Light Novel Review: Netgame Volume 5

Who Would Like this Series/Volume?


Volume 5 still has the same kind of feeling volume 1 had. If the only thing you’ve experienced so far is the anime, then volume 5 will be less exciting drama- and action-wise, and a bit easier on the MMO part although it is, of course, still its big theme. A rom-com with heavy emphasis on the comedy part, harem aspects are there but extremely weak.

Difficulty


It’s pretty much the same as volume 1. The only thing I’d like to add is that you’ve really got to have your contextual understanding together since the characters will keep their lines as short as you’d expect from colloquial Japanese – and Japanese is a context language.

Difficulty 7/10

Translation Where?


Nothing that I know of.

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

Lucian (I‘m sticking with this name) lectures Ako on how you gotta be an honest worker in RL as well as in games, since shortcuts usually come with downsides. His anecdote is from back when he was in his old guild and tried to level up by taking on way stronger enemies, gambling that the xp he gains outweighs the cons. Various death penalties later, his guild friend actually outlevelled him with his safe grind and Lucian realized, crestfallen, that he had screwed up.

Anyway, he reminds Ako that she better come to school tomorrow since they got stuff to do. Namely, the next day their club is holding a meeting on the new update which includes housing. First of all, they share a few of their horror stories about the school sports festival. Lucian was participating in that pole defense thing and just stood by their pole being irrelevant and spacing out. Ako was running a marathon for some reason and so slow she was the only one left running, but they couldn’t continue as she was blocking the track, leading to the whole school cheering her on – which she hated. And Schwein participated in the scavenger hunt race, knocking Lucian out to get his loot (his cap) which she needed.

So, housing. Judging by how other MMOs handle it, they expect a pretty hefty price for real estate. They want room for 4-5 people (Ako insists she‘d share a room with Lucian), so farming‘s the name of the game. They try to agree on a name, but no dice. To give the grind a bit more spice, they decide that the one contributing the biggest amount to the house gets to name it. Ako‘s allowed to team up with Lucian since she‘d have a hard time grinding as a healer otherwise. They also tried to burdon Sette with a considerable quota. She states that she‘s playing on a shared PC located in her family‘s living room, so she can‘t play for too long. The others, however, know that kind of situation very well, they want her to get up in the middle of the night, grind for hours, and then when her other family members wake up and spot her be like: „Oh, I just got up.“ – Just like they did in the past. Upon this craziness, the normie flees the room.

The gold farming begins. Lucian and Ako – the latter reluctantly – settle for farming pretty weak rabbit-like mobs that don‘t really have rare drops, but do drop a lot of straight up gold, Lucian favors this method since it also allows for Ako to catch up on some XP farming. However, two hours later Ako‘s already tired of the repetitive grind and wants a break. They check up on the others. Schwein is farming a rare boss mob that only spawns every few hours and is basically camped by dozens of players. She‘s not very lucky with the drops (it appears to be random who gets the loot), but getting one rare item from it would already fulfill her quota. Apricot is doing some auction house stuff. She basically bought up all of one item and now dictates the market with outrageous prices. However, buying up all the items got her thrice her quota into minus so far… so good luck with that.

Later that night, Schwein suddenly disappears. Soon after, Lucian‘s phone rings. It‘s Schwein, her PC (pet name „Salamander“) has burnout, literally. She‘s panicking and wants him to come over right away, they do, however, settle on the whole gang come to visit her the day after to check up on her PC.

After school the next day. They meet up with Schwein and all go to her apartment complex. Her mother‘s there to greet them, and after having nice introductions with the girls, Lucian introduces himself and her attitude becomes rather complicated, asking whether he‘s her boyfriend and after denying that, whether she‘s got someone else in school, etc. Anyway, PC‘s fried, nothing they can do, she needs a new one. Her old one‘s like a 4:3 from the last millenium, anyway.

PC‘s cost money, money Schwein doesn‘t have and her parents won‘t give her. Time for part time. Sette gets them a list of available offers. The girls are fascinated by a particular maid cafe offer that pays (suspiciously) well. Lucian recalls having seen that in the news: It‘s basically softcore prostitution, but he can‘t bring himself to tell them straight out. Hence, he offers to them to try the stuff it lists out on him. It‘s slapping customers, step on them, and perform wrestling moves on them. After Ako can‘t bring herself to hit Lucian, Schwein does the job and slaps him around good. Then it‘s time for stepping. Apricot states that as their senpai, the oldest present, and being the prez, she the most S in the room and starts stepping on him. It feels rather good since she‘s not being rough at all, and Sette then suggests for him to turn around. That leads to Lucian having a full house upskirt view of the girls. Once he‘s gotten back up he says something rather rough or so, I can‘t recall the details, but it seems to turn Apricot on, revealing that if anything, she‘s M. Last is wrestling, they don‘t really know anything complicated, so they settle with a headlock or something. Ako performs it, or at least thinks she does, but ultimately she‘s just pressing Lucians head into the boobies. Wrestling, right? Nekohime walks in on them, tells them to break it up already, and after hearing that they‘re doing wrestling stuff, gets kinda pissed at them as a wrestling fan for thinking that‘s how to do it, and puts Lucian in an armlock, almost breaking it. Nekohime is the one who finally tells the girls how shady that maid cafe is and assigns everyone to proper, fitting jobs.

It’s work day for everyone. After they’ve all avoided dodging work after all (they tried), everyone manages to overcome their first work experience without much said about the contents in the novel. In the evening, after work, however, they meet up in their MMO and tell each other how horrible it was. Basically, to everyone of them it felt like a “grind fiesta,” everyone had a job in an assembly line. Apricot and Ako were arranging supermarket sashimi menus, while Lucian was watching a pet bottle line for bottles that might’ve toppled over. Wondering where Schwein is, they remember that she still ain’t got no PC to play with. The next day, they ask Schwein for how her work was, and actually it was quite okay, she’s working at an internet cafe. When the rest of them meet up online in the evening again, they decide to pay Schwein a visit since it’s so lonely without her. Schwein, of course, isn’t exactly ecstatic when she sees them come into her workplace, but after Lucian confesses to her that they just missed her, her mood quickly changes, and she just wants them to not bother the other customers. When the three of them play, however, Schwein “accidentally” passes by behind them a lot. Seeing them have fun as always while she’s got to work brings her closer and closer to a breakdown until she finally snaps and screams that she can’t take it anymore to just sit on the sidelines watching others play while she has to work.

Issue resolved, she threw the job. But her PCs still fubar, so Schwein is currently throwin’ a tantrum in the club room because she wants to keep playing. Her current live is school, club activities (gaming), going to the internet cafe – for gaming not working – spending her so far earned money, go home to eat dinner, sleep, repeat. Apricot has to threaten her to force shut down her PC to get her to leave with them. Turns out, Schwein’s rare boss hunt isn’t going as expected, the other hunters realized that she’s only online during specific hours and doesn’t know when the boss will spawn, so they try and confuse her by walking away when she comes online as if the rare won’t spawn for quite some time. In any case, she isn’t making any cash at all and can’t compete for the guild house. Apricot also got bested by other auction house lurkers, although her initial approach went very well, she got greedy and tried to get the monopoly on another item. However, she was misinformed as to how valuable the second item is – basically junk in the current version of Legendary Age – and to make matters worse, other auction house lurkers sneaked in some 10.000 bucks items among the 1 buck items, and since Apricot just mass bought, she went bankrupt and is now sitting on heaps of that junk item. Basically, Ako and Lucian win by default.

Checking the actual prices for real estate, it turns out that they’re much pricier than expected. They can barely buy a small property in a remote area. Thirty minutes from the capital by foot, Ako chose this location for one major reason: It’s where she proposed to Lucian – over and over again. It’s close to the ocean shore and quite the scenic spot actually. However, it is highly impractical because of its distance to the capital where you need to go for equipment, quests, consumables. Anyway, turns out to build houses, you don’t need rare materials but in fact loads of items which were so far considered as junk! And Ako picked up all the junk those rabbit mobs they farmed for gold dropped. That junk now allows her to build a house out of – errr – was ist marble? Stone? Anyway, she builds a nice, little house for them. With four rooms. Because she wants the other guild members to live with them.

Sette discovers that there’s actually a contest for best looking house going on right now. The winner gets a thousand bucks! Enough for Schwein to buy herself a new PC! They decide to enter it and help Schwein get that cash. Their special trick: Sette discovers that you can use the crafting materials for gigantic furniture themselves and lay them out on the ground to make them look like proper flooring. It’s looking so good that they smell their chance to win. Problem is, they’re processed by what was considered a junk item until now, and since it’s needed for furniture and houses now, you can’t really pick it up in the auction house anymore. However, Apricot happened to monopolize exactly that junk item! …However, she threw them all away out of frustration. However! Ako saw that and picked ’em all up! Ako loves junk! So they put up furniture, flooring, decoration, and all that jazz and prepare for the final deadline in five minutes when the server saves the current state of all entries for the vote. Of course, they try and move king-sized furniture, mess up, and blow a hole in the wall with it. Click. Entry saved. Shoot.

Even after trying to save it with some weird strategy I can’t quite get behind, they can’t win the competition. However, they do get a special mention which is awarded with either a property right in the heart of the capital or a very outdated special edition Legendary Age PC (probably a promotion thingy from back when the game first launched). Schwein says she’ll just get back to work again so they can pick this very handy and unique one-of-a-kind property and she’ll buy a PC by herself. However, the other members all agree that it’s much more important to be able to play with their friend and force the PC onto her, which moves Schwein greatly.

So after everything’s settled, Lucian remembers that he actually still has that gaming notebook from Apricot that he used when he visited the shut-in Ako (it happens in the anime too, remember?), and he’d completely forgotten about it. So he gets a nice strangle from Schwein for his forgetfulness and that’s it for volume five.

Conclusion


Volume 5 Cover

After weeks of abnormal weather in Europe and me basically being steam cooked at 30 degrees celsius room temperature without any sort of AC whatsoever, the weather’s calmed down and I am finally able to formulate a clear thought again; back to writing up some reviews that’ve piled up.

Netgame is the series that made me realize my limits back in the day. I tried translating it, had to acknowledge that it’s over my head, and dropped it. Then, once my Japanese was up there, I tried reading it, didn’t find it too interesting, and forgot about the series. Later, the anime came out, I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised. It was well-made and very entertaining to watch.

And that inspired me to read volume 5. It picks up where the anime left off: After the cultural festival where the Alley Cats conquered a small pvp stronghold. The big themes are Legendary Age’s new housing system on one, and Schwein’s computer meltdown on the other hand.

To get a small – or rather none-aspect – out of the way, there is no character development worth mentioning. I consider Netgame as a comedy, so to me it’d be surprising if there was.

However, the jokes really don’t hit as hard. It had me grin a few times, but never laugh. The anime felt more impactful in that regard. While I’m at it, overall Netgame feels like a series that works much better animated. Reading Schwein’s, Ako’s, Lucian’s, Apricot’s, and Sette’s exchanges without hearing the voice actresses and without seeing the character’s body languages has nothing but a “meh” effect on me. Now you could say that that’s just me not liking books as much as anime, but Shomin Sample did make me laugh a lot. There’s something about either the quality of the jokes or the writing that just isn’t as funny when you read them; as dry as Europe right now – well, maybe not that bad.

The story arcs in volume 5 aren’t boring or anything, nor are they exciting. They kept me hooked enough to finish it in a reasonable time, but not hooked enough to suck me into its story. It lacks memorable or big moments and excitement.

I’m also under the impression that Netgame does disturbingly seldom take place in the netgame. Or rather, doesn’t revolve around the MMO. Lots of volume 5 is about part time jobs, Schwein’s PC issues, and her MMO addiction. It kinda feels like they got nowhere in the game. It’s just the housing thing. And in the end, it doesn’t feel like they got anywhere; an unsatisfying lack of progress.

What does, however, make Netgame a satisfying reader experience is how homogenous it is. The story feels very consistent, there’s a clean chain of events, it all comes together and makes sense. No unnatural turns of events, no unnatural character behaviors, no forced relationships, it feels real, it feels plausible. Extra points for the author pointing out how the whole dilema could’ve been fixed in the first place: Lucian still has Apricot’s gaming notebook from before (as seen in the anime). Minus points at the same time because that’s the one thing I don’t buy. I doubt he stuffed that expensive gaming notebook into a closet or under his bed, so Lucian must’ve somehow caught a glimpse of it, and seeing how hard they try to get Schwein a new PC, he would’ve seen this solution. Sorta feels like the author remembered that there was that gaming notebook when it was already too late, so it’s just in there like “Guys, I know, I didn’t completely forget, let’s just say Lucian forgot about it, alright?”

All in all, Netgame 5 is a streamlined experience that won’t let its fans down, but it’s just not as enjoyable as the anime. It’s a series that works best on screen and in pictures, not on paper and in letters. At least that’s my personal opinion after volume 5; I’m not exactly burning to read volume 6, but I will probably give it a shot for good measure. For me, it’s a strong 6 since the general story writing is commendable.

Rating 6/10

 

CDJapan | Amazon | BOOKWALKER

Leave a Comment