Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for my Retirement
Mizuha Yamano's parents and older brother recently died, leaving the eighteen-year-old completely alone in the world. She's coping, but her grief stymied her efforts to get into the university of her choice and now she's trying to decide what to do with the rest of her life – and how best to survive financially. Her options dramatically increase when one day she falls off a cliff and, instead of dying, ends up in a completely different world. It turns out that on her way down she collided with an otherworldly being and stole some of their powers – namely, the ability to move between her world and this new one. Renaming herself Mizuha von Yamano, Mizuha hatches a scheme to resell modern Japanese goods at an inflated cost in the Medieval world she can now jump to. Let the savings begin!
It isn't all that often that a single author has multiple works translated at once, although it is a bit more common at this point with manga than light novels. That makes Sol Press' release of FUNA's Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for my Retirement as an ebook worth noting – it's the third of the author's titles to see an English-language edition, and simultaneously with the other two at that: Seven Seas is currently releasing Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! and J-Novel Club is bringing out I Shall Survive Using Potions!. All three titles clearly tap into the isekai trend and all three also vary the dominant formula a bit by featuring female protagonists with no otome game rebirths in sight.
Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for my Retirement is, the author tells us in the afterword, actually the first title they wrote; it just wasn't the first picked for light novel publication after its web novel origins. If you are familiar with either of the other titles previously mentioned, this will make a lot of sense – neither the writing nor the plot is nearly as strong as in FUNA's other works. While the story does pick up by slightly after the halfway mark, Mizuha is still not nearly as engaging a character as Mile and the style the book is written in feels uncomfortably self-aware. This is largely due to the way that FUNA writes the narration and Mizuha's inner monologue; both take on a “dear reader” style that feels out of place with the otherwise contemporary writing style and like a vaguely clumsy attempt to break the fourth wall. Even if second person narration doesn't bother you in general, sudden interjections addressed to “you” or statements to the effect of “but now I'm off on a tangent and you, reader, don't need to hear about this random thing” are jarring and feel very much like an author struggling to develop a unique style.
The same can be said of Mizuha's business plans. When she initially conceives of her idea to use her world-hopping abilities to sell 100 yen-store goods at marked-up prices to the folk of her Medieval second world, she decides that she's not going to bring anything that could too drastically change technology or the way the world develops. That plan, however, quickly gets sidelined in favor of raking in the gold (which isn't great, but does make sense) or, more troublingly, just making things easier, both on Mizuha herself and on the author in terms of coming up with a reason why this girl would decide that this is the best use of her skills. Mizuha is very quickly established as someone who enjoys modern luxuries, so why would she decide to live in a world with no indoor plumbing just to sell some cheap shampoo? Well, she wouldn't – unless she found a carpenter and taught him modern plumbing so that she could have a shower and toilet in her new Medieval digs. Then she goes ahead and shows her modern conveniences off to the very first people who come into her new store, while also serving them cheap boil-in-bag meals that are light years ahead of the flavors available to a society where sauce is still being used to disguise spoiled meat. From there she sets up fantastic light shows and brings fresh fish to a place where “landlocked” means “no fish,” both creating ridiculous expectations in a world that, at least of this novel, is utterly devoid of magic.
We can see FUNA remedy this issue in later works, which is perhaps the greatest indication of this book's place in the catalogue of their books. Likewise, there are details that don't fully jibe with the rest of the story in general, or at least haven't been set up properly in order to make them understandably relevant going forward. Chief among these is Mizuha's decision to contract with a mercenary group in order to obtain guns, swords, knives, and the skills to use them. Yes, her second world is far more dangerous than the modern one, but she also has zero plans to go out into the wilderness unaccompanied or to make any deals with military powers. She does have a scary run-in with wolves before she fully figures things out, but it isn't presented as enough to merit the extreme lengths she goes to to obtain weaponry, and bringing guns into a Medieval realm is, once again, contrary to her original intent to disrupt this world as little as possible. Honestly, the novel often feels like FUNA is just throwing elements at the wall to see which ones will stick.
Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for my Retirement isn't so much a bad book as it is a frustratingly unpolished one. It does pick up in the second half and therefore is probably worth giving at least one more volume so that FUNA can grow into their skills and style, but this isn't a particularly excellent offering in terms of isekai light novels. Its very smooth translation and the strength of FUNA's later works, however, should make it worth keeping half an eye on to see if/when it gets its feet more firmly on the ground.
Overall : C
Story : C
Art : B
+ Attractive art, smooth translation, second half is more engaging
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