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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
The Evil Organization’s Recruitment Ad
May 10, 2018
Status: c15
The writer isn't good enough to write this story. All the characters are basically idiots from a parody, but it's all played straight. A straight-faced world where the dumbest tropes are true, and where someone with half a brain and some reasonable psychopathic tendencies is put on the Evil Express on the way to being the Evilest Overguy of Evil Corp or whatever. "Oh my god he is SO EVIL, we in EVIL CORP aren't AS EVIL AS HIM" they think because of his evil aura and because he... had... more>> a couple of ok-ishly evil ideas in two fights? The super-hero with 20 years of experience has never come across his strategy? 'Let's draw them out by causing havoc elsewhere' is somehow NOTEWORTHY, and so particularly evil that his supervisor thinks he could have never thought of that?

Everything the MC does is exaggerated as being some kind of pioneering thing, unprecedented, regardless of how stupidly pedestrian it is. This feels like one of those stories where the OPness of the main character feels so undeserved it becomes stupid. In this story, the MC is not OP in the sense of having power, but in his social climbing and the rewards he reaps from following the author's plot sketch. There is no effort shown, no feel of the MC deserving anything.

To summarise: a story where we are *informed* of various things, but which ultimately feels empty and does not deliver on its promises <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Skeleton Knight, in Another World
May 10, 2018
Status: v2
Woke up this morning, picked up my phone and checked what I had been reading last night... And dropped it when I realised I didn't care. Around the end of vol 2.

Our MC is transferred or reincarnates as his highly-levelled and decked out MMO character, except his skin for that character was a spooky skeleton, so he has to hide himself in his superarmor all the time. After a while he meets some elvish slave-rescuers and is pretty much recruited to elf-saving duty. Secondary strand of the plot is the... more>> imminent civil war between the three potential heirs of the kingdom.

Thing is, it's just boring. The MC really doesn't have much personality at all, a blank slate that just follows Ariana the Super Hot Dark Elf around like a puppy, a stupidly OP puppy. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Mei Gongqing
May 10, 2018
Status: c60
Spoiler

Dropped around 60 chapters in.

Chen Rong burns herself to death because of her loveless marriage to Ran Min, a stone-faced general or king, and is sent back to the war-torn past of her youth. Using all the guile, presence and knowledge she can dredge from the ruins of her first life, she tries to survive and thrive in the extraordinarily suffocating flesh market of ancient Chinese aristocratic courts.

Combined with a twisted love polygon, a reactive (and pre-reactive) MC, the sense of powerlessness and the distasteful mores and world of the day, it didn't feel good continue reading this.

[collapse]
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Bone Painting Coroner
May 10, 2018
Status: --
Grim procedural transmigration story about a cross-dressing forensic detective / coroner in ancient China

Ji Yunshu, a forensic anthropologist, dies and takes over the starved-to-death body of the neglected and hated bastard daughter of a noble family in ancient China, though the story starts years later. Ji Yunshu works as a death-painter for the magisterial police force, identifying and making portraits out of people's bones, and gets involved in several grim procedural detective stories, many involving content suitable for something like the Special Victim's Unit.

Ji Yunshu's family life is toxic, with... more>> her double-life as a detective acting as an escape and a way to collect money for living expenses. She herself is cold and calculating, though not evil, and what I've seen of her revenges are pretty minor. But definitely on the darker side of the scale for these kinds of fantasies.

During her work she comes across the imperial Prince Jing Rong, who wants to take her with him to the capital to solve a crime, but who, at the start of the novel at least, mainly stands around acting as a body guard, s*xual tension vending machine, general annoyance and patron.

I've read up to chapter 93, and I don't know if I have the energy to continue. There's been a bunch of cases thus far, all melodramatic and grissly and one involving pedophilia. There's some progress in the "mainline" plot, which I am honestly more interested in than the murders.

Part of why this is that that there's an always reliable Twist Ending to the cases. Someone is usually arrested at the second beat, but there's still one third act left, which is spent figuring out the *real* culprit or *real* events. It gets a bit predictable, even only three-four cases in.

Another problem is that Ji Yunshu's methodologies are... suspect. Basically I have trouble believing the bullsh*t things she does with her magic coronery powers, including matching up blood-samples using vinegar, doing all sorts of things with bones that seem improbable, etc. etc. etc.

Basically the reader has to assume that the technological level of the setting is an actual reset, and that anything goes even if it doesn't work in real life or in the west.

At this point I'm dragging my feet to read the next chapter, which isn't a good sign. Not the fault of the characters, Ji Yunshu and Jing Rong aren't particularly terrible as Chinese women's transmigration stories go, it's just the relentless grimness of the cases and how the main plot drags a long. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Release that Witch
May 10, 2018
Status: --
A western-style engineer-skeptic reincarnation fantasy that is bogged down by dragging chapters, terrible exposition and cartoon villains in a story without enough happening

This is a Chinese reincarnation novel almost indistinguishable in flavour from something that might have been published in the west. An engineering fantasy, with a lot of atheism and a Final Fantasy-levels corrupt evil Church, the story is about a Chinese engineer reincarnated as the good-for-nothing 4th prince of a western style kingdom who ends up saving a witch. Naturally, witches turn out to be perfectly ok, and... more>> really handy.

The prose is readable, the translation flows ok, and the style of the story and my mental images are un-anime enough that it took me a while to realise it might be a harem story...

However, as the story progresses it starts to *drag*. Our MC, besides building and building and building on his power-base in Bumduck, Kingdom of Graycastle, is mostly reactionary and stationary. Characters slowly atrophy to background machinery (most clearly with our main romantic interest, Anna, who becomes a glorified welding machine, but even the MC becomes just an idea dispenser), with some rare character moments sprinkled here and there.

So much that is written down could be easily done with a hundred times less text. The MC commissions a primitive and boring pontoon bridge, for example, which is then lovingly described for many,

many,

*many* paragraphs.

There are many side-chapters (or multipart sidechapters) from antagonistic characters, including ones where they reveal all their evil plans to the reader like a very verbose and clear-spoken council of ominous monoliths. Worst of all, all of these side-chapters are so full of aggravating filler and repetition; I don't want to know every single detail of how this or that irrelevant Duke ends up walking into an obvious death-trap of no importance to the story on the other side of the country in a war our MC isn't even really participating in..! And then, at the end of the chapter I learn it's another effing two-parter, with more of the same.

The story is slow-moving to its detriment, padded out in order to give room to a cookie-cutter industrialization fantasy. This can work in smaller doses and with more *stuff* happening (that the MC actually is PART of), but not if you just tease events for a hundred chapters and then deliver a damp squid. <<less
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Naeddyr
Inoffensive RPG-peggy sue story

Setting: Basically your typical JRPG-based world with levels and magic types and stuff, except slightly more interesting in that the Scout / Scan magic that is used to quantify things is more like a new technology, setting the story in motion. Played straight, no our-worlders or game players, everyone is in-setting compatible.

Character: typical oblivious MC, subtype ambitious and studious type who gets a soft spot for his comrades.

Otaku-darkness rating: no magical slave harems, no revenge fantasies, no orc rape camps, all in all, very low levels of... more>> Dark Otaku fantasy, you can actually read this story and feel happy with yourself afterwards. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Evil-like Duke Household
May 10, 2018
Status: --
Heart-warming and funny

Read translations up to ch 17 and continued with google translate after that, which should tell you how much I enjoyed reading this to put myself through that brain contortion excercise.

The Ractos family of kind-hearted, misunderstood, but only slightly Addamsian people live their lives in Azolias, through triumph and some tribulation. The sinister-looking finance administrator of the kingdom, the bewitchingly beautiful mother with a cooking hobby and pet spider, the schemer-looking magician son, the hotblooded muscle idiot of a daughter clad in black armor, the supreme war hero... more>> sorcerer grand father who was the subject of a one-man proliferation treaty, etc. Etc. Are all good people plagued by misunderstandings and people fearful of them if they don't know them.

Funny, heartwarming and probably most concentrated at its heart around romance, especially that of Jake and his potential fiancée, Annesse.

The biggest problem is that it's an ensemble cast story so it can be a bit tough to get into it at the start when all the characters are introduced. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Magi’s Grandson
May 10, 2018
Status: --
Inoffensive and utterly boring wish-fulfilment

I read up to the end of the translations of vol two.

And I don't know what I was expecting after the first one, but gosh darnit, I certainly got it.

Kenja no Mago is one of those boring wish-fulfilment novels. Super-boring, in fact. The MC is ridiculous perfect, even by WN standards, and half the pages are dedicated to a greek chorus of secondary characters singing his praise. Every other character is relegated to a praise-dispension machine, either obliquely ("Shin! You fool! You are too awesome, you... more>> should stop being so awesome for a while!") or directly. There is no buildup, no growth, no reward for doing the work because Shin doesn't do the work, he just gets everything, and stays ahead of everyone and everything forever.

The whole thing has to be a parody, or it's actually a story about a "reincarnator" who is actually having delusional dreams in a coma.

The only redeeming quality is that the story and world are super-benign. The word "slave" is never mentioned, no overdone angsting everywhere and people are constantly crying tears of sappy happiness because someone else said something nice to them.

Repetitive, bland, boringly OP, no struggle or conflict, pure and saccharine wishfulfilment without any substance and 500% more cleavage and boobies in the illustrations than the puritan story even implies. I get it, I understand why the editors decided to go that way, because I would have done the exact same thing to try to sucker some lonely otaku out of their money. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Library of Heaven’s Path
May 10, 2018
Status: --
Repetitive to the extreme, this martial xianxia parody will string you along with true farce, for a while

MC reincarnates into the body of a dead good-for-nothing and gets OP while slapping other people in their face in the figurative sense. Yes, the preceding sentence sounds familiar to you, although, as always, the details are different, and somewhat more so in this case. For one, our MC is a man, reincarnating as a completely failed teacher working at a school for cultivators, and the whole thing is an utterly farcical parody.

Zhang... more>> Xuan receives one of the most extreme cheats I have yet to see in the form of access to a magical super-library in his mind that allows him to basically filter all of the knowledge he or a book has for secrets and a sort of True Path. After skimming various manuals for different kinds of cultivation techniques, he is able to create the perfect cultivation technique with ridiculously fast results; he knows all of his enemies' weaknesses; he can cure a person without any previous skill in medicine, he can tell what an object is by merely touching it. Express elevator to the top, no charge. He gains everything at breakneck speed, starting with new students, and then accumulating a long roster of victims.

I mentioned face-slapping. I might have understated it a bit. Imagine this as an episodic serial, where you have a monster of the week and the heroes beat it down, and it's a boring series, so about 80% of each episode is only the beating. This is like that, except Zhang Xuan humiliates the assigned enemy of the week through his sudden power-ups, recent social standing or new high-ranked acquaintances.

Over and over and over and over again.

After a while I had to stop and read some other, pioneering reviews to confirm my fear, and yep, this seems to be it. This is the whole thing. Zhang Xuan wakens some jealousy, skepticism or scorn in some unlucky person in the story, and then bam, circumstances and his cheat conspire to utterly humiliate them in some way.

Edible as a small portion at the start, but I couldn't continue. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Because I’m a Weapon Shop Uncle
May 10, 2018
Status: c17
Listless and empty-feeling transfer fantasy with a boring protagonist and emotional manipulation that falls flat

Nominally a story about someone turning into a weapon shop owner, what this actually is is an episodic emotion-of-the-week story that relies on the authors ability to convincingly write newly introduced guest characters. Doesn't work, though. Our MC is bland, listless and boringly OP, a porridge Sue whose most interesting aspect of being a weapon store owner and smith is almost absent and corroded by an easy-bake cheat. He is accompanied by a token figleaf... more>> minigirl to act as a cute distraction, which is so blatant it just brings all the other flaws into focus.

The author spends too much effort on showing off how deep his story is totes going to be, then pours the whole bowl on top of the table in a big unappetizing mess. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
I Reincarnated Into a Vending Machine
May 10, 2018
Status: --
I Reincarnated Into a Vending Machine (novel)

Sets out to do one thing, and does that thing competently and resolutely

Don't let the title fool you: it describes what happens in the story perfectly! This is a story about a vending machine reincarnation set in a dungeon-fantasy world, and it keeps to its promise whole-heartedly and steadfastly, holding onto the title of greatest vending machine reincarnation fantasy of all time like a jealous and unmerciful king.

Reading this story has left me in awe and not a tiny amount of disbelief regarding... more>> vending machines in Japan. I can't tell what might be just made up for this story, and what is real anymore. If true, Japan's vending machines are a culture of their own, an alien existence somehow transplanted into the technoscape of Earth by some kind of mischievous alien box deity.

The writing is competent, the characters are there, there is plenty of humour and the elevator pitch twist reincarnation is there every step of the way. Our MC faces adversity, adventure, fun times and dangerous times, all with some kind of actual pacing going on. I wouldn't be surprised if the author was an LN veteran doing a fun little parody side-project for a while. The vending machine can't even offer potions! That is just unimaginable!

Only a few places feel a bit boring, but the story moves on and changes all the time. No grinding, no repetition, no quests and very few stats, all competently written for an LN and readable. If you're looking for a light palate cleanser to remind you that isekai still has hope, check it out.

This is the story of the most OP vending machine in the history of vending machines. And that's a promise. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
I Was a Sword When I Reincarnated (WN)
May 10, 2018
Status: c245
[Note that I'm trying for a stricter personal rating scale; your star rating may vary]

Simple and cute popcorn reading. I also suggest reading the manga, which edits things down at the start and gets straight into the true focal point of the series: Fran. The only downside is some visualized lewdness, which doesn't come through the same way in the novel.

Some stories are great, but not readable or easy. Reading and following them requires some effort, and if over long periods of time of following a translation project that effort... more>> required exceeds that of the immediate enjoyment you get from single chapters it becomes tougher to keep on going. These sorts of reads are better in bigger batches.

Reincarnated As A Sword is the opposite. Pretty brainless, fluffy and devoid of nutritional value, it's like a bowl of popcorn flavored with cuteness and crunchy with the occasional gory dismemberment, but with some actual core story going on that you care about in some vague sense. You can pick up the newest chapter and not worry about what the plot was up until then, it's just five minutes of comforting routine.

So obviously better than 98% of the other stuff on this site. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Lady Rose Wants to be a Commoner
May 10, 2018
Status: --
Seems ok

Isekai reincarnator reincarnates this time as the heroine, though with the twist that she has more of a villain's backstory and 'ending', as the (villainous) interloper in her engagement to the prince gets her thrown out of noble society. Mix of otome-game-villain-reincarnation and I-want-to-break-my-engagement subgenres. Typing that out, I am reminded how weirdly specific these webnovels get in their subgenres: it's very close to the dynamics of fanfics, where someone posts a fic with an original (-ish) idea and then suddenly there's millions of them, all trying to be... more>> variants on the same theme.

As of chapter 17, the story has mostly been about the MC meeting with various people from the original otome game (mostly the capture targets), and how they react to her 'exile', while she tries to keep them at arms length so that she doesn't get sucked back into her previous position as queen-to-be. Meanwhile, the scheming queen-wannabe who replaced her seems to be feeling remorse... In a way, everything seems to be pointing towards some kind of intriguing resolution, but it might turn out to be boring. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Kenkyo, Kenjitsu o Motto ni Ikite Orimasu
May 10, 2018
Status: c210
If this, and Otoburi, another similar LN with the same premise, is an indication of what shoujo-based reincarnation stories are, then sign me up for more. At least in comparison to all the ones about shounen protags...

This one is a slightly comedic take on the reincarnation genre, this time as the rich ojousama asshole antagonist of a shoujo-manga. Of course the commoner reincarnate doesn't want to get the Bad End of the original character she now inhabits, so she tries to use some of that great power some people have:... more>> common sense. Like Otoburi, there seem to be divergence from the original "backstory" of the story-within-story shoujo manga that the reincarnate-MC is incarnated into, but we haven't yet even seen the original-Heroine, so who knows how much has changed? As it is, this is mostly a progression-of-life story of the MC's new life, and how she copes with trying to keep things as steady as she can without tripping any landmines that will trigger a Bad End someday down the line. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Dragoon
May 10, 2018
Status: --
Stupid, but fun reincarnation + game comedy with a transformed villain NPC as the protagonist instead of the reincarnator

Rudel, the first-born son of a corrupt ducal family, saw a dragon-rider when he was five. At that moment, the destined corrupt nobleman villain of a harem VN/RPG disappeared into the aether and a dragon idiot was born.

The craft of the plotting and story isn't the greatest, but Dragoon is still an enjoyable light comedic read. The closest I can think of in this vein is Gifting, except the main character is... more>> not a depraved tsukkomi this time, and the absurdity levels are a bit lower.

There are a couple of tearjerkers. Cheap ones, but I kinda cryd.

As for the otaku-patheticness quotient of the story, happy to say very low: no slavery, no actual harems really, and Rudel remains oblivious. Although I might need to mention that besides some level-up skills and being OP in general due to training as a dragon idiot, he's also picked up a book about dragon petting, integrating magic and all sorts of things... And this dragon petting skill is lethal (in a la petite mort kind of way) to people when used on them, so there's lots of implied mostly off-screen petting ecchi in the story, as applied by our oblivious MC. Eventually, the whole dragon petting arts takes over as the impetus of a lot of the plot... In a good way, I think

Ah, that last one reads as if this is an ecchi novel. It's not. The dragon petting plot things are more like martial arts plots. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
A Record of a Mortal’s Journey to Immortality
May 10, 2018
Status: --
I've wanted for a while now find a xianxia story with a main character who isn't 'talented' or has some sort of super-fate, or gets too damn many convenient discoveries or treasures, and this story fits the bill, with only a couple of serendipitous circumstances allowing the MC to surpass his limitation.

Too bad the story attached to it is also mediocre. Our protagonist, Han Li, is the amoral sociopathic type, the kind that doesn't care when horrible things happen but doesn't necessarily go and do them willy-nilly in case there... more>> are consequences, and at least he's not a rapist, but at the same time he's boring.

All the side-characters who are more interesting than him disappear from the page sooner or later. It's a story about a man who rides into town, gets forced to do some Maybe Good Thing, rides out into the sunset and you don't care, because the man on the horse is a boring d*ck. As are the other characters, too, but they are at least novel d*cks, with something interesting going on.

The world is a pretty low-level one, with Han Li starting out in the 'secular' world, with a more wuxia martial arts flavor than xianxia, but things quickly escalate to magic dudes fighting magic battles. Otherwise it's your typical amoral dog-eat-dog, sect-eat-sect thing, with low-powered disciples thrown into deadly meat grinders and no one giving a sh*t.

The prose becomes readable, though the author has a lot telling instead of showing, and a LOT of expositionary dialogue. They also use a lot of mental dialogue to explain things, which becomes confusing when you can't tell whether the MC is muttering to themselves like a crazy person or what. The translations are perfectly fine.

========

Later:

Caught up with this again, and it gets better about some of the things. Thing is that Han Li is still pretty bland, and comes off mainly as a vaguely ok sociopath. But I kept on reading it, and even using MTL-translations to see into the future, so it's readable. <<less
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Naeddyr
If this was an anime or manga, it could coast on being a moeblob VRMMO story, but it's not

Kaede is presurred by her friend to get into a VRMMO, and makes a character with *only* VIT to avoid getting hurt. Turns out that *can* work... if it happens several times that you stumble upon secret hidden skills unlocked by unlikely events or styles of playing. Around twenty chapters in, there's a pinpoint nerf just to make her less OP.

Lack of other characters, only delving into the systems of a boring... more>> RPG world and lack of anything particularly good makes the story bland and boring. It tries to be moeblob slice and life, but you need moe for that, and the blob is also lacking. <<less
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Is it Tough Being a Friend?
September 22, 2018
Status: v2c2 part4
I'm a sucker for these metastories, and particularly this one reminds me of a story I wanted to write myself about the Eternal Supporting Character.

But there's a bit of these stories, now, so you can pretty much expect the usual; but still, this one is plenty amusing.

Basic premise: a supremely genre-savvy character caught in their own prejudices, trying to keep a story on track that just isn't going to happen, Ichirou. Some self-aware harem hijinx ensue, but as a parody it's pretty much fast-forwarded.

Not bad.
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Naeddyr
Naeddyr rated it
Marietta-hime no Konrei
May 10, 2018
Status: --
Super-saccharine pinpoint focussed princess marriage fantasy shoujo bodice ripper

Marietta, a young princess, gets married off to a general of a powerful country. The Demon General is a huge warrior of a man, stoic and fierce (secretly a teddy-bear underneath that, naturally).

So of course he's exactly her type.

... more>> The story repeats: the Princess's exaggerated reactions to her fluffy-bun feelings are taken as signs of fear by everyone around her, then there is smooching and some buttons getting accidentally undone.

You should know by now whether you like it or not. Just a dozen chapters out, so a nice bite-size nibble (*wink*) if you're feeling like it. <<less
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Naeddyr
Fairly typical otome game villainness reincarnation story with tech-development / economics

Fairly typical as these go, though of course the emphasis is always a bit different.

In this one, that emphasis is on the main character's relationship with her family, especially her father and her absent mother, as she tries to build something closer with them, and on botany / herbology magic. Mix in childhood friendships with other characters from the original otome game (including, of course, the prince, though she doesn't realize that), and tech-development in the form of some basic... more>> chemistry / alchemy and you end with nothing groundbreaking.

My biggest qualm is what the tech-development involves: every time the MC starts talking about etheric oils and their seemingly magical medicinal properties, I get a bit of a taste of snake oil. Her previous life was probably something in the cosmetics industry. Maybe this is male bias talking. <<less
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