Monday, September 28, 2015

Reviewing the Mail: Week of September 26: Light Novel Showcase!

I'm still catching up from the gigantic box from Yen Press last week, so this week will be another partial report. ("Partial" meaning "only about twenty books.")

As always, I haven't read the books I'll write about in "Reviewing the Mail," and don't necessarily know all that much about them. And I might sometimes be dismissive, or just plain wrong, about something you love or just know better than I do. None of this is malicious: some things strike me as more appealing than others, like anyone, and I tend to be more interested in books that I think I would enjoy. If I'm horribly wrong about something, please do comment to say so.

But these are books that showed up in my mailbox, now covering parts of two weeks, because they were sent by the great hard-working publicists of Big Publishing. I may, someday, manage to read and even review some of these -- though the large stack on the corner of my desk of things already read tends to argue otherwise -- but, for now, I'm going to be satisfied by letting you know that they exist:

This week starts off with a Light Novel Showcase!, to help me get through that large number of things from Yen. So, these eleven books are all light novels -- less calories and fat than regular novels! illustrations! written by actual Japanese people, and so excitingly foreign to Americans! nicely written in series with numbers on the spine! -- from Yen, published either right now or in the very recent past. The Light Novel Showcase! (yes, the bang is part of my title) runs, as I usually do, in order of increasing complexity, starting with new-reader friendly items and getting hairier from there.

(Look for a follow-up post, with other things, tomorrow.)

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories The Novel novelizes the videogame of the same name -- and possibly more of the Kingdom Hearts empire, for all I know. It's written by Tomoco Kanemaki, from an "original concept" [1] by Tetsuya Nomura and Daisuke Watanabe, with illustrations by Shiro Amano, who did the manga. (I do not know if these are new illustrations, or re-purposed from box art and other things.)

Black Bullet, Vol. 1: Those Who Would Be Gods launches a new series by Shiden Kanzaki, with illustrations by Saki Ukai. (There's already a manga adaptation available, as well.) It's a mildly post-apocalyptic story, in which the usual high schoolers/secret agents (normal boy, ex-rich girl, spunky younger girl with mysterious powers and a Big Secret) battle against the parasitic virus that has already destroyed most of humanity. You know, as you do.

Then we've got Strike the Blood, Vol. 1: The Right Arm of the Saint, from Gakuto Mikumo with illustrations by the entity code-named Manyako. It's another ordinary-boy-gets-massive-powers story -- as opposed to the stories where ordinary boys are caught up with girls who have massive powers, which are totally different -- about a kid named Kojou, now the world's most powerful vampire, and the younger girl Yukina sent to watch him.

Satan [2] works in a Tokyo fast-food restaurant in The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 2, from Satoshi Wagahara. (It's illustrated by 029 (Oniku). Yes, 029 (Oniku). Don't ask me what that means. I think it's one of the old children from Akira.) This time, Satan Sadao has been made store manager, the next stop in his diabolic plot to conquer all! This looks amusing, though I doubt I'm ever going to have time to dive into it.

Strange names move to the author side, as Kagerou Daze, Vol. 2: A Headphone Actor is credited to Jin (Shizen No Teki-P), with illustrations by the single-named Sidu. (Like Cher, I suppose.) This is about a girl who has a double life -- by day, one of only two students in a weird highschool, and by night a world-famous gamer. Again, as you do.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Fujino Omori is back to ask that for a third volume -- and more than that, counting manga and other tangential stuff -- so I'd hope we can answer the question soon. Illustrations are still by Suzuhito Yasuda, and the plot seems to be more focused on dungeon-crawling than girl-up-picking.

No Game No Life, Vol. 3 is set in a universe where every decision is decided by games, and our heroes are legendary gamer siblings. (Young, of course -- because top gamers are young and all main characters in Japanese stories are required by law to be under 18.) It's by Yuu Kamiya, and there's no separate credit for illustrations.

A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 4 is not about magical pole-dancers, as a quick glance at the cover might suggest -- the young lady there is pulling a sword out of its scabbard, and doing it against the side of her face, because how else would you do it? This is by Kazuma Kamachi with illustrations by Kiyotaka Haimura. And the back cover copy is no help -- there's a boy at a school, going on vacation to the beach, where everything is different.

There's Sword Art Online 5: Phantom Bullet, from Reki Kawahara with illustrations by abec. (And "Sword Art Online" is on the cover, so it looks like this book is titled Sword Art Online Phantom Bullet Sword Art Online.) This series is about hard-core gamers who escaped one immersive online game designed as a trap (die in real life if you die in the game, that whole thing) and then keep going back into other games in the rest of the series, proving that protagonists are required to be too dumb to live.

And there's also Sword Art Online Progressive 3 by Kawahara and illustrated by abec, which retells the first book in the series in much more detail. (And, I think, from a different point of view -- but the main point seems to be the more detail.)

And last in Light Novel Showcase! is Spice and Wolf, Vol. 15: The Coin of the Sun I, from Isuna Hasekura. This seems to be the last story arc of the series, with the wolf-goddess and her merchant friend getting caught up in one last mercantile adventure before their inevitable happy ending. (Note: if your masseuse is a wolf-goddess, do not ever ask her for a happy ending. Trust me.)

[1] "Hey, we could make a lot of money if we made a Japanese-style RPG with Disney characters in it!" (Note: may not be precisely the original concept.

[2] Not actually Satan, as I understand it, but a vaguely Satanic ordinary-boy hero who used to be lord of Hell.

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