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.

A Late-Start Tamer’s Laid-Back Life, Vol. 6

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.

This is, for the most part, another solid volume in the series, with one exception that I’ll get to later. For all that I’ve been talking about Yuto accidentally becoming overpowered and a celebrity, that’s mostly just due to his personality and the way that he reacts to things vs. how everyone else in the game reacts. Looked at objectively, he’s rather clever, tends to choose the right option, and his constant experimentation usually pays off, even if it can lead to disasters at the start. Heck, even those disasters can be monetized -I loved the idea of selling his experiments with carbonated beverages as a “mystery box” where you could get delicious or awful. I also enjoy his interactions with Alyssa, whose freakouts every time Yuto casually mentions something he’s done are always funny. As always, there’s limited to no plot or character development, though that may change in the next book in the series, which implies he’ll buy a house. But that’s next book.

Most of this volume consists of Yuto and his companions going through various dungeons, each one hidden in a different cardinal direction. Given that a lot of this involves battling rather than taming or crafting, it’s not a surprise that it takes him a while to plow through them, and both he and his tames monsters suffer a bit. (The image of Sakura constantly being set on fire is, thankfully, not illustrated.) The reward for each dungeon turns out to be a broken child’s toy, and the implication is that this will pay off once you get them all – which turns out to be true. More importantly, though, Amelia invites Yuto to a tea party that’s going to be livestreamed, and leads to hilarious consequences as, once again, Yuto fails to realize how iconic he’s become.

Right, let’s get around to the thing I didn’t like. There is some good in it – the book introduces a necromancer who is a boy dressed in feminine clothing, and Yuto and various people say, a few times, that there’s nothing wrong with that. And, when the same character is bullied and shamed by another player, a few people come to his defense, including, eventually, Yuto. It’s more realistic than I’d expect, with a lot of folks sitting there doing nothing till they realize the tide has turned and it’s safe to speak up. The problem is that the author can’t resist the old anime trope of having everyone, including Yuto, think of said feminine boy in a romantic light and then quickly doing a “no homo!” bit to show off that it’s OK, still safe to read this, any men who might enjoy this series. And unfortunately, the latter eventually outweighs the former. It’s aggravating.

Other than that, though, this is a perfectly good volume in this very mellow series. I think we’re in a “time to renegotiate the contracts” lull right now, so it may be a longer wait till Book 7, but I’m happy to read more.

A Late-Start Tamer’s Laid-Back Life, Vol. 5

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 be very difficult to write a true ‘Slow Life” light novel title. Most of the books that say they’re slow life actually have our hero doing a hell of a lot of magic battles/sword fights/adventuring, with him bemoaning the fact that he’s supposed to have a slow life. On the other hand, genuine slow life books run the risk of being punishingly boring, with our hero describing his rows of tomato plants for 45 pages. A lot of books tend to resolve this with a pile of young women and sexual situations (hi there, Farming Life in Another World), but again, that doesn’t feel like it supports the premise of “a slow life, relaxed book”. Late Start Tamer comes close, though. It’s a game, not a fantasy world, and there’s no “death game” aspect to it. What’s more, despite the presence of filthy shippers on the forums, there’s no actual romance in this series at all. It’s basically Yuto getting a series of powerful pets. It’s fun.

The bulk of the first half of the book is taken up with a Cherry Blossom Viewing party, as he has to invite some NPCs to the party to get an achievement. He also asks some players he knows, who bring other folks they know, and pretty soon the ENTIRE cast we’ve seen to date is present at this one party, stretching Yuto’s farm to the limit. What’s more, his dragon egg is hatching!… admittedly, what’s inside is a mole, not a dragon, but hey, it wouldn’t be a Japanese light novel without untranslatable kanji wordplay. After this the entire party battles a yokai that has infiltrated the party as a special event… which proceeds to unlock yokai for EVERYONE to start interacting with. Once again, hanging out with Yuto pays off.

As always, you’ll pardon me for saying the same things again, because while I enjoy this series and find it fun, it has zero character development, due to its nature as a game. I suppose you could argue that Yuto has greatly expanded his circle of friends from the start of the series, but that’s almost by accident. The mole is a fun addition, even if he looks just like the villain Mole from the Pogo comic strip. We also get a tanuki yokai which Yuto unwittingly (of course) purchases at an auction, and then happens to figure out the sequence of events to unlock them. What’s standard common sense to Yuto is mind-boggling to everyone else, and means that fans of Boruri will also end up getting a kick out of this one, even if Yuto is not quite in Maple’s league. We also get a few battles as well, though I find this the least entertaining part of the series, as the combat is nothing special.

This is not a must read per se, but if you enjoy slow life, or “overpowered by accident” books, you’ll enjoy this.