Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Woof Woof Story: I Told You to Turn Me Into a Pampered Pooch, Not Fenrir!
Routa Okami isn't surprised when he drops dead from overwork in his office at the age of twenty-nine, but he is a little shocked when he's almost immediately offered a chance at being reborn into a different kind of life. Bitter and tired from his wage-slave existence, Routa asks to be reborn as a pampered pet dog to a wealthy family, where his every need will be taken care of. Unfortunately for him, the goddess in charge of his reincarnation throws in a few “extras” for him – what's this about being the long-lost King of the Fen Wolves, now?
Why yes, this is another light novel about someone who dies in our world and is given the chance to be reincarnated, memories intact, in another. But unless you're unilaterally opposed to the genre, don't write this one off just yet – Woof Woof Story - I Told You to Turn Me Into a Pampered Pooch, Not Fenrir! not only takes a very different approach to the story, but it also doesn't shy away from its darker aspects, making it a better book than you may have been expecting.
The story follows Routa Okami, a twenty-nine-year-old office worker who is in the process of dying from overwork on his office floor as the book opens. Routa's not surprised that it came to this; neither is he shocked that none of his coworkers appear to notice him collapsing to the ground. For Routa, this was almost the predicted outcome of being a corporate worker in his current environment, and while he's not thrilled with dying, he's also been aware that he was headed this way. This knowledge is what grounds the otherwise fairly fluffy Woof Woof Story in its tropes – Routa mentions the toxicity of his work environment repeatedly throughout the novel, and in the extra chapter (a closer look at the whole reincarnation process), goddess Aphrodite tells him that the gods are currently offering a reincarnation special package to be reincarnated in another world because so few people are willing or enthused about returning to ours. This seems to be a tacit acknowledgement of the death-by-overwork that Routa suffers and how he's not a unique case, and it gives a bit of solidity to both Routa's choice to be reborn as a puppy and to the prevalence of the whole genre in the first place. (Author Inumajun also mentions being a former office worker in the afterward, so we can perhaps assume that at least a little of this is coming from a place of familiarity.)
In any event, Routa's wish only sort-of comes true: he's definitely reborn as a puppy in another world and adopted by a wealthy young lady who adores him, but after about a month it becomes very, very clear that he's no ordinary dog. The goddess, it turns out, took it upon herself to enhance Routa's wish, and he's been reborn as a Fen Wolf, a type of canine monster native to his new world. Fortunately for Routa, Mary, his mistress, just loves him no matter what, but he's very worried that someone else will notice that he's not exactly a very large Samoyed and his cushy new life will be over. Thus Routa (Mary names him that in a fortuitous but credulity-straining coincidence) spends a lot of time perfecting his cuteness routine in order to convince everyone that he's just some sort of freakishly huge puppy dog.
This is where much of the humor, or at least intended humor, comes from, and by and large it works. Routa's narration does remind us of why this is so important to him and what a strong bond he and Mary have (which should make dog peoples' hearts very happy), but he also goes off on very canine tangents about wanting to lick people or the joys of being pet. This creates a fun juxtaposition between who Routa was and who he is now entirely lacking in the self-awareness of the heroine of So I'm a Spider, So What? and other similar stories. Routa's panics about his status and strange Fen Wolf skills, as well as his exasperation in dealing with Garo and the other wolves who look to him as king, are also amusing, even if his statement that he can't tell the difference between males and females (in terms of animals) doesn't seem to ring quite true with some of his other remarks about his powers of smell. Presumably this is for humor value, but it is a little distracting.
The way that dialogue between animals is written is probably the biggest mark against the novel, as it relies on first writing the sound the animal makes and then in parentheses what they mean, e.g. “Bark. (I'm Routa. I'm this family's pet. And a dog.)” Once or twice is fine, but it gets very wearing after not very long. Given that Routa converses with other wolves, a cat, and a dragon throughout the novel, that's a problem. There's a bit of inconsistency in the art as well, with Routa's size fluctuating throughout, but otherwise Kochimo's illustrations are very attractive.
Woof Woof Story's willingness to keep its darker edge even while throwing Routa into ridiculous situations (such as a potential harem with a cat and a mouse) makes it a very fun entry into its particular isekai niche. Routa's unexpected form may prove very useful to his family going forward, and it should be pretty entertaining to see where this story goes.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B
+ Fun human self/canine self juxtapositions
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