By Nyun and Sakana. Released in Japan as “Isekai ni Tensei Shitandakedo Ore, Tensai tte Kanchigai Saretenai?” by Overlap, Inc. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Shaun Cook.
Of all the places for Me, a Genius? to go in its third volume, I was not expecting it to go here. Note that I’m not talking about it suddenly becoming a tense techno-thriller a la Tom Clancy – given the fact that we spent much of the second volume in a cod-fantasy world, I barely raised an eyebrow to see that we’re suddenly back in Kouki’s home world and taking on Russians and international terrorist organizations. No, the main thing I wasn’t expecting was that Me, a Genius has gotten rid of the humor. You might argue that it’s trying to be funny and the jokes just aren’t landing, but I’m not sure that’s quite it. We do see one or two “lol!” situations in the book that aren’t funny (Baldy is a lolicon! Hilarity ensues!), but for the most part this seriously looks like it still has its bonkers premise, but is trying to deal with it realistically. Which is… weird.
Yes, that’s Alice on the cover again, despite appearing in the book even less than she does in the 2nd volume. This is especially frustrating given how much of the reason for all this is supposed to be The Alice Project and her illegal genetic creation. But given that’s just an excuse to have cool action and espionage sequences, I shouldn’t really be surprised. Honestly, everyone in this series aside from Kouki and his mother are superfluous to requirements. We do get a very interesting development, though, in that the head of the terrorist organization (who is basically an evil version of Kouki’s mother) has been researching reincarnation, and Kouki is forced to admit that yes, he was reincarnated with his memories. This being Me, a Genius, everyone misunderstands the nature of the reincarnation and things he’s trapped in a Higurashi loop, but I was still surprised, and it gave a brief shade of depth to people (which went away about a page later).
The book should be filled with taut action sequences, this being a pastiche of a techno-thriller, but they’re actually pretty absent – we just see people talking around them or the immediate aftermath. The book also ends with a lot unfinished, which is a shame as there’s no sign of a fourth book coming anytime soon – apparently the writer has hit a block, and so this is all we’re going to get. And to be fair, there may be only so far that you can take this premise. Trying to do a serious version of Me, a Genius? was intriguing for one volume, but let’s face it, if I’m going to be reading a serious light novel about someone reincarnated into another world who’s caught in a worldwide power game and has people constantly misunderstand what they’re thinking, I’m going to be reading The Saga of Tanya the Evil, not this. This is an interesting third volume, but it wasn’t all that funny, and I’m starting to ask how many tricks this pony has.