Review

by Theron Martin,

Middle-Aged Businessman, Arise in Another World!

volume 1

Synopsis:
Middle-Aged Businessman, Arise in Another World!
28-year-old Onigawara Shouzou was a beast of a man whose appearance naturally intimidated people, which made it impossible for him to meet women. One rainy night he hit the jackpot when he invited a voluptuous beauty who was standing out in the rain into his apartment, and she turned out to not only not be afraid of him but also be a literal top-tier goddess, one who took a liking to him during a night of drunken passion. Thirteen years and three children later, Onigawara was a successful enough salesman to become a new homeowner. However, one morning he left his house to discover that the whole property had been transported to another world. When another, lower-tier goddess arrived to explain that a glitch had happened in a divine transmigration system and that it could take a year or more to get the house put back where it belonged, Onigawara decided to seek a job in a nearby city to support the family in the meantime. There he discovered a bottomfeeding adventurer's guild in dire need of the kind of marketing and sales acumen that was his professional specialty.
Review:

You definitely can't say that authors who write in the isekai genre aren't trying to come up with some novel angles, even if the substance of the content does not ultimately vary that much from norms. That's more or less the case with this offering from Sai Sumimori, who has written a few other light novels but is making his official English language debut with this one, courtesy of J-Novel Club. It offers a decidedly different protagonist and focal point from most previous isekai titles even while still using familiar underpinnings.

The first significant difference is the age of the main protagonist, who is 41 when his world-jumping jaunt happens. Unlike probably his closest counterpart – the protagonist of Saga of Tanya the Evil – he wasn't killed and reborn but transported intact. Hence he has plenty of real-world experience to bring to bear in a credible fashion, and that becomes a major factor at various points in the story. The second difference is that it's not just him; his entire house and family is also transported. (We later learn that the fact that his wife is a Level 1 goddess factors into why that happened the way it did.) And the third difference is that this was an accidental rather than planned transportation, so he was not summoned or sent for some grand purpose. He's just an ordinary guy caught up in a massive magical mistake.

Actually, that is not at all an accurate statement, and that is where the novelty of the concept finds its way back to well-established isekai norms. ONIGAWARA (and I suspect it's not a coincidence that a Japanese ogre is part of his name) may appear to be merely a businessman of unusual size, but it seems that having sex with a high-level goddess on a daily basis over the course of more than a decade has resulted in some of her power rubbing off on him, which means that he's superhumanly tough, fast, and strong. While this is yet another instance of the Overpowered Protagonist trope, it is a little more tolerable in this case because there should be side effects for being regularly intimate with a powerful being. That doesn't make it any less a wish fulfillment scenario – ONIGAWARA did randomly meet and marry a voluptuous, top-level goddess, after all – but at least the story is trying to apply some degree of logic.

Though ONIGAWARA's wife and three daughters are present, their presence only impacts the story in a minor way; once the immediate effects of the world-jumping are resolved, the daughters in particular mostly just appear in the side stories featuring them, with them only getting involved in the main story near the end. Nothing about their personalities is at all remarkable. Another lesser goddess, who has to explain the whole situation and how it accidentally happens, also is involved, but she just becomes the much-put-upon fall woman and Pathetic Girl for the situation and does not end up contributing much. The bulk of the story is instead about what ONIGAWARA is doing on the job front.

Fortunately, that part of the story is its most enticing element. It essentially involves modern-day business acumen and personnel decisions being applied to an utterly standard fantasy RPG-styled adventurer's guild system. It looks both at minutiae like agreements over commissions and tailoring quest assignments to clientele and at bigger-ticket issues like mergers and takeovers within the business. No doubt some of this could have already been in play in a medieval-level setting (as Spice and Wolf has shown quite clearly), but there is still a certain novelty in seeing it being applied to an industry that it is not normally associated with. Sumimori may have pushed things a little too far with the concept of the “dad club” which gets introduced near the end, but in general the process of growth for the guild he joins is interesting enough to carry the story. Of course he's also surrounded by an array of mostly-young women of different races, some of whom definitely take a romantic interest in him, but having a top-caliber goddess as a wife ensures he has no interest in philandering.

As with many other light novels, Sumimori's writing is on the light side, composed almost entirely of short paragraphs and extensive dialog exchanges. The main technical flaw is that the dialog flows a little too smoothly, resulting in a lack of clarity on who the speaker is on many occasions. World-building elements are not extensive, entirely falling back on fantasy norms beyond the business aspect of the adventurer's guild system. At 274 pages it is a mid-length novel by light novel standards, and that includes the various short side stories, black-and-white illustrations, and starting color illustrations.

At this time there only appears to be one more volume of the series. (The second volume is also currently available from J-Novel Club. Frankly, I cannot see the concept having much more material to work with than that, but as a one-off it is a sufficiently entertaining variation on the basic isekai concept.

Grade:
Overall : B-
Story : B-
Art : B

+ Explores an aspect of fantasy settings which hasn't received much attention
Still largely a wish fulfillment scenario, innovation only extends to core concept

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