Monster Tamer, Vol. 1

By Minto Higure and Napo. Released in Japan as “Monster no Goshujinsama” by Monster Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

I will admit that the sole reason I gave this series a try was the Japanese light novel label it came from. A series from Monster Bunko! Titled Monster Tamer! Would there be… monsters? Rest assured, this book from the monster publisher with monster in the title has monsters in it. You may have guessed from the cover… possibly. Turns out the cute girl in the uniform is actually a monster as well. That said, what this genre really ends up being is the grim and gritty “abandoned by my classmates, I must soldier on, brooding and filled with hate, and monsters are the only ones that understand me” genre. Arifureta fans will find this very familiar. That said, Arifureta also has a heaping helping of humor that this book lacks. It wants to be taken seriously. Which is fine, but I must admit that emo teen’s emo narration made me rub my forehead a bit. There’s only so many times you can talk about how much you hate humanity, y’know?

Our hero (not on the cover as he’s a standard dull light novel protagonist guy) and his entire school are transported to another world one day. Some have cool, strong powers… and some do not. Very soon everyone starts to try to kill each other. Majima is essentially run over by a stampede of fleeing classmates and left for dead. He crawls to a cave and starts to get eaten by a slime… but then discovers he DOES have a power, as the slime is now his servant. His “monster party” ends up being the slime (who eats the corpse of fellow student Miho, which is why she looks like that on the cover), a ‘puppet’ monster that basically looks like a ball-jointed doll (helpfully, she makes armor with ‘breasts’ so we know she’s also female), and a non-monster, Mana, Miho’s underclassman and friend who they rescued from sexual assault by other classmates. Together they try to leave this forest and find other, non-murdering classmates… and avoid monsters that Majima can’t control.

As you can see, this book is the very definition of a high school kid wearing black so that he can be “edgy”. Majima does not let a chapter go by without telling us either a) he’s lost faith in humanity and hates them now, or b) how he has thrown aside his morals and become a terrible person. Certainly he does kill a few people, but as you’d expect with a Japanese light novel by now, they’re all rapists and bastards. Somewhat to my relief, the relationship between him and his monster servants is framed as more familial than romantic, at least on his end. The third monster we meet comes near the end of the book, and is… well, exactly what you’d expect given her monster type, but I assume we’ll develop her more in the 2nd book. I also appreciated that our hero’s power does not in fact mean he can fight at ALL – all the fights are his monster girls fighting to protect him.

That last bit might turn off other edgy teens who subscribe to the “I want my hero to win all the battles and bed all the women” school of thought. And honestly, given this is 16+ volumes and counting in Japan, I feel no need to read more. For those who enjoy this sort of “revenge/found family” story with a dark-ish tinge, this book will serve those needs quite nicely.