (or review) it. But it looked lighthearted at least, and I was in the mood for something that wasn’t just dour overpowered male leads staring at the charred remains of all they once loved. And luckily, this ended up being a quite readable treat. It’s not great art, and overstays its welcome (something that is worrying given how long the series is in Japan). But it knows what it’s mocking and does it very well. Some of the jokes actually made me laugh out loud, a rarity for light novels. Its one big drawback is that it peaks too soon. Rekka and Harissa battling the Demon Overlord, complete with “you fools! This isn’t even my final form!” is the absolute highlight of the entire book, and the rest couldn’t dream of topping it.

The basic premise is actually quite clever: Rakka would normally be taking care of these things one by one, and likely not doing a great job. But with them all happening at once, he’s able to use resources from one heroine route to fix another. And they aren’t necessarily easy fixes, either – I knew the moment that he left Harissa right after defeating the Demon Overlord handily that it wouldn’t be that simple, and sure enough she’s soon on the chopping block to be executed. As for Rekka himself, he’s amusingly dense, but he’s not an incompetent clumsy idiot like a lot of harem heroes – you actually get why these girls fall for him. The heroines themselves are all obvious types, designed to win over whichever pleases the reader best, and none are too annoying. Best of all is R, who is invisible to all but Rekka and is thus able to float around him at all times making dry, sarcastic remarks about his incompetence. “I now understand the difficulty of my mission in my heart and not just in my head” was wonderful. (I also hope that she does not become part of the harem in future books.)

Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised at what a light, breezy read this was. Don’t read it if you can’t tolerate harems, of course. And like many light novels, I suspect it’s something I’d find far more aggravating as an anime or manga with more visual fanservice. But if you want something funny and cheeky, this is a good series to get.