Light Novel Review: Shomin Sample Volume 4

Introduction


It’s finally here: a review of something that has an anime and/or translation somewhere. As it’s also not a first volume of sorts, there’ll be no “premise” section, since you should already know what it’s about. The “contents” section will only contain the roughest of sketches so that you can guess where the anime is at “right now.”

Who Would Like this Series/Volume?


If you liked the volumes before, you’ll like this one. It’s still a whole bunch of worthwhile comedy and slice-of-life-ish entertainment. There’s also a bunch of rom-com situations, but in my opinion less so than in past volumes. Still enough to qualify it as an ambassador of the genre, though. Not enough drama to say it’s got drama. Then again, there’s just a little to spice it up.

For: People who enjoy good, drama-less rom-coms and basically liked the past volumes too.

Difficulty


The vocabulary can get fancy at times. But the grammar’s really basic if you’re familiar with ojou-sama-/humble speech yet. I’d say it’s just average. Not for beginners, but you don’t need to be an expert, either. Even if you’re not that good with Japanese, you’ll mostly get the gist of what’s going on. Anyway, average. So average score it is.

Difficulty 5/10

Translation Where?


Nothing. And the manga hasn’t caught up to the end of volume 4 yet. It should be at about the first half of it.

Translation: No for the light novel.

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

Conclusion


Volume 4 Cover
Volume 4 Cover

The history of Shomin Sample and me is a history full of misunderstandings. When I first saw it in an Amazon Japan Kindle Sale for 100 Yen, I thought it was just some cheap porn. I mean, look at volume 1’s cover. When I then first heard about it being about some guy abducted into an ojou-sama school, I thought that this couldn’t possibly be interesting. How could be another off-the-mill ojou-sama school story be interesting? When I finally started translating it due to reasons, it was the most positive surprise regarding light novels for me yet.

But let’s get to the volume. It has lots of comedy with decent to good impact, there aren’t many new characters but the ones present are feasible and consistent. And it’s also not a bad thing to have only one (?) new side character introduced. Better than stories which can’t evolve what they have and instead rely on simply adding more and more and more (…) characters to the plot to keep interesting. This volume’s storyline adds slight depth, connects new dots between characters, and basically evolves them further. You get your fair share of rom, too.

The first half of the volume reads kind of “eh?” Right after you’re done with the first half and the big arc begins, it might make you wonder whether you’ve just read over 100 pages of filler or not. But if you think about it deeper, hardly anything is redundant. The “fillers” prepare plot that is still to come, it’s a pretty smart way of doing things since it doesn’t interrupt the “big arc” and hence doesn’t slow down the pace unnecessarily, and it’s far from boring to read as there’s a lot of variety in the small arcs.

Another great thing is how the illustrations work. Normally, light novels feel like text and illustrations are somewhat disconnected. The text’s being written, then the author tells the illustrator where he’d like some pictures, they put them in there, done. But Shomin Sample does it differently. The illustrations are worked into the story. Examples: biblical happening, Aika’s praying, the first bunny toy incident, where the author/illustrator team even went out of their way to fully visualize an (until now?) unimportant background character. More often than not they’re simply made into mannequins with some more or less fancy hairstyle. During bunny illustration related part, however, what has been forgotten isn’t pointed out, and the girl isn’t someone who’s been named until that point (unless I’ve totally forgotten). So it then dawns on you when you turn the page and see the bunny and you can have a look at the girl they were talking about. Really good stuff.

So, 10/10? No. It doesn’t feel like a masterpiece, there are even better volumes before this one in the series. While it’s far from bad, it lacks the truly epic experience. And while things are in motion, it feels more like small steps are being taken. It’s on the lower 8 scale. In my opinion – and reviews are all about personal, subjective opinions – Shomin Sample is the textbook example of a romantic comedy. It has just about everything. Even a yandere. And the series’ greatness is thanks to the author’s utter talent. He turned something that – going by the specs – couldn’t get all too interesting into a very round and captivating rom-com experience. Two off-topic questions float across my mind in that regard: Can the author, Nanatsuki Takafumi, uphold this quality or, God forbid, even outdo himself? And, if the series ever ends, what kind of setting will he turn into gold next?

tl;dr: if you like rom-coms, there’s no way past this series.

Rating 8/10

 

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