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review

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Audiobook 1 Review

The Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? audiobook is a standard fantasy experience primarily kept afloat by a few novel ideas and strong performances from the narrators. ― The Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? audiobook is a standard fantasy experience primarily kept afloat by a few novel ideas and strong performances from the narrators. It should be noted that this is m...
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I'm in Love with the Villainess Audiobooks 1-2 Review

Shaw's impressive vocal range — from the imperious Claire to the timid Lily, makes this audiobook version the best way to enjoy I'm in Love with the Villainess. ― One of my favorite shows of the fall 2023 season was the animated adaptation of INORI's light novel series, the latest in a string of isekai anime revolving around the concept of video game "villainess" characters redeeming themselves. Anim...
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SPY×FAMILY: Family Portrait Light Novel Review

Eden Academy is taking its students on a two-day, one-night camping adventure, and Loid thinks this is the perfect time for Anya to become better friends with Damian. ― They can't all be the Sasaki and Miyano novels. That's probably not an entirely fair standard to hold light novelizations of manga series to; Kotoko Hachijo is an unusually good mimic of Shou Harusono's writing style and tone. It's al...
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Full Metal Panic! Audiobooks 1-2 Review

There's a bit of Cold War political adventure-thriller, technobabble, stompy robots, comedic riffing, over-the-top characters, high school drama, and will-they-won't-they framing – it checks a lot of boxes. ― These first two Full Metal Panic! audiobooks are based on the first two original light novels. It may seem odd to review these as a new production, given the age of the series. Full Metal Panic!...
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You Can Have My Back Light Novels 1-2 Review

Eighteen years ago, Ionia died on the field of battle, and the next day, Leorino was born...is this another opportunity for love to reignite? ― Eighteen years ago, Ionia died on the field of battle, and the next day, Leorino was born. When he turns eleven, he begins dreaming of Ionia's life, including his memories of "Vi," his best friend and impossible true love. Ionia and Vi never managed to truly ...
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Horror Collector: The Faceless Kid Light Novel Review

With a couple of genuinely standout chapters and an interesting overarching plot, it's an easy choice for a reader just getting into horror fiction. ― Middle-grade fiction can be an unlikely repository for some of the most interesting books published today. From authors like Esme Symes-Smith and Alex Gino, who explore LGBTQIA+ themes, to the grande dame of horror Mary Downing Hahn, the genre range is...
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Phantom Thief Red: A Brand-New Heist for a Brand-New Red Novel Review

This late elementary/early middle school novel combines well-written action and just enough tension for a quick read. ― Yen Press' youth imprint JY's new foray into middle-grade light novels is an excellent idea in theory and still pretty good in practice, with just one interesting detail that may take some readers aback: middle-grade fiction in Japan appears to skew a little younger than middle-grad...
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Sasaki and Miyano: Second-Years Light Novel Review

While Sasaki and Miyano: First Years gave Tashiro far more page time than he ever gets in the manga, Sasaki and Miyano: Second-Years does the same for Kuresawa. ― The stated purpose of the Sasaki and Miyano light novels is to fill in some of the gaps that original creator Shou Harusono had to leave in the manga. Apart from letting us know that Harusono is closely involved with these books (which her ...
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Fluffy Paradise Light Novel Vol. 1 Review

Fluffy Paradise's publication is the latest to show that a love of animals can be happily combined with the isekai genre. ― Fluffy Paradise's publication is the latest to show that a love of animals can be happily combined with the isekai genre. Even just in Cross Infinite World's catalogue, it follows Even Dogs Go to Other Worlds, I'd Rather Have a Cat Than a Harem, and I Will Cook With My Fluffy Fr...
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Hell Mode Novel 1 Review

Hell Mode does play a few isekai tropes a bit differently, but it also clearly wears its influences on its sleeve. So yes, this is another one of those books. ― Are you sick and tired of isekai light novels that feature a protagonist reborn in a fantasy world that operates very similarly to an MMORPG, complete with stats and skills? If so, you can stop reading here – Hell Mode is unapologetically a n...
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Yami-hara Novel

From the author of Lonely Castle in the Mirror, this horror novel, uses its text to slowly create, build, and eventually not quite resolve its creeping sense of terror. ― At first, it doesn't feel like this is from the same author as Lonely Castle in the Mirror. That novel (and its film adaptation) is a sensitive look at what it means to be bullied and the ways people cope with it. Yami-hara, on the ...
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The Samurai and the Prisoner Novel

Advance to reach heaven. Retreat to know hell. This precept forms the basis of Honobu Yonezawa's Naoki award-winning novel, The Samurai and the Prisoner. ― Advance to reach heaven. Retreat to know hell. This precept forms the basis of Honobu Yonezawa's Naoki award-winning novel, The Samurai and the Prisoner, in many ways. Most recognizably, it declares a basic tenet of battle during the Sengoku Era o...
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The Case Files of Jeweler Richard Novel 5

We are on the cusp of a major shift in the plot, and this volume does an excellent job of preparing that while also expanding on Richard's past in Sri Lanka. ― The original plan was to resume reviewing the light novels for The Case Files of Jeweler Richard once they had passed the material covered by the anime because while the books go into more detail, the plot remains relatively the same. That cha...
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How A Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Audiobooks 1-2

The first two audiobooks for How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom make for a decent listening experience and a positive presentation of the core material, even if I have my qualms with the underlying conceits of the narrative. ― The first two audiobooks for How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom make for a decent listening experience and a positive presentation of the core material, even if I have ...
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My Daughter Left the Nest and Returned an S-Rank Adventurer Audiobook 1

Strong writing and a unique hook help put My Daughter Left the Nest ahead of the rest in a crowded light novel space. ― The audiobook of My Daughter Left the Nest and Returned an S-Rank Adventurer is a solid, if short, experience. It delivers on what it intends to do, although it only ventures beyond establishing its premise. The hook for the story is engaging. Belgrieve is a solid and caring father ...
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Chainsaw Man: Buddy Stories Novel

Hilarious, emotional, and heart-breaking; Buddy Stories carries the weight of Fujimoto's original work for a truly entertaining read. ― I'll admit, I was worried about whether or not the inherently cinematic and bizarre aesthetic of the Chainsaw Man manga would translate into prose form. Tatsuki Fujimoto's meticulous and deceptively roughshod artwork is a huge part of what makes the manga work so wel...
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Raven of the Inner Palace Novel 2

Raven of the Inner Palace is a fascinating dark fantasy, just as good in its second volume as it was in its first. ― This second volume of the Raven of the Inner Palace novels brings us to the point where the anime adaptation concluded, more or less. There are still plenty of details left out of that version to keep us reading the book, of course, but even more positive is the fact that the translati...
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The Faraway Paladin Audiobooks 1-2

Liam Price does a fine job reading the text, but a few more character voices would have helped bring this series to life. ― Listening to audiobooks based on light novels is a new experience for me, and the double-whammy here is that this is not my first experience with The Faraway Paladin as a work since I reviewed season one when it first aired. This made listening to the first two volumes of The Fa...
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Sugar Apple Fairy Tale Novels 2-3

If you've already watched the first season of Sugar Apple Fairy Tale's anime adaptation, is it worth reading the novels? I'd say yes. ― Note: You can find our review of the first light novel here. If you've already watched the first season of Sugar Apple Fairy Tale's anime adaptation, is it worth reading the novels? I'd say yes. Although these two books bring us to the end of the first season (so you...
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How to Win Her Heart on the Nth Try Novel

Find out why this office romance is a great beach read for newbie light novel readers. ― It can, at times, feel even more challenging to find light novels with adult characters than manga with the same. That, plus its real-world setting, makes How to Win Her Heart on the Nth Try by Ichine Kamijo instantly stand out. The story is set in an office setting, and its protagonists are both twenty-seven yea...
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The Abandoned Heiress Gets Rich with Alchemy Novel

The slavery trope crops again with little thought or consideration for how its utilized. ― Yes, this is another one – a light novel where one protagonist buys a romantic interest as a slave. By my count, The Abandoned Heiress Gets Rich with Alchemy is the third aimed at a female readership to be released in English, following The Alchemist Who Survived now Dreams of a Quiet City Life and Sugar Apple ...
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Raven of the Inner Palace Novel 1

Raven of the Inner Palace's first novel should please fans of its adaptation. It's easy to see what changes were made and understand why they happened, and it never feels like one version negates experiencing the other. ― If you watched the 2022 anime adaptation of Kouko Shirakawa's Raven of the Inner Palace light novels and wondered how faithful it was to the source material, the answer turns out to...
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The Disowned Queen's Consulting Detective Agency Novel 1

Octavia de Reine is a stellar heroine is this gaslamp mystery but its many elements might be overwhelming to readers jumping in. ― Sarasa Nagase is having a bit of a moment in English translation. The Disowned Queen's Consulting Detective Agency is the second of her light novel series to be translated, following I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss (Yen Press), and with a third, The Do-Ov...
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Hirano and Kagiura Novel

Spun off from the low-key and charming Sasaki and Miyano, Hirano and Kagiura's light novel adaptation is, well, low-key and charming. ― Spun off from the low-key and charming Sasaki and Miyano, Hirano and Kagiura's light novel adaptation is, well, low-key and charming. That's a good sign on several levels, not the least of which is that fans of Shou Harusono's cozy slow-burn storytelling can be assur...
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Fox Tales Novel

The newest novel Tatami Galaxy's Tomihiko Morimi has "plenty of little gems secreted away within the text that make it in many ways a beautiful read." ― Fox Tales by Tomihiko Morimi, author of The Night is Short, Walk on Girl and The Tatami Galaxy, is more aptly a collection of vaguely interrelated short stories than a novel. The book consists of four roughly sixty-page stories all set in a more or l...
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The Holy Grail of Eris Novel 3

Along with being one of the most consumable light novel series in English translation at only three volumes of main story, The Holy Grail of Eris is also one of the best. ― If left to its own devices, history is perfectly willing to repeat itself. Whether that's down to human nature or the cyclical nature of events is possibly up for debate, but when history tells us that ten years ago, a young woman...
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Even If This Love Disappears Tonight Novel

From the writer of I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, Even If This Love Disappears Tonight is a predictable book from start to finish. It hits all the notes of a sentimental teen love story to an almost clinical degree. ― I know for sure I don't have anterograde amnesia, because I've seen this premise before. The hero encounters a beautiful girl and their relationship deepens, only for him to discover that...
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Qualia the Purple LN

Qualia the Purple is one of those stories where much of the enjoyment comes from having as little idea as to where it's going when you first experience it. ― Qualia the Purple is one of those books that can be challenging to review. Yes, there's the point that it deals in some dense scientific concepts and also dips into very dark, messy places as far as its material. But mostly, Qualia the Purple is...
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Surviving in Another World as a Villainess Fox Girl! Novel 1

Miku's twin sister Claire has been saying weird things since they were two about how she used to live in a place called “Japan” and now she's living in an “otome game.” How does this take on the 'reborn into my fav visual novel' hold up? ― Surviving in Another World as a Villainess Fox Girl is one of those titles that is more interested in hooking the reader than actually describing the book. It's no...
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The Holy Grail of Eris Novel 2

If you're a fan of historical mysteries and want to see a little something different with a villainess light novel, The Holy Grail of Eris is worth giving a chance. ― Note: you can read our review of the first volume here. You really can't always tell who you can trust, can you? For the late Scarlett Castiel, it was less a question of whether or not they deserved her faith and more about her firm bel...
review

CLAMPdown

A sometimes flippant tone, jokingly referring to its readers as "cunts," and strange insistence that Miyuki-chan in Wonderland is "porn" is bound to alienate some CLAMP fans from Ian Wolf's otherwise breezy read. ― It needs to be said that I perhaps went into CLAMPdown with the wrong expectation. This is not an academic book, nor is it really a particularly deep or thought-provoking analysis of the w...
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The Princess' Smile Novel

Seeing our leads blossom and thrive in each other's company is the major draw of this light novel, but it holds our attention by also having an especially good translation by Jenny Murphy. ― Some people just can't catch a break. Sara seems to be one of them – orphaned at age twelve shortly after her family's finances collapsed, she's taken in by the king of Saleilles both due to her distant relation ...
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Housekeeping Mage From Another World Novel 1-3

Call it “isekai for grown-ups.” ― Call it “isekai for grown-ups.” Shiori's experience being swept away to another world is miles away from the reverse harem antics, reborn villainesses, amazing powers and cheat skills, and heroic feats of most young adult-targeted isekai tales, and that means that she's got a lot more to contend with than even the edgiest of overpowered edgelords. She's no bright-eye...
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Chronicles of the Hidden World Novel 1

If you have the patience to wait for the story to unfold, this is a fascinating book, and watching it unfold in subsequent volumes should be an interesting reading experience. ― Despite its somewhat cheery and innocuous title, Chronicles of the Hidden World, subtitled How I Became a Doctor for the Gods, is a fairly dark story. Its protagonist/narrator Yae is reborn from our world into one that greatl...
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Monster Kids: How Pokémon Taught A Generation to Catch Them All

The new text on the gaming phenomenon that took America by storm is chronicled here with mixed results. Callum May reviews "Monster Kids." ― While it may be no pioneering feat to give a retrospective on the years of Pokémania, Daniel Dockery's Monster Kids: How Pokémon Taught A Generation to Catch Them All is one of the more complete attempts. Despite the extended title, it's not just a book about Pi...
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The Case Files of Jeweler Richard Novel 1

If there's any one difference between the original light novels of The case files of Jeweler Richard and its manga and anime adaptations, it's that in the books, Richard is much more human. ― If there's any one difference between the original light novels of The Case Files of Jeweler Richard and its manga and anime adaptations, it's that in the books, Richard is much more human. We certainly saw flas...
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The Art and Making of Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy

Jean-Karlo dives into the world of Cybertron in a new artbook that offers a wealth of art and behind-the-scenes looks for Netflix's Transformers trilogy. ― The fun of art books is seeing the evolution of your favorite characters: where their design came from, what changed and when, and how things arrived at the state you eventually saw on the silver screen. The Art and Making of Transformers: War for...
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The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic Novel 1

We still don't fully understand what constitutes the "wrong way" to heal, but this is a nice little fantasy escape, and that's all it really needs to be. ― What, exactly, is the wrong way to use healing magic? It's a question we've seen pondered before, both in silly forms like in the old Slayers franchise and when Priestess uses it against monsters in the Goblin Slayer novels. The answer isn't fully...
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Drab Princess, the Black Cat, and the Satisfying Break-up Novel

While there are very clear reverse harem aspects to the story – Viol's not the only one crushing on Seren by midway through the novel – the real love triangle is between Seren, Viol, and Helios. ― You can walk a path your whole life without realizing that it isn't the one you want to be on. That's what happened to Seren, fiancée of Crown Prince Helios. The two were engaged as soon as he was born, six...
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7th Time Loop: The Villainess Enjoys a Carefree Life Novel 1

When we join the story, Rishe has just been reset to the night she's spurned by her jerk fiancé for the seventh time, but she's got a plan to get the life she's always wanted. ― Most time-looping protagonists have nothing on Lady Rishe, with the possible exception of Subaru from Re: Zero. Typically when we read a time loop tale, the protagonist has just died and discovered themselves back at an arbit...
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Rapunzel of the Magic Item Shop Novel

Rapunzel of the Magic Item Shop is an easy book to recommend. It plays nicely with the tale type that influenced it, pays attention to the emotional pasts and needs of the characters, and has a good balance of dark and sugary content. ― Rapunzel of the Magic Item Shop might seem only tangentially a Rapunzel story – also known as “The Maiden in the Tower” – ATU310's main requirement is that a child is...
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I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss Novels 2 & 3

While the first volume was a complete story in and of itself, the following two entries prove that just because Aileen got the guy doesn't mean that her story's over. ― While the first volume of Sarasa Nagase's light novel series I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss was a complete story in and of itself, the following two entries prove that just because Aileen got the guy doesn't mean tha...
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Lonely Castle in the Mirror Novel

At the risk of being too personal, I lived this story. I don't mean now; I mean that as a seventh grader I experienced many of the same things that protagonist Kokoro did, and from that perspective I can say that this book gets it absolutely right. ― At the risk of being too personal, I lived this story. I don't mean now; I mean that as a seventh grader I experienced many of the same things that prot...
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I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World Novel 1

Yuuya is at the absolute bottom of the world's hierarchy when he stumbles into amazing powers that rewrite his life. Can his story rise above the basic OP fantasy fare? ― This is not a revenge story. That's important to mention because it very easily could have been – like the protagonists of other similarly set-up titles, Yuuya is at the absolute bottom of the world's hierarchy when he stumbles into...
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Onmyoji and Tengu Eyes: The Spirit Hunters of Tomoe Novel

It's likely that, upon reading the synopsis and looking at the cover, one of the first questions a potential reader of Onmyoji and Tengu Eyes may have is, “Is this BL?” The answer to that question is a resounding “…maybe?” ― It's likely that, upon reading the synopsis and looking at the cover, one of the first questions a potential reader of Onmyoji and Tengu Eyes may have is, “Is this BL?” The answe...
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Forget Being the Villainess, I Want to be an Adventurer! Novels 1-2

This novel series tries to mix things up a bit but ultimately is too devoted to the basic villainess story to truly achieve that, giving it that slightly stale feeling. ― Forget Being the Villainess, I Want to be an Adventurer is, in its first two novels, a mix of checklist villainess isekai and something a bit more innovative. The story follows Serephione, daughter of the noble Granzeus family in a ...
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When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace Novel 1

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is both precisely what it claims to be and nothing of the sort. See where the anime started in our review of the novel series. ― When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is both precisely what it claims to be and nothing of the sort. A bit of a riff on supernatural battle stories, the first light novel in the series by Kota Nozomi (whose light novel se...
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By Your Side: The First 100 Years of Yuri Anime and Manga

Noted yuri scholar Erica Friedman explores the origins of women loving women in Japanese media from its roots in literary girls' fiction to the acknowledgement of yuri as a genre. ― Whether you call it yuri or GL, the genre of women loving women in anime and manga hasn't always been understood or appreciated. Erica Friedman's new book By Your Side: The First 100 Years of Yuri Anime and Manga is a maj...
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My Happy Marriage Novel 1

Set to become an anime series, check out this variation of the Cinderella story about a down-trodden girl as she embarks on a fantasy romance with a side of ESP. ― Set in an alternate version of the late Meiji or early Taisho era, My Happy Marriage is a fairly classic take on the Cinderella story – especially if you remember that in many, if not most, variants of that tale Cinderella's father is aliv...
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The History of Hentai Manga

Kimi Rito digs deep into the tropes of anime's salacious sister medium, from tracking down the hentai's early manga creators to going back even further to the shunga of the Edo period. ― If there is a form of media, no matter how maligned, there is a scholar or critic (or both) dedicated to examining it. In the case of hentai manga, there are actually quite a few, but Fakku's translation of Kimi Rito...
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Seirei Gensouki - Spirit Chronicles Omnibus 4

It isn't that uncommon for a film (anime or otherwise) adaptation of a book to not do the best job, but the Seirei Gensouki – Spirit Chronicles' anime definitely missed a mark or two. See what you missed in the latest novel volume! ― It isn't that uncommon for a film (anime or otherwise) adaptation of a book to not do the best job, but the Seirei Gensouki – Spirit Chronicles' anime definitely missed ...
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My Stepmom's Daughter Is My Ex Novel 1

Their young love turned sour, but now this former couple are entering a new kind of relationship...step siblings! Can they move on while moving in together? ― The stepsibling dating fantasy is one that gets an understandable amount of mileage. Just among romantic comedies (particularly those aimed at the light-novel-reading otaku set) it pitches to a kind of ready-made "cohabitation with a significan...
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I'd Rather Have a Cat than a Harem! Novel 1

Who needs romance when mom and dad will finally let you get the cat of your dreams? ― It isn't always easy to find a light novel that takes the familiar tropes of a popular genre and bends them even a little. If you're getting weary of the reborn-as-an-otome-game-villainess subgenre of isekai but aren't quite ready to give up yet, then you're in luck: Cross Infinite World's release of Kosuzu Kobato's...
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Cross-Dressing Villainess Cecilia Sylvie Novel 1

This latest twist on the "villainess in a otome game" subgenre works surprisingly well by utilizing an aspect often forgotten by imitators: a sense of genuine goofy fun. ― My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom, meet Twelfth Night. I'm sure you'll get along beautifully. Although I doubt anyone ever said that, it's also a little hard not to think it while reading Cross-Dressing Villaine...
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I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss Novel 1

Soon to be an anime, this story looks like other villainess isekai series but it switches it up with protagonist Aileen decides to flip the script and become the hero, not just avoid her bad ending. ― On the surface, Sarasa Nagase's I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss looks an awful lot like other villainess isekai stories. Aileen regains her memories of her past life in a moment of cris...
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The Girl I Saved On the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend Novel 1

Can two introverts find romance over their shared love of a quiet physics room? ― The back copy does not lie with this one; The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend is in fact “a frustratingly sweet, zero-stress romantic comedy.” It's also an excellent statement about how fluid Kennoji is as an author – this is their third English-language release and it couldn't be more dif...
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The Haunted Bookstore - Gateway to a Parallel Universe Novel 1: The Spirit Daughter and the Exorcist Boy

Will this story about a twenty-year-old woman who has been living in the spirit world since she was a child haunt your dreams? ― The Haunted Bookstore – Gateway to a Parallel Universe sounds on paper like several kinds of catnip. It features a magical book rental shop that carries titles long-lost to the human world, a young human woman raised by the shop's ayakashi owner, and a cast of characters st...
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Reign of the Seven Spellblades Novel 2

This is not a series that enjoys revealing too much. In the field of light novels, where authors often indulge in oversharing their worldbuilding and over-writing their descriptions, this definitely stands out as a novelty. ― Reign of the Seven Spellblades is not a series that enjoys revealing too much. In the field of light novels, where authors often indulge in oversharing their worldbuilding and o...
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My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! Novel 10

But when it's on, it's on, and this volume, while not quite a return to the form of the earliest books, is definitely on the higher end of things. ― This is a series that has had its ups and downs. That's true of any series, really, but at times it feels more obvious with Katarina's exploits than some others. In large part that's because it was so abundantly clear when it kept going beyond where auth...
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Seirei Gensouki - Spirit Chronicles Omnibus 1-3

You've watched the anime, but how do the original novels measure up? Rebecca checks the first six novels out in their new omnibus release format. ― Although the digital releases of Yuri Kitayama's Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles light novels are in the high teens as of this writing, the physical books are coming out at a much slower pace. The good news? They're being released as omnibuses, with tw...
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Dahlia in Bloom Novel 1

Dahlia in Bloom feels less like a complete novel and more as if the author had a collection of really interesting ideas and decided to just throw them into book form without really bothering to fully develop any of them. ― Dahlia in Bloom feels less like a complete novel and more as if the author had a collection of really interesting ideas and decided to just throw them into book form without really...
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How Do You Live? Novel

Much like how reading the novels of 18th-century author Fanny Burney can explain a lot about Jane Austen's work, reading How Do You Live? gives us insight into the works of Hayao Miyazaki. ― Much like how reading the novels of 18th-century author Fanny Burney can explain a lot about Jane Austen's work, reading How Do You Live? gives us insight into the works of Hayao Miyazaki. That's not surprising, ...
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Meikyuu: Labyrinth Kingdom, a Tactical Fantasy World Survival Guide

Tabletop players, this novel series is for you! See why Meikyuu: Labyrinth Kingdom's setting itself is "either wildly original or comfortingly familiar, depending on your experience level." ― Finally, my decades of being a dice-rolling dweeb have paid off for this one (1) review. The Meikyuu Kingdom light novel is an odd duck in many regards, as it is intimately entwined with the hobby of tabletop ro...
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Spy Classroom Novel 1: Lily of the Garden

Spy Classroom definitely feels like a little something different in the field of light novels. It's not wholly innovative, but it does embrace its genre and themes, and the fact that it borrows from fair play mysteries is a nice bonus. ― In their afterword, author Takemachi mentions that not only did this novel win them the prestigious Grand Prize of the thirty-second Fantasia Taisho awards, but that...
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Reincarnated as the Piggy Duke: This Time I'm Gonna Tell Her How I Feel! LN 1

In the end, it has an interesting concept but one it hamstrings by tacking on the “reincarnated in another world” trope when it has almost nothing to do with the story or characters. ― Reincarnated as the Piggy Duke: This Time I'm Gonna Tell Her How I Feel! is yet another novel in the isekai fantasy subgenre, more specifically the “reincarnated as the villain” sub-subgenre. This isn't necessarily a p...
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Temple Alley Summer Novel

Temple Alley Summer is absolutely a masterwork of middle-grade fiction, but it's also a good book that anyone can enjoy. ― It's no surprise that Sachiko Kashiwaba is the author behind The Marvelous Village Veiled in Mist, the children's novel that inspired Hayao Miyazaki's film Spirited Away, because Temple Alley Summer touches on a lot of the same themes as the book that won Kashiwaba the 1974 Kodan...
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How to Melt the Ice Queen's Heart Novel 1

Nevertheless, for all its structural imperfections, How to Melt the Ice Queen's Heart still has its charms. Asahi and Fuyuka genuinely do feel like they would make a nice couple, and their hesitant courtship is both sweet and true to life. How to Melt the Ice Queen's Heart is the very definition of a "slow burn romance." Light novel romcoms tend to be all about gimmicks and outlandish twists on fam...
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Sword Art Online Audiobook 1

For those of you on the fence, there are two things in particular I want to highlight in this review: Bryce Papenbrook's performance and whether the story of SAO's first volume still holds up today. ― It's really cool to see a light novel audiobook read by the protagonist's English dub actor. Light novel audiobooks are rare to begin with, but there's an even greater feeling of immersion than usual wh...
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I Will Cook with My Fluffy Friends Novel 2

It's hard to argue with an isekai heroine whose grand plans include “baking lots of strawberry pastry” and “building a dog park.” ― It's hard to argue with an isekai heroine whose grand plans include “baking lots of strawberry pastry” and “building a dog park.” I Will Cook with My Fluffy Friends' second volume definitely treads closer to iyashikei territory than the first, mixing that with Laeticia's...
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The Decagon House Murders Novel

Although anime and manga fans are more likely to know him as the author behind the horror story Another, The Decagon House Murders is probably the literary work Yukito Ayatsuji is best known for. ― Although anime and manga fans are more likely to know him as the author behind the horror story Another, The Decagon House Murders is probably the literary work Yukito Ayatsuji is best known for. First pub...
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Villainess: Reloaded! Blowing Away Bad Ends with Modern Weapons LN 1

She's the kind of character for whom the term “Mary Sue” was invented, a girl who is so amazing and perfect and worshipped by every single person who meets her. ― I have a few theories about why villainess isekai as a genre took off the way it did: the appeal of redemption, or of tangible rewards for being kind and decent. None of them, however, seem to apply to Villainess: Reloaded! Blowing Away Bad...
review

The Apothecary Diaries LN 2

Of the two major plot points in this volume that pertain to our hero and heroine, the fact that Jinshi's eunuch-hood is less permanent than most others' is simultaneously the least important and most interesting. ― It's official to everyone who isn't Maomao: beautiful eunuch Jinshi has a thing for her. Or perhaps that should be “eunuch”; of the two major plot points in this volume that pertain to our...
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The Detective Is Already Dead Novel 1

The book does suffer from its tenuous use of actual mysteries, a couple of which rear their heads and are almost painfully obvious in their solutions. ― If you go into nigozyu's light novel The Detective is Already Dead looking for a mystery, you may find yourself disappointed. Although the book deals with some of the tropes and elements of the genre, it's much less a mystery novel and more a mildly ...
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Reborn to Master the Blade Novel 1

For all of its strengths and interesting decisions, Reborn to Master the Blade does have its issues as well. The volume is one of the more repetitious light novels I've read recently. ― Before writing Reborn to Master the Blade, author Hayaken tells us in their afterword, writing a female protagonist wasn't in the cards. Then they were thinking about their new work while watching Pretty Cure with the...
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My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! Novel 9

After a return to form in volume eight, My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! takes another slide downhill in the ninth novel. ― After a return to form in volume eight, My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom takes another slide downhill in the ninth novel. It's not nearly as egregious as what we saw in books six and seven, the two stories that set up the idea that ther...
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As the Villainess, I Reject These Happy-Bad Endings! Novel

This twist on the basic concept of the very crowded isekai subgenre of villainess reincarnation offers the novel a saving grace. ― Iota Aiue's As the Villainess, I Reject These Happy-Bad Endings! is, in a lot of ways, very typical of its chosen genre. Iris comes to awareness after recovering from a dreadful disease, realizing that even though she's currently in the body of a thirteen-year-old girl, s...
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Guide to the Perfect Otaku Girlfriend: Roomies and Romance Volume 1

These fixer-upper fantasies about a cute girl coming into your life to help teach you how to pick up girls have been increasing in frequency, letting authors play with meta-humor and genre awareness as a self-involved selling point. ― Like an otaku making snap judgements about a gyaru girl, it can be easy to go into Guide to the Perfect Otaku Girlfriend: Roomies and Romance Volume thinking you know w...
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Goblin Slayer Novel 11

“A problem” is, in some ways, a good way to define the storytelling here on the whole. It's not a bad book, and the development of the desert nation is interesting, as are the new races who are introduced. But the interlude chapters in the first person feel disjointed and detached from the rest of the novel. ― Female Merchant, who was first introduced as Noble Fencer, the sole survivor of her party w...
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BFI Film Classics: Grave of the Fireflies

Alex Dudok de Wit's analysis argues that to see the film as nothing more than an emotionally manipulative weepy is to ignore Takahata's original vision for the piece–that the children's fates were in part a result of selfishness. ― If you ask most anime viewers, Isao Takahata's 1988 World War Two film Grave of the Fireflies is the saddest movie released by Studio Ghibli. While this is largely true – ...
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Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs Volume 1

For myself, where Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs excels is in how it captures youthful frustration. The primary antagonist could be said to be unfair social norms and expectations of its fantasy world. ― I find myself very conflicted writing this review. Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs does so many things right, and seems to wan...
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Hello, I am a Witch and my Crush Wants me to Make a Love Potion! Novel 2

Now that Rose and Harij are officially a couple, she's agreed to move into his house as his fiancée. Or sort-of fiancée. Rose still isn't used to the ways of humans, and she's not quite sure what to do in her interactions with them. ― If the first novel in the duology about Rose the witch and Harij Azm the knight fit the title a little too closely, the second introduces a tiny bit of subtlety into th...
review

King of the Labyrinth LN 1

Most of the characters use what I can only describe as Horror Movie 101 character logic. Everyone makes the worst possible choices, constantly, for dozens of pages at a time. ― I tend to try to look for the positives and potential of a work when reviewing it, and even if it is not for me I at least attempt to think about how it might appeal to someone else. With King of the Labyrinth… I'm really stru...
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Reset! The Imprisoned Princess Dreams of Another Chance! LN 1

If you liked the premise of Tearmoon Empire but found Mia to be obnoxious, or if you're just a hopeless romantic who wants to see two nice people get a second chance to do things right, Reset! The Imprisoned Princess Dreams of Another Chance! is worth picking up. ― If the synopsis of Reset! The Imprisoned Princess Dreams of Another Chance sounds a bit like Tearmoon Empire, that's not surprising. Both...
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Solo Leveling Novel 1

Chugong seems to trust their readers to be able to read between the lines or at least to put the pieces together without overwriting and light novel fans will find what they like but it is substantially better written than the average similar book. ― Light novel authors take note - Chugong's style proves that you don't have to infodump or over-explain your story's world or magic/combat systems. The p...
review

The Apothecary Diaries LN 1

Since Maomao, although ultimately well-intentioned, is somewhat abrasive, having a bit of a break from her not only allows a more in-depth understanding of the plot, it also can feel like a minor vacation from her thoughts. ― The original light novel of Natsu Hyuuga's The Apothecary Diaries is unusual in that its pacing is actually faster than that of the manga adaptation. What that means is that the...
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Tokyo Day by Day: 365 Things to See and Do!

A lot of us had to cancel travel plans when the pandemic struck, and considering we're all anime fans here, I'm willing to bet quite a few of you reading had trips to Tokyo scheduled. ― A lot of us had to cancel travel plans when the pandemic struck, and considering we're all anime fans here, I'm willing to bet quite a few of you reading had trips to Tokyo scheduled. While it wasn't to Japan, I had t...
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Another World's Zombie Apocalypse Is Not My Problem! Novel 2

Mizuha's new world being a fantasy-horror hybrid does leave plenty of room for expansion. Zombies were really the only unusual creatures (aside from gods) in the first book, and Yayari takes this opportunity to change that. ― She should have known it would come to this. Erstwhile Japanese high school girl Mizuha, who in the previous volume was randomly selected by another world's goddess and isekaied...
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The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent Novel 2

The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent is still not quite at the level it needs to be truly good, but it's still improving and is a fun read. ― Among the most interesting parts of the second novel in The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent are the changes that author Yuka Tachibana discusses making in her afterword. Like many, if not most, light novels being translated these days, this series began as a...
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Reincarnated as the Last of my Kind LN 1

This isn't a book for the action-oriented fantasy reader, but if you're just looking for a slow, pleasant read, this fits the bill. ― Of all of the subgenres of isekai, the “reincarnated with adult memories as a baby” might be the most difficult to write effectively. The disconnect between what the main character knows and is capable of thinking and understanding and what they're physically capable o...
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Failure Frame LN 1

Failure Frame: the isekai light novel that dares to ask, “What if the goddess that summoned class 2-C to another world had the emotional maturity of a high school mean girl?” Failure Frame: the isekai light novel that dares to ask, “What if the goddess that summoned class 2-C to another world had the emotional maturity of a high school mean girl?” Failure Frame is yet another revenge-themed isekai ...
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My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! Novel 8

After two decidedly lackluster volumes focusing on Katarina's post-school life as an employee of the Magical Ministry, My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! is finally back on its feet. ― After two decidedly lackluster volumes focusing on Katarina's post-school life as an employee of the Magical Ministry, My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom is finally back on its fe...
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Wandering Witch - The Journey of Elaina Novels 1-3

Beautiful as it is, the 2020 anime adaptation of Jougi Shiraishi's original light novels Wandering Witch - The Journey of Elaina is but a pale imitation of the source material. ― Beautiful as it is, the 2020 anime adaptation of Jougi Shiraishi's original light novels Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina is but a pale imitation of the source material. Mostly that's because, like many an adaptation b...
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I Reincarnated as Evil Alice, So the Only Thing I'm Courting is Death! Novel 1

I Reincarnated as Evil Alice is dark and bit grim. But it does successfully merge a host of popular tropes into one engaging novel. ― Lewis Carroll's Alice duology, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, have inspired plenty of anime and manga over the years, and a few otome games besides. With the popularity of the isekai subgenre of characters being reincarnated into otome ...
review

Berserk of Gluttony Volume 1

Essentially, the story looks like it is boiling down to a protagonist who is forced to take on some evil airs due to the nature of his abilities and the idol he hopes to support despite that. ― As I read more light novels, I feel that I am developing a good sense for which ones are promising candidates for potential anime adaptations. Based on that, I rate this one as “likely.” Its simple, relatively...
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Goblin Slayer Side Story 2: Dai Katana

This prequel is the story of the party that defeated the Demon Lord more than a decade before the main story begins, and Female Bishop is almost certainly the younger version of Sword Maiden. ― Dai Katana is a light novel series written by Kumo Kagyu, the same author who is currently writing the main Goblin Slayer series. It is a prequel to the main series, and a consequential one at that; based on a...
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The Intuition of Haruhi Suzumiya

Theron Martin jumps back into the Haruhi franchise with the first novel in almost a decade, only to find the return is a little "anticlimactic." ― As the first novel in the franchise in more than nine years, Intuition was much-anticipated. It follows in the format of several previous novels by providing a collection of short stories rather than a single narrative, but that has worked before and so is...

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