By Kazuma Kamachi and Mahaya. Released in Japan by DENGEKI no Shin Bungei. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jake Humphrey.
This is another one of those books that starts off slow and kind of boring and only really pays off in the back half. Honestly, when I started it I kind of felt like Kamachi had gotten bored with writing A Certain Magical Index’s 245th volume and decided to transcribe his Let’s Play video and send it to Dengeki. (Honestly, given how “well” the Index books did here, it’s surprising we got this at all, though it helps that it’s finished at three volumes rather than running to an infinite number.) Taking place in a game world where anything goes as long as you make money, and starring a cool guy and his badass succubus familiar, the book oozes testosterone from every pore, and I was almost ready to give up till the interesting stuff kicked in. Fortunately, the interesting stuff IS interesting, and helps explain a lot of the plot holes that the attentive reader might have raised an eyebrow at. It makes me want to read more of the book, especially given it’s a finished series in Japan.
Kaname Suou is a player in a game called Money (Game) Master, a game with no rules or restrictions except “make money”. He is assisted by Tselika, an NPC assistant character who takes the form of a buxom succubus. When we meet then they’re pulling off a big caper that will get them a huge amount of ‘snow’, this game’s currency, which allows them access to an exclusive group trying to get a hold of a forbidden Legacy weapon, left behind by a former player who was able to make ludicrously powerful weapons. If you’re looking at this description and thinking “there’s going to be double-crossing”, you’re right, but that’s not exactly a spoiler. That said, things get more interesting when we meet Midori, the younger sister of the weapon builder, who is trying to destroy the Legacies. Oh, yes, and it turns out that this game has HUGE consequences for the real world as well – in fact, in most ways that count this game is now the economy of the real world.
So, not wanting to reveal the interesting twists too much, I will merely note that I did find them interesting, even if a few of them were a bit unsurprising. It’s not too hard to guess the identity of certain people if you know how to think like an author. Still, overall it’s a book filled with a great deal of action, which Kamachi is good at, a few stabs at humor, which he’s far less good at but at least they’re better than his attempts in Index, and a lot of thrilling intrigue, as the last part of the book involves a race against time, a big chase, and literally everyone in the world turning against our hero. Kaname is a bit generic, possibly to avoid too many people comparing him to Touma, but also because he’s playing a game character, he isn’t trapped in a game as his real self or anything. Everyone is deliberately making themselves cool and attractive in this.
So yeah, this is not New Testament, but it’s a good action thriller, and it should please fans who don’t mind a lot of cars, guns, things exploding, and questions about the nature of reality.