By Sakuma Sasaki and Asagi Tosaka. Released in Japan by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jordan Taylor.
I didn’t have high hopes for this title going in. Despite assurances from the publisher that it wasn’t THAT kind of dirty, the title still didn’t inspire confidence. It was also the most traditional “isekai” of this month’s debuts. But as frequently happens with things I read, as I got further into the book I found myself warming up to it. This is mostly thanks to the main hero, Arian, who is bright and shiny and yet also lonely and needs a friend. Had the book gone with the original set of heroes we meet, who are rather quickly dispatched, it might have been unbearable, just watching a Japanese guy with nothing to stop him become a sadist because it’s fun. (Indeed, we’re seen other light novels like this, though mercifully few have been licensed.) But Arian’s inner goodness causes Shinichi, the protagonist, to reach down and find his inner ethical sense, and so the last third of the book is actually pretty good, despite the appearance of yet another lecherous and corrupt bishop from a questionable religion.
Our hero is Shinichi, a standard young Japanese protagonist whose backstory is merely hinted at, but who seems to relish the opportunity to let loose in the situation he’s now in. He’s been summoned by the demon king to a) eliminate the heroes who keep attacking, and b) find delicious food for his cute daughter, as all the demon world food tastes awful. With the help of a sharp-tongued maid who rains abuse on him at every opportunity, he’s soon able to dispatch the first group of heroes through his prior knowledge of old-school RPGs and also by being a complete and utter bastard. However, the remaining hero that’s left to attack is not only far more talented than the previous heroes, but she’s also cute and a kind, good-hearted person! Can he find it in himself to trick her and save the demons?
There are, of course, still a few big flaws in the book. Despite a last-minute attempt to give him some inner monologue, the bad guy of this volume is (apologies for spoiling, but it’s obvious the moment he appears on the page) your standard corrupt and evil priest, in this case a bishop. Celes, the dark elf maid who accompanies Shinichi on his tasks, is so much like Ram from Re: Zero that I was almost calling the hero Barusu. Possibly as, while he shows signs of depth that may be explored in future books, Shinichi really doesn’t do much to stand out until, as I said, the last third or so of the book, where he uses his sadistic cleverness for good rather than evil. Well, OK, for the good of the demons, but they’re more interested in better food than attacking humans. On the bright side, I liked the relationship between Arian and Shinichi, though I’m sure it will be walked back a bit in the next book. Her immediate infatuation feels in character.
This isn’t the greatest light novel out there, but it gets better as it goes along, and there’s hints of some depth down the road. Recommended for isekai fans.