Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
The Dirty Way to Destroy the Goddess's Heroes
Novel 1: Damn You, Heroes! Why Won't You Die?
Seventeen-year-old Shinichi isn't all that surprised to be summoned to another world, but he isn't expecting that the Blue Demon King, the purported bad guy who called him, will immediately start begging for his help in defeating the humans who keep attacking his castle. It turns out that the Blue Demon King is only trying to get tasty food for his beloved daughter Rino and his people, because the food in the demon world is basically garbage. But the humans insist on calling them “evil” and sending heroes to crush them, which is definitely getting old. So who better to defeat a human than another human? It may not be what Shinichi was expecting, but he's willing to give it a shot in this tale of psychological warfare in a fantasy world.
“Man's inhumanity to man” is a common theme for high school English classes, and all you have to do is glance at a history book to see that people are extraordinarily good at coming up with reasons why other people should be subjugated, killed, or otherwise tormented. That's the underlying theme of The Dirty Way to Destroy the Goddess's Heroes, which while not as much of a misnomer as Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, is still definitely up there with light novel titles that make only the barest amount of sense with their actual plots. In this case, “dirty” means “psychological rather than physical attacks,” and while it certainly isn't a nice thing to do (or familiar to the inhabitants of the fantasy world), it also is clear that despite his name, the Blue Demon King really isn't the bad guy here. That would be the human priest.
The story follows high school second year Shinichi Sotoyama, a pretty ordinary young man who seems to have some tragedy in his past that has made him seem to have less regard for what's “right” and “wrong” in general. (That at first he's made to sound like a plain old sociopath and then the author backtracks and hints at a tragic past is one of the issues with the novel.) Therefore even though he's scared for probably the first time in his life when he sees the enormous, blue, be-horned demon king, he's still willing to listen to what he has to say. As it turns out, that's a desperate plea for help – the demon king's adorable daughter once tasted some human food and now pines for it, in no small part because demon food is absolutely disgusting. In order to please his precious little girl (who looks about ten years old) and because he'd like to better the lives of his people, the Blue Demon King staked out a crummy valley in the human realm and established a base, with the goal of farming. But no sooner had he peacefully settled in than the humans started coming to try to kill him. Despite the fact that he made sure that all dead humans had enough physical remains to be resurrected, the humans persisted in their attacks, and quite frankly the Blue Demon King is at his wits' end.
All of this sets the novel apart from the basic isekai tropes we're largely familiar with. Shinichi is summoned by the typical villain, the heroes are the aggressors and seem far more invested in world domination than the demons, and the most effective fighting tactics don't involve magic swords, mighty spears, or anything of the sort. What Shinichi does is use his basic knowledge of human psychology to undermine the heroes, who have been granted immortality by their goddess and technically can't be killed anyway. To the people of the fantasy world, these tactics come off as fighting dirty, because there's no test of physical skill or strength. But as far as Shinichi's concerned, this is basic internet-age warfare and the humans are in the wrong anyway – they never even asked what the demons were doing, they just attacked out of blind prejudice.
That's the core of the novel, really. The humans are motivated by religious fervor, stoked by Hube, the bishop in charge of the Boar Kingdom's capital church, and he's all about promoting himself to the higher-ups. To this end he's created several heroes and sought to glorify himself via a holy war against the demons, simply because a) it'll make him look powerful and b) it's moderately justified in the lore of his religion. He's willing to bend some rules along the way, too, such as convincing the teenage female hunter Arian to become a hero under his personal tutelage. While this may sound only moderately creepy at first, he compounds it by playing on Arian's early experiences with people being prejudiced against her to make her more indebted to him personally, something Shinichi is ultimately able to exploit.
For all that everyone else sees him as terrible, Shinichi really is just a fairly normal guy. That's never explicitly said in the text, but we can see it through his interactions with the other characters, Arian most specifically. His tactics can be pure internet troll, but he's not on a nerd revenge fantasy, power trip, or anything else readers have had cause to complain about in isekai fiction. That's essentially true of all of the characters – Celestia, who tends to put the most sexual spin possible on any statement made by Shinichi clearly doesn't really mean it, she just knows that it annoys him, making low-key fun of the girl who always truly believes the most perverse thing of the guy character. Rino's truly just a little kid who wants to eat good food, and the Blue Demon King and King Tortoise IV are both basically decent rulers from different cultures; if Hube hadn't gotten involved, they would have been fine coexisting. All of this feels just a little too on-the-nose for author Sakuma Sakaki not to have intended it to be at least a mild commentary on world affairs, although the afterward lists the inspiration as the author simply rethinking the standard RPG from the boss' point of view.
Despite some RPG trappings, the book thankfully doesn't use any of the more tiresome game world tropes. There's no status window, no points, no skills – just a fantasy world that vaguely reminds Shinichi of a game. There are still some definite issues with the story, with the most glaring being Shinichi's smear campaign to oust Hube from power, which includes a false accusation of sexual misconduct against Arian. While Hube was definitely creepy about her and clearly wanted her sexually, he never actually acted on it, and it feels like the story crossed a line there. There's also some backtracking on Shinichi's past that becomes awkward, but for the most part this is a fun, interesting story that does just enough different with the basic genre formula to make it an amusing story with a point worth taking.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B+
+ Cute art, fun use of the basic tropes to create a unique story
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