Peddler in Another World: I Can Go Back To My World Whenever I Want!, Vol. 4

By Hiiro Shimotsuki and Takashi Iwasaki. Released in Japan as “Itsudemo Jitaku ni Kaereru Ore wa, Isekai de Gyōshōnin o Hajimemashita” by HJ Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Berenice Vourdon.

It’s pretty astonishing how much authors think they can get away with provided their hero is mild-mannered and polite. Shiro already has the ability to go back and forth between his world and Japan – something most isekai’d folks don’t get. He gets magical translation, teleport abilities (sort of), and currency conversion. He doesn’t need to learn how to make mayonnaise because he can just go buy it at the local Inageya. He has, hovering around him at various points: his grandmother, who looks like a young girl; his twin high school age sisters who alternate between being mean to him and sucking up to him; a young girl who worships him and her hot widowed mom; a powerful fairy who’s tsundere for him; the mayor of the town; and (in this book) we add a dragon. He has to have little to no personality for this to work. If he had any notable character traits at all we’d despise him.

We pick up right where we left off last time. Shiro’s twin sisters Shiori and Saori have found the door to the other world, and there’s no way they aren’t going through it. To his surprise, instead of leading to his shop it drops them in the middle of the forest where he started way back when. While there, he finds a huge egg, which the twins insist he carry with him. Eventually, all is explained and the twins decide to start their OWN store dedicated to clothing and makeup, the egg finally hatches… and inside is not the minor monster they expected, but a dragon. A very powerful dragon. Who quickly morphs into a young girl and imprints on Shiro heavily. Now they have to figure out what to do with her… especially because demons are also apparently looking for the egg, and would likely destroy the entire town to get at it.

As with previous books, this is not great. Elianna the rabbit girl continues to be the most annoying character ever, and not in a fun way as the author is clearly intending. The twins are also annoying but that works better because it’s in the typical bratty sibling way. As for the plot itself, despite the threat of imminent death and the supposed murder of 3/4 of the cast, everyone is fine. This remains a slow life book at heart, so it’s no surprise that this manages to be one of the murderous demons who knows that murdering humans is not the right thing to do now. Not to mention that she has a very good reason to want the egg… and the whole thing ends up being undercut massively, because the whole reason for this plot turns out to be something she could just have bought at Shiro’s store. The sad trombone noise is almost audible.

All this plus we finally get “I am your slave” in this isekai. Shiro’s not going to be down with the whole slave thing, but I doubt he’ll really protest too much, because mild-mannered and all. If you like beautiful twins, cute dragon children, and hot demons… there are still probably better books with them in it.

Peddler in Another World: I Can Go Back To My World Whenever I Want!, Vol. 3

By Hiiro Shimotsuki and Takashi Iwasaki. Released in Japan as “Itsudemo Jitaku ni Kaereru Ore wa, Isekai de Gyōshōnin o Hajimemashita” by HJ Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Berenice Vourdon.

If you’re looking at the archived reviews of this series, you may note that I did not review the second volume. This is because it left so little of an impression on me that I had absolutely nothing to say. It wasn’t bad. I clearly was interested enough to read the third book. But there was nothing to hang my hat on, nothing where I thought “here is something I can talk about for 500 words”. Honestly, I should be having this problem more often than I am, and I’m not sure if that says something good or bad about me. But this third volume has a couple of good things and a couple of bad things that I wanted to discuss, so let’s pick up where we left off, with this very relaxed, slow-life “Kosaku Shima isekai”. Though unlike the Kosaku Shima series, Shiro will not be having lots of great sex anytime soon. It’s a light novel for teens, not seinen manga.

Things to know from Book 2: Shiro has a fairy companion now, and his grandmother has come back, looking about 20 years old. That’s it. The third book starts with her returning with Shiro to Japan, giving a bit of backstory, and preparing to continue to hide from most of her family the fact that she’s not dead and from another world. As for that other world, Shiro is invited by the mayor, Karen, to go with her to the big city, where she has to drop off the town’s taxes and go to a ball, where she is traditionally mocked for being a hick. As for Shiro, he tries to join a merchant’s guild in the big city, but is mocked and belittled. Can he manage to solve both his problems and Karen’s at the same time?

Everyone loves watching an arrogant noble get what’s coming to him, and though the noble is a merchant here, we get that, in a major scene showing Shiro at his most ruthless. That said, the best scenes in the book were near the end, as Aina, who came with Shiro to the big city, returns with a present for her mother, one that triggers the grief for her missing presumed dead husband she had been burying, and now she and her daughter are crying and thinking they’re terrible. The way Shiro handles THIS, rather than fending off nobility with awesome shampoo, is what makes him attractive as a protagonist. On the down side, I really dislike Shiro’s grandmother here. I’d be OK with her deciding to let the rest of the family believe she had died if she was going to stay in the fantasy world, but having her hang out with Shiro in Japan and pretend to be his childhood friend in front of his younger sisters is creepy and also a level of lying too much for me.

That said, the cliffhanger ending may need to let the cat out of the bag anyway. Till then, good job, Peddler in Another World, you rose above being faceless to only somewhat faceless.

Peddler in Another World: I Can Go Back Whenever I Want!, Vol. 1

By Hiiro Shimotsuki and Takashi Iwasaki. Released in Japan as “Itsudemo Jitaku ni Kaereru Ore wa, Isekai de Gyōshōnin o Hajimemashita” by HJ Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Berenice Vourdon.

You frequently hear grumbling from light novel fans – the hardcore ones, of course, not the filthy casuals – about why so many isekai titles are licensed every single year over here, much in the same way that I imagine ten years ago everyone went “oh man, another Alice in the Country of _________” manga?”. But the answer is pretty basic: people buy them and people read them, and then they want more. If you go to AO3, you’ll tend to find that the most popular fanfics in the big genres are not doing something wildly innovative and different, they’re doing something that’s exactly the same as all the other popular fanfics, only with variations. It’s true comfort reading. You don’t have to worry as you read them. Peddler from Another World may be so unoriginal I wondered if an AI had written it, but it was well-written enough to have me finish it, grudgingly declare it decent, and want to read another. That’s all you can ask.

There are two types of male isekai protagonists, and Shiro Amata is the second one; not a high school kid, but a salaryman who just quit his job working for a “black company”. He’s now staying at his late grandmother’s place, after she disappeared seven years earlier and was declared dead. There, among her things, he finds a letter explaining what really happened – she’s from a fantasy world, something she hid from her family. Now Shiro too can journey to that fantasy world, and come back to Japan whenever he likes. Armed with two killer abilities – the usual infinite storage, plus the ability to convert fantasy money into Japanese yen and vice versa – he ends up in a town out in the boonies, and becomes a merchant, selling things that fantasy worlds need but don’t have – like matches.

First, I want to mention that I suspect the illustrator drew all the color pages in this volume before reading the book, as neither the cover nor the interior color illustrations match up with ANY of the scenes within. Secondly, it can be hilarious how derivative this series is. The matches merely got a shrug from me, and the “evil guy who is evil because villains in isekais are always 100% evil” made me sigh, but when we got to the cause of a woman’s deadly wasting disease, I groaned, because it’s the same disease it always is in these books. That said, the book is very readable. Shiro is a “nice guy”, but has a bit of a dark side to him, as we find out towards the end of the book. He also has at least three possible love interests at the end of the first book, as well as a girl who may as well be an adopted daughter. (The only reason I know this wasn’t written by an AI is that if it was, the little girl would be the one with the cat ears.) There are a few “oh anime no” tropes, such as the mayor’s large breasts, which get referred to quite a bit, but, I mean, you’re reading a light novel.

If you like reading slow life isekai, and want more of the same, this is a good choice. There is little to no sexual assault or slavery, and the little girl really is very cute. Just don’t expect surprises.