Things I've been reading

(with varying degrees of success)

Of the various light novel and manga series I’ve been reading, most of the good ones are either released very slowly or just dead. So I look at Amazon and try out something new occasionally, and it’s increasingly full of fail and faux-Japanese “LitRPG” (a self-applied label that made my oh-hell-no list over five years ago).

  • Mushoku Tensei (as Pixy put it, “reincarnation of a slime”): volume 1 is a tough slog, because the author went out of his way to make the protagonist repellent, and even his attempts to “do better” in his new life are hampered by his basic sociopathy. I’m told he gets better around book 3, which is approximately 1.5 books too late.

  • In The Land Of Leadale: the books are more coherent than the anime, but still suffer from a fundamental lack of things for Our OP Heroine to actually do. It all comes crashing down when she’s reunited with her frenemy from the game era, who reveals what’s really going on, including the fact that the game was originally written specifically for her. And she kind of is the game now, even though the world is also real. Not going to lie here: that explanation did not make sense…

  • Private Tutor To The Duke’s Daughter: I’m not sure who the audience is for a conflict-free story where the modest, handsome, insanely OP protagonist obliviously narrates his acquisition of an underaged currently-platonic harem of heiresses, all the while believing himself to be underpowered and not fit to marry any of them. It reminds me a lot of Littlewitch Romanesque without the sex scenes.

  • Reborn To Master The Blade: Our OP Legendary King gets reborn as a girl (OP from infancy!) and quickly grows up into a lush-bodied teen hottie with twin appetites for food and combat, and a complete lack of a sex drive. Meanwhile, the world has gone to shit since now-her time, and plot coupons are doled out very slowly as she rampages across the land as a squire desperately trying to avoid responsibility so she can just beat up people and monsters. The cast quickly spirals out of control as very little progress is made towards uncovering What Went Wrong.

  • Disciple Of The Lich: Our Hero is a gullible reincarnation from Japan who mouthed off to the gods and got dumped into the lowest level of a lethal dungeon, where he was rescued by an undead tsundere necromancer who power-levels him as an excuse to keep him with her longer, which he’s too dumb to figure out, even when he finally goes to the surface world and facerolls every enemy he meets. He’s so convinced that the world is super-dangerous that he inflicts the same training on the first girl he makes friends with, so they can faceroll together while his jealous teacher stalks them.

  • The World’s Strongest Rearguard: this one is actually fun, with the harem antics kept under control by the fact that they have two clearly-defined missions they’ve been working on since book 1, and while they’re progressing through the dungeons at a blistering pace, they’re not completely OP, and must get better to deal with the challenges they face each book. Not high art, but consistently entertaining, although I wonder how long Our Back-Door Hero can remain oblivious to the fact that his always-on powers make the haremettes finger themselves to sleep every night (off-camera). Yes, I skip over the stat blocks.

  • Solo Leveling: the translated comic is way overpriced for how much material you get in a volume (remember all those looooong vertical panels? they get broken up across multiple pages and end up as the primary constraint on how much story gets told); the novels have progressed well past what most people read online, and remain interesting.

  • Gun Gale Online: I am so sick of Squad Jam.

  • Banished From The Hero’s Party… (McPharmacist & Waifu, which I have to specify because there are a bunch of these now): this was a lot more coherent than the anime, but I’m losing interest as Our Slow-Living Couple keep getting dragged into big conflicts, and Our Recovering Sister Hero’s brocon trends more and more towards the sexual. But she’s willing to share with women she respects, which he’ll be horrified to eventually learn.

  • Now I’m A Demon Lord!: there can be no conflict when Our Dungeon Lord is backed up by the power of the most insanely OP dragon in the world, who’s also his loli waifu.

  • Reincarnated As A Sword: the manga oversexualizes Fran, and the “another wish” spinoff manga is at best adequate, but the novels are good stuff.

  • Survival In Another World With My Mistress: Our Hero is not only OP, he is a certified miracle from the gods, and if it weren’t for the massive stamina boosts he gets from leveling up his skills, he would be dead after a single night spent satisfying his ever-growing harem. Seriously, he’s fathering an empire with girls of over half a dozen species, and I don’t think the author even keeps an accurate count of how many bedmates there are after a while. And they keep facerolling all opposition, to the point that he’ll probably end up ruling the world, or at least servicing all the women in it.

  • The Executioner And Her Way Of Life: I abandoned the anime, and this too after a while. TL/DR: everything you’re told about the world at the beginning was a lie, and the reveal is way too long and tedious.

  • The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter, or as I think of it, The Dungeon Harem Only I Can Enter But Never Seem To Get Around To: the anime had some squicky bits about him basically training his already-obsessed little sister into being a Dom, but after N books, nothing has really changed in the harem dynamics. All the girls want him, none of them have put out yet, and little sister is the girl most likely to be the first to make a serious play for his dick.

  • A Late-Start Tamer’s Laid-Back Life: I can’t remember anything that happened in this, except that everyone in the game squees over how cute his pets are.


I just had a refrigerator moment and realized there is a significant plot hole in the final episode of Hoe Harem. No, seriously; stop laughing. Yes, in a story that was already falling apart every time they stopped to explain things, the ending has a real whopper.

In the middle of the fight against his formerly-dead childhood girlfriend, time stops, and the mysterious angelic chick explains that she’s the good god, and the evil god’s power that Deadloli is trying to activate in him is the reason he suddenly became so OP in episode 1. So she quickly exorcises him and gives him some of her own power instead, which he uses to magically grow combat weeds.

When he gets home and finally fights back against an orc that’s eager to rape him, his Super KO Punch no longer KO’s, and Helen gets him to whip out his stat card (which we haven’t seen since episode 1), and, sure enough, he’s no longer insanely OP, just “better than most adventurers”. And he’s surprised by this, because he hadn’t noticed a change.

But he got to the other continent to fight Deadloli by using his powers to run super-fast across the surface of the ocean. How did he get back without noticing?

(also unrelated, in recognition of the end of Ash’s decades of on-screen Pokemon battles, we celebrate the Original Best Girl of the series)

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