Is it Wrong to try to Pick Up girls in a Dungeon? Light Novel Book 1 Review: A Fun Adventure That Might Kill You


Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon Light Novel Overview:

Previously I’d watched the anime of Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon and I absolutely loved it. I’ve been hesitant to try the light novel given I’ve already seen the story, but after enjoying Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash I gave it a go.

For those unfamiliar, the story of Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon mostly follows Bell Cranell who has travelled to Orario after the death of his grandfather to become an adventurer in the labyrinth known as dungeon. His motives aren’t exactly the best however. Bell had a great fondness for his grandfather’s stories and the part that really stood out to him was how the hero always saves the girl and then gets surrounded by a harem. Bell is quick to learn there is more to exploring a dungeon than finding a girl.

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon Light Novel Review:

I’m going to avoid comparing this to the anime as much as possible so I’m going to get the major point that hit me while reading this out of the way and then simply focus on the book. Aiz actually has a personality afterall. While the anime left her pretty blank and dull in the early stages, the book actually makes me interested in her from her first scene. What a novel idea. I honestly don’t know how that got lost in the adaptation process but it was definitely a loss.

Okay, onto reviewing the book as a book. As I venture further into reading light novels there are certain patterns that I am definitely picking up. One thing that is a little bit odd is that they seem to have no concern about shifting perspective. While more than half of this story is in first person from Bell’s perspective, the rest of the story (and it is a significant proportion) is in third person and jumps from allowing the reader insight into Hesita’s thoughts as well as Freya’s, Aiz’s, Eina’s, Hephaistos’ and probably other character that I’ve forgotten.

Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon

While at times it is jarring because sometimes it is a few lines into a new section before the current perspective is clear, it does help to round out the support cast and their motives (certainly if we waited for Bell to notice anything we’d be waiting a very long time, and he’s also not involved in every scene). However, I have to wonder if the consistency of the story might have been better served by leaving Bell’s parts in third person as well. There seems no reason for us to hear it in first person when third person has worked fine to convey the feelings and thoughts of other characters.

Outside of the weird perspective jumps, the writing in this is pretty good comparatively with the other light novels I’ve read. It isn’t exactly going to challenge the great literary minds of the ages, but it flows well and is quite descriptive.

This is kind of important given there’s a lot of information and world building in this first book as the way adventurers level up is explained, as is how monsters spawn in the dungeon, as is the nature of the dungeon, and how the gods came along and started making familias. There’s a lot of information coming at the reader throughout this and if the writing hadn’t had a generally fun and easy style it probably would have become tedious quite quickly.


As to the story, it was pretty good. Bell is a very likeable character. He’s a bit of a dork, but he’s hardworking and nice. His odd motive aside, he really is someone you want to get behind and they do an excellent job during the climax of the book (monsterphilia incident for people who watched the anime) at making you genuinely worry about his safety. I won’t lie: I cheered while reading at the end.

Bell’s relationships with the other characters are crucial to making this story work and not just become another generic harem story, and for the most part these are fairly successful. Bell and Hestia have quite the complex and yet amusing relationship with Hestia being extremely attached to Bell. However, this relationship isn’t one in name only. It is one that causes both characters to act at various times and you can see the genuine connection that they have which is something many harem stories miss as they go through the motions of having characters proclaim love but don’t seem motivated by that emotion to do anything more than pout and cling.

What makes this more interesting is Bell can’t see Hestia as a romantic interest because to him she is first and foremost a goddess. This isn’t the random she’s a year older, she’s my sister, she’s interested in someone else block a lot of other protagonists might face. This is a genuine emotional hurdle Bell would have to overcome if anything was ever to come of this relationship in future volumes. Meanwhile, he does love Hestia fiercely. She is his goddess and his family and he acts in accordance with this motive. Kind of refreshing really.

Meanwhile, the object of Bell’s very immature affections, Aiz, is at the moment beyond his reach in his view. Again, this one is clearly established through the use of the level system and Bell and Aiz’s levels are worlds apart. Furthermore, they aren’t in the same familia which apparently also can lead to issues so Hestia and Eina both kind of discourage his pursuit of that relationship. Interestingly, though Aiz and Bell hear about each other fairly often they have no direct interactions outside of the opening sequence where Aiz saves Bell in the dungeon and he runs away.

Now, there is the issue of Bell’s protagonist plot armour. His unique ‘skill’ literally helps him get stronger just by willing himself to become stronger. It doesn’t happen instantly and it isn’t as though he doesn’t work, but his progress is ridiculously fast. Also, despite a couple of very dangerous situations, which are actually written with some good tension, ultimately Bell comes out fairly unscathed. He doesn’t even lose a finger or break a bone.

So while the situation in the moment might seem dangerous, logically as the reader you more or less know he’s going to be just fine. For some people, this factor is going to be the one that kills the story because while I was pretty invested in the fights and found them pretty exciting, I know some people find the knowledge that the main character will be okay a bit of a buzz kill.

For me though, this was a fun read. It had excitement, danger, dungeon exploration, the forging of unique and powerful weapons, great character relationships being established, and a lot of growth potential as there’s a lot going on in the world that might be expanded upon in later books. All and all, I’m really glad I decided to pick this one up and I’m looking forward to when I can get the second book.

And for those wondering it is available on the book depository.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

The Isolator: Sect.001 The Biter Light Novel Review: Engaging Until the End


The Isolator Overview:

Minoru Utsugi had a tragic childhood but it has made him want only one thing from life and that is solitude. However sometimes you don’t get what you want in the way you expect and when yours isn’t the only wish being granted all sorts of things can happen.

The Isolator Review:

I’d kind of determined a long time ago I wasn’t going to read the Sword Art Online books. I enjoyed the anime and I’m not really one to chase down the source material of things with a handful of exceptions. Still, I was curious about this series by the same author so when the first book came on sale I grabbed it.

Still, hardcover only makes for an interesting reading experience and removing the jacket of the book leaves you with one of the ugliest plain blue books ever (horrible shade and absolutely plain save the spin) so you are stuck having to keep the jacket on while trying to read, leaving the book slipping about or the jacket flapping and all and all I’m just not a fan of actually reading hard cover books.

I get they are good for collecting and look good on shelves but the actual reading experience isn’t great (sorry, I’ll leave the rest of that rant for another time along with the bruise I got when I fell asleep reading this and dropped the book on my forehead).

So, this first book in the series, focusing on Minoru’s encounter with a guy who will end up being called The Biter is kind of hard to discuss without plot spoilers. Basically, Minoru had an encounter three months before the start of this story with something that may or may not have been real and since then he’s gotten a bit faster at running and noticed a few other changes. Turns out his encounter was real and he wasn’t the only one to have had such an encounter.

Most of this book first book of The Isolator deals with Minoru coming to terms with the fact that he has a power and that it is going to make him a target and there’s a lot of set-up for future stories going on even while the story around Minoru and The Biter is beautifully concluded in a single volume.

I wish more series would do this. This book tells a complete story in itself and gives the reader a great resolution to that story. The fact that this story takes place within a grander narrative is fine. Now I can choose whether I want to learn more about that larger narrative or not. This story worked fine stand-alone but also made me interested in that ongoing story. Such a great introduction to a series and there is so much potential for what they could do with this story (granted I kind of feel this is heading down the cliché team super hero path but there isn’t anything wrong with that in the end).

The Isolator

I really enjoyed the way the powers were explained and how they are linked (seemingly) to the characters’ desires prior to their encounters. I also like that there’s a lot not yet explained about them and that leaves all sorts of possibilities going forward. If I was to criticise one thing it would probably be the whole ruby/jet binary opposition thing they seem to be setting up as that seems to be making the story a very clear-cut good vs evil story rather than one where we have to consider the human motivation.

Unless of course the colours were attracted to the people in the first place based on their inner desires in which case that could end up being fairly interesting. Either way, I’m not going to discuss the plot any further because it will just spoil what is a fairly interesting story.

From a writing point of view, this is pretty well done. There is definitely a reliance on some cliché patterns with the main character having your standard entire family killed back story  and then the attachment to the older ‘sister’ who took him in (setting up damsel in distress material). In the absence of a childhood friend there’s the runner from his school who attempts to befriend him and then serves much the same purpose that a childhood friend would.

Basically outside of Minoru and the Biter no one else really gets any kind of depth or development as a character. There’s also this odd fixation on small scenes that reinforce Minoru’s character but seem to serve little other narrative purpose. For instance the scene in the convenience store where Minoru ends up giving a boy a few yen to make up the tax difference on a set of cards.

There’s a lot of time put into that scene, and while there is a character purpose behind it, it also doesn’t seem enough to justify the words spent on it. However, for the most part the dialogue works well, the descriptions are sufficient, and the story flows along quite well most of the time.

One thing I would have liked is for The Biter to be more of a character. We do get the back story and we learn quite a bit about this character, including why he seems so far gone and crazy, but he really isn’t a particularly satisfying opponent given his own nature is pretty self-destructive in the first place. Admittedly, his power vs Minoru’s is a great way to show off Minoru’s capabilities and just how impressive his isolation is but it would have been nice to see a villain with a bit more wits about him and a little less self-indulgence. This is a minor complaint though in what is a pretty solid story.

All and all, I’m glad I picked this up and I will have a read of the second book. I’m not sure if I will enjoy where the story intends to go next but I’m definitely curious enough to give it a go and even if I don’t end up liking the second book, this first book is a good story as a stand alone.

If you’ve had a chance to read The Isolator I would love to know your thoughts on it.

If you’re interested in reading The Isolator Volume 1 it is available on the Book Depository.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Magical Girl Raising Project Light Novel Review Volume 1

Magical Girl1

Death and Magical Girls

I’m going to be honest and point out that even now I still haven’t finished the anime of this story. As much as the concept appealed I just found the anime too abrupt and that I didn’t have any time to get to know the characters or care about them before they died. So, I decided to check out the light novel and see if it told the story in a more appealing manner. Admittedly, I made this decision a fair while ago and then the book that I received from another blogger as a prize ended up in one of my travel bags and was only unearthed during my recent work trip. How that happened I’m not quite sure but the book has now been read and I’m ready to review it.

Read each and every death in Volume 1: Available from the Book Depository
Magical Girl Raising Project, Vol. 1 (light novel)
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I think the first thought I have around this book is surprise. I’m surprised by the fact that the whole game plays out in the one volume and we meet the characters very quickly before they are consequently knocked off. In that respect it is very much like the anime. I am however really curious about how there is a whole series when the story seems pretty concluded here. Admittedly, there are ideas that could lead on to future stories, but for all my interest in this story things are nicely wrapped by the last of the 192 pages here and so my overall desire to go onto volume 2 is fairly low.

The characters are perhaps the weakest part at play here though. It isn’t through any fault of their own but there are just too many magical girls, too many scenes to write and too many deaths to play through for any of them to have any real impact. At times I was left confused as to where a certain character came from and whether we’d encountered them before or if I remembered anything about them and before I really had time to reconcile those thoughts the character would be dead.

It also doesn’t help that a lot of the characters end up coming across one note because of how little time they get. Each one seems to have one defining trait or characteristic that is repeated in the narration whenever they appear as if to try to make us remember them but that is about all we get from them in terms of character. It makes any connection with them difficult and it makes it difficult to really emotionally invest in the game they are playing. Even Snow White has appearances scattered throughout the pages and it is really difficult to get any kind of feel for who she is as a person.

The story though kicks off and doesn’t really stop until the end. While death matches are nothing new, and magical girl stories seem to be very fond of taking cute young girls and crushing their spirits through edgy disasters, there is something compelling about this journey. The characters are granted powers and use them in a variety of ways but it is interesting learning about Fav and the magic kingdom and all the behind the scenes aspects that underpin these characters killing one another.

With stronger or more developed characters this plot and the way it rolls out would be incredibly compelling. As it is, it is very bingeable and I found it hard to put down for a break as the events flow from one to the next with a sense that we are driving toward something.

The writing itself, at least in the English translation, is nothing special but nor is it intrusive. The chats and online conversations are a little awkward at times but otherwise it is unremarkable. Likewise the few visuals scattered throughout the book, which are usually a highlight of light novels.

Want more? Try Volume 2: Available from the Book Depository
Magical Girl Raising Project, Vol. 2 (light novel)
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This probably wouldn’t be my first recommendation if someone said they wanted to start reading light novels, but at the same time I didn’t actually dislike it. The book was a quick and simple read, told a decent story, and didn’t feel overly bloated. While I wanted more from the characters and felt that this didn’t get me emotionally invested enough, I still enjoyed the read.

Have you given this book a go? What did you think?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! Light Novel Review Volumes 2 – 4

Cover Art

The Crimson Vow Facing Hunters, Bandits, and Family Members

For those who missed it, I reviewed Volume 1 of this series two weeks ago. And yes, I did in fact buy and read the next three volumes pretty much immediately on completion of that review. So needless to say the first book left a positive impression and it was exactly the kind of fun and silly adventure I needed right at that moment. But now we need to talk about the next three volumes and where the story goes because whether you jump into this series or not will probably depend on whether you like the direction it takes.

Start the adventure with Volume 1: Available from the Book Depository
Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! (Light Novel) Vol. 1
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Now there were a number of things I really loved about the first book of this series. Most notably that the protagonist seemed a bit different from the standard isekai fare and there was a cute exuberance to the story. The protagonist is still different from the normal teenage loner male that we see so often in these stories and the story is still working on that cute exuberance as we pull into volume 4, but I’m going to be honest and say that mid-way through volume 4 I was starting to find it all a little too repetitive.

This impression isn’t aided by the number of times the novels have to remind you that other characters think Mile is an airhead, or the number of times it explains how her ‘storage’ magic works, or even the number of times it reminds us of the perils of hunters getting a failing mark for a quest. It seems if it has told us once they then need to tell us at least half a dozen times and honestly I started to wonder if the books are written for people who routinely bang their heads into walls and forget key details.

Equally, there is a problem that Mile is not a developing character. She reincarnated and worked to find her groove in the new world and now she’s done that. She may pull off a new spell or try some new way of using the nanomachines to do something weird (like make soy sauce) but essentially she hasn’t changed or moved as a character since about three quarters of the way through book one.

Conversely, things we actually need reminding about just pass us by. For instance a character introduced in book one is mentioned again in book 3 without any lead in or context and we’re just expected to remember he was the guy Mile helped back in hunter school. Given everything else they repeatedly hammer us with it seemed like a slightly better lead in would have been welcome.

didnt i say ln banner

That doesn’t mean these characters aren’t delightful. To be honest, the chemistry between the members of the Crimson Vow is incredibly well written and maintained. These girls really feel like a genuine group of friends. However, after three books of the girls being friends and defeating all foes including dodgy business owners as C Class Hunters (ask how many times they remind us they are C Class) you kind of feel like some more direction in this plot might be nice.

See, book one set up the whole Mile running away from her home kingdom and the King and Princess looking for her. While this plot line kind of continues with rare glimpses of the Wonder Trio of friends making their own way into the hunting world in order to one day reunite with Mile, basically it has become irrelevant and there’s no sense of urgency or that anyone is seriously pursuing Mile.

Now for those who like their cute adventure girls who go on adventures and are cute, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the plot as delivered in books 2 – 4. However, it all feels more like filler in an avoidance of a central plot. Like the author is almost afraid that if they actually wrote the main story line they’d have to then come up with a new idea rather than just sending the group of girls out again and again. Though this criticism could be levelled at a large number of long running books series (not just light novels) that seem determined to forever throw new obstacles in the path of the heroes in order to continue on indefinitely.

And the end of book 4 looks like they are going in pursuit of yet another goal that may or may not have any overall consequence.


The enjoyment part comes from whether you actually like this material and what it adds to our understanding of these characters and the world. On this note, book 3 is probably the best of the bunch as the conflict the girls face directly involves the families of two of the members of the Crimson Vow (Pauline and Mavis). While the end result is exactly what you would expect, it did do some nice fleshing out for these characters and their perspectives.

Book 4 though at least brought in some interesting inter-kingdom and inter-species politics as well as a fight with a wyvern and then an elder dragon so it is hard to say that nothing of consequence happens. These challenges do push our main group and even though it seems almost assured they’ll be fine (largely because like everything else they tell us a million times that as long as people aren’t killed healing magic can fix most things) there’s some fairly tense moments in these fights.

I’ve had a lot of fun with these books and to be honest I’ll probably continue the series at some point. However the absence of a clear direction (or the absence of any kind of desire on the author’s part to pursue it) means that the need to rush into the next book has kind of faded. Still, these were very easy binge books and despite my complaints I found it very hard to put them down in order to actually go to sleep and was playing the ‘one more page’ game for nearly an hour one night and then just finished the book.

There’s definitely a lot of potential fun in reading this series so far and the characters remain delightful even if they seem fairly fixed. I might wish the writing was a little less repetitive but it flows reasonably well and the overall tone of the books is highly enjoyable. If you aren’t needing a driving plot then you will probably find a lot to enjoy about this series and for those who like a plot it isn’t as though it doesn’t seem to have one. Each book reminds us of past events and seems to be positioning people and ideas for future use. It is just a matter of when they’ll actually capitalise on all that set up.

Continue Crimson Vow’s Journey in Volume 2: Available from the Book Depository
Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! (Light Novel) Vol. 1
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Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! Light Novel Review Volume 1


Cute, Smart Girl Becomes Cute, Smart and Over-powered Girl?

You would think there would be some cap on the number of stories of average Japanese teens dying tragically, meeting god and being reborn in another world, but no there is not. And I’m kind of happy about that. As much as some of these stories are derivative nonsense without a speck of originality, care or talent behind them there are also stories that really make something of the basic premise. It is like all those ‘boy meets girl’ stories and how some of them can really distinguish themselves and others end up stacked on the pile of mediocre genre stories and still others rot in the pile of substandard and uninspired crud.

This latest series I picked up to read after a recommendation came up through The Book Depository and I read some reviews on other blogs is Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! which is a marathon of a title and uses excessive punctuation to boot. Throw in the generic cute character on the front cover and the magic circle she’s standing in and all and all there’s a million warning signs that this is going to be dribble and yet it manages to defy all expectations and became one of the more enjoyable stories I’ve read for awhile.


I certainly jumped it to the top of the to be reviewed stack which is on the edge of reaching 20 books that I’ve read but have yet to type up my thoughts on.

There’s plenty to unpack in this story but my overall thoughts are that it is pure enjoyment to read. That doesn’t mean it is some hefty literary work that is going to take the world by storm. It is nicely written (or at least the translation effort was nicely done as most of it flows really well), the story moves along at a good clip, and the characters are entertaining enough. However it isn’t exactly trying to shatter the mould or blow our minds with its genius narration so just open up the book and start devouring the story.

Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life is Available on the Book Depository
Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! (Light Novel) Vol. 1
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The biggest downside of this book is it takes awhile to get going. As usual with this kind of plot we have to kill off our main character in one life and have her reborn. It takes about 30 pages of so to get through the basic set-up before our reincarnated protagonist lands at her first academy and the story really kicks off. Fortunately, once it kicks off it doesn’t really stop or get bogged down again and when you get the end of the volume it gives sufficient closure for the moment but leaves you wanting more.

Or at least, I certainly did and ordered the next couple of volumes already for future reading. While it might run out of steam in a couple of books, this is a fairly promising start.

Possibly one thing that really did help me get into the story was that our protagonist wasn’t a loner male. Kurihara Misato was a little bit isolated in her former life because of the expectations placed on her by others, but she wasn’t another shut-in gamer. Admittedly, they do play on her social awkwardness and inability to read others a bit too much early on in this story, but she’s a fairly up-beat heroine making the most of her situation.


I also like that there is no demon-lord in sight so far. Throughout this whole volume Misato/Adele/Mile faces many challenges but these include social status, socialising in general, friendship, and finding a place for herself in the world. No evil demons to fight or world ending terrors existing just to be terrors. Admittedly, there’s certainly room for political intrigue and other issues to blow up into larger issues in future volumes, but this was very much a low stakes story but with every decision being vital to the protagonist as she desired to fit in and anything that could risk that was seen as a threat there was an ongoing sense of purpose and direction for the story.

The supporting cast is quite large as the story carries from Adele’s home life, to her school, to the bakery where she works for a time, to the first village she runs to, and then to the academy for hunters she attends, but all of the characters we encounter are fun and interesting. Their interactions and responses to Adele/Mile as she goes about pretending to be normal despite obviously not being so is pretty entertaining, and by the end of this volume there’s a pretty cool group surrounding our main character.

There’s also a lot of very funny moments in the story. I’m not huge on comedy and a lot of jokes fall flat for me, but this book had me chuckling on more than one occasion as the protagonist’s plans blew up in her face or the other characters let her get away with something even though they all knew exactly what was going on.

As I said earlier, it is just a fun little book. With a delightful protagonist, overpowered or not, a plot that never seems to get put on hold even as there’s not a lot of clear direction to it as of yet, and a supporting cast that have been fun to get to know, Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! is one of those books that will just make you smile and try the one more chapter game until you fall asleep while trying to complete it in a single sitting.

Try Volume 2: Available on the Book Depository
Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! (Light Novel) Vol. 1
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Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Natsume’s Book of Friends Manga Review Volume 16

natsume 16a

Helping Our Friends

We’re back with the next volume of Natsume’s Book of Friends and I absolutely loved this one. Okay, I love all of them, but this one seemed extra-special. Natsume always feels like he is taking without giving anything back, which isn’t true but it is how he feels, and he’s incredibly grateful for the friendships he has create with Taki and Tanuma even while he tries to look out for them and keep them safe.

This volume focuses very much on these relationships with the first two chapters dealing with Taki and the second two dealing with Tanuma. Both stories are absolutely glorious and then we get a really nice extra story at the end in case you haven’t had enough Natsume (and let’s be honest, there’s never enough Natsume).

Chapter 64 and 65

Naturally Natsume gets involved and at first fears the yokai aims to harm Taki but soon realises the yokai wants to thank her but doesn’t really know why. Once again the different time spans of humans and yokai comes into play as the yokai realises the futility of a friendship with a human yet still feels drawn to Taki.

It has been awhile since Taki has featured as anything more than just someone in passing and it was great to get back to her story and her house. This time she has helped a yokai leave her house after it got confused by all of her grandfather’s spells and the yokai now wants something to do with her, but isn’t quite sure what.

natsume 16b

There’s also some other yokai in the house which leads to a really fun couple of chapters. it also makes Natsume think once again about his position and his relationship with Taki. While he tries not to keep too many secrets from her these days there are still some things he just can’t say and that keeps a small distance between them.

If you’ve been waiting for more of Taki this story will certainly give you exactly what you wanted.

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Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 16

Chapter 66 and 67

After the joy and breath of fresh air that was Taki’s visit, we move straight into a trip with Natsume and friends (Tanuma, Nishimura and Kitamoto). They are visiting a place Tanuma went to often as a child and they soon encounter a mystery with a yokai and a mask. Tanuma helps Natsume by keeping Nichimura and Kitamoto out of the way while Natsume tries to uncover the identity of the yokai.

Once again this story makes it clear that even though Tanuma doesn’t have the gift that Natsume has, a lot of his childhood experiences are quite similar. He saw weird things as a kid and was also sick a lot which meant he didn’t have a huge number of friends. It turns out, one of the ‘friends’ he had wasn’t all she appeared to be.


Again this story focuses very much on the distance between Natsume and others and the reasons for the secrets and lies that build the walls around him. While Tanuma is the closest thing to a true friend Natsume has ever had, there’s still a barrier between them even if Tanuma has been given a lot more access to Natsume’s true self than most people.

Again, it is a really fun story and one that builds on what we know about these characters in the best possible way. There’s also some really lovely art in this one, particularly when Tanuma smiles at the end. It is so precious.

As usual, I can’t wait to get into the next volume of this manga. This series continues to build from strength to strength and while I love the stories that focus on the exorcists, this volume focusing on Natsume’s school friends was a real delight.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Goblin Slayer Review Light Novel Volumes 5 + 6


The Endless Cycle of Rookie Mistakes

I don’t normally review volumes together unless they are clearly two parts of the same story with no resolution in between, however when I finished reading volume 5 of Goblin Slayer I was kind of at a loss as to what to write and so I simply stacked the book to the side and waited. Many months later I read volume 6 and suddenly felt a need to write about the books so here we are.

Goblin Slayer is Available on the Book Depository

Goblin Slayer, Vol. 5 (light novel)
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Volume 5

I’m going to point out that volume 5 is actually quite a good story. The reason I’m saying that straight up is that it is probably going to sound very soon like I didn’t enjoy it but to be honest most of my issues with it are issues with the series as a whole that have been building and have nothing to do with the individual volume.


The story focuses on Noble Fencer who was out on a job to take care of some goblins and completely stuffed it up by underestimating goblin resourcefulness and sneakiness. As a result, her party has been killed and she’s taken captive by the primitive cult of goblins in the north. Naturally Goblin Slayer and friends are recruited to go rescue her.

As I said, nothing wrong with the story. The problem is, that this is almost the same story as Priestesses introduction only spread out longer and with more tenacious goblins thrown in. That’s kind of the point. Goblins keep doing the same things over and over and adventurers keep underestimating them. Yet while I appreciate the point I found the basic story less enjoyable because there just isn’t enough novelty five volumes in to keep this feeling fresh.


Still, the action is solid, the characters within the party continue to bounce well off one another, and the story concludes well within the volume so there’s little to really complain about. That said, I was contemplating leaving this series here feeling I’ve taken all I can from it.

Volume 6

After my mixed feelings around volume 5 and whether this series had anything more to offer, I went into volume 6 with a little bit of hesitation. I am really glad I did go into it though.


This volume turns its attention very much onto the Priestess as she’s now been with the group for a year. Her growth over that time has been impressive and she’s been in some very dangerous situations. Despite that, this volume begins with her missing out on advancement at the guild as there’s the thought that maybe all the strong adventurers she’s travelling with are actually carrying her through these encounters.

So begins an effort to give the Priestess opportunities to show her own strengths including having Goblin Slayer and the others take orders from her during a mission.

It is a minor shake up to the usual formula and yet it is enough. Not to mention, Priestess as a character has experienced the most growth (as all the other characters were fairly well developed when they were met and Priestess was such a rookie) and so seeing her get the limelight was very nice.

While it might seem trite, I also liked the inclusion of the Wizard Boy. His older sister had died a year ago on a quest to kill goblins and he’s very much out for revenge. It is pretty clear that the older sister was probably one of Priestess’ original party members that got wiped out but they don’t make a big deal of that. Instead, this volume focuses on teaching Wizard Boy, and indeed many of the rookie adventurers, how to stay alive.


That becomes particularly necessary when the newly built training grounds get attacked by a goblin horde at night.

With the training grounds having been built on the site of Goblin Slayers home village there’s more than enough personal drama and stakes in this story to really lift is beyond just basic goblin slaying and while the basic formula established in this series hasn’t changed, this volume seemed to breathe a bit of life back into it.

Anyway, it was enough that I’m going to read the next one as I’d really like to know what happens next.

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Goblin Slayer, Vol. 5 (light novel)
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Karandi James

So I’m A Spider, So What? Volume 4


And now the timeline makes sense.

So I’m A Spider, So What has jumped back and forth between the events in the Great Elroe Labyrinth and the events surrounding Shun, the newly titled hero, through the previous volumes. While I always had a sense that the events from the spider’s point of view were not in quite the same time as the events Shun was describing, it wasn’t until volume 4 where the reader is given a clear answer to exactly when both sequences are occurring and the relationship between them. It is a credit to this story that it has managed to come out of the reveal relatively neatly and with the story clicking nicely into place rather than becoming unravelled.

And just for those who are still utterly confused as to what happened first or the actual sequence of events that we’ve been told about but never saw first hand, this volume handily contains at the end a timeline of the events so that you can see the full sequence very quickly and help reconcile any further confusion. It isn’t intrusive and doesn’t add anything that couldn’t have been picked up through a return read but it just helps straighten out the whole affair.

Now if this time disparity was just another gimmick, like the protagonist being a spider, then I’d have to wonder if it was worth the effort, but realistically it has really helped to set up the different characters and their relative experiences before things start coming together.

That is where volume 4 of So I’m A Spider, So What? really starts to shine. While the spider story-line an the human story-line still haven’t actually collided, they are clearly on a collision course. With so many other reincarnated characters already assembled, the war in full swing, and everything about to come to a head, it is just a matter of time now. Where previous volumes I’ve found the spider grinding amusing but not overly purposeful at times and I’ve enjoyed the story of the goings on in the human world but we’ve only seen glimpses, volume 4 gives us some fairly specific purposes to the spider’s activities and the human story gets, if not equal space, at least equal weight in this volume.

My previous criticisms though of the intrusive nature of the game mechanics do still stand. As much as this volume actually starts revealing the reason why the world they reincarnated into seems so much like a game, there’s only so many times you can come across a page that is nothing but stats and skills after a monster has been appraised before you just stop looking at them and flick to the next page to get on with the story. It isn’t as though the spider doesn’t then point out the most significant stats in her next bit of narration anyway so reading the page is utterly pointless.

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So I'm a Spider, So What?, Vol. 4 (light novel)

That said, while the execution of stats and skill lists may be intrusive, the basic function within the story is fairly purposeful. Not to mention, the spider is really using those skills and stats to their advantage and being quite innovative. On more than one occasion turning a one-sided battle into quite a thrilling nail-biter because of how they’ve used the level system to their advantage.

Which is why I can’t stop reading this series of books. As much as they rely on gimmicks to try to distinguish themselves from an overcrowded field, and as much as the game mechanics right from the beginning have been heavily weighing down the story, there’s a real cleverness at times to the way these standard elements are employed. While once or twice it really looks like they are over-reaching in order to extract the spider from an incredibly dire situation, they usually manage to make the events fit within the established rules and patterns of the world, even if that world is incredibly unfair and a lot of those skills and stats are clearly over-powered and close to cheating (Immortality? Really?).

While the spider gets the fun battle and exhilarating saves and victories, the humans are on the run after the events of book 3 and end up the elven village where the other reincarnated kids have been kept. This plot line is subdued, even dull in terms of events, by comparison, and yet we learn a lot through the course of the book and honestly I’m really looking forward to finding out what the next steps are for these characters with the new information they’ve acquired.

Needless to say, I am going to read the next volume in this series. It will very much depend on the individual as to whether or not they’ll enjoy this series though. I think most people who enjoy isekai stories and don’t object to game mechanics being used as the basis of a narrative will find a lot to like here but for other readers while there are some brilliant moments they probably won’t offset the parts of So I’m A Spider, So What they don’t like.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
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Karandi James

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Review Light Novel Volume 11


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The higher the rise, the harder the fall.

Bell’s reputation took a serious hit at the end of volume 10. The people of Orario saw him stand between adventurers and monsters and in the end they now see him as someone who puts his own needs above protecting them from monsters. However it isn’t just Bell who has been affected as his whole familia is now on the back-foot with everyone wanting to take their shot at the family that rose to fame so quickly.

It is a really interesting turning point in the series as prior to this Bell was looked down on for being small or inexperienced. Then he began his rise to fame and gained respect from so many people and other adventurers that while there was jealousy and some hostility, for the most part Bell has had a steady climb in status over the previous 10 books.

Volume 11 turns the tone of the series on its head. Seeing Bell despised is actually kind of hard, particularly when as the reader you know what bell was actually trying to do and you also know that even if he explained it very few would listen to him or take his side. And that’s the strength of this volume. Bell is in a position where he has to gain back some of the trust that has been lost or it is more or less the end for his familia, but at the same time he can’t turn his back on the xenos. This conundrum nearly paralyses him and makes any action seem more or less impossible. Harder still when even those in his familia are starting to wonder if the cost of helping the xenos was too high.


That said, Bell has drawn the attention of quite a number of gods through his meteoric rise and they aren’t happy to leave things as they stand either. The question is, will their meddling make things better or worse and will Bell be happy with the outcome?

While earlier books in this series were fun and exuberant as Bell launched into new adventures and took on new foes, volume 11 brings a much more serious tone to the entire story. It is no longer a simple matter of monsters bad, kill the monsters, and Bell as a character is forced to grow beyond the naive youth he’s represented previously.

The situation also strains a lot of the pre-existing relationships and forces characters to question the basis of those relationships and whether or not they can continue. Particularly strained is the relationship between Ais and Bell as Bell put himself directly in Loki familia’s way during the previous volume and the conflict between them isn’t over as Loki familia works to restore the status quo.

On the one hand, I kind of preferred the light and energetic tone in earlier volumes but on the other, I really enjoy watching Bell grow up. This volume gives him a lot of time to really question his goals and what he wants and I feel in terms of the greater narrative it does an excellent job even if it wasn’t quite as fun individually to read.

Despite the more contemplative tone, volume 11 does deliver a thrilling climatic battle on par with any that we’ve seen so far. Bell is going to get pushed to the limit physically and emotionally before this book is done and while this volume does bring a nice conclusion to the current arc, it also leaves you wanting the next book.

Clearly I enjoyed reading volume 11 of Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon and I’m looking forward to seeing Bell after this book to see what lasting impact these events have had.

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Karandi James

The Benefits and Pleasure of Reading Light Novels


Normally this is the time of week I’d have a light novel or manga review and I certainly have more than a few books stacked on my desk and ready for their reviews to be written or finalised. However, recently I was asked what I enjoyed about reading light novels and it made me start thinking about the changes in my reading habits over the past two years since I started reading my very first light novel series, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash.


My whole life I’ve been obsessed with books. I fill shelves with them, spend hours rummaging through dusty boxes and shelves in second hand book stores, and spend more than a fair bit of time online shopping for books. However, growing up my focus was decided split with fantasy, science fiction and horror books on the one side and the standard classic literature list on the other. At university I expanded more into a range of authors who pioneered or represented movements or were renowned in some form or another, though I definitely kept enjoying my genre fiction.

It was pretty standard for me to be carrying two to three novels on me at any one time and cycle through them based on my mood or how much time I had to sit and read.

Maka Albarn - Soul Eater - Reading books

Then adulting happened.

I know, becoming an adult is kind of that thing we all have to do. But it had a definite impact on my reading because after spending a day reading for work meant by the time I came home I wanted entertainment that was less immersive and demanding of me and so movies and games filled the recreation time, as did my growing obsession with anime. I still read books, but they became something I stacked away and stored for long weekends or holidays where I would devour two or three in quick succession. Young adult novels became more standard in my collection because they were quicker to read and I was sure to complete it before I got distracted by work again.

As my anime obsession grew, so did my curiosity with the source material of many anime and while I wasn’t overly keen on reading manga, I decided it was time to plunge into light novels.

Fortunately for me I picked wisely.

At first I ordered one volume of one series when it was on sale and thought the worst that could happen was it would end up donated to a charity where it would end up sold on to someone else. However, I kind of became hooked.


For all that the first volume of Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is not a perfect book by any means, the story rolls over you easily and carried you along to the end. There’s enough description to sketch in the world and character dialogue to give them shape, but it doesn’t get bogged down in details or tedious conversations that serve no purpose.

In a nutshell, it is easy and undemanding to read. Plus, easily devoured in a single sitting or over a couple of evenings so even with work demands it was something I could sink my teeth into and enjoy.

However, as my collection of light novels and manga (because one opened the door to the other) grew I ran into a few problems as well as a few really good points.

My main problem was storage space. Because of the quick read time and number of volumes in some sets it became quickly apparent I was going to need to a new shelf to store them on. But the other issue is that each series seems to be its own specific shape. Some are wider or taller than others and so stacking books has become quite the game of jenga and I’m not entirely convinced I’m the best person for the job. Particularly when I decide to read an older volume and pull it out from under a precarious stack, or the latest volume of a series I just read needs to be placed under another series requiring some careful handling.

This is a dream come true, a room totally surrounded by books.

Admittedly, a lot of people are probably just better at dealing with stacks that don’t perfectly align but for me everytime I look at the light novel collection I just want to try to make all the spines line up neatly and I’ve yet to succeed because they just don’t.

The other problem is naturally cost. While each book doesn’t cost all that much, particularly taking into account the frequency of online sales, the speed at which the books are read and again, the number of volumes each set will end up with, means that the cost of books rapidly adds up. It isn’t insurmountable but in order to stop myself binge spending on any other given day I plan lists and schedules for my next book order to keep it all under control and under budget.

Yet both of these are petty complaints.

The books I’ve bought and read so far have been fun and entertaining. They’ve given me a raft of colourful characters and settings and plots that are incredibly. In the case of Grimgar and DanMachi the books have filled the void left by anime that next concluded the story and in the case of the Natsume manga I’ve found a new and amazing way to experience a story I loved in anime form. Arifureta gave me something different in a genre I’m familiar with from anime, and so on and so forth.


I love the artwork that is included in these books, whether it is the fold out work at the beginning of the volumes or the images scattered throughout, it just adds something to the reading experience. And certainly I appreciate any book that is easily slotted into a handbag or travel bag. That and a book that doesn’t hurt when it falls on my face because I fell asleep while reading.

Certainly I’ve ordered the first volume of some series and it just hasn’t worked for me and I’ve not continued on, but that is true of all types of books. Growing up there was a huge second hand book sale that took place every six months and the last day of the sale always had a fill-a-bag option and so I would plunder the fantasy section of any and everything I hadn’t read. I worked on the standard idea that only one in every ten books I started would actually be amazing and only three in ten would be good enough to end up on my book shelf. The rest would be read and then returned to the charity to end up at the next book sale. The only tragedy being that one particular book got purchased on three separate occasions.

no game
Yeah, No Game No Life looked like it should be perfect for me, but just didn’t work out.

From that point of view, I’ve had far more hits than misses when it comes to reading light novels, though given a lot that I’ve chosen I’ve watched the anime of, I’m not going in blind to very many.

While a few people I know feel I’ve gone backwards a bit in my reading, all I can say is that I’m having as much fun as every consuming stories. While the pictures on the covers of the books I’m reading these days may be brighter, what hasn’t changed is my general love of words and nicely flowing plot with characters I can get behind and want to see succeed.

levy reading 2

Next week I’ll get back to actually reviewing something from the stack before it takes over my desk entirely but before then, if you read light novels I’d love to know what you find appealing about them?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James