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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
Evil Emperor’s Wild Consort
December 31, 2017
Status: --
The title is all wrong. This should have been called "Everyone is too dumb to live: the web novel"

Seriously, there are many web novels out there that are filled with arrogant young masters picking fights for no reason and old masters who would rather see their entire sects destroyed instead of apologizing for being assholes, but this was the first time I found 90% of the antagonists genuinely suicidal.

As in, this is a story where the MC walks into a restaurant. The moment she does so, the local "arrogant young... more>> scion of the clan running the town" alpha bitch notices her, concludes that she should not be anyone important and tries to heckle her for no reason whatsoever, only to get punched across the room in return. Then her father shows up and starts crying foul, demanding the protagonist's head in revenge, but then it turns out that the single strongest local clan (who are so powerful they are literally electing the emperor) backs the MC.

Now, instead of backing the f**k down, they start coming up with increasingly ludicrous plans to assassinate and/or frame her because, and let me paraphrase their logic here; "she is not an arrogant asshole like us, therefore she probably doesn't have a strong background, so it's probably okay to murder her". (Mind you, this is after the previous reveal of the big clan backing her.)

Then it finally dawns on them that the MC is not only a VIP alchemist (a profession all but extinct and thus held in ridiculously high regard), but she has business- and political-connections that dwarf their clan, she is the master of a doctor who is so influential that a single word from her would be enough to get hundreds of OP cultivators jump in and erase their clan from the face of the planet, and on top of all that she is rumored to possess not one, but two legendary spiritual beasts that could level half the continent at their prime, let alone their puny little clan... and instead of backing down, they decided to still try and kill her, except be a little sneakier about it.

Seriously, the only reason I keep reading this is because of sheer, unmitigated bile fascination with just how amazingly stupid all the side characters can be in this story. That amounts to something, I suppose. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
My Death Flags Show No Sign of Ending
May 7, 2017
Status: c70
When I started reading this, I honestly thought this was the best written isekai story I have read in recent memory. Then the third arc started, and I had to re-evaluate that. But I am getting ahead of myself.

First, here's the premise in a nutshell: The protagonist is an average university student who is a huge fan of a certain video game. The nature of the game is never really described, but it is likely some kind of single player, Tales-type JRPG with active combat. Anyways, one day he wakes... more>> up in the body of one of the characters from the game, except it's not the protagonist but the ten year old version one of those easily hateable returning midboss villains. Not only that, but while he is in full control of his actions, he cannot properly control what he says, meaning even the most amicable words turn into vicious insults and haughty scoffs by the time they leave his mouth. He figures that if he wants to save his skin, along with everyone else's in the worlds, he has to try and preserve as much of the original story of the game as possible so that the protagonist and his party could defeat the big bad as they should. Naturally, things don't go as planned...

The first two arcs of the story were great. The first one mostly focused on the protagonist finding his place in the world and using his knowledge of the future of the setting to maneuver into an advantageous position. The second arc, in turn, focused more on personal combat and warfare. While that wasn't as engaging as the first arc, it wasn't bad; far from it.

Then the third arc began, and oh boy...

First let's look into the good parts of the story and ease into the problems of the third part. First off, the premise was interesting, and the way the other characters started to change their attitude towards the protagonist was fun to read. The comedy was also mostly good. It had shades of some classic misunderstanding-comedy tropes (for example, the main love interest walks up to the protagonist just as he cries because of a bout of homesickness, and she conveniently interprets it in a way that makes her fall for him even harder), but the misunderstandings are never outrageous enough to make one cringe, so it's all good. The romance is slow, but it works really well, thought the way the female lead falls for him and then immediately gets 200% devoted to him was a little contrived. There were also some very basic economic and political maneuverings in there, which weren't particularly deep, but still entertaining.

However, there are problems with this story, and serious ones at that, that were only minor annoyances until they exploded into the forefront in the 3rd arc. For reference, the 2nd arc ends on a literal life-or-death cliffhanger, and then the first chapter of the next arc not only skips five years, it also ditches all the side-cast it built up in the 2nd arc, puts the protagonist into a contrived situation where he has to work for the big bad of the series and then it tries to simultaneously explain what happened during the time-skip, introduce a bunch of new characters and concepts and then also advance the plot at the same time. In short, it doesn't work and it's downright abysmal compared to the promise the first arc held.

Still, it's not bad, and maybe with time the author can salvage the series, but the horrible transition between the 2nd and 3rd arcs really dented my opinion on this otherwise really promising work. Sad. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
History’s Strongest Senior Brother
March 12, 2017
Status: c144
Not bad. An enjoyable read, though it very quickly falls prey of the same tropes it sets out to satirize.

The protagonist is supposed to be the stereotypical "arrogant young master" the "main character" was supposed to go up against? Sounds like a nice subversion, until you realize the protagonist also faces two such "arrogant young masters" in just the first couple of chapters.

There are antagonistic "clichéd xianxia MCs" who were originally weak but plot-devices made them OP? Once again sounds like a nice subversion, until you consider that the protagonist... more>> is actually a double-reincarnator and is even more broken than them.

The "clichéd xianxia MCs" are very lucky and stumble upon very powerful artifacts and techniques left and right? So does the protagonist, not to mention technically he had already stumbled upon on ALL the techniques in his previous life, and he doesn't even have to do most of the legwork, as he has retainers who collect materials and artifacts for him.

The first "clichéd xianxia MC" is a chick magnet who keeps improbably bumping into gorgeous female cultivators and have "perfect meetings" with them where he helps them out and earns their trust and love? Could have been a nice bit of satire, except the protagonist does the exact same thing beat for beat just a couple of chapters later.

So yeah, I don't know if it's intentional, but directly hanging a lampshade on xianxia clichés and then following them to the letter anyway is a little weird in my opinion. There are also some weird inconsistencies in the story, like characters seemingly teleporting around, and the pacing and time-scale is all over the place too.

Those nagging issues aside it is a pretty good read. Not as biting in terms of satire as History's Number One Founder or as hilarious as Library of Heaven's Path, but it is a pretty nice, tongue-in-cheek xianxia series all the same.

Edit: After reading all the currently TLd chapters, I have to say this story completely lost the satirical bend it had at the beginning and turned into a fairly bog-standard xianxia story. The "clichéd xianxia MCs" are still there, and they still cause some interesting situations, but other than that the protagonist completely fell into the role of a "clichéd xianxia MC" himself. It's still worth a read, but if you came here expecting a solid deconstruction of xianxia tropes, look elsewhere and read this one for what it is: a pretty good, entertaining xianxia story with a few lampshades hanging around the place. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
The Experimental Log of the Crazy Lich
July 16, 2018
Status: c249
This is a very deceptive and weird novel, but let me try to sum up the premise: The protagonist, Roland, is a lich in an underground city-state. He was a reincarnator from modern earth with a system that issued him heroic quests for great rewards, but because of betrayals he lost his country, which led him into a nihilistic spiral that had him end up where he is at the beginning of the story: a weakened undead caster surrounded by crazy characters and even his system became a snarky ass... more>> that revels in his suffering. However, once the plot kicks in, it turns out this is but a small setback on his grand plan to reincarnate once again and fix the world before it starts its descent towards destruction via an apocalyptic war between the forces of Order and Chaos.

Now, what I wrote there is mildly spoilerous, but I had to say it because the actual story has an absolutely horrible pacing, and so I have to reassure you that yes, there is an actual plot here. Hell, it is actually one of the best written, most detailed and well-thought-out plots I have read outside of some western doorstopper fantasy classics. The characters are all interesting, the protagonist's plans are truly ingenious and make sense in context, the action is nail-biting and the world-building is positively suberb. So, why am I only giving it 3 stars?

Well, first off, the comedy is god awful. It is the worst kind of screeching, low-brow otaku humor you would see in some bottom-of-the-barrel isekai stories that fail to take themselves seriously in any way. However, what makes these parts truly inexcusable is just how much they wreck the pacing and the tone of the story. We have truly powerfully written moments, like Roland invoking The Infallible Diffindor for the first time, or him returning to his ruined country hundreds of years after his first death and the people cheering for the heroes that are his undead companions, or hell, even just a simple chapter that does nothing but quietly explains the tragic backstory of the batsh*t crazy witch Amelia and suddenly turns her from an annoying one-note extra to an actually interesting potential love interest... and then these amazing well-written chapters are often followed by the town security chasing down a bunch of naked druids, or Roland getting verbally and physically abused by his love interests, or a omnis*xual half-dragon f**king a sand-worm from Dune, or a bunch of horndog characters trying to gather porno magazines, and so on and so forth. Most egregious are the chapters that are dedicated to the female characters casually abusing Roland to the point of cold-blooded torture, but more often than not it is entirely played off as funny, a double-standard in comedy that really needs to die.

So yeah, is this story good? Well, half of it is bloody genius, while the other half is some of the most grating low-brow crap I have read in a while. Add those together, and it kinda adds up to "okay". Overall I recommend reading it just for those truly breathtaking moments, and skimming all the bad comedy parts. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
To Be a Power in the Shadows!
September 18, 2018
Status: c91
This is probably the best misunderstanding-comedy I have read in years.

Premise:

The protagonist used to be a modern Japanese kid who was fascinated by "powers in the shadows". To unpack this term: it is an amalgamation of being an anti-hero leading a secret society, hiding one's power and identity while living a normal life, and being absolutely over-powering and showing up at the nick of time when the "heroes" are in trouble. This kid grew up to be a spirited, if retarded, adult obsessed with obtaining power, but without magic,... more>> all he could do was to train his body to the pinnacle of human limits. He then began searching for magic anyway, which lead to him getting a concussion during a training session and the having a fateful meeting with Truck-kun. Afterwards he wakes up as the newborn second child of a baron in a fantasy world, where he decides to live out his fantasies, adopting the alter-ego of Shadow and forming a secret society while also maintaining a meticulously crafted public identity of an average, not particularly talented noble youth. However, due to the unwritten laws of misunderstanding comedies, it turns out all the chuuni scenarios he was feeding to his loyal followers turned out to be 100% on the mark, which put them in collision course with a millennia old secret society.

Pros:

    • A very good misunderstanding comedy, where the MC is just dense and ridiculously lucky enough to get things rolling, but sensible enough to play his role as Shadow perfectly to fix the situations.
    • This is also a really good power-fantasy. We know that the MC is overpowered, but he knows it too, and it is just a lot of fun seeing him act out his childhood dreams of being the OP expert that shows up in the nick of time.
    • The female characters are actually decently written, with each of them having a distinct personality and aspirations beyond their archetype.
    • The writing is surprisingly tight, with way more twists, turns and epic moments than one would expect from the genre.
Neutral:

    • There is a harem shaping up around our unsuspecting donkan protagonist, which might turn some off. It also doesn't help that, while the possible love interest are all decently fleshed out, there are like fifteen of them already.
    • The contrived coincidences that are a staple of the genre can sometimes clash with the overall fairly down-to-earth and, dare I say, dark plot.
Cons:

    • The worldbuilding is pretty weak, mainly because most of the story is told from the POV of the MC, and he is too focused on his "living out my childhood dreams" adventures to pay attention to the larger world.
    • The pacing is that of a gag-series, while the overall story is closer to a low-fantasy epic told from an unusual perspective, which makes the story feel rushed at times.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised by this work. It takes a couple of chapters to get rolling, but once it does, it is a joy to read, <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
Emperor’s Domination
July 23, 2017
Status: c310
Let me sum this novel up for you in just four words: Great premise, bad writing.

First off, the description here on NU is horrible and barely reflects on the actual story. Here's the premise in a nutshell: The protagonist used to be a common shepherd boy who died in accident. His soul was then enslaved by an evil force and transplanted into an immortal crow. As the crow his job was to go into the world and gather cultivation techniques and treasures for his masters. Over literally millions of... more>> years he slowly put together a plan to rebel against his masters, train the most powerful experts the world has ever known, and with their help he finally freed himself, only to be reborn into his original, completely unremarkable body.

In even simpler terms: You know the xianxia cliché where the scorned MC stumbles upon a "grandpa", a great expert sealed in an object or otherwise under duress, who sets him on his way to greatness? Well, this time around our protagonist is the grandpa who had already trained his fair share of legendary experts and finally sets out to write his own legend.

However, while the basic premise sounds really interesting, this story is full of problems:

-The cultivation system is over-complicated and hazy. There are different cultivation levels for Physique (read: body) Life Wheel (read: the amount of chi/power/mana the character has) and Fate Palace (read: cultivation power level), but then there are the different levels of cultivation techniques (that are often four-to-six words long and get repeated ad nauseum) that follow a different naming scheme, and then the treasures that also follow a different naming scheme, and then there are the merit laws, and then there are sub-tiers for the three big attributes, one of which even creates compound names for the cultivation levels (as in, there is a character whose cultivation level was referred to as a "five fate palace minor completion saint physique heaven rebelling noble level royal noble"), and then there are attributes that don't even fit in this system (just what the hell is an Immortal Dao Bone?) After a while you just get a headache from all the damn long-winded and jumbled terminology.

-The MC is arrogant the wrong way. The thing is, his arrogance is well-deserved, as he is literally one of the oldest living beings in the setting with near-infinite knowledge. The problem is that instead of being above-it-all, he is a childish, long-winded prick who keeps posturing all the time and picks a fight with every traditional arrogant genius he meets for no reason whatsoever. Not only that, he is constantly signaling his true origins left and right, an extremely stupid thing to do especially early on when he is fairly weak, and yet gets away with it because all the other characters are even stupider. Speaking of which...

-The other characters are Stupid with a capital S. This is mostly so to make the MC looks smarter in comparison, which is already bad enough, but then there is just being too dumb to live, such as the copy-paste antagonists. However, the most painful part is how clueless everyone seems to be about the protagonist's danger level. I mean, come on! Around ch100 the MC has already single-handedly killed a bunch of powerful students and masters after cultivating for less than two years, yet everyone keeps insisting that he is insignificant because he has trash cultivation potential. Seriously? That's like looking at a car going past you on the highway and still accelerating ahead of you, and then scoffing at it for having a weak engine and never being able to get ahead of you, while it already is! I was hoping this problem would solve itself with time once the MC became incredibly famous for stomping a bunch of OP sects and their elders, but then the author pulled a fast one on me and had him move to another part of the world where no one heard of him before so that the cycle of underestimation could start anew.

-Repetition, repetition, repetition. This is a problem I noticed with a lot of CN works, but this is one of the worst cases I have ever seen. We are talking about repeating information withing the same chapter, sometimes in the very same paragraph, multiple times even! Now granted, this repetition can be somewhat justified when it comes to the aforementioned obnoxious cultivation system, but when the author starts describing the characters and their background the fiftieth time using the exact same words, it can get more than grating. I swear, if I hear the term "heaven's proud daughter" one more time, I will flip right out... [Edit: I found a worse one. The author repeated the phrase "Refining dan pills like roasting beans." about twenty times in three chapters, and I am not counting the titles, which were exactly the same. Seriously author? Seriously? ಠ_ಠ ]

Overall I still give this work 3*, because as a light read it is fairly entertaining, and the world-building is actually pretty great, with some nice and even innovative ideas here and there. Too bad the overall writing is so bad, otherwise this would be an outright classic. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
The Lazy Swordmaster
December 20, 2016
Status: c57
This series has potential that, while it might sound harsh considering how there are less than thirty chapters out at the writing of this, it completely squanders. The reason? The protagonist, or rather the way he is written when he is "under-cover". But I am getting ahead of myself, here is a quick rundown of this series this far:

Protagonist was the hero of another story and defeated the demon lord. However, he lost too many friends and allies on the journey to get there, so he became traumatized by the... more>> experience and doesn't want to take up the sword ever again (even though he is reincarnated into a family where even the maids are swordmasters). After said reincarnation he cultivates a lazy persona so that people would leave him alone, but when trouble befalls his new mother, he decides to start acting behind the scenes to get rid of the culprits using his OP abilities he inherited from his previous life.

Now where is the problem? It is the protagonist's public persona, which actually causes so many problems for him it baffles me why this otherwise cunning character would ever bother maintaining it. Simply put, he wants to avoid people recognizing his power and getting him involved in world-saving shenanigans again, so he pretends he is completely worthless, lazy and with zero common sense bordering on having a developmental disability. Instead of showing just a little bit of skill (which was shown he was capable of, as he is in complete control of his abilities) and hiding in his talented brothers' shadow, he becomes such an incredibly apathetic and dumb bastard that it actually draws even more attention to him, and his actions while "in cover" really reminded me of a not particularly bright twelve years old... even though he was supposed to be physically eighteen and mentally in his thirties. Even worse, people around him somehow only consider his balls-to-the-walls-stupid behavior mildly peculiar at most, which drove me nuts. Seriously, if a noble family had a son that was behaving like that, people wouldn't be calling him "Lazy Blade" but "Retarded Blade". And that was *before* he decided to blow his painstakingly maintained cover just so that he could get to the capital and drink coke a little bit sooner...

So yeah, while the whole "traumatized veteran trying to avoid becoming a hero again" angle was interesting, unfortunately it was multi-buggered by the protagonist and the setting not reacting properly to his apparent mental issues like it should. It's still an okay read for a lazy afternoon, but I don't think I will be following it in the future.

Edit: Contrary to my previous statement I proceeded to read 30 more chapters. Honestly, while the WN gets better, it is still not good enough to alter my score. While some of the over-the-top power-displays of the protagonist are cool, he is still an annoying and oftentimes borderline psychopathic manchild and certain scenes, such as the time when he seriously contemplated killing an entire square full of innocent bystanders just to maintain his secret (that wasn't even really threatened on the first place) make him a borderline sociopath.

Another big problem that really started coming up after ch30 was the abysmal pacing. Sometimes a single fight would take several chapters, while other times characters would do things or move to other locations with minimal rhyme or reason.
Spoiler

(e.g.: After the fight on the square the protagonist somehow ends up in the mage tower's secret basement on top of a pile of narcotics, which is also the place that just happens to be on top of the evil laboratory where the unconscious girl he also carried in there for some reason was experimented on, and afterwards he just happens to have an emblem of a different noble house on him he could leave behind to mislead the owner, all of that without any foreshadowing.)

[collapse]

So yeah, to sum it up: It got better, but it's still not good. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
My Disciple Died Yet Again
June 13, 2017
Status: c222
This is a deceptive series. At first glance it has no business getting 5 stars. The beginning is slow and grating, the ever-present comedy is hit-or-miss and the story doesn't seem to go anywhere... And then Realmspirit appears and suddenly everything snaps together to form a single, interconnected, incredibly well-detailed picture. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The story in a nutshell: The protagonist is a female debugger from modern times who gets transferred to a xianxia world as a peasant. She gets accepted to a very prestigious cultivation sect,... more>> becomes the young, handsome grandmaster's personal succeeding disciple... and then she dies. Then she reincarnates as a little girl. Then she dies again and reincarnates as a guy. Then she dies again and reincarnates as a freakin dragon, and it only gets weirder with each reincarnation.

Not only that, while most of the story is about the comical misadventures of our female lead, there is actually an unusual yet fairly compelling main plotline here: She is being reincarnated by "Realmspirit", an enigmatic entity that designates "bugs" in the world that she has to fix. These bugs are usually classic xianxia clihés, such as OP harem seeker protagonist types, cheat items, powerful beings that have no business on the lower planes, etc. However, these bugs are not always evident, and there is often a lot of mystery-solving involved, with even bigger mysteries that connect the reincarnations (read: arcs). Because of this the story manages to achieve a rare feet: being consistently entertaining each chapter, building interesting worlds, telling compelling stories each arc and having the entire work have actual layers due to the over-arching, inter-connected nature of said arcs, which even dabble with some non-linear storytelling as well.

Granted, the author doesn't always manage to pull things off flawlessly, and there are a few plot-holes here and there, but I just can't help but applaud the effort. In short, this is a really solid comedic adventure story that takes itself just seriously enough to be compelling but never becomes too serious for its own good either. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
I Reincarnated For Nothing
August 23, 2018
Status: c99
A very entertaining adventure story with surprisingly few flaws.

The premise: The protagonist, Artpe, was the weakest of the four generals of the demon king, more of an intelligence officer than an actual fighter, as his unique Innate Ability allowed him to read stats, decipher magic, auto-scout dungeons and all sorts of other perception-related stuff. Unfortunately for him, the Hero showed up at the gates of the demon king's castle, and in line with the sorting algorithm of evil, he sent Artpe out to fight her. However, as he was dying,... more>> his innate ability evolved and instead of reading reality, it rewrote it so that he is reborn as the childhood friend of the hero, Maetel. Even though at this point all he wanted was to retire and become a dairy farmer, he realizes that the demon king wants to eradicate all humans, he is a human, and therefore it is in his best interest to get rid of the demon king first. Because of this he sets out to use his innate ability and knowledge of the future to guide Maetel's path... except it soon turns out that he has received the Hero class as well, so the two of them set out on a journey to gather party members, grind levels and acquire artifacts while foiling the plans of the demons, even if by accident.

Pros:

    • Decent comedy.
    • Maetel is adorable in a dumb puppy kind of way.
    • The protagonist is very proactive and he is not entirely dense either.
    • The writing plays with the tropes of the genre in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but it's never so overt it would disappear up its own anus.
    • The pacing is pretty good.
Neutrals:

    • There is a harem forming around the MC, and while all the girls are likable, they kinda pale in comparison to the absolute love of Maetel and thus feel unnecessary.
    • Related to the previous point, the heroines seem to come out of nowhere and they are immediately smitten with the protagonist at first glance.
    • There is a lot of cool power-fantasy themes here, but if you have read a lot of that genre, it becomes a little samey after a while.
Cons:

    • The Heroes' plot armor and the Demon Kind using the sorting algorithm of evil are actually plot-points in the story, but it still doesn't help with the lack of tension.
    • The many small time-skips help with the pacing, but they also emphasize how the characters stay mostly static over time.
    • Way too much focus on looting and the MC scamming people just because he can.
Overall this is a really good, entertaining light read. It follows a similar power-up cycle as Toika's previous work, Everyone Else is a Returnee, and it has most of the same strengths as that story, but with its flaws greatly lessened. All things considered, I would recommend it to anyone not allergic to smug OP MCs and unnecessary harems. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
Demon Noble Girl ~Story of a Careless Demon~
June 9, 2017
Status: v4c11
This was a really surprising read. First of all, I found this series by random, while looking for the original title of another story I have found here. As such, my expectations were mild at best, but the story quickly managed to win me over.

As the synopsis already says, this is a story about a reincarnator from modern day Japan. However, the nameless girl quickly fades into memory as she becomes the "Golden Beast", an absurdly powerful demon in the demon realm... except she looks like an incredibly cute golden... more>> cat with tiny little bat wings and the disposition of an overly playful one.

After an indeterminate amount of time she, due to various circumstances, gets reincarnation again, but this time as a human baby born into a noble family, so she ends up as an ex-human who became human again and loves people, but with the peculiar mind-set and abnormal power of an inhuman, god-tier demon. Then comedy ensues.

Yes, most of this story is about the protagonist's misadventures, the people around her bumbling around after being charmed by her natural cuteness and beauty and just a lot of fluffy, comedic situations sweet enough to give you diabetes. And then horror ensues.

Yes, you read that right. Be warned, contrary to what you might think from reading the first dozen or so chapters, this is not a story for the faint-hearted. When sh*t hits the fan in this series, it hits hard. We are talking about "kids being torn apart by monster dogs in graphic detail" levels. Thankfully, the protagonist and company are still the 'good guys', monstrous as they are, so when she lets loose, there are little to no collateral damage, but most of the bad guys that earn her ire usually end up deader than dead, and those are the lucky ones.

Overall this was a surprisingly entertaining series, however I have to knock off one star due to the fairly boring worldbuilding and weak characterizations, the latter of which is further compounded by just how many fairly pointless secondary and tertiary characters the reader has to keep in mind. So yeah, good read, but be warned of the genre-shift at the end of each volume. <<less
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GabeZhul rated it
Return of The 8th Class Mage
August 8, 2018
Status: c68
The premise sounds nice, but unfortunately the translation completely ruins whatever enjoyment one might find I this work. Sure, it is borderline readable when compared to, say, unedited machine TL garbage, but that's damning with faint praise if there ever was one.

EDIT: After a while the TL got better, but only for it to get bad again after 60 or so chapters, and after a while they become half-chapters that leave the reader confused unless one realizes the translator broke them up for extra clicks.

The TL aside, this is... more>> a fairly bog standard reincarnation-story. It's decent, but nothing to write home about, except maybe the amount of convenient developments being a little too high. <<less
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GabeZhul rated it
Library of Heaven’s Path
April 2, 2017
Status: c377
A very entertaining, if ultimately formulaic comedy set in a fairly cliched xianxia world filled to the brim with arrogant cultivators and haughty beautiful women just waiting to get egg on their face. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The protagonist, Zhang Xuan, is a reincarnate from modern times. He used to be a librarian in his previous life, so when he reincarnates in the body of the least accomplished teacher at a cultivation academy, his "reincarnation bonus" is the titular Library of Heaven's Path. Said virtual library exists in... more>> his head, and it does two things: by observing people or objects, he can gain a detailed description of them (with emphasis on their weaknesses and flaws), and by opening any books the Library creates a copy in his head which he can freely access and commit to memory. Not only that, the Library can also compile and even correct books on cultivation if there are enough samples, allowing him to create insanely advanced techniques in a matter of seconds.

However, not all is right, as he is not only the youngest, least-respected teachers in the academy he works at, he has no students either, and according to the rules a teacher without students would be fired. As such Zhang Xuan enters into a mad race against time to collect promising students while also trying to understand the powers of the Library and survive as his efforts lead him to more and more outrageous encounters against students, their relatives, criminals and even the very faculty of the academy he works at.

In terms of writing, this is a comedy all the way to the bone. While there are a lot of classic xianxia tropes in play, they all exist either as backdrops or things to be lampshaded. The characters are also suitably simple, though still enjoyable. This far the story doesn't have any "villains" per se, only antagonists that oppose the protagonist until they realize their folly. Even the "main antagonists" of the first arc, the teachers and leaders of the academy, aren't evil, only misguided and way too stubborn to let sleeping lions lie even after it becomes blindingly obvious that the protagonist is not the trash they thought he was.

Overall I really liked this WN. The only two flaws I can think of are the fairly weak beginning (in the first few chapters the protagonist is unaware of the Library, so his actions and thought-processes are not really in line with his later behavior) and the somewhat formulaic rhythm the plot fell into after a while. Protagonist enters the scene -> People underestimate him -> Protagonist uses the library to dwarf them -> People are in awe of the protagonist -> He doesn't really understand just how outrageous the thing he just did was and feels bashful for all the praise. Rinse and repeat.

That said, this is still a really, really good, entertaining comedy that I would heartily recommend to everyone who read at least a few xianxia works in the past. Only time will tell whether the formula will get old with time, but right now this WN is still golden.

Edit3 [17-11-01]: After bumping the score up and down a bunch, I finally settled on 4 stars. The reason is thus: while this WN is repetitive, the MC has zero common sense even though he is the most knowledgeable person in any room, and the comedy is hit-or-miss, when all the buildup in an arc comes together and the comedy starts hitting home in rapid fire, it is a sight to behold, and justifies reading through the otherwise often meandering story. That said, if you have little tolerance for repetitiveness, I am not sure I can recommend it. Maybe just skim past the filler and the onlookers and experts. It will be just this:

"He cannot do it! I should know, I am the number one expert in regards to X here! -&Gt; Oh no, he did it! -&Gt; Oh no, he did it so well the ancient sages are crying rainbow tears over the horizon! -&Gt; Oh no, he went one step further and doesn't even realize how amazing the thing he did was! -&Gt; Brother, why didn't you tell me you were an expert of X before I made an ass of myself?!"

There, now you don't need to read the same lines when he does this to the beast masters, the apothecaries, the poison masters, the master painters, the master teachers, the apothecaries (again), the formation masters and so on, and instead you can focus on the actual good stuff. You are welcome.

P.S.: Yeah, I kinda realize that the last three paragraphs were pretty much damning with faint praise, but trust me, I can make fun of this story like this because I actually like it all the same and I think it's worth reading even with these flaws in mind. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
Shinka no Mi
March 31, 2017
Status: c42
This would be pretty funny, if not for a number of nagging issues, such as the absolutely worthless main character. It's not just that he is a coward (though after living in a jungle for five months, one would expect at least some development in that regard), but he is so absolutely rock-stupid that it makes it incredibly hard to sympathize with him. But I am getting ahead of myself.

This is our premise: As per the standard isekai formula, the protagonist and his schoolmates get transferred into a magical word... more>> by a "god". The twist is that it is an "idol school", however much sense that makes, where everyone besides the protagonist is ridiculously pretty/handsome. On the contrary, he is a fat otaku-stereotype (without actually being an otaku) and smells horrible, so he gets bullied a lot, and upon transfer the others cast him out. The god takes pity on him, and grants him an extra bonus skill, which allows him to get full drops from any monster he slays, all their skills and even parts of their stats and life experiences. Then he gets thrown into a jungle where he eats a bunch of "evolution seeds" that make him "evolve" upon receiving XP, so he gets OP in short order, then he meets a talking gorilla who then transforms into a hot chick and she becomes his girlfriend and if you are not already yawning thinking "Aside of that gorilla bit, this is soo clichéd!", you must not have read many isekai stories yet.

Still, the premise is salvageable. Too bad no other element does so. The game elements are all over the place, with ridiculously high stat-numbers that don't seem to make much of a difference. As in, the protagoist with single-digit stats could evade the attacks of a monster with stats in the thousands (albeit barely). Skills are also advancing randomly. During his five months long timeskip/stay in the jungle, he only gained a couple of resistances, and then in rapid succession he gains thousands of stats and dozens of skills in a couple of chapters.

The writing doesn't help much either. Apparently the author thinks that the protagonist screeching from the top of his lungs and yelling random english words is the funniest thing ever. Aside of him we have the deredere monster gorilla girlfriend, whose only character trait is that she is madly in love with the protagonist and wants to have his babies, and a friggin talking sheep in a tuxedo who showed up just to infodump while trolling the protagonist in the most annoying way possible. On top of all that, there are tons of fairly repetitive writing here. Protagonist doesn't realize how strong he is and defeats monster -> protagonist thinks the monster must be weak -> protagonist finds skill cards -> he learns the skills -> he observes the skills and screeches about how amazing they are -> he finds items and screeches about how amazing they are -> he finds a small fortune in gold, and complains about how it is useless to him in he jungle. Rinse and repeat.

Also, there are a number of times I felt that the author introduced things only to realize they didn't work and then sweep them under the rug, but none of them were as blatantly dumb as the helmet.

Spoiler

The aforementioned sheep gives the protagonist a helmet to hide his face, because due to the Disguise skill his charisma plummeted. The scene where it was introduced went into great details about when it can be removed and by whom and so on for pages, and then two chapters later the author apparently figured out it was silly, so the protagonist levels up, the Disguise skill powers up, and so the helmet is no longer needed and gets discarded. Again, this wasn't just some random headwear; it was introduced and explained in meticulous detail only to be discarded two chapters later.

[collapse]

Finally, and with this we are back to the first paragraph, the protagonist is astoundingly stupid. As in, he can see his own stats and he can see the stats of his opponents (albeit only after he beat them), and yet he still has absolutely no idea about his own strength. Furthermore, he does things that make me beat my head against a wall, like trying to figure out if the skill that hides his stats actually lowers them from 100k+ to 10, even though it is directly written in the skill description that it doesn't, and then he screeches and complains when he accidentally destroys a field by swinging his weapon. Or he complains about not being able to use the two legendary swords the dungeon boss dropped because he lacks the skills, even though he just learned the relevant sword technique from the same boss and he had been using a dual-wielding counter-skill already! And then he screeches and complains about leveling up raising his stats! It's moments like those that make me think that either the protagonist or the author has the mental capacity of a particularly retarded goldfish.

Overall I would say this is not an entirely bad series, but if you have no tolerance for low-brow humor, cringe-worthy protagonists or a general lack of sense for the worldbuilding, I would not recommend it. Oh, and the translation swings between decent and unintelligible word-salad, so be warned.

[Edit]: Since I felt that writing a negative review only after twenty odd chapters was a little unfair, I forced my way through two dozen more chapters. To put it bluntly, the story is still incredibly dumb, but the protagonist actually got a little bit better, there are now semi-interesting side characters and the humor is slightly less aneurysm-inducingly bad. In short, it got better, but it's still not great. Let's go with "readable" and "mostly enternatining". <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
Stop, Friendly Fire!
January 21, 2019
Status: c24
If I wanted to be a little mean, I could describe this story with a single sentence: "Yet another Toika novel."

Premise: A fantasy world is on the brink of destruction after one of the empires discovers, and unleashes, an undead curse that threatens to kill all living things on the continent. The goddess in charge first sends heroes from her own world to deal with it, but they all succumb to the curse, so he switches to reincarnators as a last ditch effort. Our MC is one such reincarnator, who... more>> wishes for immortality and infinite growth potential in exchange of his services, and due to a case of classic "literal genie" wishgranting, ends up as a low-level skeleton with the ability to infinitely strengthen himself with the bones of his fallen opponents. The local RPG system works with levels, with each of them being a "tier". People have to first qualify for leveling up by reaching a certain sum of stat points, which are granted through achievements, leveling skills through use and by buying stat-increases in the Goddess' Shop. However, since the protagonist can absorb the stats and skills of his opponents, his power level pierces right through the stratosphere, much to his peers' bafflement.

Characters: The MC is pretty much your usual Toika protagonist. He is a hard worker who is also really bad with people, preferring to swindle and manipulate them instead of properly connecting with them, trough. He is also a bit of a tsundere. The side-cast so far includes Jin, another unfortunate undead horse he figuratively takes under his wings, the pretty shop keeper lady, the pretty low level heroine with a crush on him, the pretty wizard girl, the pretty elf and the pretty dryad princess. Following Toika's track record, I would not be surprised if all of them ended up in his harem. Yes, including the horse. Jokes aside, the side-cast is not particularly developed so far.

Plot: The entire plot also follows the ebb and flow of Toika's other works: The MC travels around to grind something to power up, but stumbles upon some kind of strong enemy, then in a daring attack he beats the enemy, uses the drops and materials to power himself up even further, then uses the shop to buy stuff to power himself up even further, then his skill or class or items or whatever evolve, giving him new options when he goes to another place to grind for powerups, until he stumbles upon a strong enemy, rinse and repeat. Sometimes we have slightly longer breaks, where we get some world-building or get info regarding the empire and the curse drip-fed to us, but the author never spends enough time on this to flesh these parts out, instead throwing the MC right back into the meat-grinder after a chapter or two. As such, just like all of Toika's other works, I can confidently say that this is a story entirely about the power-up cycle.

Conclusion: Overall this is really not a bad story. It's main strengths (good prose, entertaining character interactions, fun abilities and skill-combinations) and weaknesses (pacing issues, lack of proper worldbuilding, skills and powers getting forgotten and then rolled into other powers) are the same as with the author's other works. If you liked those, you will enjoy this one too. If you didn't, this work is not going to change your mind. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
Evil God Average
December 8, 2016
Status: v2
A simple, straightforward story. Pretty Japanese high school girl with scary eyes piques the interest of a trickster god from a higher plane of existence and gets thrown into a magical world. At first it looks like your run-of-the-mill isekai story, with the heroine even trying her hand at adventuring, but due to her circumstances (namely that the aforementioned trickster god made her have the aura and glare of an "average" god of evil), she has to leave town and start anew as a dungeon master. Then things get weirder... more>> and weirder.

First off, as I said above, the story is incredibly straightforward. While the side-stories done from different POVs add some fluff to the story at the end of each volume, the main plotline is streamlined to the extreme. It sets out to tell a story, and it does so without any added fat. In some ways I respect the author for that attitude in the age of never-ending ligh- and webnovels that keep piling up the padding for years.

Overall this was a nice, fluffy read. The characters are not particularly deep, but they were entertaining, and since there were not a lot of them, they all got just enough screen time to not be completely one-note.

The plot, thin as it is, actually follows a logical escalation pattern and it's written well, with the protagonist's personality actually reflecting in the narration (which should be a given, but a lot of light-novel authors seem not to get this and have their MCs narrate like a robot).

In the end this was sort of the literary equivalent of comfort-food. The reason why I knocked one star down was the shallow worldbuilding and, more importantly, the lame ending.
Spoiler

So, in the end the Evil God shows up and presents the protagonist with the opportunity to become a human again, and she chooses to accept it, dividing herself to be a "Divine" and a "Human" version existing at the same time, so that the divine version could stay in her temple and do nothing while her human version could go out into the world and... oh, wait... I mean, so her human version could live in her mansion a few hundred meters from the temple and do nothing. How riveting.

[collapse]

So yeah, in the end this was an enjoyable read. It did a bit of deconstruction, it did a bit of comedy, it did a bit of combat and suspense, but overall it was a pretty mellow novel I could recommend for reading under the blankets during a long winter night. It won't floor you or change the way you look at fiction, but not all stories have to do that. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
Slave Harem in the Labyrinth of the Other World
November 27, 2016
Status: c216
[Edit]: Score lowered to 2 stars after reading http://www. novelupdates. com/series/ive-became-able-to-do-anything-with-my-growth-cheat-but-i-cant-seem-to-get-out-of-being-jobless/

It's pretty much the same premise with the same job/class juggling and power-leveling with a harem of slave girls stuff, except actually good.

[Original Review]: This story had potential, but is was completely killed by the absolutely dreadful, repetitive writing. How bad is it, you might ask? I would go as far as to say that 50% of the story reads like a system log in a CRPG.

"We entered Dungeon A. We fought goblins. A group of three goblins took... more>> three fireballs to defeat. I switched my skills. The next group of goblins only took two fireballs to defeat. We received a random ingredient. I switched back my skills and took out my sword. I beat the next goblin with my sword. It recharged my mana. I put away my sword. The next group of goblins were defeated by three fireballs again. Then I switched our formation. The next group of goblins were..."

Now imagine that for entire chapters, with nothing else in-between. It's just the narration dryly and matter-of-factly describing every little mind-numbing detail of the dungeon-grinding experience. In a better written work all if this would have been done with a single line saying "We went into the dungeon and grinded until the girls took a level and we collected a fair number of ingredients." Not here though.

Then comes the second most dreadful part of the story: the food discussions. Seriously, the number of times the author repeatedly describes what the characters are eating, how they are eating, about food-preparation and consumption is absolutely mind-numbing.

Combine all of the above with a snail-paced plot and a fairly weak slice-of-life structure, and you can understand the number of low scores this story received.

But then why do I give it three stars if it's so dreadful? Well, because it is not all bad. This story could be best described as an ocean of boring crap littered with islands of actually interesting and sometimes even compelling chapters. Practically any chapter that doesn't focus on either dungeon-grinding, food or the action-house is surprisingly interesting.

However, if I wanted to point at the one saving grace of this story, it would be the protagonist and his unique approach to the setting and its gamey mechanics. I also loved that while he is slightly OP, it's not due to high stats or overwhelming power, just that due to his ability to reset his skill points and re-allocate them he has access to opportunities and skill-combinations normal people in this setting can only dream of. That, combined with his meticulous analysis of the effects of his abilities often leads of surprising and even subversive moments, which I greatly appreciated.

I also liked how some of the gamey elements, like skills and the dungeons themselves, were integrated into the setting. For example, I really loved how the protagonist's haggling skills were actually only working on people who were using the Arithmetic skill by practically hacking into their built-in calculator, and these merchants were so used to relying on the skill that they trust it even when it is blatantly obvious they are being ripped off. I like that sort of creativity in my fiction.

In conclusion I would say this story is worth a skim through for those islands. Here's a tip though: If a chapter starts with the protagonist and his harem in the dungeon, eating or preparing to eat, you can safely skip that chapter. 90% of the time you won't miss anything, an in the remaining 10% you will know if something important happened right away and you can backtrack to see what it was. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
Ultimate Scheming System
October 28, 2017
Status: c46
I am not really comfortable with writing a review after only 34 chapters, but I felt the need to counter-balance a little.

The premise is as follows: the protagonist is a reincarnator taking over the body of a discarded prince consort after the his wife absorbed his cultivation. He gets a system that rapidly raises his power level, and its main currency is "acting tough" points. He gains those by acting boisterous in front of others or by displaying domineering abilities. In other words, it is a system that rewards him... more>> for playing the role of your typical sociopathic xianxia MC. Emphasis on the "acting" part, as while he is unscrupulous, he is nowhere as bad as some of the natural examples.

Aside of the system, there isn't much else that makes this work stick out of the competition, but contrary of the other reviews here, I don't think it's particularly bad. Nor is it a comedic series, as by ch 34 the protagonist is on a completely serious roaring rampage of revenge, he has a goal for which he has to raise his cultivation ASAP, and in general he is becoming a more relatable character contrasting the indifferent haughtiness of the local cultivators.

That said, there are also a lot of issues on the writing front, such as the annoying trope of these systems handing out the techniques of MCs of other works, which this story takes to its extreme by having the people protagonist learn Xiao Yan's entire early skillset, complete with his sword and clothes.

That said, it is still early to judge this WN, but personally I will stick to it for a while, as I see a lot of potential in it.

Edit: After reading a couple more chapters, I have to make a slight correction: I was wrong when I said this was not a comedic series. I was so, so wrong. Once the first big *wham* episode that leads to the alluded roaring rampage of revenge, the story mellowed out a bit and it became one of the most hilarious things I have ever read. It's practically the best parts of the comedy of Library of Heaven's Path and History's Number One Founder rolled together with the some of the over-the-top destructive face-slapping seen in Emperor's Domination sprinkled on top. I really, really hope the rest of the WN is going to keep up this quality, as it might actually become my new favorite

Edit2: Nope, the quality didn't keep up. It went downhill. Hard. Now I feel silly for trying to defend this novel... <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
Tilea’s Worries
March 29, 2017
Status: v2c32
This is a good, if tiresome, misunderstanding comedy.

It's good, because it is mostly funny. The misunderstandings and the MCs antics are usually hilarious, especially when viewed through the eyes of secondary characters, such as Timu or Nielsen. In fact, I could only honestly recommend the parts of the story that are not told for Tilia's POV.

And with that said, we come to the "tiresome" part. As much as the misunderstandings are hilarious, they are suffering from a serious problems: Tilea is retarded. I don't mean that as a... more>> derogative, she is literally, near-brain-dead levels of retarded. Now don't take me wrong, a comedic story of this kind requires the protagonist to be a bit of an idiot for the misunderstandings to begin, but they are usually an endearing kind of idiot, like Kitano from Angel Densetsu, who is so good-natured that he cannot even wrap his head around other people challenging him to a fight, so he tries to rationalize their taunts resulting in wacky hi-jinks.

Tilea is different. She is a reincarnated chuuny NEET who is convinced that her little sister's sudden declaration of being a demon general is just her being chuuny too. That is a funny premise. Tilea turning out to be super-powerful without her being aware of it is also funny. And then it all goes downhill from there as the conflicts keep escalating along with Tilea's rationalizations to a point where event a five year old child would figure out something was up... and then it gets even more outrageous than that, and yet she is still in the dark. In short, any chapter with Tilea as the POV becomes less and less funny as the story goes on and more and more face-meltingly irritating.

Thankfully the other POVs, while still kind of annoying at times, never get as bad as hers, and later on the author even introduces Jessica, a character who is fully aware of just how broken (and retarded) Tilea can be and actually saves her city just by tricking her into fighting the bad guys, which I appreciated a lot.

Overall this is a fun, if sometimes irritating, series (even more so than any other misunderstanding-comedy I have read), but there is one thing you have to keep in mind if you wish to give it a go: this work might look cute and funny on the surface, but later parts (especially the second arc) contains some absolutely disturbing "fridge horror" moments. For example, as it is written in the description, Tilea's little sister becomes a demon general. That is quite literal, and even though the protagonist is in serious denial about it, the little girl she grew up with and adores is literally dead and her body is taken over by Camilla, the True Ancestor of all vampires and a psychopath who would massacre all of humanity in a heartbeat with her very own hands if left to her own devices. And that's just chapter one.

So yeah, I would actually recommend reading this series in small doses, only skimming most of Tilea's POV chapters from the second volume onward and just not thinking too deeply about how all of the quirky side characters are monstrous mass-murderers who are presumably killing innocent people off-screen all the time while the MC is not around. Like that, this is a fairly fun series. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
Breakers
October 23, 2018
Status: c96
Edit; After completing this series, I am raising its score to 4. Yes, it's paced like a hummingbird's heart. Yes, it's juvenile and repetitive at times. Yes, there are sudden, inexplicable powerups up the wazoo... but still, it has such a simple, straightforward charm that I simply can't stay mad at it.

This would be a perfect example of a meandering story, if it wasn't so ridiculously fast paced. But I am getting ahead of myself.

First off, the premise: The protagonist, a guy whose name means "Protagonist" (which is a... more>> contrived fact that doesn't actually come up after the first few chapters) is transmigrated into a game world. Furthermore, it is a weird game that seems to be both a typical grindy JRPG, an action-game and a grand strategy game. Furthermore, it had two routes; one for the hero, and one for the demon king. The MC was obsessed with the game, to the point he played both routes five times each... something that will also not factor much into the story in the future. Anyways, since the game gets a remake on a VR console, he gets his hands on it ASAP, but when he boots it up, he finds himself transferred into the body of the one of the side characters, the 9th prince of the Demon Kingdom, at Lv1 and with abysmal stats, but with a skill called "Protagonist Correction".

Now, what would you expect from this premise? It sounds like another of those "fixer stories", where the protagonist finds himself transported to the past or into a story they know, and then they use their knowledge to eke out an advantage for themselves, right? Well, you would be wrong, since the entire premise is derailed practically from the beginning. In fact, if not for the protagonist having access to a minimap and the ability to level up his skills through an interface, you would probably forget that this was a game-scenario the protagonist obsessed over, since so much unrelated stuff happens that the entire idea that the protagonist has outside knowledge gets relegated to him spouting some trivia to amaze the onlookers.

Seriously, at the writing of this, I was close to the half-way point of the story, but the protagonist didn't use his knowledge of the game's scenario and setting to his advantage ONCE. He just goes from place to place at a breakneck pace, arriving everywhere just in the nick of time to change the plans of a new set of villains that had nothing to do with the game, earning powerups and equipment that didn't exist in the game, and then befriending and allying with entities that didn't affect the original story of the game, which gets to the point where the protagonist's game-knowledge becomes a joke.

Related to this is the fact that, even though he is the "Conquest Knight", and his motivation is to take the throne and become the next Demon King in order to avert an in-game event (pretty much the only game-knowledge that has any effect on the plot), he is ridiculously passive. Even though he played the game ten times, and he should be familiar with the mechanics inside-out, he never plans a "build", he never hunts for equipment (or when he does, it is equipment and powerups that didn't exist in the game), he never tries to use his knowledge to subtly (or directly) interfere with the scenario for his and his allies' advantage (for an example of this being done right, look at the first two volumes of My Death Flags Show No Sign Of Ending). Instead he is just going with the flow, with no plan whatsoever.

Not that he has any time to plan, mind you, as the story is rushed like hell. There is little to no downtime between arcs, and the arcs themselves are short and incredibly condensed. For example:
Spoiler

The protagonist and co. enter a forest. They meet with two allies who are hunting a fugitive. It turns out the brother of the current queen of the lycantropes, the mother of one of the love interests, escaped from prison. He is a mass-murdering maniac, with an out-of-the-game power that no one could stand against. He is after a magical plant, that is just introduced in the same arc, to recover his strength. The very night this is revealed, he gets into conflict with the heroes, he kills a bunch of guys, then the MC beats him to an inch of his life using his out-of-the-game powers and he escapes, but not before greatly wounding the MC and love-interest girl. To save them, they use the same magical plant that was introduced just a few chapters ago, which gives them both an inexplicable powerup that wasn't in the game and no one knew about. Then once they get better, they immediately set out towards a magical forest to meet with a blacksmith, but then it turns out the forest is full of crazed spirits, and thus the next arc begins.

[collapse]

What I just condensed there, which includes the setup, the introduction of a new antagonist and macguffin, the appearance of said antagonist, the bossfight against him and his defeat, the usage of said macguffin, plus the downtime before the next arc; all of that lasted exactly ten chapters. TEN. Fighter-jets don't move as fast as this story's pacing, and let me tell you, the narrative suffers under the strain, big time.

So, would I recommend this story? Well, I am going to read it to the end, so it must be doing something right, but for the love of me, I can't tell what. Maybe it's just the general lightness of the entire series that keeps me coming back. It's like fast food or candy; it's not the most filling, and it does nasty things to your body, but it is enjoyable while you are in the moment. <<less
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GabeZhul
GabeZhul rated it
Praise the Orc!
October 21, 2018
Status: Completed
A really fun, if flawed read.

Premise: The protagonist, Jung Ian, is an ex-soldier who used to work in a UN black ops team. He enlisted so that he could use his salary to take care of his little sister after their parents died, and after five years of service he left, went home and opened cafe a using the money he saved up.

Not long after that, a new craze shakes the world with the release of "Elder Lord", the world's first fully immersive VRMMO with living, breathing NPCs. Overnight an... more>> entire industry springs up around it that seems to even misplace most other forms of modern entertainment. At first Ian was skeptical about the game, but then he learned the her sister was at one point molested in the game, so using that as an excuse he plunges into the world of Elder Lord without doing any research, choosing an orc as his character just to mess with his sister once they meet, but then during the preliminary training at the orc fortress he finds the orcs' way of life and ideals resonate with him, so much so that it slowly starts to blur the lines between the game and reality, so much so that he starts to question whether he have been playing a game to begin with.

Pros:

    • The protagonist is likable. He is proactive, hyper-competent and embodies the idea of a heroic warrior better than most designated hero protagonists in other stories.
    • Lots of impactful, emotional scenes and writing.
    • The VRMMO setting and the NPCs make sense, though only after a few really impactful revelations around the mid-point of the story.
Neutral:

    • No romance to speak of. While Ian has a lot of admirers, including a stereotypical "heiress to the biggest company ever" stalker, the only hint you get of an actual romantic relationship is in the last part of the very last normal chapter.
    • The nature of the VRMMO and its mechanics create a nice twist, but it kind of feels like a cheap get-out-of-jail-free card at at times.
    • The beginning is a little slow and the end is a little rushed, but the middle has a great pacing. In some ways, it reminds me of ISSTH, where the settings and contents of the individual story-arcs were often way more interesting and engaging than the grand overarching plot.
Cons:

    • The excuse of "the system
      Spoiler

      read: the grey god

      [collapse]
      manipulated people's perceptions" comes up a bit too often to handwave away inconsistencies.
    • The large battles are fairly repetitive, with the same formula of "the good guys push the bad guys back" -> "the bad guys get reinforcements/bring in the heavy hitters" -> "all seems lost" -> "the cavalry comprised of the MCs friends and supporters show up in the nick of time" -> "the MC tips the balance" -> "victory".
    • The ending is pretty rushed and a little lame, with a literal deus ex machina showing up to resolve the final crisis.
    • The power scaling is bad, with the system being pretty lame, and the MCs skills improve in bulk at the end of every arc, which makes him just strong enough to be on equal footing with the next arc's enemies.
Overall, this was a pretty good story, with some amazing highs (it actually made me laugh out and tear up at times, something I really wasn't expecting) marred by repetitive storytelling, bad power scaling and a fairly underwhelming, if complete, ending. <<less
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