A Late-Start Tamer’s Laid-Back Life, Vol. 3

By Yuu Tanaka and Nardack. Released in Japan as “Deokure Tamer no Sono Higurashi” by GC Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Yuko C. Shimomoto.

At long last, this series has a big event that threatens the lives (well, the virtual lives) of its players. There’s missing kids. There’s killer bears. There’s dying magic trees. There’s two demon lord minions and the demon lord himself. Everyone will have to band together in order to find a way to defeat this horrible disaster. As for Yuto, he’s really excited about making pizza. Yuto will never really change who he is, and thus while all the other folks are going around finding quests and figuring out where the hell to sleep, Yuto immediately befriends a local NPC farmer and starts odd-jobbing his way to success. Which is good, because this event was designed with Yuto’s skill set in mind, and honestly the main problem may be getting Yuto to actually want to help them in battle against the boss. Why would he do that? He’s a terrible fighter. Much better to try to fish and grab some really nice pears. (No, not like that.)

While all the actual fighters are off having their tournament (which we never even hear the result of), Yuto and the other non-combatant players get an event to themselves. they arrive in a village of NPCs and have to figure out what’s going on. Yuto, as is his modus operandi, does not really bother and just sets about meeting all the NPCs, helping them out, getting useful bits of advice, and getting cool ingredients and recipes to cook with. That said, when the boy that he was fishing with vanishes, Yuto’s investigation ends up uncovering that they need to stop trying to kill the Shardik that’s trying to destroy them but instead find out why he’s doing that – as it turns out he’s meant to be a Guardian Bear who protects the village. Could it be demons? And if so, will Yuto just die like the terrible fighter he is?

Again, a lot of this series runs on Yuto underestimating his own playing style – he doesn’t see what he’s doing as great or unusual, but the other players don’t even THINK of it. That’s why he’s a pioneer. He also gets a coup;le new monsters by the end of the book – one, a treant he tamed that turned into a plant, will wait till next time, but Sakura and Olto’s egg turns out to have a singing fairy inside – though the singing is as wordless as all his other monsters. Unfortunately, he also suffers from his monsters being adorable – meaning they attract “fans”. The other players manage to stand on the edge of being creepty stalkers without ever quite going over it, but it’s a close thing, and I agree with his discomfort. That said, I fear this is the book’s running gag.

This was a stronger volume than the first two. If you can put up with Yuto’s narrative modesty and the long length of each volume, it’s a must for slow-life fans.

A Late-Start Tamer’s Laid-Back Life, Vol. 2

By Yuu Tanaka and Nardack. Released in Japan as “Deokure Tamer no Sono Higurashi” by GC Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Yuko C. Shimomoto.

It can often be very tempting to say “please see previous review” rather than trying to find 500+ new words about a series. Oh, there’s nothing particularly bad about this second volume. It continues to manage to make me want to keep reading it despite the fact that it is really just a gaming log of this guy building up his stats and choosing his bonuses. For 350 pages. The fact that I enjoy it is a big point in the author’s favor. And yet… there’s not really a lot to delve into here. Yuto is never really going to have major character development, as this is not that sort of book. He’s in an actual game, rather than trapped in a game or in a fantasy world that looks like a game, so there’s never any worry of bad things happening to him. Heck, it’s a G-rated game, so his two tamed monsters have a child by their magic intermingling, rather than for any more sordid reason. It’s not boring per se, but boring surrounds it like a cloud.

Yuto continues to chug along. He’s now hatched his monster egg, which produces a bear. No, not a normal, realistic bear – a teddy bear. Who Yuto promptly names Bear Bear, because that’s the kind of guy he is. He also meets a few other people, mostly young women (aside from his friendship with elf boy Sawyer, who is attractive and thus forces us to trot out the loathed “I’m straight, though” rejoinder) who assist him in running his farm, not dying from fighting ghosts, or just building him woodworking projects because his tamed animals are so KYUTE! Admittedly, he does still have a bit of negative attention. Not as bad as the first book – permabanning can send a message – but they’re not happy he always seems to be getting cool new things and has some hot babes hanging out with him. That said, he’s more concerned with tea and cookies.

It really does feel as you read this volume that the author is someone who wants to play a very specific kind of game, the one we are seeing in this book, but can’t quite find the one that has all the bells and whistles they want so has decided to just write it as a light novel. It is an ode to the sort of player who actually tries to do the useless quests everyone else avoids, or experiments with combining two completely disparate things into a recipe because why not? It also shows how rewarding this kind of thinking is – though only if you’re original about it, as people who are trying to do the exact same things that Yuto did are finding the game does not crank out the same cool rewards. I will admit I do also like the fact that Yuto is the opposite of a fighter. He’s saved by badass women from certain death twice in this book, and the book ends with a special event literally being created for him because he’s clearly not interested in the martial arts tournament. The devs have their eye on him. (Possibly in a disturbing way.)

Again, if you like Bofuri, you should give this a try. It really does make ‘a +3 boost to strength for 30 minutes’ come alive. (OK, no, it does not do that. But it tries.)

A Late-Start Tamer’s Laid-Back Life, Vol. 1

By Yuu Tanaka and Nardack. Released in Japan as “Deokure Tamer no Sono Higurashi” by GC Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Yuko C. Shimomoto.

The author of this series is the same one who writes Reincarnated As a Sword, and I was therefore inclined to give it a little more rope, given that I bounced hard off that title after an extremely slow start. This one has an extremely slow start as well, and while I’m tempted to say that it has a slow middle and a slow end as well, that’s not quite true. Stuff does happen. But this book is not kidding about the laid-back part, as you will watch our hero plant a garden, wash dishes, pick up trash, and weed for a good long time. And, of course, because it’s one of those light novels, there is constant stat-talking. At least in this case it’s justified because this is an actual game, rather than a game-like fantasy world or a trapped scenario. That said, for all my whining, there is a certain charm to this title. If Maple from Bofuri were actually a seasoned gamer, it feels like this is the sort of thing she would do.

Our hero is a nameless salaryman who takes a two-week vacation in order to devote himself to a brand new virtual reality game. Naming his character Yuto, he quickly spends a LOT of money customizing things just right… but is rather shocked to find that in fact his choice of class and options didn’t really work out for fighting much of anything. He does have a tamed monster, a gnome named Olto, but their specialty is in the soil, not in battle. Should he give up and create a new character? Heck no. He’ll just have to deal and figure out what he CAN do. As it turns out, he can do quite a lot, as he manages to rack up impressive titles, unlock areas no one has ever gone before, win incredibly rare items, and gain two more tamed creatures. He doesn’t seem to think he’s doing anything special, really, and his narration certainly makes that clear.

This is from GC Novels, and like most titles from that publisher it’s a bit of a brick, coming in at 357 pages on my digital edition. As such, you will need to get used to Yuto’s narrative style and general attitude, which is along the lines of “I am just a potato protagonist, I don’t know why anyone would be interested in the normal things I do”. Of course, most of these normal things lead to amazing events, because he’s the protagonists. The rest of the cast is fun, though none of the tamed creatures actually speak beyond grunts and sounds, so Yuto spends most of the book talking to himself. I do love the tamed squirrel he gets near the end of the book, which is named Rick, and who I will be calling Rocky the Flying Squirrel from now on. Also, unlike Bofuri, there actually ARE bad gamers in this world – they may not be able to PK you, but we see Yuto dealing with harassment, which is funny and also disturbing.

If you like reading game logs, this is a must buy. For everyone else, it depends on your tolerance of “aw, shucks” protagonists who have everything good happen to them. I’ll at least be reading the 2nd volume.