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

Campfire Cooking in Another World With My Absurd Skill Books 1 – 3 Review: Like Reading a Cooking Journal With Some Adventuring Thrown In

Campfire Cooking in Another World With My Absurd Skill Books 1 - 3 Review

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.

Literally everyone.

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.

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

Reincarnated as a Sword (Light Novel) Books 4 – 8 Review: For A Light Fantasy This One Keeps Things Fresh

Reincarnated as a Sword Books 4 - 8

We are back with Fran, Teacher and Jet as I continued reading the light novel series Reincarnated as a Sword. I enjoyed the first three volumes well enough and so continued though I’ve now run out of new volumes in this particular title for a little bit and will have to wait before I get to do my next binge read.

Though I did note that the Book Depository does have up to volume 11 so it probably won’t be too long before I’m placing another order.

Is Reincarnated as a Sword a series worth continuing?

There’s a real simplicity to the formula that the novels of Reincarnated as a Sword seem to take with Fran and Teacher (accompanied by Jet) heading off to the next leg of their journey to a destination usually determined in the previous book. Something disrupts the journey to make it a bit interesting and Fran will usually meet someone who will either end up being very helpful or will betray her later and be cut down to size.

Then there will be some mid-book antics where Fran trains a bit, has some sparring matches (though one of these is a cooking contest and more on that later), eats a lot of food, and does some basic relationship building and learns more about the world and the Black Cats (you know some actual plot stuff).

And each book has a final act that involves a massive fight of some sort. Whether that is a city destroying mutated monster, a ridiculously overblown battle at sea or whatever else they decide to throw Fran’s way. It gives us a satisfying and dynamic fight to close out the events in the location where Fran is and she then either prepares to part ways or they kind of indicate where the next step of her journey is.

The benefit of this structure is that every book of Reincarnated as a Sword, while it does continue on the overall journey and world building as well as the ongoing plot involving the Black Cats losing their ability to evolve and some of the politics that are going on, feels like it almost could be stand-alone. Every book concludes on a satisfying note which makes me even more enthused about reading more.

However there is a downside and that is that each book introduces a different localised threat or conflict for Fran and Teacher to face and depending on how interesting you find that may very well make your enjoyment of that volume variable compared to another.

For instance volume 4 was almost a disappointment for me. After being pretty happy with books 1 – 3 and writing my initial review, I was almost instantly left with a sour taste as Fran arrived in her latest location and, after someone from the Chefs guild dared to criticise the curry her teacher made, announces she’s going to enter a cooking competition.

It was such a left turn for Reincarnated as a Sword and felt so out of place. It was very similar to how I felt when the anime How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom suddenly started up a cooking show in the middle of the episode. You know, they’d been dealing with relatively sensible agricultural, political and economic reforms up until that point and while I get that he was addressing a food shortage, the method just seemed so random (weirdly that tonal shift occurred in episode 4 so maybe people just think at 4 all the characters in isekai stories should cook).

Ultimately, I kept reading and while the cooking contest itself never thrilled me, the conspiracy in the background of the story did and the final act of book is actually pretty intense. It at least did enough to keep me reading to book 5 and honestly I think books 5 – 8 have really just found their flow and groove.

Fran and Teacher’s relationship at the centre of the story in Reincarnated as a Sword is rock solid and works at holding the overall plot together.

Whether you appreciate the levelling up and skills components will depend on your tolerance for game mechanics in fantasy but here it doesn’t feel too intrusive.

The supporting cast in each location end up being a mixture of fun characters, antagonistic characters to add some tension, rivals, mentors and whatever else is needed and most of these feel fairly fleshed out given most of them only really appear in the one book before Fran moves on (some are lucky and get to hang around for a second book).

If I was to pick one character that doesn’t quite get utilised well it would be Jet.

Reincarnated as a Sword introduced Fran’s familiar Jet and at first he seemed like a valuable member of the team and a character in his own right (even if he was a dire wolf). Yet increasingly he seems like a plot short cut with Jet being responsible for transport between locations and evasions in fights but does little else to advance the plot and hasn’t really had any solid character moments. Even in the big fights, he frequently gets put on distract the small fry duty and then we don’t actually see how his battle plays out.

It’s a little disappointing but a small issue in the grand scheme of things.

Basically, Reincarnated as a Sword remains light fantasy reading and if that is what you are after then you will get your fill of adventures, dungeons, monster threats, and flying talking swords.

Reincarnated as a Sword by Yuu Tanaka is available from the Book Depository and Amazon.

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

Reincarnated as a Sword (Light Novel) Books 1 – 3 Review: A Not So Wild Ride

Reincarnated as a Sword

Isekai stories of thirty-something Japanese salary men being killed and reincarnated into a fantasy world are literally everywhere these days. Reincarnated as a Sword enters this overcrowded field and throws in the gimmick that the protagonist is actually reborn as a sword.

Let’s face it, they have to have a gimmick. Whether the protagonist is reincarnated as the villain, the demon lord, the rejected hero, a slime, or whatever else, it is about the only distinguishing feature most of these stories have because once they get rolling they all fall into more or less the same narrative patterns and much like reading a romance story, fans of the genre don’t really want it to deviate too much from the prescribed path. Just be entertaining enough and that will be fine.

Reincarnated as a Sword doesn’t seek to break the mould.

Reincarnated as a Sword - Volume 1 cover art

As with most of these gimmicks, they don’t seem to really want to deal with the idea of the protagonist actually not being human. Despite being a sword, magic allows our protagonist to see, hear, telepathically communicate with those he chooses, and even telekinetically move himself around.

I kind of thought going in that they would at least make his movement dependent on his wielder but he gets around just fine long before he meets his cat-girl companion.

He also largely maintains his memories and knowledge of his former life and picks up skills and powers at a ridiculously fast rate. About the only real concession to being a sword that is made is that he can’t remember his name and it isn’t until Fran, the cat-girl who ends up picking him up, calls him ‘Teacher’ that he has any name at all.

Despite the generic nature of the story and the characters, Reincarnated as a Sword is surprisingly fun to read. Early chapters with the sword zipping through the air telekinetically and taking out monsters solo are a nice introduction to the mechanics of the world and establish the protagonist’s character (generic though it might be) and by the time we meet Fran, the slave, and are introduced to all the other clichés of the world readers are already pretty committed to the story.

There’s enough of a sense of movement as our Sword first encounters Fran and then they become adventurers in one city, moving on in search of a dungeon and ending up fighting zombies in the second volume, before saving a Prince and a Princess from slavery and taking on sea monsters and a corrupt king in volume 3. Basically we never stay anywhere too long to get bored and yet each volume kind of builds around a central event or challenge.

All the while, Fran and Teacher (the sword) are getting stronger and learning more about the world together.

Actually that relationship between Teacher and Fran is probably the linchpin holding this story together and elevating it from forgettable and generic isekai to something pretty enjoyable. One positive coming out of our hero being reincarnated as a sword is that there’s no harem here. Even Fran, the rescued slave, is treated more as a daughter or student, someone teacher seeks to protect, but it isn’t a romantic relationship.

When you throw in a plethora of supporting characters including other adventurers, guild masters, the summoned wolf, and so on you end up with a colourful cast who manage to keep each volume feeling fresh and interesting and none of the characters overstay their welcome.

The flip side of course being that outside of Teacher, who remains nice guy protagonist material all the way, and Fran, who is pretty much driven to be stronger and obsessed with curry, none of the characters really get much depth or focus.

Still, if you’ve got some time and enjoy isekai stories, Reincarnated as a Sword is a pleasant enough affair. It isn’t a wild and shocking ride, but it does capture an overall sense of joy at adventure and discovery and manages a few tense moments for our main characters despite them being fairly overpowered. Largely because despite their over-the-top strengths this story has managed to balance them with other characters within the story who are stronger or smarter giving the main characters something to work toward becoming in the future.

I very much enjoyed reading these first three volumes and look forward to seeing more of Fran and Teacher’s adventures in future volumes of Reincarnated as a Sword.

Reincarnated as a Sword by Yuu Tanaka is available from the Book Depository and Amazon.

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

My Experience Following Two Light Novels Turned Into Anime This Summer Season: Realist Hero and Seirei Gensouki

light novel adaptation - Seirei Gensouki and Realist Hero

Hello, name’s Justin. I manage TheOASG — The Organization of Anti-Social Geniuses — a Japanese pop culture site focusing on manga, light novels, and anime with reviews and various features written throughout the week. Much thanks to Karandi for allowing this guest post on her blog, which, as it’s somewhat long, we should get to immediately!

Realist Hero and Seirei Gensouki - both Light Novels turned into Anime

I’ve been very amused watching How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom and Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles this summer anime season. Amused in the sense I’m reading the light novels of both, and they’re both being adapted in completely different ways. One series is content on methodically moving through its long material while the other blows right through its fairly light content. They each provide their own enjoyment, but at the same time, feelings of what could’ve been arise in both. 

Anyways, it’s rare for me to follow two light novels turned into anime in a season, which is why I’m writing about the experience!

A caveat

While there’s a general method of adapting a work into anime, I won’t say most should strictly stick to it. Like everything It’ll come down to budget, scheduling, and support among many to create a good or great anime, but for series adaptations, the studio should be able to create a work that can bring in a new audience while also being able to satisfy the fans who’ve read the source material. Usually it’s not advisable to go too crazy, but being as creative as possible while adapting the source is more preferable. 

How much have I read of each?

Realist Hero: I’ve read 11 volumes of Realist Hero that’s currently out in print from Seven Seas/J-Novel Club in roughly two weeks in 2021…after I’ve had Volume 1 in my apartment since 2019. There are 13 volumes out digitally from J-Novel Club, with 14 currently through pre-publication on their site (volume 14 is scheduled for October). I’m planning to stick to print for Realist Hero, so can’t answer questions about its story past that.

Seirei Gensouki: I started this series with JNC’s omnibus print release back in June (bought a copy back in February), and then proceeded to read all 13 digital volumes since then. I’m now caught up with its prepub on JNC’s site (Volume 16 is coming out in late September). It took me just about a week to read Seirei Gensouki. This is where I note that the average page count for Seirei Gensouki is between 100-131 pages…there was even a volume or two that was 97 pages. That and what it is (more isekai fantasy not an economic/political isekai fantasy) made it a lot quicker to read.

How many volumes has the anime adapted?

Realist Hero: We have gotten to Episode 9 and it’s finally onto Volume 2! Yes, Episodes 1-8, and even bleeding and lingering a bit into Episode 9, was spent on Volume 1. Hell they even added the extra story towards the end of Volume 1 into the anime! 

Seirei Gensouki: After nine episodes, we’re onto Volume 4 of the LNs! So basically, Volume 1 was episodes 1-3, Volume 2 episodes 4-6, and Volume 3 episodes 7-9, with parts of Volume 4 at the end of 9. 

The Pros and Cons of Realist Hero

Realist Hero

Pros: For those who’ve read the source, it’ll be very familiar since I’d say roughly 70% of Volume 1 has been animated. So basically, if you were enjoying some almost university modern-day Socioeconomic student get summoned by a failing fantasy kingdom to become their Hero only for said student to instead apply his sensibilities and supposedly realist principles to rebuild Elfrieden through administrative efforts in LN form, chances are you’ll like it animated. 

A few storytelling adjustments (How Mystic Wolf Tomoe becomes Souma and Liscia’s little sister is the same but it’s done in an unobtrusive way for example) help smooth out some points in Dojyomaru’s first volume that probably either wasn’t necessary or kinda ill placed (For example while there was a cool moment not adapted, the location for when Souma confronts Hal and Kaede in Episode 6 was pretty awkward in the LN). Also bonus points for adding some extra references (the Yami Yugi moment in episode 1, an a capella version of Megumi Hayashibara’s Give a Reason from Slayers NEXT sung by Juna in Episode 3 to name a few) that were either not in the LN or were but had to be adjusted.

Cons: If there is a big misgiving, it’s how it looks. Functionally the characters look fine and I think overall the show looks passable, but it does look unappealing in a lot of areas. It’s either a case of lack of budget or they’re saving it from when the actual action happens since going in it’s all about characters talking, but visuals is not this series’ strong suit. There are some rearrangements or adjustments that have happened so far that I wish could’ve been included (Liscia being frustrated that Souma says Elfrieden can summon another hero was essentially toned down) or a few surprising stories that I figured would get cut (Like the old man’s Sea God story). There’s also one plot point involving Souma and Hal’s father, Glaive, that’s there yet fairly different in the LNs. How Juna was revealed to be a spy didn’t quite go how it went in the LNs either, to name a few.

The additional issue is because of Realist Hero’s lengthy exposition, you know a lot of words would have to be streamlined, but overall it’s fine. It’s just certain conversations — when Aisha talks to Souma about periodic thinning for example — lacks some lead up details so the forest conversation can come across as knowing too much. Conversely, if you found it kind of strange when Souma essentially promoted Kaede and Hal after discussing the current strife with one of the Three Dukes, let’s just say he had a big reason to do it in the LN (and said reason will come up in the anime). You can explain all you want in text, but an anime has to break all that down to something digestible, and sometimes it doesn’t come through here. Since I’ve read the source I know what Souma’s saying and meaning, but for those who haven’t, it likely comes across very differently.

The Pros and Cons of Seirei Gensouki

Seirei Gensouki

Pros: After some adjustment I’ve been digging the character designs and the interactions the characters have with each other, which is one of the reasons I enjoy the LN. The anime also moves at a quick pace, which in some cases, works out pretty well. It has made lots of cuts, a few for the better here:

From a storytelling standpoint, with this one scene it eliminated two characters from the LN — and since they’re essentially minor characters, it’s fine. If you come in seeing Celia give Rio money, she wasn’t the only one — someone else did too. But well, that someone else died in the scene where Rio returns to the shack, and that someone else has a sister who does appear briefly in the second volume, but hasn’t appeared again in the LN (and feels unlikely to do so). That I’d peg as a smart cut. Sure, it might be nice to have, but on a budget and wanting to get to a good point, the anime staff made the proper choice.

Aside from that, the main “hook” for this isekai is one that at least in anime form doesn’t happen often — the fantasy character actually sticking around. It’s either straight up reincarnated and you take over that fantasy person’s body, but instead, Haruto Amakawa from Japan is dead, and his memories are in Rio, a kid in the slums fueled by revenge. It’s a case where two totally different personalities meld together, which generally creates a sort of who’s taking after who in this case. The harem that does surround him will be what’ll either drive away or bring people into this series though.

Cons: So earlier I said this series made lots of cuts. Overall, the cuts make a lot of storytelling and worldbuilding feel lacking. From explaining the difference between magic and Spirit Arts to character actions, the lack of subtle details prevents us from getting a full sense of each character as opposed to the LN. This in turn bleeds into the story, as of which it only revolves around Haruto/Rio essentially journeying around the world. Now in the novels technically the main story kicks off in Volume 4 once the [Spoiler characters] arrive. It’s just the lead up to it feels like it’s missing something.

It also doesn’t help that because of the cuts, it also feels too rushed. The quick pace works out in some cases, but then we get Episode 8 where the series has Rio talking to two very important people in his life, he’s then supposed to have a match with Gouki — oh look that child he saved earlier in the episode and her bodyguard meet up after he tried to avoid them, they briefly chat, and now Rio and Gouki spar!

I’m serious. This happened in roughly a minute: 

Also while earlier I mentioned two minor characters getting cut, don’t worry, there are a couple others. There’s one additional minor character that has been cut that appears a solid amount in future volumes. If there happens to be a Season 2 for this anime, they’ll have to invent a backstory for said minor character out of cloth…or not. Finally yeah, the actual animation isn’t the best. In the video you saw earlier with Celia giving Rio money, you understand the characters are using magic, but the characters moving the way they are is fairly poor and the blue magic surrounding them is pretty basic. The Latifa/Rio fight is the one where I was really satisfied, but the other fights in this action series don’t stick out as they should. 

So….my preference?

The measured pace in Realist Hero feels more preferable than what’s happening to Seirei Gensouki. I still enjoy Seirei Gensouki and in some areas I wish Realist Hero hurried things up and cut some stuff out. As someone reading both source materials though, it feels for Seirei Gensouki it’s cutting out parts that harm the characters inhabiting it, and any type of character building through its dialogue or its fights is quickly over with so nothing can quite stick. Meanwhile you can quickly suss whether anything Realist Hero does is worth your time or not in three episodes because aside from additional details in the novel, this is about what you’re getting from a kingdom-building isekai. 

What’s next for Realist Hero and Seirei Gensouki

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Realist Hero: It’s got four episodes left to finish Volume 2…with a possible chance of adapting parts of Volume 3. While I can’t be fully confident, I’m sure it should end at a good stopping point. It can’t be great since there’s no guarantee of a S2 and there is a great stopping point with Volume 4 that won’t happen here. But there is a solid end point in Volume 2 that can work, so as long as the animation doesn’t melt, it’ll end strong enough.

Seirei Gensouki: The series has followed the 3 episodes = 1 volume scenario except for episode 9 where they put some Volume 4 stuff up, but based on the Opening and Ending animation/visual, it’s ending in Volume 5. So in the next three episodes the series has to adapt two volumes. The good news is Volume 5 is a natural stopping point. The bad news is we already have a significant deviation based on the stinger in Episode 9.

Will not elaborate this point to avoid massive spoilers, but the character you saw at the end of the episode, who I’ll refer to as Rio’s spirit, did not actually appear in the spirit folk village in Rio’s bed in the LN. For anime-only watchers I think you’d be like finally, we’ll know who she is…but since I’m reading the source, I now have many questions on how the anime will tie in the other plot points (yes, points) from the novel in the last three episodes. Is one completely cut? Is it rearranged?

Also, you’ve seen her introduced as Lotte — also known as Liselotte — and she’s a major character that we know is one of the reincarnated characters in the show, and she appears briefly in Volume 5 of the LN. They’ve met back in Episode 4, but Rio and Liselotte really meet in Volume 6 of the LN. In the OP and more clearly elaborated on in Episode 8, we’ve also been introduced to Rio’s nemesis, Lucius. A spoiler, but these two meet in Volume 7 — is the anime going to tease Lucius and not have them meet? It’s a case where it would feel a little irresponsible to introduce someone like Liselotte into the narrative all grown up and not explore her backstory at all in this anime. Lucius is on a lesser scale if only because his backstory is tied deeply to Rio so you can’t not include him in this anime, but is he in the OP as eye candy/tease? 

Basically, I think some sort of anime-original scenario is on the table, and the chances of that happening went up a bit thanks to how Episode 9 ended. Episode 10 should make that clearer, but functionally there is a way they can make Rio’s spirit waking up this early work while not totally messing up one of the plot points. But despite all the prior cuts the story still was fairly on track and engaging enough. Yet now I’m left wondering even more how much will be crunched over the next three weeks. 

Images from: Seirei Gensouki. Dir. O Yamasaki. TMS Entertainment. 2021 and How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom. Dir. T Watanabe. J.C.Staff. 2021

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Karandi James

Impressions on the Latest Light Novels I’ve Read

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Recently I’ve had a bit of time in the evenings to read a few light novels and work my way through my to-be-read stack. Here are my thoughts on the latest books I’ve finished.

Light Novel: The World’s Fines Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World As An Aristocrat

I’m going to be honest, this light novel definitely decided to dump pretty much its entire premise into the title. The only bit that needed to be added is: As An Aristocrat Where The Family’s Secret Job Is Also Assassination.

Karandi's reaction to bad light novel titles.

Be that as it may, I kind of enjoyed this first volume by Rui Tsukiyo. Our reborn protagonist, Lugh, has a pretty clear goal as he’s been offered a chance at rebirth to complete the task of killing the hero but only after the hero defeats the demon lord. It isn’t an easy task and Lugh, having been an excellent assassin in his first life knows this.

The entire first volume is very much Lugh preparing his skills and supports for the task that I guess will eventually be upon him and so action is sporadic and it relies on the characters to carry the story.

While Lugh isn’t exceptional as a protagonist in a light novel about a reincarnated kid in a fantasy world, he’s pleasant enough and I actually liked seeing him succeed and grow.

What was less thrilling is the repetition in the narration. I don’t know if originally this was written in an online format where there were time gaps between chapter releases but information that we’ve been told in one chapter is almost always reiterated again in the next chapter. Character growth is summarised for us as if the author was worried we somehow forgot why that character was around and what they’d just done.

By the end of the book, I was getting a little annoyed as it felt like the writer didn’t trust me to remember anything and every character motivation needed to be written out before any action just to make sure we understood why they were acting the way they did.

Basically, its an interesting concept on display in The World’s Finest Assassin, some of the powers are cool, the magic and the ability of the main character to write new magic could be awesome, and I’d love to see the eventual assassin vs hero conflict but I’m not sure I want to deal with the way the story is narrated to get there.

Light Novel: Three Days of Happiness

I’ll give Three Days of Happiness points for being a little bit different from the usual type of story I read. This one came up as recommended reading on the Book Depository and I had a discount coupon so I decided why not.

The basic concept in Sugaru Miaki’s light novel is the question of what life is worth. There’s a shop where you can sell all manner of thing including time and life and our main character, short on cash and then realising how worthless his life is, sells quite the chunk.

Compared to the usual isekai story I binge read while working, Three Days of Happiness is quite heavy reading and forces quite a bit of contemplation from its reader. It’s described as dark and moody and that isn’t wrong. While not a perfect story by any means and with a protagonist who frequently feels self-destructive and aimless it isn’t exactly uplifting.

But nor is it really supposed to be.

Karandi contemplating life while readinga light novel.

I really loved the character journey undertaken by Kusunoki throughout the novel and while I never much liked him as a character, that wasn’t really a problem.

Three Days of Happiness leaves you really just still and taking stock of your own life and while I probably would have preferred to read it over a break from work (hard to focus on your job when you are in the midst of an existential crisis) I certainly did enjoy the read.

Warning though that it does contain some themes such as suicide that may not sit well with all readers.


Light Novel: Solo Leveling Volume 2

So if you read my review of the first Solo Leveling Light Novel or the audio book of volume 1, you’ll know I am very much in love with this story.

Volume 2 of Chugong’s story pushes Jinwoo even further as he continues to level up and come across situations that put his skills to the test. New characters are introduced and we learn more about the hunters and their guilds.

Karandi's excited about this light novel.

I’m not going to give much away but if volume one worked for you and you liked the game like mechanics and the grinding upgrade story then you’ll continue to enjoy it here. Jinwoo is really finding himself now that he has power and at times he isn’t the nicest guy but he also isn’t a complete jerk.

Those who spy on him or cross him get a rebuke but it is more a playful warning than anything else. Like when Jinwoo sells gates he was never planning on entering at extreme prices early in this volume to the guild that was spying on him in the last book.

The danger continues to feel very real with threats increasing as Jinwoo’s level does (a little plot convenient but it keeps the tension real). Also there’s a definite sense that this is all leading somewhere even if we’re a little vague on where.

And yes, I did pre-order volume 3 already.

I like how this story details action, I like the sense of danger and I’m enjoying Jinwoo’s character enough that I want to see where he ends up. And for as long as the story keeps exciting me I will keep reading.

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What have you been reading recently and if you’ve read any of the books above, what did you think of them?

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Karandi James

Solo Leveling Volume 1 Novel Review

Review Solo

One moment can change your world.

It’s final a light novel: Solo Leveling Volume 1.

I first heard about Solo Leveling from a very exuberant fan of the manwha (that he was reading fan translations of through an online app) and after his repeated insistence that it was this legendary story that I absolutely had to experience I did in fact cave and read a fair bit of it online after which we had some interesting discussions around the protagonists progress throughout various parts of the series.

However, I could never really get lost in the story. Largely because of the varying levels of quality available to read and because graphic novels just aren’t my preferred thing to read. I know I love the Natsume manga and there are a couple of others that I’ve really gotten into, but my preference is always for either watching an anime or reading a novel and alas this one wasn’t available in English.

Until now.

Karandi Happy Transparent
Happiness is receiving a pre-ordered book in the mail.

Yes, colour me thrilled when I found I could pre-order volume 1 for delivery early 2021 and even more excited when it finally arrived in the mail. I loved the cover with its bleak and fairly minimalistic style and I was absolutely ready to dive into this story.

What is Solo Leveling Volume 1 about?

For those that aren’t familiar Solo Leveling starts out as a typical zero to hero narrative with a low-ranked hunter, Jinwoo Sung, getting in over his head when a raid he’s a part of in a dungeon takes a turn for the terrifying. However, due to Jinwoo being a little bit observant, lucky, and pretty determined, he manages to save the lives of some of the other party members though this does in fact result in him being injured and finally left behind in the dungeon where it is expected he will meet a sticky end.

Yet, as is the case with such protagonists, while he does experience some very real pain and terror in this situation, a last minute plot device offers him a new start and he is turned into a ‘player’, which then introduces a raft of game mechanics into Jinwoo’s life allowing him to essentially level up when the world he is living in essentially declares hunters to be fixed in rank after they awaken.

Thoughts on Solo Leveling Volume 1
For a story device that is pretty effective.

This works significantly better than a character who suddenly just gets a massive power boost for a number of reasons. Firstly, Jinwoo has to work for every level and skill he gains. While he can now work harder to gain strength (a path that didn’t exist to him before), it isn’t freely given and the rewards he receives are always commensurate with the danger he faces.

Whether it is a party of treacherous hunters trying to kill him, an unexpected fight against a three headed dog, or an assassin trying to cover his tracks, Jinwoo has got to work hard and while the reader knows that the protagonist is realistically not going to get killed off, the story manages to make it seem like there’s real danger in each of these scenes, largely because Jinwoo remains a fairly cautious person who is well aware of his own limitations and definitely concerned about being able to continue living.

Secondly, because Jinwoo didn’t instantly get strong, it means that even though the initial incident was investigated, the change in Jinwoo was over-looked because he didn’t change in strength according to the tests done at the time of the examination. This means he doesn’t instantly come to everyone’s attention but rather has time to put his own plans into place and work on gaining strength in more or less secret throughout most of this first novel (though there’s definitely more than a handful of people starting to realise that he isn’t exactly just an E-Rank hunter anymore by the end).


Finally, this device is working because Jinwoo figures out throughout the messages he receives from the ‘system’ that there is some purpose behind him being given the ability to level up. This establishes an ongoing bit of mystery for the reader to anticipate some kind of revelation at a later date and considering Jinwoo gains nothing without paying for it (and some of the prices have already been pretty steep) you just have to wonder just what it is the system ultimately wants from him by granting him so much potential power.

Karandi Confused Transparent
Curiosity will definitely keep you reading.

Granted this isn’t exactly an original concept and weak characters gaining strength after being abandoned or betrayed has become a very common trope, but Solo Leveling manages to keep things feeling fresh, gives us a character we can genuinely get behind and generally creates a world that fuses modern day life with the fantasy of appearing dungeons and the bureaucracy of the government and associations that mange these threats. It isn’t perfect by any means but it certainly is an enjoyable piece of escapism.

For me, personally, I really like the protagonist here. He’s a very practical person who awakened as a weak hunter and probably would never have gone on a raid given the likely danger except that he has bills to pay for a sick mother and a sister he wants to put through school. Even when the first raid goes horrifically wrong and it is pretty clear he’s probably not going back alive he realises it will work out because the association will pay out the insurance money to his family so it won’t be for nothing.

Karandi Sad Transparent
Okay, he’s also materialistic and goal oriented so it isn’t like he’s some kind of saint, but still I really wanted him to win.

I also like that while he acknowledges some of the other hunters did abandoned him initially he doesn’t become all vengeance consumed. Instead he becomes more cautious in dealing with others and a little bit more closed off – he certainly expects to get something back for his actions – but he isn’t on some quest to pay back someone or get back at the world for dealing him an unfair hand.

His goals remain around being able to look after his family and getting stronger is simply his process for ensuring he is able to do that. It makes a refreshing change in this kind of story to see a character who isn’t forgiving of those who have stabbed him in the back but is also not tunnel focused on something that ends up being pretty petty.

Volume 1 covers an array of dungeons fights, we learn quite a bit about the leveling up system, and basically watch Jinwoo feel his way around his new powers. Side characters are introduced and we start getting a bit of a look at the guilds and the association but these are very much just setting up future plot points. If I had any real criticism it would be that the book just kind of stops. There’s no real sense that we’re at the end because there’s no particular climatic scenario or any kind of closure. Instead we get two further future plot points set up and then you just run out of pages to read.

I really enjoyed reading this story and basically devoured it in three sittings. Now I have to wait for the release of volume 2.

Cover Image: Solo Leveling Vol 1. Author. Chugong. Yen Press. 2021.

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Karandi James

WorldEnd Volume 1 Light Novel Review

WorldEnd Review

500 years changes everything and nothing.

WorldEnd was one of those very strange anime that I was reluctant to start because the mouthful of a title and the excessively cute character designs just kind of screamed that this was another light novel adaptation just trying to grab some quick attention and at the time I’d been burned a few too many times. Despite that, the anime series “WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?” ended up being a bit of a mixed viewing experience with some great highs and lows throughout and realistically left me wondering about the story and whether there was a better was to experience it.

And so it was I eventually picked up volume one of this series and after it sat on my shelf for a fair while in my to-be-read books I finally picked it up to read. A few hours later I went online and ordered the next book.

WorldEnd Light Novel - English Cover
English Cover

Now, I’m not going to claim that this is a perfect masterpiece and realistically I went in knowing what was going to happen having watched the series. The first volume actually only gets partway through the series and having a look at the other books it looks like there’s a couple more that were adapted into the anime. So this wasn’t a case of being amazed by plot twists or revelations and honestly most of the information here was in the anime.

For those who don’t know, WorldEnd is the story of Willem, the last ‘human’ who takes on a job to pay off a debt he has incurred. The job involves looking after a weapon warehouse but the weapons are actually all young girls (faeries actually). These girls are sent to fight beasts who roam the earth making it more or less uninhabitable (so all the lizardmen and other creatures that survived the end of the world live on floating islands).

In reading this volume, I came to really appreciate Willem as a character. A lot more than I did when watching him go through more or less the same actions in the anime. Perhaps it is hearing some of his inner thoughts, or maybe it is that the pacing is a little smoother in the novel allowing his moments to sit a bit better, but really in the anime Willem comes off in most scenes as a fairly passive character and one who serves partially as an audience stand-in as he learns about the girls and their role. In written form he really comes to life and actually carries the story well (which is probably just as well as this volume very much focuses on Willem for the majority of it with Chtholly – the oldest of the weapons – only getting the focus a few times toward the end).

I also felt that I had time to take in the world building and some of the smaller details that actually probably were in the anime but were lost in the rush to get to the next scene involving a bunch of cute faeries running around.

Definite appreciation goes to the translator, Jasmine Bernhardt here. With some translated light novels there’s a stilted kind of flow at times, particularly to the dialogue, whereas here it flows very naturally. Actually, the whole novel just flowed well which made it really easy to get absorbed into the story.


There’s a real balance in this story of darker and more reflective moments for the characters and the slice of life moments where they allow themselves to forget for the time those things they would rather not remember. The story doesn’t lurch jarringly between these moments but rather allows each to come naturally into the story and then pass onto the next. There’s only really one moment in the story that feels a little rushed when one of the younger girls gets injured but that’s a fairly minor criticism.

Another thing I appreciated on reading this story is that the author clearly wanted a protagonist who was the ‘stranger in a strange land’ and yet resisted the urge to isekai a character. While Willem is out of time, he is very much a part of this world and his history has real ramifications outside of some useful knowledge. His past very much defines his present self and he’s a much stronger character because of it.

WorldEnd isn’t going to change the world but if you are a fan of fantasy stories that have a little more going for them then being a generic medieval setting, you’ll probably have a fun read here. Meanwhile I’ll look forward to the second book arriving so I can see if the story continues as strongly in the next volume.

Cover Image: WorldEnd Vol 1. Author. Akira Kareno. Illustrator. Ue. Yen Press. 2018.

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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.
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Karandi James