By Mine and Kabocha. Released in Japan by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by David Teng.
There were certain things I asked for in my review of the first volume of this series, and to its credit I sort of get some of them. The writing is far more consistent in tone for this second volume, and while there are still “gosh, big breasts!” scenes, they’ve gotten smaller in number. I also think I have more of a handle on why this series in particular may have been licensed – the hero’s pragmatism I think would greatly appeal to the sort of online reader of isekais who hates isekai heroes. Several times in this book Renye does things that are, while not exactly bad, at least on the morally grey end of the spectrum. That said, he also gets to have a nice cool fight at the end, so it’s not all cynical. I would like, however, to see if this series has an overarching plot beyond “I want to buy a house and make better bread”. So far, it doesn’t seem to.
For those of you looking at that cover and thinking “gosh, I hope that’s real yuri and not just godawful pandering”, I’m afraid to say your hopes are in vain. In fact, the big drawback in this second volume is that both Shion and Rona get much less to do this time around. Shion is a big shiny ball of naive gumption, so it doesn’t matter as much in her case. But given that Rona was the main reason that I read this series beyond the first volume, the fact that she spends most of the time being the “long-suffering minder” sort is quite disappointing. Also, while I usually don’t really care as much that the heroes is so overpowered it’s ridiculous, it did bother me in the ending fight here, as it meant that all the other cast had to be beaten so hard that it amounted to a one-on-one battle. Which is a shame, as Renye is, to be honest, not the most charismatic person in the world. I prefer bland and nice to bland and grim.
Other things to mention: Since I brought up Renye’s overpowered skills already, I will note that his magic training did amuse me greatly, and it’s always funny whenever he thinks that he’s really weak or average at something but it turns out to be ludicrously over the top instead. There is also a lot of discussion of the making and preparing of food – I realize that foodie series are the new vampires/ninjas/Alices, but still wasn’t expecting it in a series like this. (Speaking of which, it’s surprising that Cooking with Wild Game hasn’t been licensed by now…) And there’s a side story where Renye briefly turns into a woman, causing Shion and Rona to briefly lose their minds. I’ve come to the conclusion that when I see “side story” at the end of these isekai volumes, it’s almost always going to be annoying fanservice.
As I said at the start, the prose is settling down a bit, and I’m starting to see why this ran for so many volumes in Japan. But I think it needs a better hook than it has, and an actual overarching plot. Till then, I’d only recommend New Life Plus to people who like more cynical heroes, or who like to admire the girls.