Light Novel Review: Noukome Volume 1

Who Would Like this Series/Volume?


This novel is all about boke/tsukkomi comedy, quirky characters, and a very, very slight amount of ecchi (not the “protagonist-stumbles-on-someone’s-boobies”-type, just implied stuff). If you don’t see yourself enjoying lots of boke/tsukkomi stuff, you’re gonna have a bad time.

For: People who’re crazy for semi-traditional Japanese comedy and weird characters.

Difficulty


It’s very average in difficulty. You’ll probably know what’s going on even if you only understand the half of it. The slang and rather special vocabulary the author uses take it up by a point and to fully enjoy it (it’s very comedy-based), you’ll probably need to get more than the gist of it. So I’m going “better safe than sorry” and rate it 6.

Difficulty 6/10

Translation Where?


There’s an anime adaption (I’d suggest that one) and a translation of the light novel on Baka-Tsuki, which is – to my knowledge – machine-translated, hence I can’t recommend it due to various stuff in this series that Google Translate can’t possible hope to handle.

Translation: Machine-translation of the light novel and an anime adaption’s out – probably a manga adaption too, but I’d suggest the anime for as far as it goes.

Premise


Kanade sees funny stuff in his head, but what makes it different from the rest of us lunatics is that he really has to pick one of the two choices given to him by a otherworldly phenomenon called “Absolute Choices.” If he doesn’t pick one, he’s in pain that feels like his head’s about to explode – just like when I see stuff like this. Those choices kind of turned him into a weirdo since they’re always forcing him to do something awkward. He’s aching to get rid of them and one day “God” calls (yes) and tells him that he has to do certain missions within a certain time limit; if he even fails one of them, he’ll be haunted by “Absolute Choices” all his life. To make matters worse/better, “God” even sent a beautiful girl to his “aid.” Can Kanade get rid of his unpleasant condition?

Contents


NOTE: This volumes/series has an anime and/or complete translation somewhere. Hence, the contents section will be reduced to the bare minimum as you can get the experience more or less by yourself.

Rough Sketch

Choco (or whatever) falls from the sky, teacher talks to him about his condition, he has the weird encounter with white-head on the roof that leads to him having his consciousness beaten out of him, God calls him and explains how being God works, mission to make white-head laugh, mission to see “top 5 beauty”‘s panties, encounter with the “top 5 beauty” which leads to him being taken away by her fan squad, seeing the mission through with Yuuouji (yes, I could actually recall this one, I think), and in the end Choco transfers into his class.

Conclusion


Volume 1 Cover

This novel’s a typical case of “there’s no accounting for taste.” You have to like pretty specific stuff to like it or, well, being Japanese also helps, since the comedy in this thing is just about the primal force of Japanese comedy. But let’s try to split this review up as usual.

How’s the plot? This series has probably one of the most genius premises in light novels these days. If you can’t let the protagonist do outrageous things without making him look like trash, force him to do all that stuff against his will. The “Absolute Choices” are a very interesting and (for the reader) appealing concept, but the way the author executes his brilliant idea has one giant flaw: they are no choices. All the choices presented are of the “do or die”-kind. So what’s the point? Is a choice a choice if, in fact, there is no choice? An example from the start of volume 1: “Choose: 1) A beauty falls from the sky. 2) Daiko-san (editor’s note: the fat old lady) falls from the sky.” Yeah, great. What to pick, I wonder? It would be much more interesting to see both choices being tantamount to each other and the consequences by picking one of them. Of course they could both be equally horrible to make it funnier, but pulling choices that practically are none is just dumb if you ask me. The missions Kanade has to do are acceptable, but the “big twist” at the end of volume one feels farfetched. Apart from that, it’s all boke/tsukkomi stuff, which leads us to…

How’s the pace? This is an important question to ask in this specific case. I’ll be frank: it’s horrible. Horrible. There’s just so very much blabla that seems so to have so little of a connection to the actual storyline that it hurts to read. Especially if you’re not into the very classic and obvious boke/tsukkomi exchange, you’re gonna have a hard time reading this. To put it more drastically, the whole plot just seems like an excuse for the author to chain tsukkomi stuff. And to make matters even worse, there’s so much redundant thinking/narration from the protagonist that it drags down the pace even more. You’ll need quite the stamina – or passion for said tsukkomi parts – to get through this. It’s not like the protagonist’s considerations are helping this novel’s case or anything, it’s really just unimportant jabber that robs the story of any flow it might’ve had up to the point.

How’s the world? Another rather unique question to ask, yet there’s another key point in this. The whole world feels like one of a theater play. Lots of seemingly disconnected scenes that are only there to help stage the boke/tsukkomi act. They’re at his house, at some cafĂ©, at some school, at some rooftop, you’ll never get a solid grasp of what the world looks like, how the world this whole thing plays in feels. Want an example of where world-building is done brilliantly? “Kou1.” To me, this novel’s world felt dead at all times. And I don’t feel guilty at all, since the author does little to liven it up.

How are the characters? This is this novel’s next strong point apart from it’s potentially-brilliant premise. The characters are all quirky, easily distinguished between, and appear overall interesting. There’s the white-haired pokerface who pulls (dirty) jokes all the time, yet is just (very) awkward in her communication skills. The black-haired could-be beauty, who got pushed onto the weird list among the students since she hardly knows any shame and always has weird experimental things from home with her. And of course Choco, who’s naive and in her behavior closer to a dog than an actual human being (I wish she was as dirty as this sounds). The (by now) clichĂ© loli teacher, who’s pretty tough in her behavior and seemingly an expert when it comes to “Absolute Choices.” The protagonist himself, who’s a self-proclaimed ex-playboy (I kinda rolled my eyes there, such modesty), having his springtime of life spoiled by his condition. And last but not least, the only more or less normal person that plays a major role in this series as of yet, the shy and sheltered beauty who’s in the school-wide’s “top 5” in terms of appeal, who’s then subjected by one of the missions to a panty-peek target.

To put things more precisely, this series is just a collection of boke/tsukkomi exchanges under an admittedly interesting premise. The choices, as they are now, are no choices, the missions seem rather odd and at least not very interesting, the characters help its case, but I can’t stop wondering whether all this is enough for something that’s not a 4-koma comic. Altogether, this whole thing worked better as an anime, since the protagonist can’t think as much blabla in motion picture as in written text. Funnily, even in the anime the world itself felt very random and without context. I guess even the animation studio didn’t really know what to do. Another miscellaneous thing: is it just me or do the art’s proportions look kinda out of place? The characters feel too broad for their height; well, whatever.

To me, this novel feels average in every way. Just a plain 5, with a bunch of good things and a whole bunch of bad things about it. So why’s this a typical case of “there’s no accounting for taste?” Well, this series made it to twelve volumes as of yet, “.5” volumes not counted. You don’t make it that far with bad stuff. The Japanese like their comedy and this obviously hits their nerve. There’s also a manga adaption, it got an anime, yadayada. And it’s got a solid four stars on amazon with a whole bunch of votes. Yes, that’s actually a feat. But to me it’s nothing but crying over wasted potential (see “choices”).

Rating 5/10

 

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3 thoughts on “Light Novel Review: Noukome Volume 1

  1. I just finished watching the last episode of the TV show, and it was extraordinarily unsatisfying. Nothing gets resolved. The hero never falls in love with ANY of the three gorgeous chicks. (I realize that it’s a bit of a letdown if he does, but in the other harem anime’s I’ve seen, there is a reason why he can’t choose. The girls are either aliens, or cyborgs, or witches. etc. Nothing is holding this hero back. He must be gay.) The white-haired pokerface never lets him know her true feelings. We find out who is forcing the hero to make the choices, but not why. And when he makes his critical final choice, all that happens is a nonsensical coming together of all of the characters and then a snowball fight. The writer simply ran out of ideas and threw the ending together. What a gyp.

    • Kinda all rom-com anime are like that. The protagonist doesn’t choose until the bitter end – if at all!

      Anime themselves are often produced when a series is still in the running, yet the production company loves to force their own ending to give it some kind of conclusion.

      That’s why in anime, the protagonist will not choose anyone in general (it’d be heretic to the original work), and that’s also why you shouldn’t expect anything from an anime in its last three episodes. Around that count they usually start with their own original ending, and I’ve yet to see one that’s even remotely close to “good.” I’d name examples, but I tend to just forget about the bad ones (why would I care to remember them anyway?). Sometimes even a series’ timeline gets butchered for the anime, like in “OniAi.”

      Actually, I’ve one which is only kinda related: The “original ending” of the Dress Rosa arc in One Piece Pirate Warriors 3. They literally just throw everyone on the stage and Doflamingo simply escapes in the end. Great. Point being, usually the original work is better than the anime in those regards.

    • It served its purpose as an advertisement for the source material. If it didn’t even do that or make a return on its own investment, then it was a failure.

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