By Genkotsu Kumano and Falmaro. Released in Japan as “Yomei Hantoshi to Senkokusareta node, Shinukide “Hikari Mahō” o Oboete Noroi wo Tokō to Omoimasu.: Noroware Ōji no Yarinaoshi” by DRE Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by piyo.
Sometimes I get tired, you know? I’ve been a fan of Japanese manga and anime for a long time, and you would think I’d have grown used to all of the cliches, all of the fanservice, all of the annoying little tics that authors, illustrators and editors throw into a work in order to make it successful. But sometimes they all seem to hit at once in the same book, and I get tired. This sounded like a good series with a nice desperate fantasy thriller premise. That’s there, sort of. There’s also “our hero is ten but he’s got love interests” (which is thankfully resolved by a time skip at the end, and to be fair, two of the love interests are also ten). There’s tsunderes so cliched it’s remarked on in the text. There’s girls so shy and awkward I was surprised they didn’t fall over on their face… oh, wait, they did. It drowns out the story.
Callus is a prince… though that’s a secret. The reason it’s a secret is that he was born with a curse, and the rumor has it that those with curses will bring misfortune on the land. He’s struggled to survive for ten years, with agonizing pain at all times, helped only by the royal family and his loyal maid. But now he has a time limit. He’s told that the curse will kill him in six months. There’s only one possible way to solve things… learn light magic, which he could possibly use to heal himself. The good news is that he has a strong capacity for magic, including the ability to see the spirit he’s made a contract with, something almost unheard of! The bad news is that the magic he needs is tough. This curse really, really does not want to let him go…
Another part of the problem may be the artist, whose work I’ve disliked before (they do The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt), and who loves to draw big boobs. Beyond that… aside from the issues I mentioned above, there are things to like here. Callus is fine, a somewhat bland protagonist with a side order of oblivious to love, but he’s likeable enough. Crys and Sissy are cute, despite never ever running off their rails once during the book (two pages after meeting Crys, I knew she would be running off to get in trouble by fighting something she shouldn’t). The possible future antagonist of the book, the head of the Magic Association, is pleasantly evil in a chaotic, Xellos sort of way, and his sadism and viciousness allows the book a couple of dark patches.
For the most part, though, of all the Drecom debuts I’ve read over the last two months, this is the one that reads most like an author asking “so what are the kids reading these days?” and pulling derivative works out of a hat to mix ‘n match. It’s the very definition of “meh”.