By Hagane Kurodome and Katto. Released in Japan by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Taishi.
If I’m honest, this book was never going to live up to its title. That’s a big title. It promises a lot. It’s long, in the tradition of light novels these days. But the (srsly?) and the MYSELF!, between the two of them, promise more than I feel the series is prepared to deliver. The premise is solid. Indeed, if I read the second book in the series, it’s likely because I’m interested to see what happens next as I am curious. Unfortunately, the characterization and the writing can’t quite live up to it. Possibly the main sin the series commits is that I don’t think it’s funny enough. There’s an occasional smile as I read, but a title like “There Was No Secret Evil-Fighting Organization (srsly?!), So I Made One MYSELF!” demands laughs. A lot of laughs. It does not, I should note, demand endless textbook analysis of what being a telekinetic would be like in real life. Sadly, that’s what we get, as Sago is determined to relate to us in great detail his scientific method.
Sago is our hero, a teen who finds one day that he has telekinesis when he moves snack crumbs using only the power of his mind. It’s never clear how he woke to these powers, nor does anyone arrive to tell him about them, or say that he now has to fight bad guys. After years and years of training, to the point where he is laughably overpowered, he’s bored just being a salaryman, so he decides to create his own organization that would do to others what he wanted done to him. He finds a rich young woman who has just as many delusions of grandeur as he does, and two teenage kids who have issues of their own. He also creates bad guys for the kids to fight. Now he finally has everything that he originally wanted, though admittedly all he ends up doing himself is watching this play out from the sidelines, because he’s given himself the “mysterious unseen boss” character.
As I said, the premise is intriguing, especially with the revelation at the end of the book that they’ve been discovered by the press (which was intentional on their part). There is also a terrific bit of misdirection where they recruit the 5th member to their party that impressed me. But for the most part this was an exercise in frustration. The book is quite lengthy, and a large amount of that length, as I said earlier, is given over to Sago slowly and deliberately testing his powers, researching things, etc. The first fifth of the book, till he meets Kaburagi, is some of the most boring prose I’ve read in some time. Speaking of Kaburagi, I wish we’d done more with her, as she’s a character type I find fun, but she’s mostly wasted in this volume. The two teenage kids who are the “main characters” in Sago’s ploy are interesting, but Shouta’s initial jerkass character is also extremely frustrating. And the side story about the drunken CIA agent was painfully tortuous to read.
The book is trying to show how having a secret evil-fighting organization of superpowered people would be difficult to do in a “realistic” way, and it succeeds in showing us that. But man, it really does not live up to its title.