By Yusuke Nitta. LOL, and Yukinatsu Amekaze. Released in Japan as “Moshi Role Playing Game no Sekai ni SNS ga Attara” by Media Factory. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Daniel Luke Hutton.
I imagine many of you had the same reaction I did when Yen Press first announced this license. “Oh Jesus Christ, really?!?!” And yeah, I have to admit, this title had a lot of things stacked against it from the start. Aside from the premise, the format itself demands the “text bubble” style social media commenting throughout, with little icons to show who’s speaking, meaning that this light novel reads as a particularly wordy manga much of the time. The author is also not afraid to use every cliche at their disposal in the course of telling this story, mining standard RPG plots as well as anime and manga tropes galore. But somehow, along the way, this actually became quite a fun story, helped along by a hero and demon lord who are both very similar to each other: they have trouble communicating in anything but texts. A bad story would mock this mercilessly, but this one accepts it as a simple communication disorder.
Our “hero” has a few issues. He’s a shut-in, and as I noted above, can’t really communicate except via texting. Even to his mom. He’s also super, super weak, and can’t seem to get any stronger even when he does put in effort. Possibly because he lives in Beginnerland, where the king’s castle is called LMOA Castle. Unfortunately, the Demon Lord has kidnapped the princess! He has to rescue her!… if he could leave the castle without immediately getting killed. And if the princess weren’t far more interested in seducing the demon lord than being rescued. Fortunately, the Demon Lord is an understanding sort, and sends her minions to help him slowly (very slowly) make his way to her land to save the princess. This is all made much easier because everyone can text each other… including the Hero and the Demon Lord, who are rapidly falling in love.
As I said, there’s a lot of silly cliches here. The four Demon Generals are a catgirl, Darkness from KonoSuba (OK, a vampire masochist, but come on, it’s Darkness with the serial number removed), a tsundere fallen angel, and a strong and straightforward oni. Towards the end of the book, we also revive the Six Great Sages, who are famous in legend for fighting the demons but actually all turns out to be terrible, terrible people. The book knows its RPGs. That said, it treats everyone with respect. The Demon Lord is a shy but incredibly sweet young girl, who even trained for 8 years to lower her power level to the point where she did not kill everyone by just walking near them. Her Demon Lord Generals are all firmly in her corner. As for the hero, underneath that ‘wuss’ starter background is a young man who is willing to work hard if he has a clear goal in mind, and who can also see the goodness in the Demon Lord.
Some listings say this is a Volume 1, but I’m pretty sure the novel series ends here, even if it leaves most of its “plot” in the air. The Hero and Demon Lord don’t even meet in person. The Hero is still cursed, etc. That said, the actual plot of the book is “found families are awesome” and “texting is a valid way of communication, don’t make fun of it”, so we don’t really need to see everything after this play out. This isn’t a must-read, but it is a book that makes the best use of its gimmick premise and treats everyone with care. I enjoyed it.