The Ideal Sponger Life, Vol. 1

By Tsunehiko Watanabe and Neko Hinotsuki. Released in Japan as “Risou no Himo Seikatsu” by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Wesley Bridges. Adapted by Jessica Cluess.

Well, here we are again with another isekai. They tend to be male power fantasies, but this one’s even more blatant about what it is than most. Based on an (as yet unlicensed) light novel, our hero is a Japanese salaryman working for a shady company and not enjoying his life, until he’s transported to another world! (Not hit by a truck, which is honestly what I was expecting.) There he meets the beautiful and busty Queen, ho explains why he’s there. Due to plot reasons, he has royal blood from the other world in him, so he needs to marry the queen and get her producing an heir. That’s all he has to do. Despite this world being pretty patriarchal, he’s not required to rule the land a la Realist Hero or anything. He’s savvy enough to realize that’s the catch (she wants to rule herself, not pass a baton), but decides to go for it anyway. Of course, this being an isekai, he immediately is an influence regardless.

It has to be said, even for a male power fantasy this one’s pretty nice to the hero. He’s briefly threatened by guards when he approaches the queen, but that’s about it. She happily explains everything to him, and even allows him to return to Earth for a month so he can settle his affairs and say goodbye to his family, which is more than 90% of isekai heroes get. He also thinks ahead, taking a portable generator and tons of books/CDs/DVDs/a fridge with him when he goes, as he knows this is standard fantasy world. I’m assuming there will be the typical adventure things later on in the series, but for the moment he is there to marry and knock up the queen. Which he does, or at least presumably. He also needs to learn the language, as it turns out that while he can hear everyone in Japanese, they aren’t really speaking it – it’s a magic ability he has. This means learning to read and write, and also teaching Excel Spreadsheets to the kingdom, which I suspect may win him enemies.

Given that we see it on Page 1 (in a sort of premonition), it should not be a surprise that there IS sex in this, which isn’t 100% explicit but gets as close as it can to that line. I’ll be honest, I was expecting more plot to interfere in the actual consummation, since I’ve seen this type of thing before, but no, this time both hero and heroine are actual adults, and the whole point is to produce an heir, and so coitus ensues. This also allows us a brief look at the queen, Aura, when she isn’t wearing the queenly mask, as we see her on the wedding night trying to act smooth and seductive, but once she’s alone in the bedroom she shows off a blush that suggests she’s just as innocent as he is. Nor is he a majestic lover, either – while they both seem to have happy sex, the line “I guess this means you’ve finished” seems to imply it was better for him than for her.

I’ve heard this series described as “come for the boobs, stay for the political intrigue”, and that seems accurate. Certainly the latter is what motivates me to try another volume. There’s some good setup here, assuming you can get past the sex scenes and objectification of the queen that’s also in these pages.