Campfire Cooking in Another World With My Absurd Skill is one of those titles where you suspect it only came into existence because someone wanted to know what would happen if instead of the twenty something year-old becoming a teenage hero after being isekai’d, what would happen if his only skill was shopping online and he just happened to know how to cook. There’s really not a lot more to this particular story than that, though I will admit the third book starts to hint that we’ll learn at least a little bit about what is going on in the kingdom that actually summoned the heroes in the first place.
Campfire Cooking in Another World With My Absurd Skill is an incredibly relaxed take on adventuring.
Did you ever wonder what Lord of the Rings would be like if Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry hadn’t had to leave the Shire because of the ring and being chased by the ring wraiths but because they just really wanted to find out what ocean fish tasted like and decided to eat their way across the continent?
Personally I hadn’t, but I kind of feel that Campfire Cooking in Another World With My Absurd Skill more or less answers the question anyway.
Mukohda, our ordinary Japanese salaryman who is summoned to another world is a likeable enough protagonist. He’s the get along with everyone kind of person and nicely give away your magic potion to save the sick mother guy and realistically other than being nice to people and startled by signs of danger or weird fantasy revelations he really doesn’t have a lot more personality going. But that’s okay because everyone loves him anyway.
Guild masters, other adventurers, random kids, merchants, the merchant’s wife… I don’t think Mukohda has yet encountered anyone who has actually taken any kind of issue with him after realising who he is.
That kind of makes every encounter Mukohda have much the same. Here’s a new guild hall or town. Walk in, talk to someone and offer to sell some monster bits or whatever, take them out of your item box and have them react (usually with a gasp or spit-take) before they fall over trying to praise you and then offer you a lot of money.
I’d be lying if I didn’t call out Campfire Cooking in Another World With My Absurd Skill for being a little on the repetitive side even three books in.
Likewise, the travelling between towns is punctuated by Mukohda getting all scared or mad at Fel (his legendary familiar and we’ll talk about that in a moment) for running too fast, being all excited because Sui (his slime familiar) is really cute, or taken up by pretty linear explanations of preparing various dishes. Seriously, I think this actually was a recipe book at some point in time and then someone had the bright idea of stringing the meals together with weak adventure plots.
Campfire Cooking in Another World With My Absurd Skill walks you through deciding what Mukohda is going to cook, has him find the ingredients in his item box or buying them from his online store, and then literally preparing the food step by step. Every single meal.
But, clearly I’m not too down on these books having read three (actually nearly four) of them now. They are very relaxing to read and the central group of Mukohda and his familiar companions Fel and Sui (joined by Dora-Chan the pixie dragon later on) are pleasant enough to spend time with even if they aren’t all that exciting.
Besides, the initial set-up where Mukohda actually reads between the lines after being summoned to a kingdom that wanted heroes was something I quite liked and as book three, and now the early part of book four show us, the heroes who stayed are going to have to do something so it wasn’t like that plot line was just abandoned after getting Mukohda into the world.
I did prefer it when Mukohda was really ordinary other than his shopping skill because there was the potential that when his familiar wasn’t with him he might actually be in danger. However, Campfire Cooking in Another World did backtrack and decided that leaving the main character vulnerable made the risk of actual tension too high and so dropped multiple divine blessings on his head in exchange for chocolate.
Not even joking. Though I do like that Mukohda nick-named one of the Goddesses a ‘divine disappointment’. I actually had a bit of a laugh at that.
Still, the basic idea here is fine with Mukohda not being a hero but rather just getting caught up in the summoning and so deciding to go his own way in the world leaves the plot free of a lot of the usual fantasy trappings. The familiars who’ve gathered around him have done so because they were lured in by the smell of his food and decided it was worth contracting with this human in exchange for food. That they are all stupidly overpowered and Mukohda’s food makes them even stronger is just kind of funny.
Basically though, Campfire Cooking in Another World With My Absurd Skill isn’t a must read. It’s a read while watching something else and when you want something that isn’t super taxing on your brain. The story is pretty forgettable and the characters don’t offer a lot but there’s a decent enough flow to the narrative and some genuine thought put into a couple of the plot points.
Plus, if you even wanted to learn how to cook certain dishes you might just learn a technique or two.
Campfire Cooking in Another World With My Absurd Skill is available from Amazon.
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