“7,500 yen to open a door?! What a ripoff!”
“Please remember to bring your key with you next time, ma’am.”
You get into your company car and start driving back to the office.
Customers just don’t understand the difficulties you have to go through.
Delicate work. Immediate responses. Low pay. People who think the job is as easy as it looks.
You should talk to your manager about this later today. Maybe if you act a bit tough, he’ll even give you a small raise…
“There are plenty of people who can replace you!”
The manager’s words are still ringing in your head as you walk home.
Somehow, this seems to be the story of your life. Average grades at school, decent athletic abilities, unremarkable skills…
Do people only want talent?
Does no one want you in this world…?
Why are you here anyway?
Maybe…dying’s not so bad.
Where’s this light coming…from…
Is…this how your life ends?
Would your death even matter?
No, no, no, no, no…
W-where’s the truck?
There’s no pain anywhere on your body!
It feels like you’re lying on a bed or something…
Wait, where is this?
Hmm? Is someone there?
You turn and find your face-to-face with a girl. She’s…pretty…
“Are you…going senile agai…?”
Her eyes meet yours…and widen in shocked surprise.
Within seconds, she leaps up, takes out a knife and points it at your face!
“Wh-who are you? A thief? A pervert?!”
An old man’s voice?
You turn to the room’s doorway and see an old man with a white beard dressed in a brown robe and a pointed hat. Is that cosplay?
Not from this world?! What does that mean?
Handyman Saitou in Another World (便利屋斎藤さん、異世界に行く, Benriya Saitou san, Isekai ni Iku) is a web manga and manga written by Kazutomo Ichitomo (一智 和智, Ichitomo Kazutomo).
Griping over his thankless, low-paying job as a handyman, Saitou is utterly miserable over the idea of no one needing him. Lost in thought, he fails to notice an oncoming truck barreling towards him until it’s too late…and suddenly finds himself in another world.
Saitou immediately meets three adventurers and joins them in their expeditions in the Great Labyrinth, an underground dungeon complex filled with monsters and the occasional treasure. He quickly becomes an asset with the skills that he once thought worthless by picking locks, dismantling traps and repairing armor. He also befriends Mevena, a shop clerk, and Donbine, a dwarf metalworker, who are impressed with his skills. For the first time in his life, Saitou feels that he is truly making a difference.
One day, Saitou discovers a Roomba in the Labyrinth and follows it to a hidden door. With the aid of the wizard Morlock, the door is opened, leading to an unexplored area of the Labyrinth that would later be called “Saitou’s Tunnel”. Adventurers from all over the country once again gathered at the Labyrinth, attracted by promises of undiscovered riches and lore. Among these eclectic personalities are the chosen hero Cainz, the cynical priest Montiel Puitt, the elf brawler Flan’nil Nil Ar’nil and the dwarf sorcerer Gibengur.
Within Saitou’s Tunnel, the adventurers find a room with several mysterious items that Saitou recognizes as objects from his world. Here, they are ambushed by the assassin Kisurugi and his allies. After a grueling battle, the outmatched Kisurugi summons a multi-eyed devil to aid him. The creature proves to be nearly invincible to both weapons and magic, so Saitou proposes to have Morlock cast a particularly powerful spell that he found when perusing the old wizard’s spellbooks: a spell that stops time.
No longer living an uneventful life, Saitou continues to search for meaning.
Saitou (斎藤, Saitō), a Japanese handyman. Friendly yet insecure, he is eager to be as helpful to his new friends as he could. Saitou’s skill with locks is such that he was able to unlock the 108-lock door (guarded against magic!) preventing access to Donbine’s workshop. He also helps his team by carrying different weapons for Raelza, memorizing spell incantations for the forgetful Morlock and defending Lafan from attack. With this, Saitou is essentially the linchpin of his team, which is demonstrated when the others struggle without him after he caught a cold! Despite all this, he still doubts himself at times.
Raelza Morlock, a beautiful warrior and Morlock’s adopted daughter. A tomboy with a dry personality, she gradually warms up to Saitou over time and even becomes attracted to him but she denies it. Raelza is self-conscious about the scar on her right cheek, which was inflicted on her by a goblin when she started out as an adventurer. She is also frightened of eels and other long, slimy creatures. As the fighter of her team, Raelza usually uses a large broadsword and wears heavy armor, but she is skilled with many kinds of weapons. Since Morlock and Lafan are both magicians with no skill in combat, she often had to divide her attention between fighting monsters and protecting them. With Saitou’s aid, Raelza can now focus more attention on the monsters.
Morlock, an elderly, semi-retired wizard. Lewd and senile, he is a magician capable of casting powerful magic, but he now often forgets the incantations for such magic! For this reason, he relies on Saitou to remember the incantations for him to recite. Morlock enjoys gambling and flirting with any beautiful women he finds, be they human or otherwise. He also suffers from near-constant back pain, much to Lafan’s annoyance. According to his former apprentice, the dwarf sorcerer Gibengur, Morlock was once a legendary wizard from the far east, named Bergheim Chrome, who left 20 years ago to seek forbidden magic. “Morlock” was an alias he used in the past when flirting with women. Of course, Morlock himself doesn’t remember or admit this.
Lafanpan, a moonlight fairy. Playful yet acquisitive, she is a divine sorceress who asks for upfront payment for her healing magic unless the situation is life-threatening. Despite this, Lafan believes in fair exchange and doesn’t like charity, preferring people to pay for their own needs. She must regularly sacrifice gold to the full moon in order to keep herself from shrinking. Lafan likes to tease Raelza about her feelings towards Saitou and tries to encourage the warrior to be more honest with herself.
This story is presented in a slice-of-life fashion, placing no importance on a particular plot. To me, what makes it relatable is the main character’s personal crisis of feeling worthless. It’s all too easy to think that a job is as easy as it looks because the one doing the job has the skills and experience to do said job smoothly. We also now live in a world where people actually have to compete for jobs, even internships! Because of this, employers often feel they can afford to be harsher to their staff or even replace those who so much as grumble under their breath. After all, who’d want to go job hunting at an uncertain time such as this?
It’s easy to find handymen, office workers, waiters, nurses and such who are desperate for almost any sort of job these days. It’s also not unusual to find university graduates doing jobs that underpay them. But this does not make them worthless. Far from it! These people have to put up with others’ selfishness every day in order to make a living. It’s something we take for granted easily when we’re the customer! These people all have the skills and patience to ensure that the world we live in continues to run smoothly.
The world runs on countless little tasks that keep our lives as free from trouble as possible. For example, the Internet is run on a near-infinite number of computer programs that all have to work in unison for the combined whole to run smoothly. Computer programmers and hardware producers all over the world have the unenviable task of repairing these programs constantly. While these people are easily missed, their services are what keep the Internet from shutting down in less than a day! Accountants have to work every day to ensure that up-to-date financial records are kept in order to prevent fraud and corruption in the companies they work for. Nurses have to keep constant vigil over patients in order to relieve the burden of doctors. The things we take for granted can easily disappear and we’d suffer for it.
Once we understand how our work contributes to making life easier for others, large or small, we achieve a sense of fulfillment that cannot be acquired in any other way. For example, if even just one person enjoys reading this blog post, I’d be happy!
Large or small, the jobs we do all help to keep the world running. Be proud.