Loner Life in Another World, Vol. 8

By Shoji Goji and Saku Enomaru. Released in Japan as “Hitoribocchi no Isekai Kouryaku” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Eric Margolis. Adapted by Lorin Christie.

It feels odd to call a book that is 100 pages longer than the previous books a breather volume but that’s exactly what this is. After all of the plot going on in the last three volumes, Loner Life is returning to its roots, which means get ready for a whole lot of dungeon crawling. As always, you not only need to translate this book to English (and the translation is fine, I hasten to add – a) even Japanese fans say this is incoherent, and b) Haruka is meant to sound like this), but you also need to translate subtext into text. As such, the fact that we’ve moved from “let’s clear out all the 50-floor dungeons” and have now become “hey, all these dungeons are now about 90 floors” is a cause for great concern, and even small, supposedly random things like “Haruka is asked to make sanitary pads for the girls” delves into a critique on isekai stories in general as well as a dark examination of why Angelica and Nefertiri are only concubines. There is meat on these bones, under all that narrative bullshit.

The cover has Vice Rep B, but she’s no more prominent here than any of the other classmates not named Class Rep; the artist clearly gave her a cover shot to show off her assets, so to speak. After the civil war of the last two books, everyone is back in Omui, and there’s now a passel of orphan children with them. Most of the spare time is spent dungeon crawling, partly to get spellstones so they can afford any of the many things Haruka is making, but also partly to see what the dungeons are like after they’ve already been cleared once before. The answer is that the monsters are not QUITE as strong, but they’re still very strong, and more worryingly, the dungeons are deeper now. Haruka implies that any dungeon with 100 floors is a Very Bad Thing. Meanwhile, the rest of the class is getting stronger and stronger… but they still can’t hold a candle to Haruka, Angelica, Nefertiri or even the Slime Emperor. How can they possibly protect him?

There’s another reason Haruka’s doing all this dungeon exploration: he’s reached the limit of where he can go with just skills. Even though it’s very, very hard for him to accomplish, he’s going to have to start getting stronger and leveling up. Which means having to fight using actual COMMON SENSE, rather than fighting the chaotic Haruka way. It’s actually a bit heartwarming seeing him sparring with Angelica normally – though it leads the girls to assume, now that they can understand his moves, that they can defeat him. Hardly. Speaking of the girls, I’d mentioned the sanitary pads before (and Haruka observing that all the isekai books out there never bother to go into this sort of thing in their pre-industrial fantasy worlds), but it also brings up a melancholy subplot: Angelica and Nefertiri may look human and gorgeous now, and they’re both starting to communicate a lot better, but they’re still, at the end of the day, monsters. They don’t have periods, and they can’t get pregnant. This means that they want the girls to be Haruka’s wives while they remain his concubines… because the girls CAN get pregnant.

A somewhat sexist POV to have, but then this is a book that now uses sex like a comma (how in God’s name are the PG-rated manga and forthcoming anime going to handle this?). It remains not for everyone, but I still find nuggets of gold here. And I apologize for not mentioning the water park. Or the summer festival. Next time it looks like we start a new arc, as a (maybe?) good religious faction shows up near the end. Just… not 528 pages next time? Please?

Loner Life in Another World, Vol. 7

By Shoji Goji and Saku Enomaru. Released in Japan as “Hitoribocchi no Isekai Kouryaku” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Eric Margolis. Adapted by Lorin Christie.

One of the reasons why this is such a difficult series to get anyone into (and trust me, there are so many reasons) is that it is trying to be so many different things. It is a military combat novel in this volume… or at least the start of this volume, as it turns out that Haruka, in fact, manages to take care of everything far more than anyone expected him to. It’s a raunchy sex comedy, with Haruka’s stats leveling him up to Sex God (no, really, it says that in his stats) and featuring a number of explicit sex scenes that nevertheless will likely get overlooked by the Powers That Be merely as they’re narrated by Haruka, which means they’re completely incoherent. That said, there is one thing that this series tends to put first, before anything else, and I 100% approve: the nobility sucks. Class warfare forever. Eat the rich. Because trust me, almost all the nobles we meet here are scum.

Haruka rushes back to the frontier in order to stop the army that’s headed that way, an army backed by the theocracy’s soldiers (who are quite content to let the regular army folks be killed off while they hang back) and the theocracy’s secret weapon, another Dungeon Emperor on the same level as Angelica. Oh, and they’re also unleashing monster rushes from nine dungeons around the kingdom, guaranteed to have the populace horribly murdered, which means none of Haruka’s allies can come to his side because they all have to stop this. Needless to say, Haruka… wins almost embarrassingly easily. And now he has a new Dungeon Emperor on his side, the gorgeous Nerfertiri (any resemblance to an ancient Egyptian queen is purely intentional) as his second “concubine”, and has saved the day. Time for a grand ball!

The lack of suspense in the first third of the volume is almost laughable, at least on Haruka’s end. I worried far more about Stalker Girl and her father, who are trying to defeat a mass rush of monsters despite essentially being a ninja spy force. The second third of this novel is basically comic relief and porn, though again, it’s porn written in the style of Haruka’s narration, so it’s not in the least bit arousing. He’s just banging two girls now rather than one. (Again, it’s hinted he refuses to do anything to the Japanese girls for past trauma reasons.) The last third, though, it easily the best part, as the grand ball turns out to be a trap to ensnare all the other evil nobles, baited by a play that gives all the credit to the war to the Princess and Duke, and none to Haruka – meaning they underestimate him. The girls at first asked why in hell he was making their ballgowns with so many defensive armor traits – it turns out they need every single one of them. It’s glorious.

So this long arc is over, and I assume we start something new next time. Might be a few months till the next book, so go back and try to translate Haruka to English, that’s my advice.

Loner Life in Another World, Vol. 6

By Shoji Goji and Saku Enomaru. Released in Japan as “Hitoribocchi no Isekai Kouryaku” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Eric Margolis. Adapted by Lorin Christie.

It occurred to me as I was reading this volume, this lacks one of the main parts of “summoned to another world” books, which is the summoning. I was thrown off by the god at the start of the series, who actually does summon the class to a different world, presumably to save it, but the world itself is not involved with the summoning, and (while we see some small evidence that past heroes may have also been summoned), there’s no sense that anyone is used to new people suddenly showing up all at once. As a result, try to imagine what the people in the capital city must be thinking when they see Haruka and twenty gorgeous young women, all with black hair and black eyes, show up and save the day almost instantaneously. Seriously, this 413-page book only takes up one week of real time in the book. They’re all absolute monsters. It is, frankly, amazing that more people just give in and go along with it… though given their situation, maybe it’s not so surprising.

Despite various attempts to try to negotiate, war is becoming inevitable. The king’s brother is there to try to work out a compromise: the first prince has said he will spare the frontier if they give up Haruka. Literally everyone except the king’s brother knows this is a trap, but Haruka goes along with it anyway, because it’s just easier to trigger the trap and then massacre everyone. Yeah, there’s a lot of death in this book, this isn’t the manga. Having fixed that problem (and killed one prince), everyone then arrives at the capital, where the king is dying, the second prince is allied with evil merchants, and there’s an orphanage filled with kids who would make Oliver Twist look like a plump spoiled brat. This lights a righteous fire under all the main cast, who proceed to turn into villains in order to save the civilians who are being ground down by the real enemy… capitalism.

These books are starting to struggle a bit with the “wacky” side of things. Don’t get me wrong, Haruka is still damn near incomprehensible and incredibly annoying. And there are still an incredibly large number of pages devoted to Haruka making underwear for all his female classmates, which involves using his “magic hands” to grope them into unconsciousness (with their consent – the underwear is JUST THAT GOOD). But there’s no sugarcoating how awful everything is this arc. The majority of the nobility are cartoon villains, the merchants are greedy scum, and while we haven’t met the church yet (next book), they’re implied to be worse than all of the others. The orphanage is played for maximum mawkishness, except when you see things like the girls all finding the nobles most responsible for it and using status effects like “Pure Pain” on them. And even saving the capital doesn’t fix things, as in the meantime the church’s forces have gone to destroy Omui.

The series, for once, ends with a genuine cliffhanger, as we wonder if Haruka vs. 30,000 troops will finally be what gets him killed. The girls all worry this as well, which is why they’re racing there as well. As always, once you dig past the nonsense, Maria-sama Ga Miteru and Mary Poppins references, and endless descriptions of tits, there’s a whole lot to sink your teeth into. And not in the mean girls way.