By Toshio Satou and Nao Watanuki. Released in Japan as “Tatoeba Last Dungeon Mae no Mura no Shonen ga Joban no Machi de Kurasu Youna Monogatari” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.
First things first, this was hilarious. And, unlike some other books I’ve reviweed recently, I mean that in a good way. Last Dungeon Kid is funny in a KonoSuba/Cautious Hero sort of way, with clueless leads, over the top heroines, fourth-wall breaking narration, and “anyone can be the straight man” style humor. Well, anyone except Lloyd, our hero. As the title implies, in the village he grew up in, he’s a weak little kid everyone pities. But the village he grew up in is a legendary village where everything is a next-level monster and the townspeople are all at Level 99. So when he decides to go to the big city, everyone thinks he’s doomed, except the village chief (who has ulterior motives herself). But the city he goes to is not nearly as dangerous or terrifying as his own village… so he’s suddenly stupidly overpowered. If only he realized this.
The humor in this book strikes a nice balance, never settling on being one specific thing, except of course for the premise of “Lloyd thinks he’s a weak wussy kid but is actually stupidly strong”. Six-foot-tall locusts are just ‘pesky bugs’ to him. His strength with a sword annihilates the practice target when he applies to be a soldier. His magic uses ancient runes no one has seen in a thousand years. Major plot points in the book are resolved offscreen by Lloyd simply saying “oh, by the way…” He’s a hoot. He’s also cute, sweet, and can cook and clean just like the perfect wife. Now, this is the first of (so far) eight books, so the reader will have to be aware going into the series that Lloyd is not going to “wise up” anytime soon, as that would defeat the premise. He’s always going to misunderstand. If he keeps up like he does in Book 1, that should be fine.
The rest of the cast are mostly the girls who fall in love with him. I wasn’t impressed with the village chief, but that’s mostly as I don’t like her “type”. We meet a young witch who holes up in a small house in the poor end of town, who turns out to be far more than she seems. She functions as the straight man half the time. The other half is taken up by (I swear I’m not making this up) Riho Flavin, a mercenary who will do anything for money and has a robot arm made of mithril. Yes, despite that description, she’s the normal one of the group, mostly thanks to Selen, a girl who grew up with a cursed leather mask on her face, something almost instantly undone by Lloyd. She proceeds to fall in love with him HARD. I dislike using the term yandere, as it’s frequently applied wrong, but… yeah, that’s what we have here. (Also, the illustrations of her choose to ignore the author’s description so that she can be “really pretty and cute” instead. Shame.)
This book was fun, and looks like the sort of thing that you can easily make a series out of. If you enjoy silly light novels that mock the usual tropes, it’s an absolute winner.