My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World: The World’s Strongest Little Brother vs. the Evil God?!

By Tsuyoshi Fujitaka and An2A. Released in Japan as “Neechan wa Chuunibyou” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Elizabeth Ellis.

We did not break up, we are merely taking a break from each other. I wasn’t fired, I chose to do other things. My light novel series isn’t cancelled, I just have a new idea I want to work on. I will totally get back to it. In due course. At the appropriate juncture. In the fullness of time. Sometimes you have people saying one thing but hearing the subtext behind it, and that’s sort of how I felt about the end of Big Sis Fantasy World, whose epilogue and afterword even hint at this by talking about “And the adventure continues”, one of the stock bullet points you see on the final page of a series that has been cancelled (usually in Shonen Jump). To a degree this is intentional, as like so many other things in this series the author is making fun of the genre it’s also swimming in. But unfortunately, this sort of thing only works if you’re thinking “Damn, I want to see what happens next”, rather than “Oh thank God.”

I think that my main issue with this series, with is taken to eleven here on purpose, is Yuichi’s inability to really grow or change because he has no need. All the training from Mutsuko happened before the start of the series, and made him who he is today. Which is fine, but he makes a really crap protagonist as a result. And this is in a book that even features a villain who is a parody of harem protagonists. Yuichi’s actions at the start of the book frustrate Mutsuko, which is unsurprising, but they also frustrate the reader, who wants to see him be proactive by choice rather than because he’s blackmailed into it or just thinks “oh well, guess it’s time to fight”. For an author that loves Haruhi Suzumiya so much, They’ve certainly missed the point of Kyon, who had an entire book set in an alternate world to come to terms with the fact that he IS having fun and SHOULD be proactive.

The book isn’t terrible. The prose reads fine, events happen quickly and make sense. Even the semi-incomprehensible plot involving the demon god starts to make a bit more sense as it hits its climax, though it’s mostly there to give us a good final battle. (Mutsuko, sadly, is sidelined because she’s mad at her brother – I kept waiting for Yuichi to briefly be defeated to teach him a lesson, but it never happened. Instead Mutsuko is beaten bloody… offscreen.) There are a few amusing gags, though once again the series seems to regard its non-regular cast as little more than cannon fodder – in fact, it gleefully points it out. If you’ve been reading Big Sis Fantasy World all along, you should read this too, as it provides a conclusion to the series, even one that is open ended and resolves nothing. But I’m not remotely holding my breath waiting for Book 8.

My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World: Humanity’s Extinction Actually Happens This Time With the Evil God’s Revival?!

By Tsuyoshi Fujitaka and An2A. Released in Japan as “Neechan wa Chuunibyou” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Elizabeth Ellis.

This was one of the first series that J-Novel Club ever put out, and I recall being quite pleased with the ridiculousness of the first volume. Since then, however, J-Novel has released much better and much more ridiculous series, and Big Sis feels like it’s now running second to last in the marathon, just trying to finish the course so it doesn’t get extra laps from the teacher. The plot that’s been shoehorned in the last couple of volumes gets a lot more exposition, but sadly that doesn’t make it more interesting, and I cannot help empathizing with Yuichi when the Chinese waitress girl starts to introduce her own convoluted backstory and he says “nope, not dealing with this”, so we never find out what it is. Fortunately, when it comes to actual confrontations with bad guys, the series is still pretty fun.

I was going to start this review by saying that the narrative is divided into two halves, but that’s not really true. The narrative is divided into about 7 sections, but the divisions are poor and they all melt together after a while. Natsuki, who was absent from the last book, is fleeing the titular evil god, and unfortunately does nothing in this book other than be a damsel who needs to be rescued, because she’s handicapped by trying not to actually be a serial killer anymore. Yuichi is busy training behind sacred shrines (and destroying sacred forests as he is not a hero who thinks about things) and learning important backstory, and we finally see how he got the ‘soul reader’ ability in the first place. And then we have the search for the Evil God’s body parts, which brings together a variety of heroes and villains in various melee battles, including the Little Apocalypse wannabe from the last cliffhanger (who proves more boring than I expected), led by the Evil God himself, who may need to be revived but this does not prevent him creating a body to walk around and be smug in.

As I said, the final part is the best, as the villain is very punchable, and it’s always nice seeing smug people get what’s coming to them. That said, honestly, Yuichi and Mutsuko are starting to get a bit smug themselves. Mutsuko has been absent from these pages for far too long, and her running commentary on the fight was the funniest part of it. I also liked the setup for the next volume, which goes into Mutsuko’s own powers, and how they affect Yuichi easily beating universe-shaking horrors with one punch. The difficulty is that the plot of this series has become so convoluted and hard to follow that it’s almost become the series it was supposed to be making fun of. The next volume is the final one in the series (the author says there may be more, but so far there isn’t), and I am slightly looking forward to the conclusion, but the Big Sister has long since worn out her welcome.

My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World: The Strongest Little Brother’s Commonplace Encounters with the Bizarre?!

By Tsuyoshi Fujitaka and An2A. Released in Japan as “Neechan wa Chuunibyou” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Elizabeth Ellis.

Well, we’ve reached the 5th volume, which is usually around when a lot of light novel series decide to give us a series of interconnected short stories, and that’s the case here, as our heroes’ club advisor (who is the villain from the prior book, returned to be a counselor for Yuichi for reasons I won’t bother to get into as they’re stupid) explains that the other villains will probably have a rest period before they try to attack again and restart the main plot. Of course, Yuichi is who he is, so this doesn’t mean that his life becomes a normal romantic school comedy. Every week brings a fresh new series of supernatural things for him to punch, rivals to take down, and girls to rescue. Why? Well, because he is who he is, trained by his older sister.

As I’ve discovered with a lot of these short story books, the rule of thumb is that the longer the story, the better it is. This means the book gets better as it goes along, as the final two stories are definitely the longest and best. But it also means you start by wading through a lot of drek. The first story (and connected prologue) attempts to show us that Kanako and her writing career is still relevant to the plot, but I’m fairly sure that’s not the case – mostly it’s there to make fun of light novels. We then get a story of a yokai who tries to seduce men, but looks like a little girl, which at least keeps the lolicon jokes down to a mere 2-3 per page, but is otherwise meh. The third story introduces a friend/lackey of Mutsuko, who has new powers she wants to test on Yuichi. The main thrust of the story is that the girl is very fat, which Yuichi seeks to remind us of constantly. I was more amused by her constantly slipping into different types of over the top speech patterns – it reminded me of the otaku from Oregairu, and distracted me from the endless fat comments. The other yokai stories are so dull I’ve already forgotten them.

The last two stories, though, are decent, and help to make the book at least get a low passing grade. The story with Yoriko attracting the attention of a delinquent, and then a yakuza with a thousand men at his command, is merely an excuse to see how ridiculous things can get, which honestly is why I read this series in the first place, so I was quite pleased – they got very ridiculous. Also, their mother is Kasumi Tendo – I was very disappointed she didn’t say “Ara, ara”. The final story deals with spirits, and whether Yuichi can punch them with his manly fists of justice (answer: of course he can). It’s more of a hodgepodge than the previous story, seeming content to throw plot ingredients into a nabe pot and see what comes out, but it was also fun, even if the ending was slightly predictable (I say slightly only because I guessed the wrong ghost).

The cliffhanger may be the most interesting part of the book (which doesn’t speak well of it), seeming to introduce Yuichi’s next major foe, a protagonist from a different world who honestly reminds me of the hero from Little Apocalypse. (Boy, wouldn’t that be a crossover?) Also, don’t think I didn’t notice Natsuki simply vanishing midway through the book. We’ve only got two more to go in this series, so keep reading if you’re a fan. Otherwise, skip it.