Eromanga Sensei volume 1?! These might as well be retro reviews at this point. Jokes about reviewing light novels released before we lost all hope in the world aside, how does the first installment of Eromanga Sensei hold up today?
Eromanga Sensei is the “new” series by the author of OreImo (that’s obviously the shorthandle, I can’t remember the full title – it’s the one where he chickened out in the end and didn’t let the siblings be together).
The story is about Izumi Masamune – a high school student light novel author (ha!) – who wrote a kind of alright-perceived series but after that one ended cannot seem to come up with new, good material. His illustrator – someone going by the handle “Eromanga Sensei” – is certainly more popular than him. To the point that another prodigy light novel author – of course also a high school student – tries to poach them. The big twist of the story is that his illustrator turns out to be his shy little sister (in law), Sagiri, a shut-in he hardly interacts directly with. Since both their parents died in an accident, she rarely leaves her room. As such a story ensues where Masamune tries to get closer to her by bonding directly and/or indirectly through their shared work.
Let me start with emphasizing how disappointed I am that there’s no eromanga or the drawing thereof is present in the story; what a bait.
However, while I certainly was bummed out that my assumptions regarding Eromanga Sensei were absolutely false, the intimate yet distant relationship between Masamune and Sagiri intrigued me greatly. The scene in which Masamune watches Eromanga Sensei‘s stream and figures out who this mysterious illustrator really is, then realizing she forgot to turn the stream off proper and is about to show her face and maybe undress live, running up to her room and hammering at her door, was insanely funny, immersive, and fresh; “fresh” as in “fresh content.” It’s a modern take which seem to be strangely absent in light novels in general, everything usually works as if it’s 20 years in the past. This was a light novel situation spun around a modern problem contrary to the usual characters that hardly even use phones.
As interesting as Eromanga Sensei is when the Izumis are involved, as annoying it gets when other characters take the stage. The majority of screen time in that regard is taken by the aforementioned prodigy Elf Yamada. She basically is the counterthesis to Masamune in that she just binge-writes her novels in one night and one take, while he keeps working on his novels all day every day and – frankly – spams them out, submitting around three to five novels to his editor at once. Being super popular and successful, Yamada bought the house next to Masamune and he starts hanging out with her in order to maybe learn something from her – but all she does is bum around all day playing games to get inspired.
The problem is that his interactions with her just aren’t as intriguing as those between the Izumis. It feels like there’s nothing to uncover. “She’s a brat, yeah I get it. She’s super talented and doesn’t have to put in as much effort as Masamune, yeah I get it. Can we get back to Sagiri now?” And as such my eyes glaze over when Yamada is being the usual pretentious brat and I skim through the scene until finally I’m graced with Sagiri’s presence again.
To sum it up, Eromanga Sensei is an interesting and funny novel as long as the main characters are both involved. If they aren’t, it feels like boring filler content. And there’s too much boring filler content for my tastes to make this a truly great light novel to read. However, it’s good. Good enough. So let’s give this half a score up for the first time!