A Late-Start Tamer’s Laid-Back Life, Vol. 9

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 A.M. Cola.

If you read this series to watch it tick boxes, this is a very good volume. As you can tell from the cover, we get to tick the box ‘beach episode’, as Yuto and his tamed monsters get to dress in swimsuits for the beach (though apparently the non-human ones have to wear one-piece suits, presumably so we don’t have to deal with penguins in bikinis) and also got to have their very own Jurassic Park event on an uncharted desert island (which, of course, he manages to complete by himself purely on instinct and luck, something which absolutely boggles the mods). Admittedly, he doesn’t come out unscathed, as there are two sacrifices for the cause… but this is a fluffy game, so when the tamed monster dies they just literally go back to the ranch. There’s no end goal to this series at all – it ends when Yuto’s two-week vacation finishes and he has to go back to being a salaryman again. The fluff is all there is.

It’s time for the Summer Event, which means Yuto and his crew get to hang out on beaches, go fishing, and try to fill up an encyclopedia of animals and insects. This is right up Yuto’s alley, as he is exactly the sort of nerd that went looking for rhinoceros beetles as a kid, though the rest of the tamed crew are a bit less enthusiastic. He also gets to (after many attempts to get past a strong current blocking the player from advancing) to an island that has prehistoric life, ranging from rare fossils to tyrannosaurus rexes to raptors straight out of that movie that dare not speak its name. (Sadly, it’s not WcRassic Park.) Unfortunately, Yuto is not really powerful enough to take on a t-rex, especially when they also come across a huge brachiosaurus. Nothing left to do but get killed… or is there a way to beat this using smarts? And what effects will accidentally streaming everything have on the event?

It’s getting increasingly hard not to call this series “the male Bofuri”, and if Maple kept to herself and got a few more animal friends, they’d basically be the same. Yuto is not trying to break the game, he just keeps doing it. It’s not just that he happened across the one way to actually win the dinosaur battle without a party wipe, it’s that he accidentally streamed it so that EVERYONE ELSE also knows. He didn’t even have to give the info to the increasingly despairing info brokers this time around (though rest assured, he still has plenty of info, and it’s still breaking their bank to buy it.) But Yuto is not really trying to get involved in major game stories. He’s here to try to catch a coelacanth, or get back to shore before he has to pay extra on his fishing boat. Like Maple, he’s simply a game-breaking force of nature, and if the teaser for the next book proves true (think sunken pirate gold), that won’t change. Looks like the head developer will have to get a divorce.

So yeah, this has no plot, and it’s never going to. It has no romance. Hell, it barely has friendships – Yuto doesn’t really hang out with other players this volume. But it’s fun. I like it.

A Late-Start Tamer’s Laid-Back Life, Vol. 8

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 A.M. Cola.

At one point in this book, the game is doing a huge mock battle with a massive bird enemy, featuring lots of derring-do and feats of strength, and Yuto manages to win the day by a combination of (accidental) self-sacrifice and being very clever, and he and his tamed monsters look very good doing it. At other points in the book, Yuto discovers rice and also gets a penguin as a tamed monster. It’s not a surprise to readers of this book that the latter two events get a far bigger reaction from other players than the first one. This is a series that revels in its little moments, to the point where the epilogue blatantly has the game devs talking about how their new competitor, about to be released, is deliberately designed to be as different from Law of Justice Online as possible. Yes, Yuto is very cool at times, much as he doesn’t think so. But more importantly, he can cook and has cute pets. Priorities.

The book starts with Yuto completing his underwater expedition with the three other girls in his temporary party, and arriving at a swampy paddy… which, much to his delight, contains an ingredient called “Paddy”, which can be used to make rice! Rice has been one of the foodstuffs that no one has been able to come across in the game, so this discovery is huge! It also leads to more of Yuto’s wacky cooking experiments. After this, we get another event, as Yuto and several others are sent to defend a small fortress that is being beset by birds, Hitchcock-style. Yuto spends most of this time finding bird-repelling things and being baffled that everyone is treating him as the leader of the group. He even manages to do some actual fighting, though it does, of course, kill him. And then there’s his new, tamed monster… a penguin!

It has been both amusing and a bit annoying seeing the evolving relationship between Yuto and Alyssa, his main contact with the information group Quick-Eared Cats. At the start of the series, she was mildly shocked at all the stuff that he’s brought to her and claimed was nothing. But by now his very appearance in their home base causes her to get ulcers and have panic attacks. I kind of wish they stayed closer, but I get it. Yuto’s number one character trait is being oblivious to his own greatness, and that means he has no idea that the things he’s bringing to her are worth a fortune – which means they’ll make the money back eventually, but it puts the Cats in an awkward position of being deep in debt right after every visit of his. As for the penguin, it’s basically written in to be a joke about the Tomihiko Morimi book Penguin Highway, but it also looks like it will be one of the stronger characters in future volumes.

Somehow I’m guessing the new game coming out to challenge LJO is going to struggle. Why shoot other players to death when you can watch a beat, a mole, and a penguin frolic around?

A Late-Start Tamer’s Laid-Back Life, Vol. 7

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 A.M. Cola.

I will admit that disbelief is starting to be a bit TOO suspended in this series. The whole plot is that Yuto does stunningly amazing things without actually realizing it, is a huge celebrity without knowing it at all, and exudes this “aw shucks, I’m just a dull weak gamer” aura that puts even the most modest of Japanese protagonists to shame. But his ignorance to the actual gaming world is getting to be ridiculous. We know he reads forums. We know he tries to look for solutions, and he’s aware of upcoming events. So the idea that not only is he unaware of a new video channel for the game where players can get money by posting popular videos, but that *he* is the #1 videos thanks to his cute monsters weaponizing radio calisthenics… I mean, there’s innocent young boy who we must protect, and there’s deliberately thick. Especially given that Yuto is, in real life, an office worker. He’s not really a teenage boy! Sheesh.

Most of the book is the usual stuff: Yuto goes on adventures with his monsters where they fight things and almost die but eventually win; Yuto experiments with various types of weird things and usually has failures but sometimes comes up with something really interesting; and, of course, standing around while people gawp at him. The most important things he does in the book are a) buy another property, this one a Japanese-style house that comes with monsters that fit the mood… something that seems unavailable to other players. And he also finally makes it to Zone 5, which means he can try to achieve things he can’t do by hanging out at the starter’s line. This includes a huge underwater battle… which comes about as a result of realizing that the salmon tastes different depending on which color it is.

The series runs a great deal on “it’s OK because they’re so cute”, which is mostly fine (especially once the new “you can’t sexually harass the monsters” rule comes into play), and sometimes less fine (I’ve complained before about the “no homo” aspect of this series when it comes to guys who look feminine unnerving our hero, and will again, as I doubt it’s going away). Like Bofuri, though, this is a real game, not a “trapped in a game” or “isekai but it’s stats” world, so you get things like moderators actually doing their jobs and logging people out when their arguments get too heated. This is meant to be a world for people like Yuto, a relaaxing stroll through cool things, and anyone getting too upset about not getting the first doodad on the shelf should really be playing some other game. Besides, it’s far too late. Yuto gets all the first doodads. He even has a “first doodad boy” title.

This won’t win new fans, but old fans will like it. A slow life series that works.