Light Novel Review: Shurabara! Volume 1

Who Would Like this Series/Volume?


It’s a romantic comedy. It closely resembles other romantic comedies like Nisekoi and OreShura. There isn’t much drama involved and the contents aren’t extreme. So if you’re looking for something light on the stomach and don’t expect Shakespeare’s rebirth from it, you’re all set.

For: People who like rom-coms in general.

Difficulty


I’d judge it a 3/10. The grammar difficulty’s basic. Sentence complexity’s elemental. The word choice can be difficult here and there, but this is still a light novel and targets not people who are learning the language but natives, of course. If you keep in mind that you’ll look up words every now and then, you shouldn’t have to face too many problems reading. It was light enough to serve as my bedtime reading.

Difficulty 3/10

Translation Where?


There is a partway translation of volume 1 on Baka-Tsuki. I haven’t read it. But let’s face it, it’s likely not worth it. Why? Well, I’m just gonna show you two versions of only the chapter titles that have been translated. One is from Baka-Tsuki, the other one done by Google Translations™. You guess which is which.

This Is Not Simply Popular Period VS. It’s Not My Popular Period
Congratulations, Our Kazuhiro-kun VS. Congratulations, Our Kazuhiro-kun
Hunted After by MIB? VS. MIB is Aiming?
I am the Messiah? VS. I am Messiah?

But as I’ve heard, there’s a manga of it, which should also have a translation. I’ve also heard it’s rather a best-of than a faithful adaption. I’ve no idea. You go find out and decide.

Translation: Maybe the manga will save you. Then again, >Scanlations.

Premise


Kazuhiro (一大, praise Japanese name readings) is what you’d call a “friendzoned guy” these days. He’d love nothing more but to have a girlfriend, does his full-blown studies on girls’ hobbies and tastes, so that he can say what they want to hear and take them where they want to go. As a result, he gets very close to them, but maybe too close, because every single confession of his has been turned down with the words, “I rather want to be friends with you.” And as if that wouldn’t be enough already, he’s even being asked by his male friends, to tell girls that they like them, and vice versa being asked by his female friends to tell certain guys. Putting it bluntly, he’s bringing couples together like Valentine, yet can’t find his significant other.

One day he just can’t take it anymore. Sitting on a grassy he thinks about what he did so far and where it’d gotten him. Bugged by the results, he begins rolling around in irritation and voices his desire to find a girlfriend, when he’s suddenly being called out by a girl. Saotome, a glasses girl from his class which doesn’t really stand out in any regard, be it either looks, socializing, or class participation. Where will this encounter lead Kazuhiro?

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
shurabara_ci
Top: Kazuhiro. Left to right: Saotome, Takana, Sanae.

Saotome steps up to Kazuhiro and tells him that she’s always kept watching him. She then asks him whether he’d like to go out with her. At first, Kazuhiro’s stunned. But soon enough he gives his clear consent. Suddenly, Saotome shows relief that Kazuhiro is ready to be her fake boyfriend. Kazuhiro himself doesn’t know what’s going on, she pulls out her phone and replays the scene that had just happened. Sure enough, Saotome did talk about a fake relationship, albeit in a very small voice; and Kazuhiro had given his consent. As Kazuhiro grows reluctant whether he really wants to do that, Saotome also replays a video recording of him rolling about and voicing his true desire. If that were to be leaked, he wouldn’t be the “nice guy” anymore, but a calculating leech in heat. He has no choice but to obey.

After school, Kazuhiro works part-time at a maid café. A coworker of his is a girl named Sanae. She tends to be clumsy and is being hit on by customers from time to time, hence Kazuhiro helps her out with one matter or the other now and then. This day, however, she steps up to him after work and asks him in uneasiness, whether he would mind to act out a fake relationship with her. Kazuhiro’s astonished, didn’t this exact request happen today already? Of course he wants to know the reasons, but she insists that she can’t tell him and wants him to simply trust her. So he does.

Lastly, after work, he returns home. Then he cooks and makes his way to the neighbors. There his childhood friend Takana lives. A strong girl who’s killed a bear with her own hands once and is considered a prodigy martial artist, also besting her father, a master of martial arts, when she had still been a child. After waking her up while fearing that she could instinctively beat the intruder to a pulp, Takana asks a favor of Kazuhiro. And sure enough, even she asks him to enter a fake relationship with him. Kazuhiro can’t believe it, three times? The exact same thing? Nobody took an interest in me and now this? Though all of them were fake, Kazuhiro was basically three-timing now. It’d be him and Saotome at school, him and Sanae at work, and him and Takana after all that. He decides to go with it, since, after all, Takana is his childhood friend. Quite lucky considering the circumstances, a clear separate handling of the fake relationships seems possible.

Kazuhiro then finds out the reasons, why the three girls need fake boyfriends. First, Saotome. In fact, the usually plain girl (now all styled up and beautiful “for her ‘boyfriend'”) is a voice actress. A not yet popular one who does only voice some educational show for children, but a voice actress nonetheless. She wants to understand “love”, so that she can dub the big timers. As she hardly has time for anything else, she doesn’t know anyone she could ask for this. And going by her observations, Kazuhiro as the “nice guy” suits the purpose perfectly.

Then, he goes on a “date” with Sanae. She dresses him up in a suit at a high-class clothes store and takes him to an art gallery. All the while they are being tailed by some folks in suits who emit a strict and kinda dangerous air. He decides to take Sanae by the hand and runs away with her. Once he thinks they had been able to escape from their followers, Kazuhiro gets to know that Sanae is actually the successor of a big financial group and guesses (or is told, don’t remember clearly) that Sanae herself had had several marriage interviews, but turned them all down because she doesn’t want to leave school and be someone’s wife and instead wants to find out more about the ways of the world, hence she started working at a maid café (she wanted to know how her servants feel, although professional maids and maid café maids couldn’t be more different). To escape from those interviews once and for all, she had to present some kind of boyfriend, and being in a renowned girls-only academy, she didn’t know anyone but Kazuhiro to ask.

His next duty is to meet up with Takana, because her friends want to actually see her boyfriend. This doesn’t sound that difficult to Kazuhiro, but once he meets up with Takana, she takes him into a punky clothes store and dresses him up like some weird 90s armageddon battle manga character: messed up hair, protectors, strange clothing. She tells him to act “manly”. Not even having the time to question all this, she drags him to her girls-only school. There Momono and some other girls had been waiting for them. Momono seems sceptical right off the bat and wonders whether “That guy is stronger than Onee-sama?” Apparently, Takana had stated that she’d only date someone who’s stronger than she herself who has bested a bear. The girls in the girls-only school seem to admire, if not fall in love, with Takana, she doesn’t want to hurt them so she decided to first tell them the “stronger than herself” story. And as that didn’t work either, she simply said, she had already found someone. However, Momono isn’t content with just words, she wants proof. Hence they go to a game center, where a sort of strength tester has been installed – “Takana Edition”. It’s said to withstand even the attack of an on-rushing train, since Takana had destroyed the earlier version with her punch. Takana assumes stance and strikes it. The machine signals that she had the strength to destroy a meteoroid big enough to destroy the Earth. Kazuhiro gulps. But being urged on by Momono, he has no choice. He lunges out and punches the machine. Nothing. Takana tries to cover it up by saying he didn’t want to shame his girlfriend by overtaking her. Of course, Momono is still sceptical and demands further proof at a later point.

As Kazuhiro walks around with Saotome, he feels like they’re being followed and/or eyed. But whenever he turns around to check, no one’s there. But Saotome feels the same. However, she has to part with him, since she’s plans to meet with some friends. Kazuhiro would like to accompany her to the meeting point, but his part-time shift’s about to begin, so he calms her down and reluctantly lets her go by herself. She then meets with her old friends that she met at a Karate tournament that she was the announcer of in the past – Sanae and Takana. Sanae and her financial group had been the sponsors of the tournament, while Takana, of course, had been participating. They end up having a girls talk which revolves around love. Takana and Sanae talk about their recently acquired relationships in a pretty happy manner, and Saotome listens in silence, growing more suspicious by the minute. When the other two are about to ask Saotome about her new male acquaintance, she somewhat manages to block the attempt, excuses herself, and takes her leave. Arriving at home, she wonders whether it could be Kazuhiro they were dating. Kazuhiro had turned her down several times when she had tried to visit his workplace and she had called him on his “date” with Takana, where he talked and acted all strange. Sanae had happened to meet her boyfriend at work, as for Takana it had been her childhood friend. She decides to confront him.

During the confrontation, Kazuhiro completely fails to talk himself out of the matter and his cover is blown. Saotome is utterly upset about him “three-timing”, though she doesn’t quite understand whether it’s the fact that it’s especially him being in a relationship with other girls or the fact that it’s her friends who are being betrayed that upsets her. To make matters worse, Sanae has asked him on a date on the coming Sunday to verify to Shizuka, kinda Sanae’s stand-in parent and her stand-in as the head of the financial group until Sanae herself can take over (who was one of the suit people that tailed them), that she has a genuine and suitable boyfriend. At the same time, Takana asked him to have a date with her, since Momono, too, hadn’t accepted their relationship yet. He desperately tries to solve this double-booking by talking it out with either of them, but rescheduling appears impossible. Saotome asks Kazuhiro why on Earth’s he’s doing all this to the girls. He, though, concludes that when the girls hadn’t told her that those relationships were fakes, they must have reasons for keeping quiet about it. Therefore, he also decides to keep quiet, falls to his knees and simply begs Saotome to believe that there are reasons he has to date both of them especially this Sunday. With tears in her eyes, she tells him that she will somewhat believe him that the coming Sunday will be important and decides to help him out. However, their relationship would be over and she’ll also blow his cover to the other two afterwards. He can only agree.

On said Sunday, he dates Sanae with her guardian Shizuka in a restaurant on nearly the top floor of a business skyscraper and Takana, with Momono in the shadows, on the ground-floor to visit a wrestling performance (the staged kind of wrestling). Saotome is connected to him by an earbud and monitors the situation by microphones hidden in accessories that Kazuhiro had gifted the girls without them knowing that there’s something hidden in said accessories. She’s situated in a meeting room in-between floors, where Kazuhiro runs in and from to change between wearing a suit and his tribute-to-the-90s clothing and hairstyle. In a bind, she provides him with ad-lib and also notices him when one party grows impatient. Of course, this altering and hurriedly changing appearances and floors doesn’t go all too well and instead of doing one job right, either one of the parties grows more and more suspicious and impatient, as Kazuhiro disappears for about 20 minutes every time. The two girls push more and more for an explanation that Kazuhiro, of course, can’t give.

When both of the dates seem to shift into chaos, Kazuhiro hears something unexpected from his earbud. A disgusting, smelling, and violent otaku and obsessed fan appears to intrude into Sanae’s surveillance room – and he has a knife. Calling her Kururu-chan – one of her earlier dubbed kids show characters, whose show had to be discontinued even though popular, as stalking fans had appeared – he seems to be the stalker whose gaze Kazuhiro and Saotome had felt the other day. Kazuhiro leaves his present scene immediately and heads for Saotome’s room. As if things weren’t bad enough already, one elevator’s broken (by Sanae, she’s very bad with electronics) and the other one’s on its way up already. Kazuhiro has no choice but to take the stairs. About 23 (?) floors up. Nonetheless, he fights his way up, enters the room and fights the disgusting otaku-gone-bad. With a punch he had learned from Takana – he had asked her to teach him because since he had felt the stalking gazes, he felt he needed to be able to protect the people close to him – he takes out the Otaku. Saotome is still confused and frightened, yet relieved. However, Kazuhiro doesn’t stick around too long. When she asks him where he’s headed, he simply states that the other two are still waiting. Even though he’s totally out of breath and in a miserable state overall, he takes his leave.

He then arrives at the restaurant again – in his armageddon clothing. After Sanae and Shizuka ask him, what on Earth that appearance’s about, his phone rings. It’s Saotome. She tells him to hand the phone to Sanae. She then acts out a director who was shooting a movie with the deadline approaching fast and persuades the two that Kazuhiro had no time to begin with on that day, since he was helping out in said movie. After that matters resolved, he joins Takana again. The wrestling match is long since over. Evidently irritated, Takana’s waiting with Momono in the lobby. When she asks Kazuhiro where he’s been, his phone rings yet again. Of course, it’s Saotome. He hands the phone over and she then acts as if she was a lost little girl who had been harassed by some guys, which Kazuhiro had taken care of. This pacifies the two girls and even satisfies Momono’s doubts for the moment. All’s well that ends well.

After that chaotic day’s over, Kazuhiro meets with Saotome in a park the week after. Contrary to that past Sunday, she’s dressed up and stylish this time and tells him, she wants to keep up the act and while Kazuhiro doesn’t really know what’s going on, as he believed she’d simply tell him to get lost now, they then have a picnic. The troubles for Kazuhiro seem to be far from over.

Conclusion


Volume 1 Cover
Volume 1 Cover

The first volume of the Shurbara!-series has quite the interesting approach. Instead of being in a single fake relationship with the other heroine’s watching like some female cuckolds, the protagonist has to play out all relationships which allows the author to let the main character progress farther without making the girls look like, cough, whores. Since there are, at least in volume 1, no battles involved, the series will have to focus on character relationships and character development, which is far more appealing to me than the usual battle series with its cookie-cutter approach: fight -> be beaten -> grow stronger -> fight -> victory -> new opponent -> repeat.

The character design altogether is to my liking. We’ve got one part-way ally with Saotome, who’s pretty straight-forward as a character. We got the mandatory ojou-sama and the childhood friend who can kill a grizzly with her hands. The rom-com gang’s all here. Their personalities aren’t all too worn out, so throughout the whole volume, there was hardly any eye-rolling on my part. A good sign. It’s not a serious novel, but nor stupid either – and far from unbearingly stupid like other light novels I’ve read. It all plays out fairly plausible. The comedy’s there and something between solid and good; I haven’t cried tears – neither of joy nor despair.

Alas, the story feels shallow overall. I don’t get the feeling as if the author will surprise me all too often. It is interesting to read, but it doesn’t swipe me off my feet. I’m glad, though, that we have the tomboy childhood friend and she’s not flat! My rating’s a 7/10, since I’m a rom-com fan overall. The series can become an 8/10 in case the author’s better than I expect him to be and a 6/10 or even 5/10 if stuff grows dull and the setting wears out quickly as I currently expect it to.

It’s likely not a master piece but very solid and fun.

Rating 7/10

 

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2 thoughts on “Light Novel Review: Shurabara! Volume 1

  1. I like reviews, especially if they’re about happy stories; this one seems like a light hearted, zero drama one so I’m all for it. I’ll keep that in mind if they make an anime out of it.
    I lol’d at the google translator part.
    Thanks for the fun post! Oh, and of course, “post more, next review when”. The overly synthetic english and the lack of “please” are intentional, it’s to bring you the typical comment flavor that keeps you motivated 😛

    • I will write more reviews. It’s nice to think back on what you just read and see how much actually stuck with you. I gotta admit that I had to look up almost every name. I’m not good with names.

      I could review Hundred 2, for instance. But nothing much stuck with me. Same for ShominSample 4. Maybe I’ll skim through them once more.

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