I Saved Too Many Girls And Caused The Apocalypse, Vol. 4

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.

Life as a parody can be difficult, especially when it’s unclear whether you are a parody or not anymore. Little Apocalypse started off being pretty blatantly a parody of all of those harems with piles and piles of women, as well as titles where the male lead goes around “rescuing” the girl of the week (hi, Index). But as the volumes have gone on I think it’s safe to admit that sometimes it tends to forget this and just tries to be a straight up harem action novel. You can usually tell by the fact that the author is forgetting to include R’s sarcastic asides for dozens of pages at a time, and it’s R that reminds us that Rekka’s frustrating indecision and waffley-ness is not actually bad writing but a deliberate decision. That said, I would not blame those who hate indecisive male leads from dropping the series, though I do wonder why they started it in the first place.

We’re back to three girls on the cover, and the author brags in the afterword about having made it to double digits on the heroines. That said, one of the previous ones doesn’t even get mentioned, and a second is only mentioned in passing. As with Negima, all heroines are important but some heroines are more important than others. New heroines this time include Rosalind, the blonde loli vampire that you knew we were going to get sooner or later, and who serves as the main antagonist (though she’s also a heroine); Silver Slayer, a homunculus trained to destroy Rosalind who has been chasing her the last two hundred years or so; and Chelsea, a mage who is desperately searching for a way to save her dying little brother. Add to all this Hibiki (from Book 3), who actually brings Chelsea to Rekka; Lea (from Book 2), who’s there to provide some muscle; and the main three heroines from Book 1, who likely always will be the top heroines.

And then there’s Rekka, who continues to be the savvy-only-when-necessary male lead. As with most of these books, the first half drags quite a bit as we set up the pieces, and the second half is much better as the pieces all interlock and Rekka can deal with them all at the same time. When Rekka is fretting about having set up dates on Sunday with all the girls at the same time, the book sadly falls into the exact cliches it’s meant to be making fun of, and is not as interesting. (Also Christ, I hope he went to buy Harissa some clothes after this.) For a book that’s so low in page count, there’s a lot going on in each one – I didn’t mention the evil genie, or the Philosopher’s Stone. The author knows how to bring a situation to chaos and let it play out. He now needs to work harder on what to do when everything is at rest. Recommended for those who can tolerate a wishy-washy male lead, written by design. If you can’t, avoid this series with great avoid.

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.