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Jobless Reincarnation

Spoiler Alert!

It was just another day of typing away at your computer when your siblings, having finally lost patience with your inability to be independent, throw you out of the house after your parents’ funeral. Overweight, jobless, penniless and aimless, you come to the conclusion that you wasted your life. In this haze of despondence, you see three high school students about to be run over by a truck. Deciding that saving their lives would give some meaning to your own, you push them out of the way…and the world turns black. When you open your eyes again, it is through the eyes of baby born to a fantasy world of swords and sorcery…

Jobless Reincarnation: I Will Seriously Try If I Go To Another World (無職転生 ~異世界行ったら本気だす~, Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu) is a web novel, manga and upcoming anime written by Rifujin na Magonote (理不尽な孫の手).

The hero of this story is Rudeus “Rudy” Greyrat, a reincarnated 34-year old reclusive, perverted NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) who has vowed to not repeat the mistakes of his old life and focus on making the best of his new one. Retaining his memories and self-awareness from rebirth, Rudy secretly practices magic as a baby but his talents are soon discovered by his parents, Paul and Zenith Greyrat.

At three years old, Rudy is introduced to his magic tutor Roxy Migurdia, a seasoned adventurer and mage and a native of the far-away Demon Continent. Under her tutelage, Rudy learns to control and develop his magic while his father Paul teaches him the art of swordsmanship. Two years later, Roxy declares that Rudy has learned all that she can teach him, giving him a wand (the mark of a mage who has completed basic training) and departing.

Rudy then meets Sylphiette, a young girl of his age, when she is being bullied by other children. Over the next two years, the two children develop a close bond of friendship with each other. Deciding that time away from his family would be best for Rudy, Paul and Zenith decide to send their son to live with relatives in the Citadel of Roa. It is there that Rudy meets Eris Boreas Greyrat, daughter of the aristocratic Boreas Greyrat family and a distant older cousin to Rudy himself. After a hostile first impression and a few misadventures, Eris gradually learns to trust and respect Rudy, eventually accepting him as her tutor in magic and general knowledge (i.e. reading, writing, mathematics).

A few days after his 10th birthday, Rudy takes Eris and her bodyguard Ghislaine out of Roa to demonstrate the limits of his magic. As he begins, Rudy sees unusual clouds gather above Roa in the distance and then, with Roa at the epicenter, a flash of bright light growing to encompass the land around it…

Characters

Rudeus “Rudy” Greyrat, the son of Paul and Zenith Greyrat, born in Buena Village in the Asura Kingdom of the western Central Continent. Before his reincarnation, he was an unnamed 34-year old who spent much of his life alone in his room after being persecuted at his high school. By the time he was kicked out by his own family, he came to the realization that had he made different choices, his life would have been better. Seeing his reincarnation as a chance to become the best he can be, Rudy embarks on a lifelong quest to improve himself in as many ways as possible, be it learning new skills, developing himself as a person, establishing lasting friendships and, most importantly, securing a girlfriend! He soon becomes a capable warrior, a skilled magician and a polyglot. Rudy will soon find himself challenged in ways that even his old life could never prepare him for.

Roxy Migurdia, a female, blue-haired Migurd mage and adventurer. Despite appearing to be around 12 years old, Roxy is actually an adult (she was 37 years old when she first met Rudy, making both of them technically the same age!). Born in the Migurd Village in the Begonia Region of the northern Demon Continent, Roxy was born without her race’s natural telepathy. While she wasn’t treated badly by her family or her peers, Roxy felt like an outcast within her village since she had no way to understand those who normally didn’t need to speak aloud. Roxy’s life changed when a passing mage/travelogue writer visited her village and taught her the basics of magic. A year after the mage left the village, Roxy, then aged 14, decided to leave the village as well in order to travel the world her teacher described so vividly. Over the years, she developed her magic skills (becoming particularly skilled in water magic), became an experienced adventurer and eventually graduated from the famous Ranoa Magic Academy. During her time as Rudy’s magic tutor, Roxy taught the boy not only magic but also how to overcome the trauma from his past life. She is the main character of the prequel manga story Jobless Reincarnation: Roxy is Serious (無職転生 ~ロキシーだって本気です~, Mushoku Tensei: Roxy Datte Honki Desu).

Sylphiette (a.k.a. “Sylphie”), a young green-haired girl with pointed ears and a talented mage. Sylphie has a diverse ancestry, being the daughter of a half-elf father and a human mother with a beastman lineage. Her family moved to the Buena Village when her father found work there as a hunter. She was soon bullied by the village’s children for her green hair, which is said to be the sign of the Magic Race that once betrayed humanity in an ancient war. After Rudy protects her from the bullies, the two children form a deep friendship with each other, almost to the point of co-dependence. Because of this, Paul and Zenith decide to send Rudy to Roa to further his education and experience. Sylphie missed Rudy but later decided to work on improving herself and the magic he taught her in order to make sure that she would not be dependent on him when they meet again.

Eris Boreas Greyrat, the heiress of the Boreas Greyrat family, one of the noble families of the Asura Kingdom. Her first meeting with her younger distant relative Rudy was far from amiable, consisting of her punching him in the face and declaring that she’ll never learn anything from him. Hot-tempered, impulsive, strong, and spoiled, Eris proved to be quite a handful for Rudy, who was given the job of being Eris’ tutor in exchange for enough money to pay for his and Sylphie’s future education at the Ranoa Magic Academy. Rudy is soon able to win Eris’ grudging respect through a combination of showing her the cruelties of the real world, demonstrating his own skills and understanding her as a student and a person. During this time, Eris discovers a talent for swordsmanship, which meshed well with her temperament. She also develops a crush on Rudy, which would blossom into true love as the years go by.

Personal Thoughts

The story features a fair deal of worldbuilding, with an established geography of three main continents (along with villages, cities and different regional cultures), a currency system, an international guild system for adventurers and mages, a bit of background history for the world and a few unique humanoid races alongside elves (who created the world’s magic) and dwarves. Jobless Reincarnation touches on some of the more common issues of our world such as the need to work day-by-day to earn a living, working with other people despite personal differences and coping with death. It also touches a bit on the sensitive problem of racial discrimination, since many humans discriminate against the Magic Races for the aid their ancestors gave to a legendary demon god centuries ago.

The most compelling thing in Jobless Reincarnation is Rudy’s determination to make the best of his new life after being utterly miserable with his old life in Japan. The bullying Rudy went through during his first life is sadly a not an uncommon occurrence in Japan, where social conformity is quietly encouraged, hence the saying: “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” As a result, Rudy developed serious flaws that dragged him down even further such as his inability to empathize with others, his fear of failure and his inability focus on his dreams, making him quick to give up.

In his new world, Rudy faces choices and problems far harder than he could have faced in Japan, yet he soldiers on through sheer determination and his own desire to be reliable to those he cares for, despite (or perhaps because of) being fully aware of his past life’s failures. This need for self-determination and self-improvement is also a trait demonstrated at various degrees by many of the other heroic characters of Jobless Reincarnation. It sounds simple when you see it or read about it, but having the actual need and willpower to do it is not something that everyone has.

Moral

You must keep learning and stay determined if you wish to improve your life.

The Rising of the Shield Hero

Spoiler Alert!

There’s no class today and you don’t have much money to spend, so now you’re at the library to read some light novels again.

You browse through the shelves and pull out a book…along with a few others by accident!

As you pick the books off the floor, one of them catches your eye.

“The History of the Four Legendary Weapons”

Maybe just a quick glance…

“When calamity befalls a certain world, four heroes will be called forth from other worlds to defend it. These heroes each wield one of the Four Legendary Weapons: The Sword, the Spear, the Bow and the Shield.”

Isn’t a shield more like armor than a weapon?

Inside the book, you find a picture of a beautiful woman with a condescending, haughty smile. Just looking at it makes you a bit nervous…

Hmm? The pages are turning blank.

Suddenly, you’re…falling?!

Moments later, you land on a cold, hard floor.

“It worked!”

Huh? What worked?

You get to your feet and look around.

You’re in a large hall that looks a throne room in a European Medieval castle. At the far end are two thrones. On one of them, there sits a regal-looking old man wearing a crown. He regards you with apprehension.

Next to you are three other young Japanese men, holding a sword, a spear and a bow. They’re wearing modern-day clothes too.

Why does your right arm feel heavy?

Looking down, you find…a shield?!

“Oh Heroes of Legend! Please save our world!”, says a man in black robes.

You cannot help but smile. A classic fantasy adventure! It’s every otaku’s dream!

As you look over the people in the hall, you glimpse a beautiful, red-haired young woman. Where have you seen her before? Perhaps you could form a team with her later…

The Rising of the Shield Hero (の勇者の成り上がり, Tate no Yūsha no Nariagari) is a web novel, light novel series, manga and anime written by Aneko Yusagi (アネコユサギ, Aneko Yusagi). There is also a spin-off manga.

Suddenly transported to another world, the 20-year old college student Naofumi Iwatani learned that he was summoned by King Aultcray Melromarc XXXII as one of the Four Heroes who must save the country of Melromarc from the Waves of Calamity, a series of invasions by non-native monsters of unknown origin. While the other three Heroes receive the Sword, the Spear and the Bow, Naofumi receives the Shield as his legendary weapon. Because the Shield is considered the weakest of the four weapons, no one is willing to join Naofumi except Myne Sophia, a beautiful human magician. Both of them spend a day together shopping and fighting a few battles against monsters. The next day, Naofumi wakes up and finds Myne, his armor and his money missing. A moment later, several guards forcefully escort him to the castle, where Myne accuses him of raping her last night in front of the King and the other three Heroes. Despite Naofumi’s protests, the King quickly declares him a criminal to the country at large.

Now a penniless outcast, the bitter Naofumi eventually meets a shady slave trader who tells him that slaves have magical seals that prevent them from lying to or betraying their master. Liking this idea, Naofumi purchases a young demi-human girl named Raphtalia and trains her to fight. During a Wave, they help fight off monsters attacking a village and evacuate its people, earning their gratitude.

At a feast held by King Aultclay, the Spear Hero, Motoyasu Kitamura, challenges Naofumi for Raphtalia’s freedom. Naofumi proves himself the stronger fighter, but is beaten when Myne uses her magic to help Motoyasu win. Despite the obvious cheating, the King declares Motoyasu the winner and reveals that Myne is actually his eldest daughter, Princess Malty Melromarc! Furious with Motoyasu’s presumption, Raphtalia chooses to remain as Naofumi’s slave. The Sword Hero and the Bow Hero then call out Malty and the King for their duplicity, allowing Naofumi to leave with his dignity intact. During a later visit to the slave trader, Naofumi purchases a monster egg that later hatches a baby female Filolial, a giant flightless bird used for riding or pulling carts. Named Filo by Naofumi, it grows quickly in size over three days and takes on the form of a young girl with blond hair!

In addition to taking on quests to help others, Naofumi takes up trading to earn a living. During this, he meets Princess Melty, Malty’s younger sister and heir to the Melromarc throne, who is ashamed of her sister’s and her father’s actions. After a failed coup by the local Three Heroes Church, Queen Mirellia, the true ruler of Melromarc, finally returns from abroad, exonerates Naofumi and punishes both Malty and the King for their callousness by stripping them of their status as royalty. Although things get better for the Shield Hero, the Waves remain a constant threat and Malty continues to cause untold misery for everyone. For the first time in a long while, Naofumi dares to hope again.

The Reprisal of the Spear Hero (槍の勇者のやり直し, Yari no Yūsha no Yarinaoshi) is a spin-off manga in which Motoyasu’s soul is sent back in time to the day of the Four Heroes’ summoning in Melromarc. Retaining partial memories from his original timeline, he quickly becomes Naofumi’s ally in this story. The Menu of the Shield Hero (盾の勇者のおしながき, Tate no Yūsha no Oshi Nagaki), a short manga written by Tendo Akano (赤野天道, Akano Tendō), features the food Naofumi and friends eat during their travels.

Clockwise from top: Naofumi, Raphtalia, Filo

Main Characters

Naofumi Iwatani (岩谷 尚文, Iwatani Naofumi), the Shield Hero, a former college student and an otaku. Disillusioned by Malty’s cruel betrayal, he became grumpy, cynical and mistrustful. While still selfless at heart, Naofumi is wary of trickery and takes a tough stance with strangers, such as asking for upfront payment for his services. Over time, he gradually learns to trust and love others again, particularly Raphtalia and Filo. As the Shield Hero, Naofumi can create and use dozens of different magical shields that grant him a wide variety of strong defenses (i.e. magic resistance, poison resistance) and power-ups (i.e. Defense up, Agility up). One of his most powerful shields is the Shield of Wrath, which draws upon his soul to create powerful counterattacks. In his endeavors as a part-time trader, Naofumi has become skilled at negotiation, cooking, crafting accessories and making healing potions.

The Shield of Wrath

Raphtalia, a tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog) demi-human fighter. Formerly a slave, she has become brave, confident and compassionate during her time with Naofumi. Since he was the first human to treat her with some kindness, Raphtalia is in love with him despite the fact that he considers her to be more like a daughter. Because she is a demi-human, her body quickly grew into that of a young adult as she grew in power (leveling up) along with the Shield Hero. She still retains some childish attitudes, such as getting jealous of girls who spend time with Naofumi for any reason. Because the Shield Hero has almost no offensive skills, Raphtalia has trained herself in swordsmanship and some illusion magic to back him up.

She’d rather be with him than be free

When she was 10 years old, Raphtalia was orphaned when her village was attacked during the first Wave and was taken as a slave by Melromarc knights immediately afterwards. She was then passed through several owners until she was sold to the slave trader. It is later revealed that Raphtalia’s late father was actually a prince from her home country.

Filo, a Filolial Queen. Caring, boisterous and somewhat silly, she has a short attention span and a ravenous appetite. Like most Filolials, she enjoys pulling carts, particularly Naofumi’s carriage, and has a strong dislike for dragons, her race’s natural enemy. Due to being in close proximity to a legendary weapon (the Shield), Filo grew into a Filolial Queen and gained the ability to take on a human form. She quickly learns how to fight and coordinate with her friends in battle and later becomes even stronger after she is chosen by Fitoria, the Queen of the Filolials, as her successor. Filo can also create tornados and enhance her speed with her natural skill in wind magic. In human form, she wears a magical dress that transforms with her so that it doesn’t get destroyed when she changes form.

Filo takes on a dragon zombie

Personal Thoughts

Finding himself at rock-bottom and driven by his desire for vengeance against Malty, Naofumi found it hard to trust people again, particularly if they happened to be beautiful women. At first, he trusted Raphtalia only because she was his slave, but he treated her decently and her loyalty to him grew to the point that she actually wanted to be his slave if it meant that she could have his trust. Through consistent selfless deeds, Naofumi becomes a hero in the eyes of those he helps and many people in Melromarc gradually find it hard to believe Malty and King Aultcray’s insistent claims that the Shield Hero is evil.

Naofumi sometimes has goods for trade in his carriage

The greatest source of misery in this story isn’t the Waves of Calamity, but one sociopathic, spoiled brat – Malty. Caring only about herself, she lies to, seduces and manipulates others into doing what she wants, only to casually betray them when they are of no further use to her. For people such as her father and Motoyasu, Malty constantly flatters them and convinces them to act on their most selfish, destructive desires, no matter how much suffering they bring to others. In hindsight, it was more or less fortunate that she betrayed Naofumi so quickly! If backed into a corner, Malty would shamelessly beg for mercy, even from those she already betrayed.

This story demonstrates the dangers of extreme selfishness, especially when one is deluded, malicious or self-righteous. Such people inevitably harm others and are hated by everyone no matter what they believe or say. By contrast, those who are consistently helpful and unselfish will gain love and respect from others, even if there are people who try to slander them.

Moral

Who you are is defined by your actions, not words or beliefs.

The Villainess Reverses the Hourglass

Spoiler Alert!

“Lift her head.”

You feel something yank your head backwards and find yourself staring into the contemptuous eyes of your stepbrother Cain.

The bastards kept beating you as though you were a pig and your whole body is now covered in bruises. You barely stop yourself from fainting.

“Are you aware of your crimes?”

“…”

You don’t have the strength to answer. Even if you did, your scarred, salt-covered tongue wouldn’t oblige.

As you are dragged to the podium, you hear, “Brother, please let me say one last thing to Aria.”

It’s your stepsister Mielle, the benevolent lady you bullied for many years. Her smile radiated kindness, as though she were ready to forgive you.

“No.”

“Please, I must do this.”

With this, Cain shrugs and lets her pass. As Mielle wipes the tears from her eyes, the crowd quiets down, impressed by her mercy.

She comes face-to-face with you, as though to give you one last private message.

Then a sickly smile spreads across her face…

“Stupid, lowborn bitch. Did you enjoy playing the noble?”

“?”

“The maids who told you to do all those things worked for me, to make you into a villain for this moment.”

“!!”

“I’ve always hated you and your miserable slut of a mother, so I promised myself to give both of you the most painful end you deserve.”

Mielle barely holds back a mocking laugh. You feel your heart sink.

“I thought about poisoning you as I did your mother, but it’s more amusing this way, don’t you think?”

You feel rage building within you. You’d scream, but could only manage a weak, hacking cough.

Mielle turns toward the crowd, putting on her usual gentle expression once more.

“Farewell, Aria. I shall miss you.”

You are forced to the ground and you hear a sword being drawn.

You are too tired to feel pain, grief or even anger.

As your vision blurs, you somehow see an hourglass.

You want to go back…turn everything back…just like this hourglass…you’ll stop…being the fool…and save your mother…

“…a! Aria!”

You blink and find yourself sitting in the dining room of the Roscente mansion. Sitting at the table with you are Count Roscente, Mielle, Cain and…Mother?!

Why do they all look so young?

Your mother sighs and tells you, “You haven’t learned proper manners yet so how could I expect you to go out?” She then turns to a maid and says, “Please clean the floor.”

“Yes, milady!”

Your eyes fall on the concerned Mielle.

Did you really go back? If so, it’s only right to use this opportunity.

If it’s a villainess she wants, then that’s what she’ll get…

The Villainess Reverses the Hourglass (악녀는 모래시계를 되돌린다) is a webnovel, light novel series and webcomic written by Sansobee (산소비).

Born the only child of a poor prostitute, Aria lived a hard life until her mother married the Count Roscente as his second wife. Suddenly propelled to nobility, Aria quickly grew spoiled with her new luxurious lifestyle. For many years, she thoroughly enjoyed her new station in life, but gained a reputation among the local nobility as a beautiful, yet ill-tempered and vulgar, woman. At 24, Aria was accused of poisoning her own mother. Moments before her execution, Aria was approached by her stepsister Mielle Roscente, seemingly to argue for mercy. It was then that Mielle privately confessed to poisoning Aria’s mother and deliberately sullying Aria’s reputation for years, having hated her stepfamily since the very beginning. Shocked and enraged at this horrifying revelation, Aria saw hallucinations of an hourglass as her life came to an end…

Maybe you should have kept your mouth shut, Mielle

Suddenly, Aria found herself having dinner with her family in the Roscente mansion, as though nothing had happened. Realizing that her soul was taken thirteen years into the past, Aria vows to ruin Mielle and the rest of the Roscente family for her unjust death. Having neglected her noble education during her first life, she now takes to learning with a newfound passion, quickly becoming skilled in ladies’ arts such as embroidery, music, courtly manners and conversation, as well as history, politics and literature. She also works to make friends, such as her tutor Sarah Loren (the future Marquess Vincent), and build her own social reputation in order to fight the preconceptions of her as a prostitute’s daughter and vicious rumors spread by Mielle. Aria also works to hijack Mielle’s relationship with her fiancé Oscar Frederick, just to make her stepsister squirm.

Aria presents Oscar a handkerchief with the Frederick family crest, a sign of her favor

Having taken a new direction in life, Aria inevitably changes history as she knows it. As her reputation grows, Mielle’s hatred of her surfaces much sooner. As a result, Mielle secretly tries to harm or murder Aria several times, such as arranging a carriage accident and poisoning her tea. Unknown to Aria, the Crown Prince Franz Asher takes a growing interest in her after a chance meeting with her. Behind the scenes, the ambitious Isis Frederick plots to seize control of the royal family.

With a determination and passion fueled by vengeance, Aria is on the path to becoming the greatest villainess of all.

Main Characters

Aria Roscente, stepdaughter of Count Roscente through his second wife and Mielle’s elder stepsister. Neglected by her permissive mother during her early years, she was once spoiled and ill-mannered, but is now calculating, patient and vengeful. Learning from Mielle’s example, Aria cultivates the image of a kind, thoughtful noblewoman in contrast to the bad rumors about her. Disillusioned by the unjust end of her first life, Aria has hard time accepting genuine kindness from those who offer care and love without expecting anything in return. At the end of her first life, she somehow acquired a magical hourglass that gives her limited control over the flow of time, which enabled her to go back more than a decade before her death. After she has the hourglass repaired, Aria discovers that she can use it to turn back time by five minutes once per day whenever she flips it over.

Aria with her hourglass

Mielle Roscente, daughter of Count Roscente and Aria’s younger stepsister. Although known in the kingdom as a saint, she is actually a crafty manipulator who secretly disdains all commoners, especially her stepfamily. During Aria’s first life, Mielle tricked her stepsister by encouraging her worst traits and spreading bad rumors about her, while enhancing her own reputation as an innocent victim. In her second life, Aria is now quickly outshining her stepsister, resulting in the younger girl’s humiliation at times. With each disgrace and failure she suffers, big or small, Mielle loses a bit of her sanity and social standing, just as Aria intended.

Mielle exposed in a lie by Aria

Oscar Frederick, heir of the Frederick dukedom, Mielle’s fiancé and younger brother of Isis, the Crown Prince’s fiancée. Honest, sensitive and shy, he has a habit of being kind to those obviously in need. In an ironic twist, he is the polar opposite of his sister Isis, who is ambitious, cunning and utterly ruthless. As one of her plans to humiliate her stepsister, Aria has started to court Oscar’s favor despite actually having no romantic feelings for him whatsoever. Because of this, Oscar is torn between honoring his vows to Mielle and maintaining his supposedly platonic friendship with Aria.

Mielle with Oscar and Isis at the Frederick estate

Franz Asher, the kingdom’s Crown Prince. Decisive, meticulous and brave, he personally leads soldiers on special missions to protect his own kingdom. Prince Asher meets Aria several times throughout the story, but never reveals his identity to her. While Aria sees him as little more than an unwanted distraction, the prince becomes increasingly intrigued with her, having mistook her for Mielle at first. He later sends a representative, Rain Pino, to court the girl anonymously.

Without realizing it, Aria meets the Crown Prince

Personal Thoughts

This story is an example in which one protects oneself by “playing the game” better than their enemies. When violence is out of the question, one can learn how to be ruthless and cunning in order to build up their defenses. If taken too far, such people become no different than those who have hurt them. Modern-day examples of such people are politicians and businesspeople in high positions that often start off idealistic and carefree, but learn hard lessons in people’s selfishness later in life.

One lesson in this story is how nothing should be taken at face value. Suddenly catapulted into the wealthy world of nobility, Aria learns too late how cutthroat, hypocritical and shallow a noble’s life could be. An example of this is Mielle herself, who liberally manipulates people while maintaining a good public image. Most of the courteous nobles in the story are rather shallow, easily taken in by rumors and sensitive to the slightest chance of social disgrace, such as the monetary value of compared gifts, appropriate clothes or one’s loss of temper.

The Countess Roscente examines a gift for her daughter

Another lesson that Aria learned is how ruthlessly selfish people can be. Once concerned with only enjoying the comforts of nobility, she learned the harsh price of being at others’ mercy, especially that of her stepsister. Now determined to stand on her own two feet, Aria uses her new life to learn useful skills and knowledge and build her own circle of allies. In this way, she not only becomes useful to other nobles (making them less likely to want her dead), but she can carry her own weight if she needs to.

Moral

Sometimes, it’s necessary to learn from your enemies so that they don’t take advantage of you.

Parallel World Pharmacy

Spoiler Alert!

“Yakutani-sensei?”

Hmm? Ah, you almost fell asleep…

At your office door, your assistant Matsumoto is standing next to a man in a suit.

“You will have a university seminar tomorrow morning and a general conference with the research department in the afternoon after that. The day after, you will have a degree inspection meeting and an award ceremony for young Samaritans. I made reservations for next month’s international conference…”

Ugh, looks like another busy month!

“Are you alright, sensei? You pulled an all-nighter yesterday as well.”

Two men come into the office.

“Sorry to bother you, sensei, but could you please have a look at our thesis?”

You tell Matsumoto, “Could you please show our guest around a bit first? This might take a while.”

You wearily look at the clock on your desk. Is it midnight already?

As you stand up, your head spins…

Ugh, the fatigue’s getting to you.

Your eyes briefly fall on the photo of you and your little sister from over 20 years ago.

At the age of 6, your little sister died from a brain tumor. Why did she have to die? There was no cure?! Nonsense! If only there was a medicine that worked! If there isn’t one, I’ll make it myself!

Since then, you’ve dedicated yourself to research and have found cures for illnesses once thought incurable. No one should have to lose their family as you did!

Maybe a nap on the couch wouldn’t be so bad. You haven’t taken a break since starting this new medicine project anyway.

Your eyelids feel like lead weights as you lie down…

You slowly open your eyes again…huh?

Where are you? What kind of bed is this?

“Master Farma! Are you finally up?”

Who…?

You sit up quickly and see a young girl in a maid’s uniform next to you.

Your head spins again.

“No, master! You were struck by lightning, so please relax!”

Lightning? What’s going on? This isn’t your office! You’d better get back to the lab…

“Is something wrong, Master Farma?”

“Farma…are you talking to me?”

The maid picks up a mirror from the nightstand and holds it up to your face…a boy with blond hair and blue eyes?!

Parallel World Pharmacy (異世界薬局, Isekai Yakkyoku) is a light novel series and manga written by Liz Takayama (高山 聖, Takayama Sei).

Professor Kanji Yakutani is a top researcher in the international medical community recognized for his dedication and breakthroughs in pharmacology. As a child, he was forced to watch his younger sister suffer from a brain tumor for 2 years before she died. Since then, Kanji had dedicated himself to medical research. Unfortunately, he dies from a heart attack as a result of stress from overwork and, ironically, his own lack of concern for his own health.

On another world, Kanji is reborn in the San Fleuve Empire as Farma de Medicis, the 10-year old son of the chief Imperial court physician, Archduke Bruno de Medicis. Over the next few weeks, he learns about the existence of magic (known here as the divine arts), the underdeveloped state of medicine within the Empire and his own mysterious, yet powerful, ability to create or destroy any substance.

The pharmacy’s grand opening

After this, Farma learns from his father that the Empire’s ruler, Elizabeth II, was dying of tuberculosis. With his modern-day medical knowledge, the boy saves the Empress’ life and is rewarded with recognition as a court physician. Realizing that he could save many lives with his knowledge, Farma opens a pharmacy with the Empress’ consent and stocks it with modern-day medicines. Because the new medicines are far more reliable and efficient than the traditional cures of the Empire, the pharmacy’s reputation soon grows quickly. To encourage business, he also makes ladies’ cosmetics.  Farma later opens several dispensaries in order to keep up with the growing demand. When the Black Death (bubonic plague) threatens the San Fleuve Empire, he quickly drafts plans for a quarantine and produces large quantities of antibiotics.

Despite his selfless intentions, Farma finds himself opposed by the long-standing Apothecary Guild, whose business had been dropping since the pharmacy’s opening. Old superstitions about medicine are still prevalent within the San Fleuve Empire and there’s talk within the Imperial court of those who wished to hoard Farma’s talents for their own gain…

Left to right: Empress Elizabeth II, Lotte, Cedric (pharmacy bookkeeper), Ellen, Farma, Robert (Farma’s father), Blanche (Farma’s younger sister)

Main Characters

Farma de Medicis, the 10-year old second son of the aristocratic de Medicis family, court physician and pharmacy owner. Dedicated, friendly and humble, Farma’s only goal is to use his modern-day medical knowledge to improve health and medicine throughout his new world. In his previous life, he was Kanji Yakutani (薬谷 完治, Yakutani Kanji), a 31-year old associate professor of pharmacology.

A sign of the Goddess of Medicine’s favor

Upon his rebirth as Farma, he was granted several powerful abilities by the new world’s Goddess of Medicine, symbolized by intricate patterns on his upper arms. His divine art was changed from water to non-attribute, allowing him to create, control or destroy any substance as long as he knows its exact molecular makeup. Farma usually uses this to create ingredients for his medicines and experiments, but he could also perform astounding feats of magic, such as destroying a large amount of sea water or controlling fire and ice. He also has a magical sight that allows him to diagnose a person’s ailments and work out suitable treatments for such, if there are any. Because he is now a semi-divine being, Farma doesn’t cast a shadow and he can actually gain energy from prayers to the Goddess of Medicine.

Farma’s magical sight

Later in the story, he becomes the owner of a magical crystal staff that enhances his abilities, allows him to fly and creates an invisible area of sanctuary that evil spirits cannot enter. This staff is a powerful divine artifact that usually cannot be held by mortal hands.

Eleanor “Ellen” Bonnefoix, a 16-year old physician, aristocrat and disciple of Farma’s father, Bruno. Intelligent and kind, she is also skilled in the divine art of water, able to use spells such as Lance de L’eau (Water Spear). Before Farma’s “rebirth”, Ellen had been tutoring him in medicine and magic. She was the first to witness the boy’s new divine art, which was far more powerful than before thanks to the blessing of the Goddess of Medicine. Although frightened by this at first, Ellen learns to trust Farma again and later joins him in running his pharmacy.  She wears glasses to compensate for nearsightedness, but she sometimes drops them when surprised.

Charlotte “Lotte” Sorel, a 9-year old maid of the de Medicis family. Energetic and innocent, she is responsible for caring for Farma. Lotte has served the de Medicis family since the age of four, following in the footsteps of her mother Catherine, who also serves the de Medicis family as a maid. After Farma opens his pharmacy, Lotte helps out in serving the customers and managing the business. She later discovers a talent for painting and is eventually taken in as an apprentice court painter by the Empress.

Personal Thoughts

When we feel nothing is wrong with our bodies, it’s all too easy to take our health for granted.

For as long as there have been living beings, there have been diseases that cause us to weaken, sicken and die. While there is now a general awareness of how we can take care of our health (i.e. washing our bodies, keeping our homes clean), we have not seen the uphill battle science had to take in order for us to have this awareness. Centuries of dedication, suffering, experiments, observations and conquering superstitions by scientists have allowed this. Farma’s modern-day medical knowledge is nothing short of miraculous in a world where people still believe that evil spirits cause diseases and centuries-old herbal remedies are the norm.

Medique, a pharmacy store for the sale of ladies’ cosmetics

This story gives examples of conditions and diseases that people suffered due to lack of knowledge about health. A noblewoman wanted paler skin, so she turned to bloodletting, causing her to weaken from blood loss. To deal with this, Farma provides her with modern-day foundation and blush since medieval-era cosmetics contain mercury or lead, both of which could poison the human body. A duke is found suffering from blue skin (argyria) due to having eaten pills covered in silver leaf for years. Traditional apothecaries use silver to make the pills last longer and look more beautiful, but the silver deposit in a body darkens when exposed to sunlight, which results in skin discoloration. Farma uses his divine art to eliminate the silver and silver sulphide in the duke’s body, restoring his skin to normal.

Like many other isekai stories, knowledge from the modern era is transplanted into a less advanced setting, showing us how wondrous our knowledge is compared to back then.

Moral

Our lives depend on our bodies, so do not take health and medicine for granted.

Cautious Hero: The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious

Spoiler Alert!

The Unified Divine Realm is where the gods watch over the countless worlds throughout the cosmos. Whenever evil encroaches upon these worlds, the gods send heroes to save them.

Now, here you are to see which world is in need of salvation…

“Attention, gods and goddesses! Our current world in danger is Gaeabrande and its salvation difficulty rating iiiiiis…S-class!!”

S-class?! A world where even veteran gods would dread to set foot upon? An evil whose power rivals that of the gods?! Boy, you already feel sorry for whoever’s going to be assigned to this world!

“And the one chosen to save it iiiiiis…the Goddess of Healing, Ristarte!”

Huh? That’s…you?

From the murmurs among the divine assembly, you hear, “Congratulations, Ristarte!”

“This is truly a worthy undertaking!”

“After this, you’ll become a full-fledged goddess!”

WHAT?!

Ah! Pull yourself together!

“Th…thank you, everyone! I will give this my all!”

Back in your house, you feel a shiver up your spine.

How could this have happened?! You’re only a hundred years old and you’ve saved only five worlds so far!

No sense worrying about it now. You’d better get to work at finding a hero to summon.

You decide to choose yet another young hero from Japan, Earth. For some reason, books that tell stories about being reborn on another world are popular there, allowing them to catch onto the idea rather quickly. You can only summon one hero for each world, so you’d better choose carefully.

This one’s no good at magic, but he’d make a decent fighter…

And this one’s a lost cause at fighting, but she’d make a good fire magician…

They’d be great for D- or C-class worlds but…

AAAAAARGH! They’re all starting to look the same! This is getting nowhere! You throw the papers into air…and one lands right onto your face!

You pull it off and…what?

You wipe your eyes in disbelief and look again.

WOW! How can this man have such high stats? And at Level 1! It’s a miracle! A 1-to-1,000,000 shot…no, a 1-to-100,000,000 shot! You’d better summon him straight away!

“In the name of the goddess Ristarte, I summon thee…Seiya Ryuguin!”

Light flashes from the summoning circle and, seconds later, a young man appears at its center.

Aaaaah! So handsome! That height! That lustrous hair! That aura! (Sigh) What you’d give to fall in love with a man like this…no, no, no! Love between gods and mortals is forbidden!

Now where were you…? Ah, right!

“Greetings. I am Ristarte, a goddess of the Unified Divine Realm. You, Seiya Ryuguin, are the hero chosen to save the world of Gaeabrande from the Demon King.”

Is he enchanted by my beauty? Of course he is…

He gives you a derisive look and says, “So says the suspicious freak…yeah right.”

“WHO ARE YOU CALLING A FREAK?!”

Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious (この勇者が俺TUEEEくせに慎重すぎる, Kono Yūsha ga Ore Tsuē Kuse ni Shinchō Sugiru) is a light novel series, manga and anime written by Light Tuchihi (土日 月, Tsuchihi Tsuki).

Ristarte, the Goddess of Healing, is tasked with summoning a hero who can defeat the Demon King on the world of Gaeabrande. She eventually chooses and summons a young Japanese man named Seiya Ryuguin for his unusually high stats. Much to Ristarte’s frustration, Seiya is pathologically cautious and stubborn. The first thing this hero does is exercise for several days in his room in the Divine Realm, gaining several levels in the process.

After declaring that he is completely prepared, Seiya accompanies Ristarte to Gaeabrande, arriving at the town of Edona. There, Seiya attempts to buy as many suits of armor, weapons and healing items as possible, but he is stopped by an exasperated Ristarte. When faced with a slime outside town, he immediately uses his strongest fire magic against it and continues to use magic on its remains to ensure its death!

Chaos Machina, the first (and weakest) of the Demon King’s four lieutenants

Suddenly, one of the Demon King’s lieutenants, a powerful female demon named Chaos Machina, appeared before them. She had been ordered by the Demon King to wait at Edona for the hero to arrive. Realizing that he was not strong enough to fight Machina, Seiya tells Ristarte to send him back to the Divine Realm. Once there, he trains diligently for several days again (time flows much more slowly in the Divine Realm) and returns to Edona, where he kills Machina despite her transforming into a Greater Demon.

Although Seiya’s obsession with caution seems ridiculous at times, it helps him to win the day many times. His obsession with being prepared enables him to quickly learn powerful skills from the gods themselves. The Demon King and his lieutenants prove to be almost as cautious and forward-thinking, resulting in their battles with Seiya being of wits and power! There are even times when Seiya and his companions are betrayed by apparent allies, only to be saved by the hero’s constant paranoia. No matter what he does, how long he takes or what others think, he will save the world.

Left to right: Seiya, Elulu, Ristarte, Mash

Main Characters

Seiya Ryuguin (竜宮院 聖哉, Ryūgūin Seiya), Ristarte’s champion and the hero chosen to save the world of Gaeabrande. Blunt, stubborn and skeptical, his most telling trait is excessive cautiousness, resulting in him being less than satisfied unless he is completely prepared for a given situation. Although he seems cold and indifferent, Seiya cares very deeply for those he considers friends and goes to great lengths to protect them. The biggest example of this is when he goes to fight the Demon King alone after lying to Ristarte and the others in order to make them stay behind. In addition to his swordsmanship and powerful fire magic, Seiya has mastered several unique skills taught to him by the gods such as Eternal Sword, Shining Arrow and the deadly Valhalla Gate that takes the life of its user. He also can use Synthesis to craft progressively powerful swords using Ristarte’s hair as a catalyst.

He has at least two dozen spare swords of the same quality, if not more!

It’s later revealed that Seiya’s extreme cautiousness came at a tragic price. A hundred years ago, he was the outgoing, reckless chosen hero of the world of Ixphoria. Because he didn’t know that the local Demon King had two lives, Seiya and his friends, including his beloved girlfriend Princess Tiana, were caught completely off-guard and killed during the final battle. Seiya’s soul and trauma survived, resulting in him instinctively vowing to be much more cautious in the future. At the same time, Tiana was reincarnated as Ristarte as a reward for her heroic deeds in life.

A memory of Seiya and Princess Tiana from another life

Ristarte, the Goddess of Healing. Clumsy, frank and somewhat carefree, she nonetheless cares deeply for her charges. Being only a century old, Ristarte is rather weak for a goddess, able to cast only basic healing spells on mortal realms. Since she is an immortal deity, her true soul would survive if she is killed. Ristarte can travel freely between the mortal realms and the Divine Realm, allowing her party to quickly travel between locations with pinpoint accuracy. In extreme situations, she can call upon the chief goddess Ishtar to unleash her true power. Although Ristarte is frustrated with Seiya’s stubborn cautiousness, she grows to appreciate the results the hero brings and later falls in love with him despite romance being forbidden between gods and mortals. Her love for Seiya only grows stronger when she learns about her past life as Princess Tiana.

Mash, a dragonkin adventurer from the fabled Dragon Village. Brash and passionate, he is humbled after he is saved from certain death by Seiya and now tries to learn from his example. After his inherent power is unlocked by the Great Mother of Dragons, Mash gains the ability to take on powerful dragon forms. Originally assigned by Seiya as his baggage handlers, both Mash and Elulu eventually learn skills to support the hero in battle.

Mash as a Level 1 Dragon God

Elulu, a dragonkin adventurer from the fabled Dragon Village and Mash’s childhood friend. Shy and unconfident, her time in Seiya’s party gradually allows her to build her confidence. While Elulu seems to be an unexceptional magician, her true talent lies in support magic such as Haste, Delay and Quick. She was chosen by the Great Mother of Dragons to be the sacrifice to create Igzasion, the only weapon that could kill the Demon King. Refusing to let this sacrifice happen, Seiya kills the Great Mother in a titanic battle and later crafts his own special weapon to fight the Demon King using Synthesis.

Well, it’s more or less to be expected

Personal Thoughts

Several cliché themes in Japanese fantasy writing are used in this story: a hero chosen by the gods, a legendary weapon, a demon king and his four lieutenants (“The Four Heavenly Kings”). What initially looks like a cliché fantasy story becomes a lesson in how preconceptions about fantasy adventuring could be dangerous. It’s easy to think that actual adventuring will be more or less like a video game in which one can progress smoothly, with appropriately balanced challenges. In real life, there’s no such guarantee!

Seiya’s obsession with training has reduced Cerceus, God of the Divine Blade, to mush!

The Demon King of Gaeabrande seems to be very familiar with Japanese fantasy clichés and tries to work around these by doing the unexpected such as sending one of his lieutenants to kill the hero at the supposed starter town. The other lieutenants also prepare in their own ways, including summoning monsters that couldn’t be killed by conventional means. The only reason why they are defeated is because Seiya is even more obsessed with preparation than they are!

Seiya fights Dark Firus, a monster created to defeat him

Although he goes over the edge in his caution at times, Seiya has the right idea in preparing for a world where dangers are many, especially when one is up against a monster capable of permanently killing gods! Unlike a video game where one can simply save or load their data, there is only one chance to save a world when you have only one life. It’s not realistic to completely emulate Seiya’s excessive cautiousness, but taking a certain degree of caution in dangerous situations is advisable.

Moral

It is advisable to be prepared for dangerous situations, especially if your life is at risk.

Farming Life in Another World

Spoiler Alert!

When you turned 30, the company you worked for declared bankruptcy. Not long after that, you were sent to the hospital as a result of neglecting your health for years. For almost a decade, you were bedridden until the day you died.

Now you find yourself face to face with what you can only call a deity.

“Am I to be reincarnated?”

“No, you’ll teleported to a new world. I can grant you three wishes to help you.”

 “Alright then. I wish to have a youthful body that never gets sick, to be able to communicate in the new world’s languages and to live a peaceful life as a farmer.”

“Granted, and here’s a little bonus.”

A hoe appears in your hands, seemingly from thin air.

“This is the All-Purpose Farming Tool. It may be a hoe now, but it can become any tool you wish. I’ll show you…turn into a sickle.”

A second later, the hoe you’re holding becomes a sickle!

“It can turn into many things like a hammer or a crowbar, but you must remember that only you can use it. I’ve made it so that you can summon it instantly into your hands at any time, even if you throw it away. Basically, it’s stored in your own body.”

“Awesome!”

“Well, it’s time for you to go. Are you sure about this?”

“Yes. Thanks for everything!”

“Then I wish you all the best and hope you’ll be a great farmer.”

Suddenly, you find yourself in the middle of a forest.

Your body feels so light! You can’t remember the last time you felt nothing wrong with your body!

You bow to the sky above as thanks to the deity and take a look around. There doesn’t seem to be anyone around.

Food, water and shelter will have to be your priorities right now.

The soil beneath you feels quite hard. How is this suitable for farming?

You summon your AFT and start plowing…

Minutes later, you’ve plowed about a thousand meters through the forest. And yet, you don’t feel tired at all!

Is this the power of the AFT?!

Hmmm…There might be monsters in this forest…perhaps some shelter would be needed first.

You say, “Turn into an axe.”

The AFT changes shape once more. Time to get to work…

Farming Life in Another World (異世界のんびり農家, Isekai Nonbiri Nouka, lit. Leisure Farm on a Different World) is a light novel series and manga written by Kinosuke Naito (内藤騎之介, Naito Kinosuke).

After graduating from college, Hikaru Machio got a job at a black company (ブラック企業, burakku kigyō). As a result of constant overwork, he was hospitalized at 30 and died at the early age of 39. In the afterlife, he meets a deity who offers to send him to another world. With this, Hikaru voices his lifelong desire to live a quiet life as a farmer.

Hikaru’s first hunt on the new world

On a new world, Hikaru finds himself in the middle of a forest and quickly sets to work at building a farm around a gigantic tree. He also hunts rabbit-like monsters in the forest for food, builds a temporary shelter and finds a river several kilometers away to provide water for his new fields. Although Hikaru had no seeds in his possessions, sprouts magically appeared in the fields he had plowed and they soon grow into carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins and other vegetables.

Later, Hikaru encounters a mated pair of inferno wolves, whom he names Kuro and Yuki, and takes them in as pets. He also meets a friendly giant spider he names Zabuton. Kuro and Yuki help to guard the fields while Zabuton crafts clothes, curtains, sacks and other cloth goods.

Hikaru’s first meeting with Ru, after he stops Kuro and Yuki from attacking her

In the winter of his new life’s second year, Hikaru finds a naked young girl who introduces herself as Ru Rurushi, a vampire. Hikaru takes her in and she helps out at his farm. A month or two later, a winged girl arrives at the village as well. She introduces herself as the angel Tia and she was pursuing Ru. After some difficulties, the two enemies make peace and live together with Hikaru.

Ru and Tia soon introduce new residents to the farm including lizardmen, high elves, oni and other angels. As a result, Hikaru’s farm grows and quickly becomes a village. Its growing reputation soons attracts the attention of dragons, high-ranking demons, traders and other immigrants such as dwarves, mountain elves, beastmen and centaurs. Three satellite villages are built nearby to accommodate the new residents. Kuro and Yuki become elders to a continually growing pack of wolves while Zabuton has spawned countless children. The village becomes an important source of food for nearby settlements and everyone comes to love the alcohol produced there, especially the villagers. Before he realized it, Hikaru had become a beloved village chief!

Some of Taiju Village’s first residents, left to right: Tia (angel), Ann (oni), Flora (vampire, Ru’s cousin), Ria (high elf)

Main Characters

Hikaru Machio (街尾 火楽, Machio Hikaru), former salaryman, farmer, and chief of the Taiju (“Big Tree”) Village located in the dangerous Forest of Death. While generally agreeable and easy-going, he is also responsible and protective, particularly towards his farm. As gifts from a deity, he has a healthy, youthful adult body that never gets sick and the All-Purpose Farming Tool (AFT), a personal magic tool that can transform into any farming tool that he wants such as a shovel, a hoe, a watering can and a sickle. The AFT can also become a powerful magic spear, enabling Hikaru to fight against even powerful monsters such as dragons and giant snakes. The village’s people consist mostly of beautiful women of various races, of whom many wish to have personal relations with their chief. As a result, Hikaru is now the father of several children, each by a different mother.

It’s not so fun when you’re the only eligible bachelor in the entire village!

Kuro & Yuki, a mated pair of inferno wolves, wolf-like creatures that are intelligent enough to use magic and even play chess! After both of them were rescued by Hikaru from a grappler bear, they settled in with him. They became parents to four pups and these pups became parents themselves over the next few years. With more children maturing into adults and giving birth to their own children, a large pack of inferno wolves now helps to guard Taiju Village.

Zabuton, a female giant demon spider. She is a skilled seamstress and has crafted clothes, curtains and other goods at Hikaru’s request. According to legend, a demon spider fought a Demon King to a standstill in the past but it is unknown whether Zabuton is the same spider. First encountered by Hikaru as he was working on a waterway, she quickly became friendly with him. After settling in the village, Zabuton has spawned countless children. Most of the village’s women fainted when they saw her for the first time.

A layout of Taiju Village about a decade after its founding

Ru Rurushi, a vampire. Although she can suck on blood to nourish herself, she is not undead and is actually a type of demon. She can also change her body and age to suit her needs. A famous magician, Ru is also highly skilled in chemistry and researches medicines for the village. After falling in love with Hikaru, she became the mother of Hikaru’s first child, a boy named Alfred.

Tia, an angel. A highly skilled fighter, she is the leader a small band of angels. Despite being called angels, they are simply strong, winged humanoids that humans once worshiped in the past. They guard the village, scout its surroundings and act as messengers when needed. After falling in love with Hikaru, Tia became the mother of Hikaru’s second child, a girl named Tissele.

Ru with her son Alfred and Tia with her daughter Tissele

Personal Thoughts

The story addresses real-life issues such as finding a suitable water source, constructing accommodations, growing enough food for the villagers to last the winter and creating community rules that everyone can obey to improve farm productivity and security. Even waste management is addressed since Hikaru has to build public toilets and a basic sewer system that uses slimes to dissolve all organic waste. Eventually, Hikaru had to devise a homemade currency system using reward medals in order to ensure fair trade within the village.

Some of Taiju Village’s later residents, left to right: Hakuren (dragon), Lastismun (dragon, Hakuren’s niece), Fraurem (demon), Yaa (mountain elf)

There are dozens of characters in this story, but not much personality is given to each individual. Instead, they are generally portrayed as parts of a community. For example, the high elves build and maintain the village’s houses, the oni maids cook meals and keep the houses clean, the dwarves work to improve and diversify the village’s alcohol and the hardy lizardmen are particularly strong farm hands.

As village chief, Hikaru not only has to manage his village but also maintain good trade relations with his neighbors. Dragon lords and demon lords establish diplomatic relations with Hikaru. Other settlements provide their goods in exchange for Taiju Village’s produce and alcohol such as metal utensils from a mining village and seafood from a seaside village. This is a basic example of how trade can benefit all involved.

The first crime in Taiju Village

A running gag in this story is the fact that all the villagers besides Hikaru greatly enjoy drinking the wine produced from the farm’s grapes. In fact, they held the village’s first trial against a slime for the crime of drinking an entire barrel of wine without permission, only to drop the charge because slimes are non-sentient!

Despite wishing only a quiet life as a farmer, Hikaru has become a hero in his own right by growing high-quality crops, trading food to communities in need, and providing accommodations and meaningful jobs to refugees. In this new world, a farmer has become an influential leader to be reckoned with!

Moral

Agriculture is important to a community’s survival and prosperity, since all of us need to eat.