The Invincible Shovel, Vol. 1

By Yasohachi Tsuchise and Hagure Yuuki. Released in Japan as “Scoop Musou: “Scoop Hadouhou!” (`・ω・´)♂〓〓〓〓★(゜Д゜ ;;) .:∴DOGOoo” by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Elliot Ryoga. Adapted by Renee Baumgartner.

First of all, I apologize for not using the full title in the header, which is “The Invincible Shovel: “Wave Motion Shovel Blast!” ( `・ω・´)♂〓〓〓〓★(゜Д ゜ ;;;).:∴KA-CHOOOM”. It turns out that this title literally breaks the URL. Which seems appropriate for this book, which may break a few brains, particularly those who are not ready for the true path of the shovel. The word ‘shovel’ and its variations are in this book 708 times, and after finishing it you’ll be surprised it’s that low. “Variations?”, I hear you cry. Why yes. We get shovely, shoveltastic, shoveltronic, and many, many more, courtesy of the cover heroine, Lithisia, who, as with everyone else who meets our hero, starts off seemingly normal and then leaps off the deep end. Now, mind you, this is not to say that Alan, the hero, is any less completely unbelievable – though in his case it’s his own stoic acceptance of all things shovel that’s the issue. Basically, this book is very, VERY silly.

Indeed, the book starts off silly and never stops, as we begin with Alan, a miner who somehow forgets to die or age, finding that his shovel can now fire beams. As he lives longer and mines more, the shovel and Alan gain more and more powers. Now, one thousand years later, he’s so used to it that it never occurs to him that shovels can’t do everything. One day he runs into a runaway princess who is trying to save her land, Lithisia. Saving her from bandits, she rapidly, through both him showing off his shovel’s powers and her amazing skill of misinterpretation, falls in love with Alan and then later essentially becomes the High Priestess of the new Shovel religion (which she creates). As they try to gather the orbs to save her people, they run into her best friend, a knight who fills the straight man function; an elf who is the last of her kind; a princess who’s now an undead queen; and a water priestess who’s been sold into slavery. No worries, though. The shovel solves all.

This book is here for one reason and one reason alone: to be funny. Everything runs on humor. Lithisia quickly thinks that Alan uses the word ‘shoveling’ to mean sex (he does not), and rapidly the other heroines (with Catria, the sensible one, excepted) also fall into this thinking. (Alan, who is 1000 years older than them, and also dense, does not try anything despite their best attempts.) Alan shows the cast and the reader new uses for his shovel almost by the page, which range from actual digging to the titular wave motion gun to time travel, raising the dead and flight. The latter half of the book is Alan doing something mind-boggling, explaining it with a “of course, this is obvious” look, having everyone marvel at him, and having Catria scream that it is not, in fact, obvious. All this, and also Lithisia converting more to her shovel religion.

I had already heard that this title had a reputation for being hilarious, and was worried it would fail to live up to that. No fear. Only the biggest “OP is always bad” light novel fans would find this aggravating. For everyone else, all hail the Mighty Shovel!