Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement, Vol. 3

By FUNA and Touzai. Released in Japan as “Rōgo ni Sonaete Isekai de 8-Man-Mai no Kinka o Tamemasu” by K Lanove Books. Released in North America by Kodansha Books. Translated by Luke Hutton.

(A reminder that the English Vol. 3 is the equivalent of the Japanese Vol. 4.)

I feel a certain regret in my past choices. When I started to review I Shall Survive Using Potions!, I had only read the first volume of 80K Gold, and given Kaoru’s, um, tendency towards war crimes, I described 80K Gold as “beginning” FUNA, Make My Abilities Average as “intermediate”, and Potions as “hard”. The thing is, though, all of these series are essentially exactly the same. You could take Mile, Kaoru and Mitsuha and swap them into each other’s books and not much would have to change, except the Potions cast would wonder where their grumpy cuss went. They are all basically “a girl who looks younger than she really is wreaks havoc on a fantasy landscape, collecting other young girls along the way”. And boy, is much havoc wreaked in this volume. Mitsuha is going on a world tour, and she’s brought a camper van and her own barrel of war crimes.

Having vanquished the invading country with their newfangled ships and weapons, Mitsuha and company now have to tell the neighboring countries about the same danger. While also trying to get them to form an alliance, and possibly sell them some cool guns. A diplomatic team is put together… with Mitsuha as a supernumerary, not part of the actual team, so she can do whatever the hell she wants. She takes Sabina and Colette with her, and, after introducing the two of them to Japan and the wonders of Japanese food (and, after overeating, the wonders of Japanese toilets), she buys an RV that she names the Good Ship Lollipop and sets off in style and comfort… while occasionally waiting for the diplomatic party to catch up to her.

There are always a few light novel series that make me uncomfortable with where they sit on the political spectrum, and this is one of them. The author and the main character love their guns, and we get more discussion of them, along with which ones are best to use in which situation. The diplomatic mission amounts to blackmail most of the time, as basically the other countries have to give in or they won’t get any of Mitsuha’s armaments… and, after observing the effect of one rifle on their standard suit of armor, they HAVE to give in. It can feel a bit mean. She also wins over a new princess and solves the succession crisis for her (good) but also gets her addicted to gambling (bad). This series never gets too serious, unlike Potions, but there is some melancholy as Mitsuha realizes that her unaging self means that in a couple of years she will have to give up her Japanese life for good to avoid unwanted questions. It depresses her.

That said, it doesn’t depress her enough that she’s not rolling through a fantasy world in a camper van with her two child soldiers… erm, assistants at her side. As always, if you like FUNA, you’ll like this. If you don’t, you’ll hate this.

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement, Vol. 2

By FUNA and Touzai. Released in Japan as “Rōgo ni Sonaete Isekai de 8-Man-Mai no Kinka o Tamemasu” by K Lanove Books. Released in North America by Kodansha Books. Translated by Luke Hutton.

Sigh. There was no good way to do this. Kodansha Books re-released the first two volumes of this light novel series as an omnibus, which is good! It meant folks didn’t have to re-buy two books that they already had from the late, unlamented Sol Press and we could get to new content faster! But it also means that this second volume is the third in Japan. And that will be the case going forward. That’s why this is another review of the 2nd volume – it’s really a review of Volume 3. Got it? Good. That said, the first volume of this series originally came out here in 2019, the second 19 months after that, and here’s the third, about 30 months after that one. You might be forgiven for completely forgetting what’s been going on. Fortunately, there was an anime! It covered Books 1 and 2, so go watch it, then come back here. Because this is more of the same, and it’s fun and mind-boggling and a little disturbing. See: this author.

Things are getting busier for Mitsuha – so busy that she seriously considers, near the end of the book, stopping the “go back and forth between here and Japan” thing and permanently settling. She has a new territory to run. She’s being asked to attend all sorts of society balls. She’s trying to get board games to be a thing in this country, specifically shogi and reversi. She’s trying to create popcorn, with the help of some adorable… if somewhat mercenary… orphans. And of course she’s looking to make that money so that she can retire, though several times in this book she admits to herself that she needs to stop inventing new things and let this world relax and catch up a bit. That said, the biggest problem may be when three huge ships show up in her domain. Maybe they’re friendly!… OK, probably not.

Fans of FUNA will be happy to know there is quite a bit of what I call “the heroine goes completely batshit” in this book, the biggest being how she deals with the invading foreign army. As with I Shall Survive Making Potions!, the heroine’s morality is firmly in the grey area, and her solutions do sometimes involve “there’s no way I can do this without killing a few people, sorry”. Much of the “fun” in this series is seeing her do something along these lines, then act surprised that everyone is staring in disbelief at her. She actually has another crying breakdown here, after the Count who has become her surrogate father has to remind her that people actually love and care about her here, and she should not treat her life as disposable. Which, let’s be honest, she is. Almost all her decisions in this volume have a form of “what if I die, how will they deal with this then?” Which is great in a worldbuilding way, but not so good in a psychological one.

If you hated Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average and I Shall Survive Using Potions!, you’ll hate this too. If you loved them, you’ll love this too. It’s as simple as that. See you next time for the third (fourth) book.

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement, Vol. 2

By FUNA and Touzai. Released in Japan by K Lanove Books. Released in North America by Sol Press. Translated by Lukas Ruplys.

When I reviewed the first volume of this light novel… 19 months ago… I remarked that it was relatively mild in terms of the eccentricities of its author, FUNA, and their other works, I Shall Survive Using Potions! and Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average!. I regret that now. This, the second novel in the 80,000 Gold books, is absolutely bananas. Mile and Kaoru wish they were this overpowered. Our heroine stops a war using modern artillery, gains a domain of her own to rule, and sets about ruling it, all the while flitting back and forth between this fantasy world and modern-day Japan. Can she keep it a secret? LOL. Not at all, and by the end of the book dragons are now “real” and Mitsuha is telling readers about the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine. The good news is that the book remains a lot of fun provided you don’t believe in gritty realism, and Mitsuha has toned down her fourth-wall breaking tendencies… somewhat… so is a far more tolerable narrator.

When we last saw Mitsuha she was running her little shop that sells shampoo and other luxury items. But that’s more a job for the heroine of her other book; Mitsuha has bigger things to do, even if she really doesn’t want to. She befriends the princess, who is a cutie and also loves to escape her guards, and from there the king. This means that she’s also called in when the country goes to war, and after an assassination attempt wounds her and mortally wounds Alexis, Mitsuha decides to stop holding back and calls out her friendly mercenary friends to destroy the enemy army (with has orcs, ogres, and teenage dragons) with modern-day tanks and rocket launchers. Her reward for all this is becoming a viscountess and gaining her own territory, which she spends most of the rest of the book sprucing up. And if that means bringing in experts from Japan to help her with the harder stuff… and indeed just selling the rights to the world in auction… well, that’s how Mitsuha rolls.

In the first book there was a great scene where Mitsuha, talking with her “newly adopted” family, suddenly remembers her dead parents and starts to cry without realizing it. There’s a similar scene here, after Mitsuha is shot with a crossbow and Alexis ends up taking several other crossbow bolts to defend her, where she just has a complete freakout. The author is good at this sort of scene (Potions has also used them), and it helps to un-smug Mitsuha, which is occasionally needed because most of the time she is pretty smug. I was rather startled at how fast her “I can travel to a fantasy world and back” thing became public, though at least she’s managed to hide that it’s “Mitsuha Yamano” who is doing thing. (This also leads to the funniest joke in the book, where the merc squad nicknames her Nanoha, because there’s no kill like overkill.) In between these parts there’s a lot of ‘building my little fiefdom’ sections, which are not as exciting but are fun for those who like Realist Hero and its ilk.

The other good news is between the first volume and this one, Sol Press learned to format digital books properly. As a result, there are no issues with the interstitial art and everything looks fine. As for the book itself, again, if overpowered – LUDICROUSLY overpowered – heroines annoy you, stay well away. But I found it relaxing, goofy fun, despite the very high body count. Mitsuha may be nicknamed Nanoha, but she’s not “befriending” her enemies.