Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement, Vol. 4

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. 4 is the equivalent of the Japanese Vol. 5.)

Folks, I’m gonna talk about it again. Just as I did with the last Potions volume. And MMAA as well. And, honestly, Kuma Bear, which is not by the same author but does the same thing and appeals to the same audience. What the hell is with all the child labor love in these books? Every series seems to bring a tragic tale of orphans who are suffering terribly until our heroine comes along to offer them a job where they can earn cold hard cash to live on, and the kids subsequently develop a messianic devotion. Not to the heroine, though yes, for her as well. To work. They will work all the overtime. They will work weekends and holidays. It’s ridiculous. You could argue it’s a good way to get a small army of cute moe kids for this series for moe kid lovers, but… there are other moe kids in this series who are not child labor! It drives me NUTS.

Mitsuha quickly decides that she does not want to do any more of her diplomacy tour, and so she takes the kids and simply runs away back to her kingdom, with a few stops in Japan to set up a new business and make sure all her tax documents are in working order. (Mitsuha is very, very dedicated to making sure she does not screw up her Japanese taxes, even as she exploits less developed countries for labor and real estate.) She also takes two mercs, who are upset they were sick for the dragon battle, to fight some monsters, and quickly realizes that actual monster hunting is not Safe And Fun. In the second half of the book, she heads to the country that had sent that warship to do reconnaissance… which in practice just means doing the same stuff she did in the first country, only with more money and more mistakes.

I can probably answer all my questions about this author by observing the monster hunting scene. Mitsuha actually has to try to find a place with real monsters, as they don’t hang around the capital. Then, when she goes with two mercs and the captain, her noble family friends insist on coming along as well… because they know monsters are freaking dangerous, and bullets, as it turns out, can’t stop them. Swords can, though. Mitsuha ends up teleporting everyone back, flees to Japan with her two girls, and is super depressed… for a page. She then gets over it. This is even lampshaded. I think the author does not want the reader to overanalyze things too much, this series is for fun. Unfortunately for the author, I have a word count to make up, so here I am. I did enjoy Mitsuha make a couple of really dumb “I assume I am mature and know everything, but am actually a naive little baby” mistakes, especially when she starts handing out priceless jewels like candy.

So yeah, (checks author) this series is still not good, or bad. It’s FUNA. That’s what it is.

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.