By Honobonoru500 and Nama. Released in Japan as “Saijaku Tamer wa Gomihiroi no Tabi wo Hajimemashita” by TO Books. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Benjamin Daughety. Adapted by M.B. Hare.
I appreciate that Slow Life books are slow starters and you have to give them room to breathe before they get going. I appreciate that “seems weak but is actually strong” is a well-worn genre, and that if you’re going to play in it you need to follow the rules for that genre. But wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book get the first half as wrong as this series does. Starting on page one with a situation that is so comically evil I wondered briefly if this was a parody, we follow our heroine as she survives on her own, eating what she can and having only herself and her pet “weak” slime for company. After all, she’s a no-star tamer, and the slime was near death. How interesting can she be? The answer, at least till about 2/3 of the way into the book, is “not very interesting at all”. It’s cripplingly dull.
Our heroine is introduced to us when she gets her magic rating at the age of five, as all people do in her village. It’s… a no-star, the weakest amount. And tamer, the weakest class. Her family immediately despise her, and she is forced to go live in the woods, with only a kindly fortune teller helping her to stay alive. Then she hears the village chief plotting to have her murdered, and flees. She ends up walking from RPG-named village to RPG-named village, looking through trash heaps for useful items. The only thing she can tame is a weak slime on the verge of death. That said… once the slime starts eating used potions, it quickly turns out to be a rapidly growing slime indeed. As for Ivy (as our heroine names herself), she also seems to have hidden skills… which might stem from memories of a past life.
So much is shoehorned in here. I called the towns RPG-named, and they seem to be about as shallow as a generic RPG town as well. The fact that most of the people are surviving on field mice, rabbit, and pigeon meat tells you how far out in the boonies she is. I kept forgetting about the isekai part until it was brought up again, because it’s just there to explain why Ivy can use herbs, or make tea. Things do get a bit better once she starts interacting with actual people, but again, this takes until halfway through a pretty long book. Oh yes, and there’s slavery in this book as well, and the subplot near the end involves Ivy trying to protect herself from being kidnapped and sold as a slave. Unfortunately, this is not resolved in Volume One, so… guess I’ll never know.
TO Books has done well here with Ascendance of a Bookworm and Tearmoon Empire, but man, this was an absolute zero of a first volume. I have no doubt Ivy’s life will continue to get better as she finds more allies and gradually learns how strong she no doubt is. As for me, byeeeee.