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
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Goblin Slayer Volume 4 Light Novel Review

Goblin Slayer Volume 4 Cover Image

The party are all doing their own thing in this volume and in the end we get small vignettes of characters living in this world.

While the first three Goblin Slayer books have jumped around a little bit between adventures and quests and some slice of life stuff, the fourth volume really does feel more like a collection of short stories loosely connected via the setting and the cast. Expect no epic goblin slaying antics in this one, as we follow Rookie Warrior and Apprentice Priestess into the sewers (a story that appeared in the anime much earlier on in the timeline), Goblin Slayer doing his solo goblin slaying thing, some shopping, drinking and other mundane tasks, and the defeat of a necromancer.

Goblin Slayer - Rookie Warrior and Apprentice Priestess

If that all seems horribly unfocused (and it didn’t even cover everything) then you have a fair idea of the reading experience. I found this volume worked best when I read a chapter (or story) and then stopped for the day, picking it up later to read another story. There was no real flow or connection between sections but each story on its own was kind of interesting enough.

While Goblin Slayer features in a number of the stories, there are plenty of moments for other characters, both major ones like Priestess and High Elf Archer, and more background characters like Heavy Knight, get some time to be developed as characters. It all adds to the sense that this is a world, real and whole and these characters don’t just cease to exist when their adventures end. Their lives continue off-screen or off-page so to speak and this volume very much feels like a glimpse at some of that down time (and not so down time when you see what Goblin Slayer is still getting up to).

Goblin Slayer - Yep, he's slaying goblins
Is this down time?

Now, when you get the end and read the afterward, the scattered feeling of the book really makes sense as the author explains that this collection of stories take place largely between volumes 1 and 2 or volumes 2 and 3. So at least that disconnected feel was deliberate.

This one I’d recommend if you are really into the setting of Goblin Slayer and would love more of the support cast. However, if you are wanting the grand adventure, I would simply skip this one and head to volume 5 (review coming soon) because honestly it is a much stronger narrative and one that is really exciting to read (can’t wait to review it). I had fun with this because I do really enjoy the world of Goblin Slayer but again, this wasn’t the greatest of reads as a whole.

Goblin Slayer - High Elf Archer and Guild Girl

That said, I’d love to know your thoughts if you’ve read this one, and there are definitely some fun stories in here, so if you enjoy sharp, short stories featuring these characters this one will probably entertain.

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Goblin Slayer Vol. 4 (light novel)
Goblin Slayer Vol. 4 (light novel)

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Light Novel Volume 5 Review

At long last I have reached the end of the first season of the anime. This was kind of exciting as it meant the next volume would be new material. But first I have to answer the question of whether the danger and excitement of Bell and his party getting trapped in the dungeon before the over-sized boss fight was actually as interesting as it was in the anime. Clearly spoilers for both the novel and the anime below.

Review:

Firstly, this sequence of events, Bell, Welf and Lily getting caught in the middle levels of the dungeon after a ‘pass parade’ was pretty tense in the anime but never quite reached the exciting heights of Bell facing off against a Minotaur by himself. It was a case where bigger wasn’t better and while watching a lone adventurer face off against a monster that had previously nearly killed him was a truly thrilling battle, seeing the ongoing wearing down of the party before the lull of the ‘safe’ level before finally getting another sensational boss fight that just seemed to drag on too long just never quite captured the same spirit. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the ending to the anime and the anime in general, but I was curious to see how this book would read because it wasn’t something I was overly interested in revisiting.

But I’ll take that back now that I’ve read it.

Right from the start of this book, the writing works hard to make us view Bell’s party as still being young, inexperienced and in over their heads. There might be three of them and they might have had some successes, but they are very much sinking before the first chapter is even done. The sense of claustrophobia and desperation comes through loud and clearly and the reader is genuinely carried along with this tone for a fair while despite the book jumping perspectives to fill us in on the events going on outside of the dungeon. Despite knowing the fate of these characters, at least from this adventure, I was still genuinely concerned for their well-being at times and that made me really happy as I was drawn into this book.

The other thing I really liked is that Hestia and Hermes both get a lot more time here than the anime gave them. While Hermes character is still a bit of an enigma (as he is supposed to be), there’s a bit more insight into his character and purpose that is clearly setting up future events. Hestia as well is given a bit more to do than simply be the hysterical goddess and her decision to go into the dungeon feels a bit more genuine here than in the anime where it just seemed like a whim. Likewise, Lyu is given a lot more depth and time and while in the anime she was a character I was aware of and she played a pivotal role in this sequence of events, I never really thought much about her. After reading this book, I actually see her in a far more positive light and I’m a lot more interested in her.

Is it wrong to pick up girls in a dungeon volume 5

I actually went back and watched the final two episodes of the anime again after reading this and I realise just how important Lyu is and yet it was something that prior to reading the source I just never really paid attention to. Yet she’s quite a wonderful character and one that I hope gets further development in this series.

However, and there had to be a however coming, the final fight itself drags. It dragged in the anime as well because just making a boss big doesn’t make it particularly scary or interesting. It barely moved in the anime and while attacks inflicted massive damage, it was hardly a dynamic or interesting battle. Tragically reading it doesn’t make it all that much better. While the characters come out a bit better and there is more attention paid to the contributions of Lyu, Asfi, and Mikoto, nothing changes the fact that ultimately this fight takes too long to wrap up and while it is a great moment for Bell as an adventurer, it can’t rival the Minotaur fight that we’ve already read.

But I do recommend reading the source for this one. If you at all enjoyed the anime, reading these five volumes has just added so many small details to the rich world that already existed. Plus, reliving some of those great moments in the anime from a slightly different perspective has been quite fun. Now however I am eager to read material that I haven’t seen the anime for and I’m looking forward to what comes next. Never fear, the last sale I went on a bit of a blitz with this series and I have quite a few volumes ready to read and go.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this book or the anime. Please leave me a comment below but try not to spoil the light novels for me because I’m definitely reading on.

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Light Novel Volume 4 Review

I was really excited to pick up this volume because I knew it was going to introduce Welf Crozzo and he was a character I really wanted to know more about that the anime barely touched on. So, did it meet my expectations?

Review:

This was one of those really fun reads where I anticipated something, didn’t quite get what I expected, but was still pretty thrilled nonetheless. Certainly, this is the novel where Bell finally meets Welf and they make a contract as adventurer and smith, but this book has so much more going on than just that.

Bell’s ascension to level two is big news. Now the anime did touch on this, but the reactions of other characters was not as pronounced and the whole levelling up thing didn’t seem quite the big deal other than just another step on the road. The book spends a lot of time on Bell meeting with people who are reacting to the news and you really see the impact the news has on the town of Orario. This helps really flesh out the world this character is in and makes things seem just a little bit more authentic.

We also see a bit more of Bell and Hestia’s relationship, both with Bell receiving a new skill and with Hestia having to go to a meeting of the Gods to get his title sorted out. There’s also a short story at the end that retells some of the events from early in volume 1 but from Hestia’s point of view. All of this continues to help build the relationship between these two characters and expand on the reader’s understanding of who they are as people.

Dungeon4b

We also have Welf’s introduction and slowly get pieces of his story both from him and from other characters that Bell talks to about him. This is definitely satisfying as it takes the character who was kind of fun in the anime and really shapes him. His motivations seems a lot clearer as does his growing friendship with Bell. Now, if I’m honest, this is probably a slow part of the story for people who aren’t fans of Welf, but for me I was really happy to read this and learn more about him so even though it feels like the Dungeon action has kind of crawled to a halt at times in this volume, I was very happy with what I was getting instead.

The final part of the book is focused on a familia that really didn’t show up much at all in anime but here are fairly important. Bell ends up going on a quest outside of the city (not into the dungeon) to help them out. Again, it isn’t the most exciting of moments this series has offered, but it does help grow an understanding of the world, how the familia’s and gods interact, and the complex web of interconnections within Orario.

Volume 4 very much helps build a clearer image of the world outside of the dungeon and as a result provides a foundation for so many more adventures rather than just going into the dungeon time and again (not that the dungeon is boring, but eventually Bell gets into trouble in a dungeon would wear thing in terms of plot). With some great character moments, some excellent world building, and by moving along through a few different sections, volume 4 has managed to be a fairly compelling read even while it might be the most forgettable of the series so far.

Still, definitely some promise of some excellent stories to come from this point and I look forward to reading them.

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