I Saved Too Many Girls And Caused the Apocalypse, Vol. 5

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.

After a couple of books where I was fairly dissatisfied with the series, this is a much stronger volume of Little Apocalypse. It still has its cliches that it falls into, and has pretty much given up being a parody, but that also means the plot gets much more serious and thrilling. Rekka actually manages to achieve cool things, and his wishy-washyness about the heroines is a bit less frustrating. Also R has a lot more to do, and has become the reader stand-in, admiring the girls and tweaking Rekka. We also get a second book in a row where one of the heroines turns out to be not what they seem, but this one actually comes as a bit of a surprise, one of quite a few genuine surprises I had reading this book. There are still a few major problems with it (more on that below), but rating it against other books in the series, it’s the best since the first.

The plot kicks off when Iris invites Rekka to a water planet for the weekend to do some swimming. By now Iris has gotten used to the fact that she can’t have Rekka all to herself as much as she wants, so she even goes as far as to invite the others as well. (The revolving heroine door revolves again this time – Lea can’t make it, but instead Tetra gets a much larger role, to make up for being absent in the prior book.) Upon arrival, they find the planet, in order to survive, has basically become a resort, with the mermaid palace a glorified hotel. Unfortunately, the palace is soon attacked by pirates, whose motive is murky but who seem prepared to kill. Rekka teams up with his usual crew, along with Rain, the princess of the mermaid planet; Shirley, a scientist who seemingly was simply there on holiday as well; and Fam, one of the pirates who’s noticed that the captain has not been himself lately. Interestingly, only the last two are identified as ‘heroines’ by R; I wasn’t sure why Rain wasn’t, but in the end she ends up being one anyway.

As I said, for the most part I enjoyed this. The first at the end was quite good, and the villain’s broken motivation was treated with sensitivity by Rekka when almost any other hero would have simply taken them out. That said, I had two big problems. The first is Raul, a Lupin wannabe who seems to be there to do all the things that the author realized would be impossible for Rekka to achieve, which is nice except that seeing how Rekka achieves impossible things is the main reason to read the series. He’s a deus ex machina character. The other is the ending, which I knew was coming but still cringed at. If you’re going to have a villain threaten an entire planet with death and be well advanced in actually achieving this, even if the motivations do turn out to be “I have never had friends and am desperately lonely”, I’m pretty sure you still have to serve time. The Get Out Of Jail Free Because I’m A Heroine card works far less well here than it does for Rosalind.

But oh well. Little Apocalypse is never going to be perfect, particularly as it keeps advancing its ridiculous premise. Most of the book works pretty well, some neglected heroines get things to do (and no doubt will be neglected again while others rotate in), Rekka gets to be cool and yet still unaware that people are attracted to him, and R is snarky. We’re almost a third of the way through the series, and I’m starting to be curious as to how the author can keep this up without it collapsing.

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.)