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Old 2014-10-31, 17:28   Link #1001
DragonKing0117
A Non-Awakened Prince
 
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Age: 20
Here's number 4. This one is also an anime, and it's currently airing, though I have yet to watch it. I'll do that later.
Title: 異能バトルは日常系のなかで (INOU-Battle in the Usually Daze)
English Title: When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace
Synopsis courtesy of ANN:
Quote:
In the orignal novel series' story, the five members of the literature club awakened with extraordinary powers half a year ago. Although the members expected to be thrown into a world of super-powered battles (inō-battle) at their school, their normal daily routine continued. No secret organizations bent on world destruction, no super-powered wars, no braves or demon kings.

However, the members still look forward to the possibilities of adventure, and continued to believe that with each day, they were getting ever closer to those days of fantasy. Their days of romantic comedy and battles with extraordinary powers begin!
The characters:
Spoiler for Characters:

Spoiler for Character Info:

As you can see, everyone but the MC has broken-as-hell abilities. Poor guy. Apparently he still does better than everyone else. Eventually.
And here's the preview to Volume 1 from GA Bunko's official site: http://ga.sbcr.jp/wallpaper/pdf/inoubattle01.pdf
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Old 2014-10-31, 19:41   Link #1002
Seitsuki
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For the love of God this tired tried setting of 'Chosen One protag guy and every other character of note is a girl' has got to stop.
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Old 2014-10-31, 20:14   Link #1003
DragonKing0117
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Join Date: Sep 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seitsuki View Post
For the love of God this tired tried setting of 'Chosen One protag guy and every other character of note is a girl' has got to stop.
Lol. I just realized that 3/4 (or maybe all 4? ) is basically what you described. I didn't even realize that until you said it.
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Old 2014-11-01, 06:49   Link #1004
renuac
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Join Date: May 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seitsuki View Post
For the love of God this tired tried setting of 'Chosen One protag guy and every other character of note is a girl' has got to stop.
This. So very much.
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Old 2014-11-01, 07:02   Link #1005
Zakoo
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Gensokyo
The third one seems interesting I will see once I finish sekai owari no encore. Thanks.
I was already watching Inou battle so I plan to take the LN once the anime ends, that things is so fun it makes me remember of Ichizon.

The second one though didn't interest me, I read first volume and it was very cliche. I mean I don't mind reading harem LN, but at least I ask for the characters to have their own way of thinking and not some tropes ...

Though we need more initiative like yours, I will do some when I have times. Probably Altina since it's one of my top 3 LN.
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Old 2014-11-29, 19:45   Link #1006
apr
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Join Date: May 2003
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Hope you don't mind if I dump some impressions I've neglected to post for a while. Originally from private posts on Google+.

First I finished reading Sora no Kane no Hibiku Hoshi de vol 3 by Watase Souichirou. It's a fantasy meets sci-fi mix, where a group of soldiers with futuristic gear shows up in a fantasy-type medieval world, filled with sword fights and magicky things.

The setting is kind of fun, and the first book was all right, but the second got so bogged down in political intrigue that I put the series on hold for what must have been 5-6 years. My hope that the third volume would make things interesting again got crushed pretty fast, as this was even more dull politicking and wooden characters whose names I can't be bothered to remember.

Except the heroine, since "Urk" is such a fitting name for a pretty girl.


Then I read Durarara vol 4 by Narita Ryougo. As usual, it's a chaotic sequence of jumps in time and place between different groups of people in Ikebukuro, eventually converging in a final confrontation of all factions. This time we have a clash between of a serial killer and a hired killer, which gets derailed by everyone's favourite Bartender cosplayer, when they accidentally piss him off in mid-battle.

It's still a fun series, but it can be pretty tiresome when the narrative changes every few pages, going "Two days earlier" and "That afternoon" and "Thirty minutes later" and "The next day" completely at random. Just as you settle in with one set of characters, the author rips you out and pushes you into the next. It made the first hundred pages a slog, while the story was winding up.

Oh well, I'll have to keep reading the series, since I unwisely bought everything up to volume 7 four years ago.


Next up was Owarimonogatari vol 1 by Nishio Ishin. This is the 15th book in the Monogatari series, with 17 already published, and an 18th scheduled for the summer, and I doubt even that will be the last. Even so, I'll keep buying and reading them.

I was getting pretty sick and tired of the series after book 13 (Tsukimonogatari), but the 14th (Koyomimonogatari) managed to swing it around a bit, and while Owarimonogatari has been quite different from the rest, I often found it very enjoyable, in spite of probably being the gloomiest so far. Eager to see how they end up animating it, since so much of the plot hinges on details not told, which would seemingly be unmissable in a visual medium.


Then came Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru darou ka vol 1 by Oomori Fujino. It's been spiking in popularity on the new title rankings, and selling unusually well for something that hasn't been animated yet, so I figured I'd check it out.

It follows 14-year-old Bell, who's come to the big city in order to become an Adventurer, so he can delve deep into the dungeon underneath the central tower, where he's hoping to have a chance encounter with a damsel in distress, whom he can save in dashingly romantic fashion, and add to his harem. Except, he's the one who ends up being rescued from certain death by a fair sword maiden.

It's set in a fantasy world, where the Gods have descended from their heavenly abode, and now entertain themselves by founding Familia, where members are granted powers through an arcane ceremony involving divine blood, which somehow transforms their accumulated experience into numbered stat increases and new passive abilities. It's literally an RPG turned into a light novel. With dungeon crawl grinding and weapon shopping.

No doubt this sounds horrible, but it turns out to be kind of enjoyable, in a harmlessly entertaining way. Granted, there's an overload of details on the workings of this world, but at the same time it's a bit refreshing to find a light novel with so little dialogue, since they usually read more like anime scripts than literature. I'm also curious to see where the author wants to take this, so I'll be getting another volume or two.
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Old 2014-11-29, 19:51   Link #1007
apr
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Continuing my spree of impressions.

I read Owarimonogatari vol 2 by Nishio Ishin. It's the middle book in the Owarimonogatari trilogy, and book 16 in the Monogatari series overall. Nishio mentions in the afterword that this story was originally supposed to join Onimonogatari (book 11) within Kabukimonogatari (book 8), but somehow they've ended up separate books, spread across a few years of publication.

As such, it tells us what happened to Araragi during the events of Nekomonogatari: Shiro, where he ends up in a duel with a certain character from the far past. Giving away more than that would be a spoiler, but mostly it's just Koyomi and Kanbaru hanging out.

It feels a bit misplaced, coming out this late in the series, and particularly in the midst of what's supposedly the "finale". I might have enjoyed it more earlier, but it's disappointing right after two such strong instalments. All in all, kind of meh. And thank God for wikipedia's timeline, so I can keep all these events in order.


Moved on to All You Need Is Kill by Sakurazaka Hiroshi. It's a light novel from 2004 that somehow made its way overseas and was adapted into the Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow.

The plot is pretty simple. Fresh out of the academy, a Japanese soldier in the armoured infantry goes on his very first military operation, as the unified forces try to repel alien invaders. To no one's surprise, he's not of much use, spraying bullets wildly until the magazine is empty, and quickly suffering a mortal wound that turns his innards to gloop. On the verge of death, he's visited by an apparition in the form of the American heroine, whose legendary feat of killing a hundred enemies in one battle forced Command to devise an entirely new medal in her honour. Inspired by her combat prowess, he makes a final rush at an enemy and ...... wakes up in his bed, the day before the battle.

We've obviously seen this before. It's a sci-fi version of Groundhog Day, where the protagonist has to suffer through endless failure in order to build up combat experience that lets him survive the day. As such it's easy to compare to games like Dark Souls, where you start out barely able to get past the tutorial area without dying, and eventually know enemy attack patterns so well that you can make it through the entire game at level 1, armed with just a wooden ladle. Well, at least I'm told some people can.

That doesn't make the novel any less entertaining, though. Perhaps it's a bit too predictable to be considered a great work of literature, but I absolutely had a blast reading it. Very much looking forward to watching the Hollywood version. (I have since watched and enjoyed the movie, which was very different but highly entertaining as its own thing.)


Not exactly a light novel, but I also read Sayonara Yousei by Yonezawa Honobu. The author is more famous for his earlier mystery book series, which got animated in 2012 as Hyouka, and was probably the best show that year. Thus enticed, I decided to pick up this one-off novel.

It's 1991. On the way home after class, a couple of high school students in a smallish Japanese country town bump into a foreign girl, taking cover from the rain. They find out that she's from Yugoslavia, and is visiting Japan for two months to learn more about their culture.

It's 1992. In spite of promising to write them letters, the group of friends haven't heard from the Yugoslavian girl since she went back home, shortly after the Yugoslav Wars broke out. Worried about her safety, they decide to pool what they know about her, and by going through diaries and notes from those two months she spent with them, they try to pinpoint her hometown.

Primarily, this is the story as told by the protagonist's diary. How he met this young girl one day, and how her inquisitive nature made them see aspects of their own culture from another perspective. As such, it's a collection of tiny "everyday mysteries", like puzzling out why a man wouldn't use his umbrella in pouring rain, or mulling over what meaning lies hidden in a name, when the girl in the corner is too drunk to explain it herself. With these experiences comes the realization that there's a world outside your own bubble, and, perhaps, a little romantic interest in an exotic member of the opposite sex.

But, surrounding that is the reality of the "present", with the anxiety of civil war, and knowledge of tens of thousands raped or killed.

It's an uneasy reading experience, being charmed by this Yugoslavian character, knowing that it can't possibly end well for her. I'm afraid I wasn't all that familiar with the war before, other than vague memories of horrific news reports decades ago. It's awkward to learn about a European event through a Japanese novel, but I suppose anything that spurs me to read more about it on Wikipedia is a good thing.

Parts of the novel irritate me, like the girl's extreme gift for language, that somehow gives her a mastery of Japanese that I've spent over ten years trying to attain. She'll know the obscurest of words, yet randomly gets stumped by the very first things you'd learn, like numbers, or what to call a goddamn notebook. These tiny issues (of envy) don't tarnish the story, however, and I very much enjoyed the mood it sets, laid-back and musing. I just wish it had a happier ending.


In massive contrast, I then read Alice Reloaded vol 1 by Akaneya Matsuri. Apparently won the Dengeki Novel Grand Prize 2013, but as usual, awards have no bearing on whether a light novel is good or bad.

The story is set in an alternate magical Wild West, where the protagonist -- a sentient revolver -- sees his beloved wielder die in a battle with a wicked witch bent on ending the world. Buried in the sand, he is somehow sent back in time, where a teenaged version of his dead master is ready to be guided into saving the world instead.

There is so much wrong with this book that I can't be arsed to write about any of it. Godawful from the very first page.


Happier times with reading Dainihon Samurai Girl vol 5 by Shidou Ryuusei. This time the main plot is focused on the agency's plan to acquire a German bakery chain in order to launch it as a franchise all over Japan, and when they hire one of the very top super idols at another agency to be the poster girl, she shockingly offers to transfer over to them instead, in return for setting her up as president of their new doughnut start-up.

Still absurd, still entertaining, but this fifth book is balanced more in favour of political machinations (setting up an inner circle of journalists to control the media; offers from the two major parties to become a candidate, etc), and the author is undeniably better at writing about nutty business ventures. Not quite as fresh as the previous volumes, and seeing the Amazon ratings for the sequels makes me worried that it's a continuing trajectory.
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Old 2014-11-29, 19:55   Link #1008
apr
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Oh god it never ends, I'm so sorry.

My next painful adventure was reading Penguin Summer by Mutsuzuka Akira. In spite of it being a mere 254 pages, it took me the better part of two weeks, which is never a good sign.

The story revolves around two teenagers who trek through the mountainside woods in search of the Headless Hero, a local age-old legend who purged the area of a band of white-haired demons many hundreds of years ago, but is still rumoured to roam the mountain close to their rural hometown. Somehow this ends up with them in the middle of a battle between a rebelling cyborg penguin and the alien invaders who are his former masters.

Unusually, the story unfolds through a varying set of texts. It starts out as a regular novel, but the second chapter is a 15 page excerpt from an essay on theories for the origins of the local legend, followed by a diary section, which in turn is followed by a transcript of an audio log, followed by a written protocol of the alien invaders' council meeting, then there's a letter refuting previously mentioned legend theories, and finally it goes back to being a regular novel.

As an idea, this may seem fairly interesting, but in execution it ends up dragging quite a bit. Most of the text is dull, really. And with the peculiar chronological ordering of it all, even the finale's action sequences turn into an unexciting slog. I guess this is my punishment for taking book suggestions from random, anonymous 2ch posters.


Then came Owarimonogatari vol 3 by Nishio Ishin. Ostensibly this 17th book in the Monogatari series is the final part, wrapping up every loose end and explaining all remaining mysteries, but the other day I just put in a pre-order for book 18. Puzzling.

This time our hero really does face the last boss, the true cause of all his problems, and everything settles neatly. While these novels have usually been fairly stand-alone arcs, in this case it really feels like an overall conclusion, where explanations shine a light on hitherto unseen threads going as far back as the very first book. Or at least, seemingly thus. On the one hand it's baffling to think that Nishio had all of these details planned in advance, and on the other it's almost dubious that he ever did. How he manages to tie it all together is equally impressive and annoying.

The series has always been about themes, and perhaps now more than ever, as Koyomi spends his last days of adolescence struggling with the meaning of "doing the right thing". These themes are, obviously, abstract. Keenly do I feel that grasping the character's ultimate conclusion to the dilemma is, sadly, beyond my current level of Japanese. As enjoyable as it still is to read, I'm usually so focused on making sense of the current sentence, that by the time I'm done with one, the preceding has begun to fade; when I finally finish the paragraph, making sense of any combined underlying significance is difficult. Things can seem clear in the moment, but with my vague understanding, it dissipates quickly. A challenge to work on.

I loved the first three books in the series, and in particular the third -- Kizumonogatari -- remains in my mind as the pinnacle of light novels. After that, it turned into a bit of a mess. At times it's felt like Nishio intentionally wrote the books after the anime adaptation as if to spite them, creating scenes that defy the established rules (and national laws) of a visual medium. Yet Shaft prevailed, with edits that often raised the anime above the original prose. After Tsukimonogatari (book 13), I was so sick of the trudging meta-jokes that I decided the world would have been better off if Nishio just quit after the third book, while he was ahead. However, with the latest books, I think he might have just turned it around. Finally tying it up so beautifully makes the difference, I suppose. Although the meta-jokes are still as irritating as ever.

Normally this is where I feel a great sense of loss, because I'll never meet all of my favourite characters again, but with Zoku-Owarimonogatari looming, I don't quite know what to think. Guess I'll have to wait and see if they make a return, after all.


Waiting for a new book shipment, I slipped in Mahou no Ko by Irie Kimihito. I think I picked it up from a list of recommended one-off novels, but it turns out it's simply very recently published, and the author intends to make a series out of it, even if there's no sequel yet. Irie is probably more famous for the Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi series, which was animated last year.

To be frank, it's a bit on the generic side. It's set in an alternate future where children suddenly start being born with innate magical power, and in the first decade of this phenomenon, millions of people worldwide die in tragic accidents, as infants wield incomprehensible destructive forces without any realization. Babies feeling a chill might end up toasting their hapless parents in an effort to warm up, or freeze them into popsicles when they break a sweat. Luckily, roughly 10 percent of these children inexplicably lose all magic ability every year, up until the age of maturity (20), after which the handful remaining magicians retain their powers for the rest of their lives.

To combat the new unmanageable younger generations, governments have decided to ship all kids to remote school islands, where more mature magicians can help educate and maintain control over them. Our reluctant hero is a 16-year-old boy, who five years prior lost his magic after a battle with fearsome magical creatures (another phenomenon), when they abducted one of his younger sisters. Needless to say, he's one in a million people whose powers don't actually disappear completely, but simply lie dormant for a few years, and then suddenly get turned on again. Now, instead of finally going on his planned worldwide search for his sister, the authorities drag him back onto the school island, where he promptly meets a pretty girl and gets to help her as per proper hero protocols.

So, we've established that its plot is generic, and in execution it's also fairly juvenile. There's a lot that can be done with a setting where magic is feared and children are stuffed into cages and society secretly despises them, while they themselves think magic makes them enviable, etc, etc, but the author seemingly has no such lofty aspirations, and decides to spend the allotted paper on retreading the same old boy-meets-girl-and-saves-her story. Along the way he also introduces a bunch of minor characters, who feature so little that their only purpose seems to be a hint of future book appearances.

With these complaints out of the way, I still have to admit that I enjoyed reading it, and may have to accept that I'll always be 14 years old on the inside. Skipping the sequels, though.


And so I finally got to read Shiranai Eiga no Santora wo Kiku by Takemiya Yuyuko. Takemiya is originally a light novel author, and wrote two of my favourite series in Toradora and Golden Time. This is her first book to come out of a new publishing label that launched this summer, with the idea of being more than a light novel.

It follows Biwa, a young woman, 23 years of age, and fresh out of university, whose daily hunt for a job has recently turned into a nightly hunt for a cross-dressing thief, who stole a dear photo she always carries in her wallet. Going in almost completely blind, it took me half the book to make sense of what the story was really about, which is coping with the loss of someone close to you, getting over the sorrow and guilt, and moving on with your life. The intensely confusing prologue didn't help set this up, but after finishing the last page, I realized that it tied into one of the themes of the book -- that everything goes round and round -- and was in fact the continuation of the final page, looping the novel around on itself.

Takemiya's strength has always been her vivid stream of consciousness writing, and this time is no exception. It's an exciting, boisterous read, that makes the pages rush past fast, easily putting you in Biwa's situation. The trouble is, this energetic prose also makes it feel very ... light novelly, for lack of a better word. Cruder than I'd expect from a regular novel. The theme and characters are more mature, but her literary style remains on the same level. While this is still highly enjoyable, it clashes a bit with my hope that she'd take the full step and reach a stage where she can dazzle the adult audience. At least it explains the choice of publisher.

Another issue is the length, I think. Takemiya's previous series have often been long, more than 10 volumes, and the benefit of having 3000 pages to develop your characters makes itself evident here, when she has to press it all into a tenth of that space. In a series, long, casual conversations are a great way to breathe life into characters, but here it's hard not to suspect these precious pages could be better spent elsewhere. Knowing her previous works, these new restrictions also make the novel feel hurried in places.

Ultimately, I'm conflicted about the book. On the one hand, I highly appreciate the ambition to move closer to real novels, which I've been hoping to see from her for years now, but on the other hand, I almost wish it had been a light novel series instead, so she could have the time to grow her characters fully. At the same time, I know it can be done without a million pages, so perhaps Takemiya will get used to the new format and improve with future releases. It's the right direction.
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Old 2014-11-29, 20:00   Link #1009
apr
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But of course I kept going, because a year has more than 10 months!

I next finished reading Zoku-Owarimonogatari by Nishio Ishin. As previously mentioned, this is the 18th book in the Monogatari series, and while its existence confused me after reading vol 17, it makes a bit more sense now. Nishio calls it a "bonus book", likening it to the post-credits world of a JRPG, when the boss is dead, and you casually wander around finishing up old quests.

Our hero, Araragi Koyomi, wakes up the day after high school graduation, and while washing his face, he suddenly finds himself in a "mirror world", where everything and everyone is flipped. To get this point across, Nishio resorts to printing all non-protagonist dialogue in a mirrored font, which gets tedious pretty fast. Luckily, once the narrating protagonist realizes what's going on, he kindly volunteers to "translate" all dialogue into the regular font. Not sure it had to take 47 pages, though!

As stories go, it's decent, but not magnificent. An enjoyable read, but inconsequential, as it has no impact on the overall storyline. In the afterword, Nishio confesses that it's a book you don't have to read, and he uses this excuse to get more playful with the characters, throwing logic and reason out the window. After 17 books, maybe he's earned that right with his fans, but then again, the series was never too far away from madness to begin with.


In the mood for something fun, I now went with Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru darou ka vol 2 by Oomori Fujino. Just like the first book, it's a story about a young adventurer who delves into an endless dungeon, gaining experience and loot, and is leveled up by his matron goddess.

Still tons of fun, with the author's enthusiasm for RPG worlds affecting me as a reader to the point that I'm itching to go play a dungeon crawler. An anime adaptation was just announced, so I'm looking forward to that. In the meantime, I've ordered the three sequels out so far.


Next was Kono Koi to, Sono Mirai by Morihashi Bingo. This is the first book in a new series by the author of the Shinonome Yuuko trilogy I gushed about a few months ago. With the previous series being such a pure romance, I expected more of the same with this title.

And at the heart of it, I guess it is. It's just that the gimmick this time is that the girl the protagonist falls in love with happens to be a female-to-male transgender.

Shirou is a boy from Tokyo who is so sick of living under the rule of his three bossy sisters, that he chooses a boarding school in Hiroshima as his high school. Dreaming of an environment free of women, his hopes are crushed on arrival, as his dorm room-mate Mirai turns out to be a girl who desperately wishes she was born a boy instead. As Mirai has the backing of the school board, Shirou grudgingly agrees to this strange situation, and promises to keep the secret from the rest of the students, so Mirai can lead a life as normal as possible under the circumstances.

Needless to say, a light novel is an odd place to bring up transgender issues. One awkward consequence is that poor Mirai ends up illustrated both stepping out of the shower naked, and in a glistening swimsuit by the pool. It's a confusing contrast to how casual and practical the text treats the character, along with the issues faced in everyday life. Mirai's personality is that of a boy who loathes to be reminded of his physical body, but the images clearly highlight how feminine it is. As conflicting as these messages seem, I suppose they also serve to show the struggle Shirou has with treating Mirai as a male friend, while simultaneously feeling attracted to these glimpses of the hated female side.

I actually think the character writing works. Their relationship is built over a number of slice-of-life events, spread across the school term, in a very down-to-earth fashion, with friendly conversations giving more insight and detail. The prose is pleasant and easy to read, making it fast and comfortable to blast through pages. So, I enjoyed it. It's a nice novel.

Yet I can't really let go of the feeling that this will all go horribly wrong in later books. That Shirou will fall in love with Mirai and somehow manage to "turn" her eventually. I'm also far too ignorant to judge the (in)accuracy of transgender issues here. The author gets away with it somewhat by Mirai not being the main character, so there's a filter of indirectness covering everything, but the subject is a complex one, and I don't want to be the one to mess with it.


And then Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou vol 5 by Mikami En. It's the latest (but not last) novel in the absurdly popular series about a beautiful antiquarian bookseller and her infatuated assistant of a protagonist.

Usually I enjoy these quite a bit, but the author decided to open up with such a frustrating prologue that I spent the rest of the book fuming, and the bulk of the pages just felt like an obstacle. When the prologue ends in a mid-confession (?), it's hard not to jump all the way to the epilogue to see how the damned sentence ends. Ah well.

My irritation eased in the second half, and it became somewhat pleasant to read again. And then the prologue turned out to be a trick, so I fell for that. Anyway, still pretty entertaining to read, so I won't give up on the series yet, even if it's getting a little stale.


Eager to try something new, I read Kimi to wa Chimei-teki na Zure ga Aru by Akatsuki Kakeya. Another purchase based on a 2ch thread about recommending one-off light novels.

This is a psychological thriller, I guess, about Katsuya, a guy who just started high school a year late, having had some trouble catching up with his education after suffering amnesia as a consequence of some tragic event when he was 10 years old. Now he's suddenly started blacking out and waking up with memory gaps, and when mysterious letters addressed to him begin appearing everywhere, it triggers hallucinations of a dead girl's body with the head crushed. Scared of what he'll find, Katsuya nevertheless has to face his past.

I'm a fan of unreliable narration when it's done well. It can turn an entire story on its head in the blink of an eye, forcing the reader to reconsider every scene and find new meaning in everything that's happened. Done poorly, it just ends up feeling like the author is doing all he can to deceive you, artificially keeping the reader in the dark to construct a thrill out of nothing.

Unfortunately, this book belongs to the latter category. Any surprise the revelation holds has long since been worn away by irritatingly convenient scene cuts, and literally blanking out character names in the text to keep the murderer's identity a mystery. Furthermore, the writing is too low a level to really make the characters' musings come alive, and instead it feels like reading someone's fantasy about what people might feel in those circumstances.

It still manages to feel different, in a sea of other juvenile books in the light novel world. It goes out of its way to depict an unusual degree of cold madness in an otherwise normal setting, which gives some of the brutal murders an extra sting. I can't say it makes the novel enjoyable, though.
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Old 2014-11-29, 20:03   Link #1010
apr
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Join Date: May 2003
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Almost done, I promise.

Hard to call it a light novel, but I wanted to read Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru by Miyazawa Kenji. It's a novella for children written some time during the 1920s, but never fully finished, and it was first published after the author died in 1933, despite parts of the story still missing.

The story follows young Giovanni, who on the night of the galaxy festival finds himself on a magical train along with his school friend Campanella, riding across the milky way, where they see strange sights and meet peculiar people.

While this is seemingly an "updated" version of the original text, it's still intensely hard to read, with a helpful glossary of ye olde terms at the back of the book. Maybe it's part of an older writing style, but sentences have unusually little punctuation and kanji, so many hours were spent rereading lines, trying to figure out where one word ends and the next one begins, or separating clauses from each other. The author is also very fond of his plants and birds, so most of the text is spent on descriptions of beautiful trees I've never heard of, or twittering birds I've no clue about. Not the most fun I've had with a book.

The plot itself is fine, I suppose, with a revelation at the end that makes a second read more enticing, but it will take many years before I challenge myself with this thing again. Perhaps watching the anime adaptation would help bring the described scenery alive for me. This book also includes a strange short story about two siblings at a fox party, singing rhymes and whatnot, and finishes with an apparently famous poem written in katakana that I can't say I understand fully.

All in all, it's been a pain to read, but interesting to have read, I suppose. The galactic railroad concept is so common in other Japanese fiction now that it's hard to ignore the original.


And just now, I finished reading Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru darou ka vol 3 by Oomori Fujino. Still great. Loving this shit to much I'll jump straight into volume 4, and I've already got volume 6 en route from Japan. Hopefully it won't take five weeks again. There's an anime coming up in 2015, and it will probably suck, so no doubt people will think I have terrible taste in books, but it's probably nothing new!


Hopefully someone gets a reading tip or two from this avalanche. I'll try to post more frequently, if there are still people visiting this poor old thread.
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Old 2014-11-29, 20:41   Link #1011
El Rue
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^It's good to see expressions of someone who've read them, it helps to get a better impression after all.

The problem is that even if they are interested, for most people the good stuff's just ain't easily "accessible" so to speak (for myriad of reasons).
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Old 2014-11-29, 21:41   Link #1012
DragonKing0117
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^It's good to see expressions of someone who've read them, it helps to get a better impression after all.

The problem is that even if they are interested, for most people the good stuff's just ain't easily "accessible" so to speak (for myriad of reasons).
Well at the very least, DanMachi will be released in English in about three weeks though that will only be the first Volume.
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Old 2014-12-02, 17:57   Link #1013
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Finished reading Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru darou ka volumes 4 and 5 by Oomori Fujino. I'm completely addicted to this wonderful adventure story. There's a pure joy of dungeon crawling heroism in it that's infectious to a tremendous degree. The wait for vol 6 to arrive will be painful, but rushing through three volumes in under a week has left my brain pretty mushy, so it's probably for the best.
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Old 2014-12-05, 19:18   Link #1014
apr
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Finished reading Overlord vol 1 by Maruyama Kugane. As is often the case with books I read these days, it's a web novel that got too popular for its own good and ended up being published on paper as a light novel, albeit in a larger and more expensive format than usual.

It tells the story of Momonga, a friendless man who's spent a third of his salary on a free-to-play virtual reality MMORPG for the past decade, proudly building a massive guild fortress with his 40 companions, painstakingly customizing guardian NPCs and tweaking textures to make it as imposing as possible to rival guilds. However, the days of this particular MMO's popularity are long gone, and the company running it has announced complete shutdown. On the final eve of service, Momonga walks alone in the silent halls of the once bustling dungeon, waxing nostalgic over memories past. As the clock rolls over midnight, he closes his eyes and ... discovers that the game has turned into reality.

Bet you never heard that one before! The twist in Overlord is that the protagonist chose to play as a lich mage, taking the form of an undead skeleton, and his alignment of evil, combined with a max level character makes him more of the new world's final boss than the struggling hero we're used to as an audience. Exploring this unknown realm, he realizes that his powers far outstrip anything the hapless populace has ever encountered before, and merrily annihilates anyone who tries to oppose him.

Thus the entertainment this series brings is that of watching an incredibly overpowered being wreak havoc on a virgin world. As a first volume, it works better than I had expected. As a series, I'm not sure how it can stay interesting, since it's hard to imagine it being able to muster any tension.

The writing is a bit on the weaker side, with the author seemingly overreaching, but it's bearable enough, and fairly quick to read, once I stopped caring about researching every single adjective you can use to say "scary", sort of thing. Some characterization also made my eyebrows twitch at times, but maybe it gets better as the series moves along. In any case, I feel inclined to pick up another volume to see how it goes.
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Old 2014-12-05, 21:17   Link #1015
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Finished reading Overlord vol 1 by Maruyama Kugane. As is often the case with books I read these days, it's a web novel that got too popular for its own good and ended up being published on paper as a light novel, albeit in a larger and more expensive format than usual.

It tells the story of Momonga, a friendless man who's spent a third of his salary on a free-to-play virtual reality MMORPG for the past decade, proudly building a massive guild fortress with his 40 companions, painstakingly customizing guardian NPCs and tweaking textures to make it as imposing as possible to rival guilds. However, the days of this particular MMO's popularity are long gone, and the company running it has announced complete shutdown. On the final eve of service, Momonga walks alone in the silent halls of the once bustling dungeon, waxing nostalgic over memories past. As the clock rolls over midnight, he closes his eyes and ... discovers that the game has turned into reality.

Bet you never heard that one before! The twist in Overlord is that the protagonist chose to play as a lich mage, taking the form of an undead skeleton, and his alignment of evil, combined with a max level character makes him more of the new world's final boss than the struggling hero we're used to as an audience. Exploring this unknown realm, he realizes that his powers far outstrip anything the hapless populace has ever encountered before, and merrily annihilates anyone who tries to oppose him.

Thus the entertainment this series brings is that of watching an incredibly overpowered being wreak havoc on a virgin world. As a first volume, it works better than I had expected. As a series, I'm not sure how it can stay interesting, since it's hard to imagine it being able to muster any tension.

The writing is a bit on the weaker side, with the author seemingly overreaching, but it's bearable enough, and fairly quick to read, once I stopped caring about researching every single adjective you can use to say "scary", sort of thing. Some characterization also made my eyebrows twitch at times, but maybe it gets better as the series moves along. In any case, I feel inclined to pick up another volume to see how it goes.
Hey. The fight with his minion was as interesting as it gets with all the smart moves being explained.

Also, you forgot that even though he's all bones he can't get a boner.
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Old 2014-12-06, 03:50   Link #1016
Mechatrill
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So, been trawling through a site with Chinese translations for LN, so I figure I'll give some impressions of my own. I just finished the 3 volumes of Hyakuren no Haou to Seiyaku no Valkyrie or Master Of Ragnarök & Blesser Of Einherjar by Takayama Seiichi. Only 3 volumes are translated to Chinese, although I believe there are 6 thus far.

It's a classic summoned to another world story. The story actually starts 2 years after the main character (whose name I don't actually know how it's supposed to be pronounced, a common problem when you're going with Chinese translations) was summoned to the fantasy world of Yggdrasil, where the he has become the chieftain of the "Wolf" tribe, having completely reversed their decline and even subjugated a rival tribe, and was in the process of defeating another rival tribe as the series starts.

It actually kind of reminds me of Campione in a number of ways: The story starts after the main character has gained power, volume 3 being a flashback volume detailing how he got there, the fact that the main character is fairly easygoing normally but gets cranked up to 11 in a crisis, etc...


So a few things about the main character and the setting:

First, the main character has no powers. He's just a normal guy whose father was a village blacksmith.

Second, in Yggdrasil, there are rare individuals who are born with mystical scrips on their body referencing a figure or object in Norse Mythology, which grants them some supernatural power.

Third, how the tribal society works is that there's a holy ceremony to basically adopt 2 people to be family. It doesn't particularly have any mystical enforcement (that we know of), but it's taken extremely seriously by the society of Yggdrasil as a whole. Thus, to enforce loyalty in a tribe, a chieftain would have the most influential and powerful people of the tribe adopted as his/her children or younger siblings, and a method to subjugate a rival tribe would to get their chieftain to agree to adoption as one's child/younger sibling (betraying the familial bond/obligation is practically unthinkable to the culture). Thus, you have the situation where you have girls older than the protagonist referring to him as Elder Brother or Honored Father, and in fact his chosen heir, a man over twice his age, referring to him as Honored Father.

On the characters, it's pretty obvious from the covers that it's a harem series. That's actually a bit misleading too, as the harem aspect is actually not that big. The big thing is that the protag, after the separation, fully realized that he is in love with his childhood friend back in Japan, and so he stays faithful to her and rejects any relationship with the girls around him. In fact, in volume 2, a girl confesses to his face and asks that he marry her, and after a bit of trying to avoid the issue, he firmly rejects her and tells her that he's in love with another girl. The girl who confessed doesn't give up though and tells him as much to his face. That kind of straightforwardness and not faffing about with uncertainty when is comes to the romance is something I could rather appreciate... Also, again, the Chinese translation is only to V3, so who knows if that changes or not...


Now, the thing I found most interesting about this series is the protag's "cheat": He came to Yggdrasil with his smartphone and a solar charger (something about him taking some lectures on earthquake/disaster precautions seriously). His phone also mysteriously can get a signal from Earth, which he uses to link to the internet and stay in contact with his childhood friend with regular phone calls (which helps him remain attached and faithful). Said childhood friend is also working part time to pay for his phone plan and internet. With the knowledge he can get from the internet connection and his childhood friend helping him research, he managed to revolutionize a ton of technology, tactics, and industries in Yggdrasil, which is far less advanced than Earth. That's also pretty much how he managed to do what he has.

That's what I like most about this series: I'm generally a sucker for ISOT stories, and this hits my likes in just the right spots. He doesn't bring stuff like gunpower or anything like that, instead, his innovations tend to be far more basic, but has far-reaching consequences. One major item is stirrups, which makes it actually possible to field a real cavalry force, which offers unparalleled tactical mobility compared to the chariots everyone else uses. Another is iron smelting: Yggdrasil is basically a bronze age society, and iron ore in large enough amounts for forging is pretty much only possible to get through meteorites, making them rare enough that they're basically unique legendary weapons that only the chieftains of the largest and most powerful tribes could get. However, with the knowledge of smelting, the protag is capable of equipping his entire army with iron weapons and arrows, giving them offensive power unmatched by any other tribe. Other stuff includes mechanically drawn ballistae for range and penetration unmatched by bows (and operable by non-warriors), long pikes, square pike formation for defense, rider relay stations for quick communication, Sun Tsu's Art of War and Machiavelli's The Prince for military and political wisdom, etc...

I'm really looking forward to more this series. Not only do I want to see how the harem situation turns out (does he stays faithful? Does he reunite with his childhood friend? Etc...), but I also want to see more of the technological innovations that he brings to his tribe and how they turn out...
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Old 2014-12-11, 15:42   Link #1017
apr
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Finished reading Dainihon Samurai Girl vol 6 by Shidou Ryuusei. While it's still very entertaining most of the time, the first third of the book is reaching mind-boggling levels of absurdity.

It's mainly spent in the US embassy, where the Far East heads of CIA and DIA are fighting over which faction gets to support the 17-year-old super idol in her ambition to become Japan's dictator, so she can drum up popular support for rebuilding the nation's army, in preparation for an inevitable Chinese campaign of conquest in the region. Next we have scenes of negotiations with the leaders of the Japanese ruling and opposition parties, where our heroine is arguing that they should merge with her right-wing party and make her head of the new organization, so she can rule the country in spite of being too young to take part in a parliamentary election. She also pushes hard for Japanese nuclear armament, so they can stand tall on the international stage, rather than hide behind America's forces and hope they won't be abandoned, should the People's Liberation Army finally decide to disembark on the Senkaku Islands.

In short, it's all bonkers. Personally I prefer when the author sticks to business developments (as in the rest of the book), but I realize that with dictatorship as final goal, the political side is obviously impossible to avoid. No idea how this thing can stay readable for another 3+ volumes, but I'll probably hang around long enough to find out.
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Old 2014-12-17, 08:18   Link #1018
apr
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Finished reading Slayers vol 1 by Kanzaka Hajime. It was first published back in 1990, and turned into a very popular anime in 1995. Supposedly it's the series that made the "light novel" genre famous, and it boasts a mind-blowing 20 million books sold. It probably helps that there are 50 volumes out, though.

The story is about Lina Inverse, a self-absorbed 15-year-old mage prodigy, who reluctantly gets "rescued" by an ignorant swordsman with a heart of gold, named Gourry. Together they roam the lands of a fantasy world, filled with demons and monsters and dragons and goblins and whatever else you can think of, all the while keeping up comical banter.

Plot-wise, it's not much to write home about, but it's mostly an excuse for action and comedy scenes, of which there are plenty. Being written 25 years ago, it does feel a bit stale, with the jokes not necessarily hitting the mark for me like they used to. It also reads more like an anime script than a novel, heavy on dialogue and low on description, and is prone to lines of nothing but sound effects. The upside is that it's a quick read, and the characters have a certain charm that makes it quite bearable.

Can't say I'm excited about reading the rest, but as a piece of history it's pretty interesting.
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Old 2014-12-22, 18:00   Link #1019
apr
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Finished reading Okitegami Kyouko no Bibouroku by Nishio Ishin. This is his latest novel, and first in an entirely new mystery series. While I admittedly own 41 Nishio books, and have read 22 of them, I had only tried out 2 different series until this one, so I've been curious to see what it's like when he's released from a massive accumulated history.

A common complaint in the mystery genre is how the famous detective appears to be a veritable murder magnet, forever carrying with him a death vortex, be it on vacation to Egypt or to a friendly Christmas visit at a friend's. The protagonist and narrator of this story is 25-year-old Kakushidate Yakusuke, a 190cm giant (in Japan), who suffers from exactly this syndrome, with one caveat -- he's no brilliant detective. Instead he's the guy who always gets suspected of the heinous crime in question, and is thus forced to resort to calling up a host of different private investigators to prove his innocence.

The latest of these is the titular character Okitegami Kyouko. Known as "the quickest detective", her quirk is that an event some time in the past left her with a peculiar form of amnesia: whenever she falls asleep, she forgets everything that happened the previous day. While this is very convenient for her clients -- as she's guaranteed to keep any uncovered secrets from coming out, given that she promptly forgets everything she's heard and seen -- it's all the more so as a gimmick that Nishio can spin, to build a lopsided relationship between the main characters.

The author's primary strength has always been, in my view, his absolutely outrageous dialogue. He has a way of bending audience expectations so far back, that they twist into a Möbius strip without snapping, letting tension and incredulity rise ever higher. With that in mind, this new series is absolutely baffling. It's just so... so plain! And mundane! After the superpowered high-stakes battles of Zaregoto, and vicious razor blade insults of Monogatari, everything about this new setting is bizarrely normal, if that's not too much of an oxymoron. The cases are about looking for backup data, or helping clients find lost passwords, or good-natured manuscript searches, and people converse in a courteous and friendly manner. No lopped-off heads anywhere to be found.

It's almost disappointing. But in the end, the slowly building relationship is too pleasant and amusing to read about for me to close the book with any negative feelings, so I'm looking forward to the sequel scheduled for spring next year. Not sure if Nishio can hold on to his fan base with something so mild, though.
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Old 2014-12-26, 10:59   Link #1020
apr
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Finished reading Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru darou ka vol 6 by Oomori Fujino. In spite of the title, they didn't set foot in a dungeon once in this volume, but it's nevertheless immensely enjoyable. This is probably the best "pulpy" light novel series I've come across so far, in terms of pure entertainment.

The first volume has recently been published in English translation, if someone's curious enough to brave it. Personally I might give the gaidens a try, since volume 7 won't be out for another four months.
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