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.

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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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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
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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
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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.

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Karandi James

3 Ways Slime Is Exploring Endings and Beginnings

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode Review Title Image

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 8 Review

There’s no real surprise that an anime with reincarnation in the title is looking at the idea of endings and new beginnings. What is surprising is the way “That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime” is committed to the idea of one life coming to an end opening the path to something new. While earlier in the season I most definitely took a swing at this show for the reincarnation gimmick, and from a character point of view I stand by that because the whole past life thing is almost irrelevant to who Rimuru is becoming, from a thematic point of view Slime is actually a lot more consistent than it first appeared.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 1
Episode 1

The obvious ending and beginning is Rimuru Tempest, formally Mikami Satoru (a point they finally reminded us of in episode 8). Stabbed in episode one, Satoru awakens in a cave as a slime and begins his new life in his new form and body. While the transition is fairly seamless and ultimately didn’t feel very weighty, it does set a theme in place that we have seen this show return to again and again since the first episode.

I’d like to discuss Veldora, just because dragons are kind of cool and all, but that story doesn’t feel anywhere near finished yet and to be honest I’m not sure where it is going so I’m just going to leave that one alone and skip right on to the dwarves.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 4
Episode 4

Kaijin is fairly dissatisfied with where he is given the persecution he receives from his former subordinate. He positively jumps at the opportunity to travel with Rimuru which originally just would have been a choice for him to make. However, the sham trial and subsequent banishment more or less bring his former life to a definitive close whether he’d made the choice or not. Once again though, we see that the end of one life has opened the door to another, and in both of these cases losing something and leaving it behind isn’t seen as a tragedy when it leads to new opportunities.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 8 Rimuru and Shizu

And now we come to this current episode which is really why I was thinking about this at all. Shizu, or Shizue, has finally come to the end of her road. For ten minutes of this episode (half the run time) we hear her story and what she has done over the long life she has lived in this world. We hear her final request to Rimuru that he devour her. We see her happiness at being reunited with her mother. A lot of this glosses over the fact that she did just die and then her corpse was eaten, but that would kind of be a downer in an otherwise fairly upbeat series so the focus is entirely on the positive.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 8 Rimuru and Shizu farewell

However, what is the new beginning?

Well, we finally found an answer to something that had been bothering me from the OP, though I’m guessing fans of the source knew all along. I wondered how Rimuru would acquire a human form given we already knew he had to eat something to copy it. I couldn’t imagine Rimuru eating a human given one of his first steps was to ban his followers from attacking people.Also, despite Rimuru being a slime now, it just didn’t sit right that a former human might actually eat another (I guess they could go there, but it just doesn’t seem to fit).

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 8 Rimuru Human

So, at episode 8, Rimuru finally has a human form he can use and in the narration at the end declares that the story is about to begin. I’m not sure how many stories get away with 8 episodes before declaring they are going to start, but despite the slow start this series has had, I will admit I’m pretty interested in where they will go next. Every door that has closed so far in this series has opened up so many more wonderful possibilities and I really hope the story explores them.

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That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Parapara Memo That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Parapara Memo

So I’m a Spider, So What Volume 2 Light Novel Review: Being Reincarnated is Hard


While the game mechanics are still very much going wild, this second volume follows several of the classes reincarnated students through their latest trials and tribulations.


This is going to be really hard to review because mostly telling you anything about the plot would drop us face first into spoiler territory. While many things can be suspected early on in this volume, it isn’t until the end of it that critical reveals are made and that kind of changes a lot of how you feel about the story.

So I’ll start with my general impression of the book, which is it isn’t all that great to read. Don’t get me wrong, the story and setting are actually quite interesting, but the heavy reliance on levelling and game mechanics really get in the way of the narrative. There are literally entire pages given to reading the main character’s current levels and statuses. I don’t even like reading those when I am playing an RPG and prefer to just guess where abouts I’ve currently levelled to. The last thing I want is the pace of a novel to come to a screeching halt to find out that Recovery Speed is now at LV4 and Cutting Enhancement is at LV2. When you couple those gripping pages with pages of ‘narrator’ dialogue telling the spider that various points are going up, you could probably shed about half the pages in the book without actually denting the story content.

Despite that, the story we get is really interesting and that just annoys me because it means I will read the next book when I can even though the writing itself is really not great.

I don’t ever want to reincarnate as a spider.

Still, the spider’s exploits in the labyrinth are kind of fun. The setting varies sufficiently and there is enough detail put into encounters to make it worth the while. More importantly, the human characters on the surface get a lot more time in this book than in book one. Shun in particular is a far more interesting character this time around and… okay, we’re getting back into spoiler territory, but he’s a lot more noteworthy and I enjoyed his story immensely.

Still, this volume is hard to recommend as a read. There are plenty of isekai stories out there about humans in other worlds, being reincarnated as either human or not, and this one isn’t particularly great to read. I’d love to see this story shed of the gimmicky game elements and told with quite a bit more fluency, though perhaps there’s a reason those elements are needed further down the line. For now they just seem to be there because the writer couldn’t think of a better way to show character progress and that by itself is probably a big red flag.

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So I’m a Spider, So What Volume 1 Light Novel Review: Game Mechanics Go Wild



A classroom explodes in Japan and next thing our protagonist knows they are hatching as a spider in another world. Good thing for levelling up.


I’ll admit that wasn’t much of an overview, but to be honest, it probably didn’t need to be. The story presented in volume 1 of this series is that straight forward and more importantly it is a concept rather than a story. From beginning to end, this book is establishing its world and our character reacts accordingly to the various events that get thrown at them. But there is no grand quest or target here other than survival for another day. And while glimpses of other characters, also reincarnated classmates, suggest a much grander tale to unfold in future volumes, the plot in this one, judged on its own merit and without thinking about what might come later, is pretty lame.

It doesn’t help that we are once again trapped in a fantasy world that for some reason uses game based mechanics including menus, skills, levelling up, stamina bars and whatever else they chose to throw in. If we actually went through the book and removed all instances of discussing these things, observing them, or having announcements about achieving levels or targets, the book would be about half the size pretty much instantly. And while I’m not opposed to something being based on game mechanics, when it comes at the expense of story, or worse is used as the sole gimmick other than the protagonist being an arachnid, I really do have to throw a rock at it.

Yet, before you cast this one aside from any potential reading list I do have to note, that despite the plot, character, and gimmicky nature of the premise, this was actually fun to read. Okay, it didn’t do enough of anything and I finished the book feeling like maybe the introduction of a story was finished, and I really disliked the main character which is a shame because they narrate most of it, and yet the word fun still seems appropriate as a description of my reading experience.

So what did it do right?

From you normal point of view, very little. The narrative structure is barely present and really other than the character reeling from crisis to crisis with small moments of self-congratulations or loathing in between, there isn’t a lot going on. And yet, individually most of these moments are kind of fun. The spider learning to build a home, developing strategies for taking down prey, running from humans, fighting a snake, and even the final monkey fight (not that they are actually monkeys) were all pretty fun experiences.

There are also enough hints from the secondary story line with the Prince and the other reincarnated students that a larger story will eventually appear. However, this is one thing I don’t like about ongoing series when they don’t give you a narrative in itself that links to a larger story but simply give you a story fragment and expect that you’ll read on in order to be satisfied. While this certainly made me curious enough to read on, overall it makes it hard to recommend this first book because if you want to read a story, this doesn’t have one contained within.

That said, I do have to congratulated the writer on their pacing. We didn’t linger in any one part of the story for too long. Even the moments of self-loathing or healing that the spider underwent were moved through with sufficient pace that you caught the mood that was intended but didn’t feel like you were being dragged along by the writing. While a little more depth of character and tone may have been appreciated, I’m just glad at no point did I feel like nothing was going on and that I’d be better off closing the book and going elsewhere.

However, while pacing is nicely kept up, descriptions from start to finish are vague and perfunctory. Part of this is a byproduct of the gaming influence whereby the descriptions we get are the result of the spider’s appraisal skill and come out as a series of one word descriptors about species and status. The other issue is the narrator’s style and tone because a disengaged teenager does not make for the most observant or articulate of narrators and so vague comparisons are used and terrible names that the spider feels very smug about coining are used instead of decent descriptions of the monsters or settings. As a result, visualising anything that is going on becomes a bit of a chore outside of generic and vague because you are more getting a sketched outline of what is going on.

Right, I know it really sounds like this should be read and if you are after something that you might argue is a quality book, I’m guessing this isn’t going to be for you. But denying that this was entertaining and that, on reading the last pages with the inevitable cliff-hanger conclusion, I wanted to read the next book would be silly. I genuinely am interested in what this story does next and whether or not we will ever be told how the story of the previous hero’s death links to the classroom exploding in Japan and why these reincarnations have happened and why not all of the have ended up human. Basically, a mixed review all round and this is one that might entertain you or you might end up thinking is just a bit stupid. I guess you should judge by your reaction to the title. I kind of thought it sounded interesting and snarky and that was more or less what I got so I really can’t complain.

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If you’re interested in reading So I’m A Spider So What Volume 1 it is available on the Book Depository.