Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Sawa, now known as “Hero” in the world she's been summoned to, goes to the Tower of Trials with her transforming weapon Dag and her guide Servant. She needs to beat the tower boss in order to obtain divine protection in her quest to save the world, but along the way she starts to realize that there's something off about Servant. She may be only ten, but that's old enough to realize that sometimes “saving the world” means saving the person most important to you.
Isekai has never been a male demographic-exclusive genre, although most of the titles to be translated into English might make you think so. (Unless, of course, you're old enough to remember Fushigi Yugi and From Far Away.) Wakasa's Little Hero is a nice example of female-oriented isekai with its tale of Sawa, a ten-year-old girl who is transported to another world when she picks up a notebook in the library. Once Sawa arrives, she's immediately renamed “Hero,” and she's told that her duty is to save this other world from the malignant forces that are corrupting its magic. She's been brought by Ru, a young man now known as “Servant” because of his position as the Hero's liaison, and if Sawa ever wants to go home again, she'll need his help to do her job. Of course, as the first volume revealed, Servant isn't telling her everything, such as the fact that time is passing much faster in her home world, and by the time volume two rolls around, it's been almost a decade for Sawa's poor mother to have been missing her little girl.
That information is perhaps worth keeping in mind this time around as the relationship between Hero and Servant develops. In book one, the two had a fairly basic relationship based on the fact that Sawa had no idea how to be Hero and Servant's giddiness to teach her and ensure her success. We had hints that there might have been something else going on in Servant's past in the form of his friendship with Lady Knight, who, based on the fact that she sometimes calls him by his name rather than his title, clearly has known him for a long time. Her worry seems to stem from that rather than the youth of the summoned Hero, which was barely touched on in volume one. It comes to the fore this time around, however, after Hero stumbles in her quest to beat the Tower of Trials and obtain divine protection, revealing something darker simmering beneath Servant's outward cheer.
The end result of this is that both Hero and Servant need to think long and hard about how they want to proceed. By now it's apparent that Servant cares more strongly about Hero than he would about a random hero in his charge, and those emotions are driving his actions in this volume more fully than anything else. From fretting about her health to deciding that he's failed her, Servant allows his thoughts and feelings to guide him more than he did in the previous book. It does make sense – he had no idea that he'd be summoning a child when he planned for a hero, so there's some guilt involved there at not only putting a little girl in danger, but also in taking her away from her family at such a young age. The fact that he himself is an older brother means that he can understand both sides of the issue better than someone else – he's young enough (likely in his late teens) to remember the fear of being separated from family and old enough to see his younger sister in Sawa's predicament and know how he would feel about it as her family member. That he's come to like Sawa for her personality and determination simply complicates things for him, adding another layer to the guilt he already suffers.
Of course, there's an even more important component to his fears, one that comes up halfway through the volume and stands to reshape the entire narrative, or at least Hero's view of her end goal. Hero has been growing fonder of Servant as well; along with Dag, he's her mainstay in this strange new land. Although she's getting more capable by the day and could probably continue her mission with just Dag and Lady Knight, she's finding that she doesn't really want to – Servant is too important to her. This brings us to a point perhaps best expressed by the Talmud: “Save a life, save the world.” For Hero, saving Servant becomes just as, if not more, important as what he summoned her to do, and there's a distinct feeling that if the two paths ever separate, Hero might choose to save Servant before the other.
Does this mean that the story is setting up a romance plot between a ten-year-old and a guy in his late teens? Possibly, although right now feels too early to say. That's why it may be important that Sawa's not actually ten anymore back in her original world – it really is a detail that feels too significant to have just been randomly dropped into the story. Right now it also feels fair to say that the relationship between the two is that of close friends or siblings, so it's merely something to keep an eye on if it makes you nervous.
Little Hero's second volume, which is a good length at over two hundred pages, significantly longer than many shoujo e-books, confirms this as an interesting series with more going on than at first meets the eye. With a smooth translation and art that is clean and attractive, as well as some interesting world building, it's worth the wait between volumes to keep up with.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B
+ Good development for Servant, story progressing well
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