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Kevadu rated it
To Be a Power in the Shadows!
April 4, 2018
Status: c18
I liked it at first but it's kind of a one-trick pony. The premise is genuinely funny at first, but any joke will get old if you repeat it too many times. And repeat this novel does.

It becomes increasingly hard to swallow how every single random BS rationalization the MC pulls out of his ass just happens to be 100% completely true. Yet of course he never actually realizes it because that would involve character development.

It's also pretty hard to understand why the MC is so obsessed with staying hidden... more>> in the shadows in the first place. Yeah, I get it, he's a chuunibyou. But you the reason chuunibyous fantasize about having hidden secret powers is that every knows--including themselves deep down--that they don't have any real power. But here we have an MC who is positively brimming with power. He's completely OP. Yet he's obsessed with keeping it hidden and behaving like a mob character all because of what's basically a game to him seeing how he hasn't even realized that the evil forces he's fighting against are real. Even as web novel rationalizations for a MC hiding his power go that's some pretty flimsy reasoning.

Of course everything always works out for the MC in the end even if the course he takes to get there makes absolutely no sense. Which just lowers my investment in the story even further since there's never any tension.

Maybe I'm being too harsh. It's honestly a pretty original take on a genre (OP isekai reincarnation) that has been so overdone in recent years it feels like there are no original ideas left. And it is actually quite funny at first even if the premise gets old. But I see all these people raving about this novel and giving it fives... and it's no five. Actually if it had been written more as a short story or novella I think it could have worked fine. The problem is the longer the author makes the story the more stale its jokes become and the more strained the reader's suspension of disbelief. <<less
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I like it!

Let's be clear about what this novel isn't: It's not some reincarnation BS power fantasy. Thank god. There are enough of those already. Really, it has a bit of an old school adventure feel to it. It's very character focused, not just on the protagonist but the side characters as well. But they are interesting, well-written characters.

The main character finds out he has a skill widely regarded as trash. He wallows in self-pity for a while because of that fact and he feels truly pathetic. His childhood friend... more>> leaves him (and she is completely right to given the way he was acting) and he wallows in self-pity some more. It's OK though, because that's really just the setup and he eventually pulls his sh*t together. Really, pulling one's sh*t together might be the theme of this novel.

In most Japanese web novels any main character given a trash skill seems to eventually discover that it's the most powerful skill in the world and everyone else was just using it wrong. That doesn't happen here... but he does discover that there are certain very specific circumstances under which his skill is actually pretty useful. Though he still doesn't have any real combat power so to make the most of it he needs to be in a party with more conventional types. Which is a great setup, really, because we get to meet other interesting characters and they actually have to work together.

Really this novel--while not exactly doing anything grand or particularly original--feels like a rare gem in the field of modern copycat Japanese web novels. It's fun and relatable, but there are still plenty of good old-fashioned fantasy adventure elements. If you go in with the right expectations you should enjoy it. <<less
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