By Shoji Goji and Saku Enomaru. Released in Japan as “Hitoribocchi no Isekai Kouryaku” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Eric Margolis. Adapted by Veles Svitlychny.
Welcome back to another volume of “Unreliable Narrators: The Light Novel”. Most of this is due to the presence of Haruka, who deliberately obfuscates his own activities to be extremely annoying, obnoxious, or (most often) both, but also in how he describes the activities of everyone else in the series. In fact, the most important parts of the book are probably not his rambling descriptions and horny fantasies, but the “Interlude” chapters from other points of view – especially Class Rep, who I’m not certain is 100% reliable either, but is certainly better than Haruka. What he describes as the sports jocks out “playing tag with kobolds” because they can only relate to folks as dumb as they are, Class Rep describes as going out every day to grind and level to try to get stronger. Haruka will talk about his creating new Japanese food and having the girls all fight over it, Class Rep will talk about the fact that they sob as they eat it because they miss home so much. This series has layers.
Even the cover art has layers – the cover seen here features the Princess of the kingdom looking cool and noble, but turn to the color pages and you’ll see her half-naked and broken. This is, of course, due to Haruka, no matter how much he insists that it’s not really his fault. Most of the first half of the book is spent in the dungeons, with Haruka and the girls taking on a dungeon and finding a lot of useful books. Haruka also acquires tentacles (just like Maple – is this a thing now?), which he uses mostly to sew clothing for the girls with multiple appendages, though it’s implied that Angelica sees a more traditional use in their bedroom activities. He’s also been busy trying to kick start the Industrial Revolution in their frontier city, to the point where the kingdom sends its Royal Guard (led by the Princess) to put them down. Of course, she knows this is wrong, but she has to obey their commends… something she rapidly regrets.
There is a lot of goofy humor, over the top happenings, and sheer horniness in these books – the girls all level up Sense Presence in this book, it’s heavily implied so they can hear what Haruka and Angelica do every night), but it’s also a lot darker than you’d expect – and darker than its manga equivalent, which makes Haruka more tolerable but also less interesting. Class Rep here doesn’t go into detail, but mentions twice how his entire family in Japan is dead, and she also talks about how she would break completely if he dies. What Haruka sees as the girls stubbornly throwing themselves into danger they’re not capable of handling, they see as trying desperately to level up enough so they can protect HIM – he has a low level, and can’t rely on what everyone else does, so could easily die at any moment, despite his belittling of this. The book, like Haruka, is actively trying to drive the reader away from it, but the rewards are also great.
That said, you will need to sit through several mentions of his exhausting Angelica so much in the evenings he gets lectured the next day. For fans who were already gonna read this only.