Light Novel Review: Kou1 Volume 1

Who Would Like this Series/Volume?


It’s a fantasy rom-com with, assumingly, a protagonist who’s not really shying away and about to make a name for himself in this foreign world. There’s hardly any fighting and the story attempts to use more complex ways to resolve matters. The protagonist’s not overpowered, he’s witty and kind of cheeky, too. Altogether, there is drama with bad guys, but it doesn’t ever reach a dramatical point where it hurts. It’s just the bare minimum to keep up tension. On a 1, white and fluffy, to 10, dark and gore-y, scale I’d vote it a 4.

For: People who enjoy watching the protagonist conquer a fantasy world while not being overpowered with little fighting and lots of diplomatic stuff. There’s entertaining comedy, too.

Difficulty


Two factors heighten this series’ difficulty. First, it uses a bunch of medieval-typical terms. You should know castle, stronghold, steward, lord, well, and the like. In general, the vocabulary asked for is far more diverse than in Shurabara! but of course far from academic. Unless you’re familiar with the scenario, you might have to look up words a bunch of times. Second, the grammar is very basic, but has a lot of polite-/humble speech situations and occasionally outdated patterns, too. So you might also have to look stuff up here, but once learned it’s down. I’ll give it a 6 in comparison to Hundred which I rated 5 before. Don’t let that scare you, though. I’d give a 10 to stuff far before it reaches the Monogatari-series’ level. A 10 in my book would basically mean that you’ll have to be very fluent in Japanese from a foreigner’s point of view.

Difficulty 6/10

Translation Where?


No translation that I know of regarding the light novel. And I’m kind of glad that this one hasn’t been stained yet, tehe.

Translation: No for the light novel.

Premise


Hiroto (protagonist) and his sidekick Souichirou open up an old scroll in their club room at school and suddenly find themselves sitting on a green field. There a few horsemen appear and are about to kill them. However, a skeleton (!) shows up and tells them to stop, since they are the “Differents”. They’re brought into a run-down town and farther into its castle, where the lord tells them to stop a vampire if they want to get back into their own world. Well, good luck, normal high school boys!

Contents


NOTE: These summaries can never give you an accurate impression on how the book reads or what the book is really like. It simply gives you the gist of the novel, but don’t judge the book by this alone. It can’t be helped that things read rushed and colorless in a summary. You can get an idea by reading the conclusion and, finally, by reading it yourself!

The Whole Damn Thing

Conclusion


Volume 1 Cover
Volume 1 Cover

When I saw the cover of this volume, I was pretty sure that the protagonist would simply ecchi himself through some fantasy world with big-boobed fantasy creatures while being an idiot. Even the color illustrations suggest the same. However, I was sorely mistaken.

The story has many strong points. First, it’s storytelling is very dynamic with a few switches in the narration’s point of view and it’s considerably picturesque. The world they’re in feels really alive, feasible, and colorful. On a meta level (if light novels have this kind of thing), the series wants to bring greed and racism to the reader’s mind, but never with a wagging finger, it wants you to make the judgement. Here lies also the weak point in the whole story matter: the bad guy is all too obvious and while his motives are clear to see, it’s kind of annoying to read him deepening his bad guy role all the time. The author is really intrusive when it comes to him being a racist pig. It makes you wanna scream “YEAH, I GOT IT ALREADY” at the book. The townsfolk is more believable in their latent racist ways. But don’t get the wrong idea, it never feels like Hiroto’s walking through nazi county, you never think that the people are at fault, you can clearly sense that something is just going wrong in this world. I like the gray-ish feeling to the world. The topic’s not presented in a heavy, stifling way either, there’s lots of comedy and they simply try to make things better. The author’s found a nice balance.

Another strong point is the protagonist. While he talks and dreams of boobs here and there – it’s basically the first thing he thinks about when seeing something female – he’s a witty and reliable kind of character. He’s not losing his footing and falling onto some boobs all the time only to shy away, but is rather direct and confident in his way to handle girls without ever appearing macho. He’s not dense either, if there’s a chance to get some, he gets it. Overall his character isn’t really deep, but the way he acts is refreshing and enjoyable to follow. If he could drop the boob act, that’d be nice, though.

A rather good point is the way the story revolves. The title strongly suggest him to manage a castle. However, the volumes remains short on this side for the longest time. Volume 1 feels like a pretty long prologue which isn’t a bad thing per se. Hiroto might only be an errand boy for quite a while, but everything he does feels like he’s moving something in that world. And after the volume’s done it also feels like he achieved something. Only in the county he’s running about in, but very satisfying nonetheless. Still, two rather poor points remain. First, the sheer absence of stuff the novel suggests. It does sound very interesting that he could actually turn the town into something big and flourishing again and how it’d go with uniting all the races of that world, but I can’t rate this potential as all it is up to this point is pure potential. Nothing of that sort happened yet. Only the groundwork has been done; this groundwork’s very enjoyable, though. Second, the cliffhanger’s a slap in the face. Bad for me since there’s no good deal on the second volume yet, but it also speaks for the story that I’m dying to read what’ll happen.

The other characters – bad guy aside, he’s overdrawn in my opinion – are very believable and it’s refreshing that not everything is all fluffy in this world. Everything that everyone – bad guy aside – does makes sense. Everyone’s still hell of shallow now, but it’s only the first volume and a lot of things happen without characters getting further depth already.

If the series can deliver what its title promises and keeps up the current pace and tension, then I’d say it’s an 8, since it executes what it wants to be very well with little flaw, in my opinion. Every author can simply settle dispute with battles, but doing it without is the hard thing. However, as of yet it still lacks a bunch of things it’s basically promising. That and the all too pushy picturing of the bad guy cost it one point. Hence we go with a very enjoyable 7.

Rating 7/10

 

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2 thoughts on “Light Novel Review: Kou1 Volume 1

  1. Good, the summary has me interested, I hope you’ll find the second volume soon to know how the story goes on (because let’s face it, I’ll never read it myself in jp). Hooray for monstergirls! The vampire is one of the most human-like types and the mummy in this novel is just a normal girl wearing bandages, but it’s still good that the genre is getting more popular and is being used in more works.

    • The novel so far suggests that mummies are basically poor human beings. Then again, they mention the bandages to be able to withhold severe damage and all. And I think they’re also said to be ridiculously strong. Can’t really make heads or tails of it yet.

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