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 be 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 for 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.

Isekai Quartet

Spoiler Alert!

It’s just one more day of your adventures on another world when you suddenly find a curious object: a small, square piece of light blue metal with a big, red button on top. Dare you push it?

And you thought only a complete idiot would press it!

When you do, you find yourself on the sports field of what looks like a typical Japanese high school. It all feels familiar, yet strange at the same time. Is this what they call déjà vu?

From across the field, a strange, mustached man in a military uniform tells you it’s time for class to begin.

“Class…? What’s going on?”

Arriving at the classroom, you find others already sitting inside. It’s as motley a collection of characters as you’ve ever seen, as though they’re all from completely different worlds. They all return your curious gaze.

Just how many different worlds are out there?

You quietly sit at a desk.

Moments later, a suspicious man with a white face dressed in a garish purple suit comes into the room.

“Good mooorning, claaaaass”, he yodels. “Let’s begiiiiiin.”

Isekai Quartet (異世界かるてっと, Isekai Karutetto) is a slice-of-life anime serving as a humorous crossover for the characters of four isekai light novel franchises published by subsidiaries of Kadokawa Future Publishing: KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World!, Overlord, Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World and Youjo Senki: The Saga of Tanya the Evil. In the anime’s second season, the cast is joined by the heroes of two more franchises: The Rising of the Shield Hero and Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious.

Mr. Roswaal lays out the school rules.

The story mostly takes place at what appears to be a high school in the suburbs of a modern-day Japanese city. Characters from various isekai franchises are placed in the roles of students, teachers and other school staff. While everyone retains their experiences and abilities from their native storylines, no harm or violence of any sort is permitted in this strange new world.

The otherwise ordinary school life takes a fantastical turn with the wide, colorful cast. Across franchises, the characters learn about and befriend each other in their own ways.

The main characters of KonoSuba, Overlord, Re:Zero and Youjo Senki make up Class 2 of the school and more about them can be found on other posts of my blog. Below are more characters from each of the four main isekai franchises who also appear in Isekai Quartet.

Characters from KonoSuba

Eris, a goddess of fortune (luck and wealth). Kind, gentle and responsible, she cares deeply about the welfare of others, particularly her worshippers, the Eris Order (Darkness is a member). In the heavenly hierarchy, Eris is Aqua’s subordinate. She is deeply insecure about her small bust size, which Aqua often picks on her for. Eris sometimes visits the Fantasy World in secret as Chris, an adventurer and a thief who taught Kazuma the Steal skill. In this mortal form, she has no access to her divine abilities, unlike Aqua. In Isekai Quartet, Chris is a student in Class 1.

Vanir, an arch-devil, a duke of Hell and a former general of the Demon King’s army. A shameless, boastful egotist, he enjoys (and feeds on) the embarrassment and disappointment of others. He also enjoys chaos and destruction. Despite this, Vanir always keeps his promises and never causes any lasting harm. He is believed to be even more powerful than the Demon King himself. Vanir’s true form is actually the domino mask he wears and, through this, he can either create his own body out of dirt or possess anyone who wears it. The mask is capable of reconstructing itself if it is destroyed. After he was defeated by Kazuma’s party, Vanir abandons the Demon King, hides in the city of Axel and sets himself up as an entrepreneur of sorts. In Isekai Quartet, he is a teacher.

Characters from Overlord

Sebas Tian, the dragonoid head butler of Nazarick and the leader of the Pleiades, a team of six maids highly skilled in combat. Steadfast and dignified, Sebas is a strong believer in justice and, unlike many of the Nazarick denizens, does not despise humans. He believes that humans are capable of both good and evil, but he won’t hesitate to kill any he deems irredeemably evil. He is a master of unarmed combat, able to defeat his opponents in the blink of an eye. In Isekai Quartet, Sebas is a school groundskeeper while the Pleiades are students in Class 1.

Hamsuke, a sentient, giant hamster. Ditzy and somewhat simple-minded, she was once known as the “Wise King of the Forest” in the Great Forest of Tob until she was subdued by Ainz, to whom she has sworn her loyalty. She has a long, scaly tail that she can use like a whip and has learned a few combat skills. In Isekai Quartet, Hamsuke is one of the school’s pets.

Characters from Re:Zero

Felt, a 15-year old professional thief and a candidate to become the 42nd ruler of the Kingdom of Lugnica. Feisty, street-smart and fiercely independent, she has lived almost all her life in Lugnica’s slums. Felt was the thief who stole Emilia’s insignia at the story’s beginning. After she was somehow chosen as a royal candidate, Felt loudly declared her hatred of nobles and vowed to dismantle them. In Isekai Quartet, she is a student in Class 1.

Roswaal L. Mathers, a mysterious Lugnican nobleman, Emilia’s patron and the employer of Rem, Ram and Beatrice. Eccentric, courteous and reserved, he is a cunning politician able to read others’ intentions well. Unlike most nobles, Roswaal has no prejudice against demi-humans. He is also a powerful mage proficient in the use of all six elements (Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Yang, Yin). Roswaal has an odd habit of yodeling when speaking. In reality, he is secretly Roswaal A. Mathers, an ancestor of the Mathers family who has possessed his descendants for generations in order to survive to the present day. In Isekai Quartet, Roswaal is the homeroom teacher of Class 2.

Characters from Youjo Senki

Erich von Rerugen, an Imperial Army Colonel and an officer in Strategic Operations, a division of the Imperial General Staff Office. Considerate, dutiful and observant, Rerugen is a talented military officer with intricate knowledge about the Imperial military and its logistics. He first met Tanya at the Officer Candidate School, where he stopped her from viciously beating a young trainee who had willfully disobeyed her. Since that incident, and after observing her career since then, he has come to see Tanya as a monster in a little girl’s body. Despite this, he has grown to trust and respect Tanya as a soldier, believing that only a monster like her can succeed and survive in the madness of war. In Isekai Quartet, Rerugen is a teacher.

Kurt von Rudersdorf, an Imperial Army Major General and Deputy Chief of Operations. Calm and decisive, he is a clever officer who is unafraid to take high risks if the rewards are worth it. He and Zettour have been close friends since their days together at the War College and he sees Tanya as a reliable, yet visionary leader. In Isekai Quartet, Rudersdorf is the school’s principal.

Hans von Zettour, an Imperial Army Major General and Deputy Chief of Logistics. Serious and thoughtful, he is a loyal officer who uses his thorough understanding about the Imperial military to assess the risks of military operations. Like Tanya, Zettour believes in rationalism and dislikes idealism. He is completely fascinated with Tanya’s revolutionary (modern-day) theories about war and how they could benefit the Empire. In Isekai Quartet, Zettour is the school’s vice-principal.

Personal Thoughts

For those familiar with the original four isekai franchises, Isekai Quartet can be fun and exciting to watch. In fact, it’s one of my personal favorites.

It’s fun and heartening to see the various characters relate to each other, revealing more about themselves as people in casual situations their own stories do not have. A noteworthy example of this is Ainz and Tanya’s bonding over their common pasts as salarymen. It’s the first time both of them reveal their pasts to anyone. Without the stress of war and being watched over by a selfish deity, Tanya becomes considerably gentler and makes the friends she could never have in her old life. She also finally gets to have modern-day food and coffee again. Distanced from the poisonous influence of the Nazarick NPCs, Ainz gradually rediscovers the human within him by making friends with others.

Having a long talk at the park

While normally cold and abrasive, Beatrice has grown comfortable with Mare over their shared interest in reading. The devil Demiurge has found a kindred soul in Tanya, who shares his belief in control and order. For the first time, Emilia needs not worry about discrimination since there is no Witch of Envy in the world of Isekai Quartet. In many ways, the world of Isekai Quartet gives its inhabitants a happiness they could never have on their previous worlds.

The school’s Class 1

Another heartening issue is the fact that two former shut-ins, Kazuma and Subaru, now have the opportunity to complete their high school educations. Surprisingly, this also applies to Ainz, who never graduated from middle school due to education being prohibitively expensive on his original world. While there would likely be no public recognition for this education, these people could gain new confidence through their learning.

Isekai Quartet is one of the most innovative ideas I’ve seen in Japanese anime. Not only is it fun to watch a good crossover, but it is also a way to keep viewers aware of the original isekai anime so that future seasons could be produced by Kadokawa.

Moral

Who makes the world interesting? We do!