By KAYA and Naru. Released in Japan as “Tensei Shōjo wa Mazu Ippo kara Hajimetai: Mamono ga Iru toka Kiitenai!” by MF Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Amy Osteraas.
Just because a series is trying to be “Slow Life” does not mean that it can’t make things difficult for our protagonist. We can’t all get magical farming implements and a harem of young girls, or find that we have the power to control slimes that can do virtually anything. Sometimes even OP is not enough if you don’t know how to use it, and are in the middle of nowhere. This does, though, make it rewarding, for those who can tolerate a book starts starts very slowly, to see Sara slowly figure out things like how not to immediately get eaten by wolves, or which magical herbs will net the most cash when her mentor/older sister figure takes them into town. And then even that is taken away from her, and she’s forced to go on a perilous journey to find her guardian, make friends, and deal with the worst of isekai enemies: that jerk from that one guild.
Sarasa has spent her entire life in Japan feeling drained of energy, just lethargic all the time. Then one day, coming home from work, she ends up in the realm of a goddess, who explains that the reason she has so little energy is her body was designed to run on mana, which our world doesn’t have. The goddess proceeds to reincarnate her in a world which has TOO MUCH mana, where Sarasa (shortened to Sara) can be a mana sponge. Sadly, she’s dropped in the middle of nowhere on a mountain surrounded by dangerous animals. But there is one young woman there, a mysterious hunter named Nelly, who will help Sara get accustomed to things, give her a textbook on how to learn magic, and help her build up the stamina needed for a five-day trip into town. Which she will need, as after two years or so of slow life cabin living, Nelly doesn’t come back one day, so Sara goes to search for her.
I enjoyed most of this book, so let’s start with a quibble. I get that for most writers now the isekai is just a necessary evil to get readers to start the book, but don’t be so half-assed about it! The goddess handwaves the fact that Sarasa isn’t even run over by a truck, saying “I’ll explain things to your family”, and Sarasa just sort of shrugs? Other than that, this i a solid fantasy. Sara is very likeable, which helps get us through the first third of the book or so, which is mainly her slowly learning how to use magic. The second half gets her into town, where she meets a best friend, who has his own issues, and together the two of them deal with prejudice against those who were not already born into privilege, and we discover that Nelly was absolutely not a normal everyday hunter… and Sara is also far from normal as well.
So yeah, another book to throw on the decent isekai pile. Plus it has a great running gag! I love great running gags, especially if they involve wolves.