By Simotti and RELUCY. Released in Japan as “Truck Uketome Isekai Tensei! Nekketsu Butouha Koukousei Wataru!!!” by Overlap. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Adam Seacord.
There are times when you want a light novel that delves into the depths of the psychological consequences of being sent to another world, or what it means to have modern-day vulture impinge itself on a medieval fantasy world. Perhaps you want to delve deep into what the power structures of a demon lord’s minions would really be like, and immerse yourself in gripping fights where you’re not even sure the hero will win. If this is what you crave… there are other light novels elsewhere, I’m sure. If, on the other hand, you love exclamation marks, shouting, and most everyone being as stupid as they can possibly be, including the author, then Wataru!!! is right up your street. This series is here to be dumb and loud and have a ton of fun, and nothing else. It can be a bit exhausting… indeed, I worry that future volumes may wear out the welcome… but it succeeds in what it wants to do. Which is mock isekais with everything it has.
The book begins with the subtitle, as our hero is suddenly accosted by a truck, and does indeed stop it, but then realizes that this would kill the driver, so lets himself be hit, and ends up… in another world! There he meets Aria, a standard heroine with a nagging tendency to get bloody head injuries (but don’t worry, she knows healing magic). She tells him that her parents have been kidnapped by the Demon Lord, who’s super strong. One of these facts seems to matter more to Wataru than the others, and so he sets off to defeat the demon lord to prove who’s stronger. In the interim, he gains another companion in enemy-turned-neutral friend Résistance, has a rap battle, has a battle of the bands, has a literary critique contest, and yes, also has quite a few fistfights. Throughout, though, he stays as hot-blooded as possible.
Gonna be honest, I enjoyed this book but I suspect its core audience is going to be small. Everything is shouting. An audiobook would be amazing but also the worst thing ever. Wataru is more nuanced than you’d think, being kind at heart, and also not the rock-headed muscle guy that you’d normally expect. (My favorite part of the book is the fact that he speaks his own sound effects, which are abbreviations of what he’s doing. He stops the truck while shouting “TRK!!!!!”.) Aria is a rather flakey heroine by design, and when she’s not getting devastating head injuries or cheering Wataru on, she also shows off her passion for Beyblade… erm, sorry, Payblade toys. (The book doesn’t have WcDonald’s, but we do get Tot Hopic, which also made me laugh.) Résistance is the closest to a normal character in the book, but even she has a soft spot for really tacky jewelry, which Wataru convinces her is not a character flaw.
So yes, there is more here than just shouting and silliness… but not much. I’m not sure it can carry a series. But for a single novel, it’s recommended. Read with earplugs.