KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World!

Spoiler Alert!

You get off the bus and start walking back home.

It had been a harrowing five hours but the round trip was worth it. The premium edition of Myriad Swords 2 was released at the store today and now you have it!

Your eyes feel heavy and your mind starts to drift…

Despite the sun shining in your eyes, you see a huge shadow barreling down on a passing girl.

A truck?!

Summoning every ounce of strength your exhausted body could muster, you push the girl out of the truck’s path…

Opening your eyes, you find yourself sitting inside a room that seems to be made of the universe itself. On the opposite side is an empty, white, high-backed chair.

“Welcome to the afterlife.”

Turning around, you see a beautiful, young girl with long blue hair. She sits in the white chair in front of you.

“Your life was a short one but you’re dead.”

Oh.

“What happened to the girl I pushed out of the way?”

“She’s alive.”

Well, that’s a relief!

“Actually, she wouldn’t have died. The tractor would have stopped before it hit her.”

Wait…tractor?

“Then, did I die from getting hit by the tractor?”

“No, you died from shock, thinking a truck ran over you.”

WHAAAAAAT?!

“Pfft! Hahahahahahahaha! In all my years as a goddess, you’re the first one to die such a pathetic death! You wet yourself and the doctors laughed at you as you had a heart attack…”

No, no, no, no! You don’t want to hear it!

“I have an offer for you. You like games, don’t you? You’ve read about the stories where a hero gets reincarnated on another world? Well, here’s your chance!”

Your ears perk up.

“There is a world being threatened by the Demon King. The people live fearing for their lives every day, facing slaughter at the hands of his army!”

It all sounds cliché to you, but no matter!

“If you take this up, I’ll grant you one ability or item second to none!” With a wave of her hand, a stack of papers appears on the floor.

Ah, the classic cheat ability you’ve heard so much about!

You look through the stack. All the abilities and equipment shown are completely broken!

“Could you hurry this up? I’ve got a quota to fill. Besides, there’s not much to expect from a shut-in NEET like you.”

Grrr! Just because she’s cute she thinks she can push you around!

Wait, that’s it!

You point at the goddess and say, “Okay then, I choose you.”

“Alright, now just stay inside the magic circle and…WHAT?!”

KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! (この素晴らしい世界に祝福を!, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o!, lit. “A blessing to this wonderful world!”) is a light novel series, manga and anime (including one movie) written by Natsume Akatsuki (暁 なつめ, Akatsuki Natsume). This story is also featured in several video games, including the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita game, KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! Judgment on this Greedy Game! (この素晴らしい世界に祝福を! -この欲深いゲームに審判を!-, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! -Kono Yokubukai Game ni Shinpan o!-). There are also three spin-off light novel series.

During his third year in middle school, the young Kazuma Sato witnessed his childhood crush going out with a delinquent biker. Heartbroken, he has stubbornly refused to attend school since then and spent almost all of his time playing online video games, effectively isolating himself from the world. While returning home one day after buying yet another game CD, Kazuma saw a girl about to be run over by a truck and pushed her out of its path…

Moments later, Kazuma is face-to-face with a blue-haired woman, the goddess Aqua, who tells him that he died. Unable to stifle her laughter, Aqua tells him that what he thought was truck was actually a slow-moving tractor and that he actually died from sheer shock! She then offers Kazuma the chance to reincarnate on a Fantasy World and go on a quest to defeat a Demon King. He would also have his choice of a single powerful item or ability to help him. Much to Aqua’s shocked surprise, Kazuma chose her as his “item” to take with him. The other gods curiously approve this and send Kazuma and Aqua to the Fantasy World, promising to allow Aqua to return to Heaven if Kazuma defeats the Demon King.

Someone’s not happy about it though…

Arriving in Axel, the town for beginning adventurers, Kazuma soon learns about the tough reality of his predicament. Lacking funds, Kazuma and Aqua work as laborers for several days before paying their registration fees at the local Adventurer’s Guild and purchasing equipment. After putting up a request for other adventurers, they are soon joined by the young wizard Megumin and the crusader Darkness.

Despite the hardships he faces, Kazuma becomes a capable adventurer in his own right and learns various useful skills along the way. In the course of his adventures, he fights against several of the Demon King’s monstrous generals. Exasperated by the Fantasy World and its people at times, Kazuma learns to find true friendship with his companions and enjoy his new life.

Left to right: Aqua, Megumin, Darkness, Kazuma

Main Characters

Kazuma Sato (佐藤 和真, Satō Kazuma), a 17-year old Japanese adventurer and former NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training). Disillusioned by the dangers of adventuring, Kazuma is cynical, cunning, perverted and somewhat lazy. Despite this, he is loyal and courageous, having literally sacrificed himself to defeat two of the Demon King’s generals. Kazuma has learned a diverse variety of skills to aid him when adventuring, such as Steal, Lurk, Snipe and Drain Touch. He also possesses astronomical good luck, resulting in him experiencing fortuitous events such as near-constant critical hits in battle and people forgiving his generally thoughtless behavior. As leader of his adventuring team, Kazuma directs his companions with unusual tactics, making best use of their limited abilities while targeting enemies’ weaknesses.

Relaxing after a hard day of catching flying cabbages…yes, flying cabbages!

Aqua, a goddess of water and an archpriest. Carefree, cheerful and conceited, Aqua enjoys being the center of attention and gets easily depressed and whiny whenever she feels unwanted. She believes in living only for the moment, which has resulted in her lacking foresight in her actions. An example of this is her habit of racking up huge debts due to her desire for alcohol and other luxuries. Aqua also unequivocally hates demons and the undead. As both a goddess and a powerful archpriest, she can cast spells such as Heal, Turn Undead, Exorcism, Purification, Resurrection and Create Water, all enhanced by her own divine power. Having no fighting skills whatsoever, Aqua is usually helpless against monsters that are not undead or demons. She also possesses extremely bad luck, which can usually be offset by Kazuma’s good luck. In the past, Aqua sent countless reincarnated people to the Fantasy World to fight the Demon King, with various degrees of success. On the Fantasy World, she is fanatically worshipped as the goddess of the cult-like Axis Order.

Purifying a polluted lake is more dangerous than it sounds.

Megumin, a 14-year old archwizard. While generally cheerful, smart and sincere, Megumin can get provoked easily and is obsessed with Explosion magic. In fact, Explosion is the only spell she can cast and she becomes completely drained for a day after she uses it once. Despite this, she will take (or waste) every opportunity she can to cast it, enjoying every moment with unhinged glee. As a member of the infamous Crimson Demon Clan, Megumin shares their common traits of talent for arcane magic and chuunibyou (中二病) tendencies such as overly dramatic behavior. She provides the magical firepower for her team, but her limited choice of magic has severely hampered her capabilities, usually resulting in her using Explosion only to deal a final blow of some sort. Megumin is the main character of the spin-off story Give Explosions to This Wonderful World! (この素晴らしい世界に爆焔を!, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Bakuen o!), which takes place a year before she meets Kazuma.

Behold the light within me that extinguishes all!

Lalatina Ford Dustiness (a.k.a.  Darkness), a 19-year old crusader, aristocrat and heir of the distinguished House Dustiness. Brave, caring and serious, Darkness carries the air of graceful nobility. This barely hides the fact that she is a complete masochist who gets sexually aroused by almost any conceivable pain, suffering or humiliation she experiences. In fact, her not-so secret fantasy is to be tortured by the Demon King himself! Curiously, one of the few humiliations she truly doesn’t like is being made fun of by her real name, Lalatina. Because of her utter willingness to endure pain, Darkness is often mistaken by other adventurers as a paragon of selflessness. While she possesses great strength and stamina, she has extremely poor aiming skills, often completely missing her targets in close combat! As a result, Darkness often serves in defense, keeping opponents busy in order to give Kazuma and others the opportunity to strike.

Personal Thoughts

In many ways, Konosuba is a parody of the isekai genre itself. Instead of being a noble, selfless warrior, the main character Kazuma is a sneaky pragmatist who does whatever he can to win, fair or foul. While his companions might seem like an ideal, traditional harem of beautiful adventurers, all of them have serious flaws that result in them being nearly useless in actual adventuring, forcing Kazuma to learn how to pick up their slack. Despite his heroic deeds, Kazuma is dogged by a reputation as a sneak and a pervert, exacerbated by his friends’ habit of speaking of their woes with him out loud in the crowded hall of the Adventurer’s Guild! Despite all this, Kazuma is heroic and selfless in his own way, often pulling through where other adventurers more capable than him have failed. While they give each other much grief, Kazuma and his friends stick together through thick and thin.

Any work of art that Aqua makes is a masterpiece!

The satire also extends into the world itself. The Crimson Demon Clan encourages both magical talent and chuunibyou behavior, which has resulted in a village of powerful, yet delusional, mages. While the followers of the Axis Order are generally well-meaning and harmless, they are also a cult of semi-crazed zealots. The arch-devil Vanir, one of the Demon King’s generals, is an egotistical manipulator who never kills people and always keeps his word.

In the world of Konosuba, there is something bad for every good thing, often in the same package. To me, this is an extreme example of how there is both good and bad in our world. There are things out there that we like or dislike, love or hate. It’s a fact of life that there’s both good and bad in the world. In any case, how we deal with the world around us is our choice, whether we choose to fight, improve ourselves, go with the flow, stay safe in our shells, etc.

Moral

Part of living life is learning how to accept the world around us and finding ways to cope and prosper.

Overlord

Spoiler Alert!

“Hi, Momonga. It’s been a while”, said the runny blob-like creature sitting across the table from you.

“Ah, Herohero!”, you say. “I didn’t expect to see you here today. It’s been about two years now.”

“It’s been that long? I’ve been working overtime a lot lately and my body’s a wreck. I’m surprised that Nazarick is still up. You must have done a lot of work as guild leader to keep it up and running.”

“Nazarick is something that we’ve all built together.”

“Well, thanks for all your hard work. Maybe we can meet up again sometime.”

One last farewell…

With that, Herohero disappears, having logged out of the game.

Today is the day that the servers of the online game YGGDRASIL are to be shut down at midnight.

Many of the best times of your life were done while playing YGGDRASIL: going on quests with your friends, collecting ultra-rare items, defending your guild headquarters from Player Killers and so forth.

And yet, you now find yourself all alone at the guild’s headquarters, the Great Tomb of Nazarick, with only the NPCs for company.

The other guild members have lives in the real world to get back to, you suppose.

You spend the final hours of the game wandering the tomb’s halls, reminiscing of good times while carrying the Staff of Ainz Ooal Gown, a legendary item that the guild members have spent much of their overtime pay and holidays to construct!

Sitting at the throne one last time….

Finally, you go to the Throne Room on the 10th Floor and sit on the throne. Next to you, the succubus Albedo awaits your commands.

Hmm, what are her settings?

You use your administrator privileges to access Albedo’s NPC settings and skim through them.

…demoness…Guardian Overseer…uh huh…twisted, being merciless and cruel…perfect beauty…a bitch?!

Well, the game’s almost over so why not?

You delete the words “Incidentally, she is a bitch” from the settings and replace them with “She is in love with Momonga.”

You see the game’s clock tick closer by the second to midnight and close your eyes.

It’s been fun.

Hmm?

You open your eyes and find yourself still sitting in the throne room.

Isn’t it past midnight now? Did they push back the server shutdown?

You try to access your player console but couldn’t. Maybe you should call a GM…

What’s happening?!

“What’s wrong, Lord Momonga?”

A female voice? Where did it come from??

Albedo?! But NPCs don’t talk…

Overlord (オーバーロード, Ōbārōdo) is a light novel series, manga and anime written by Kugane Maruyama (丸山 くがね, Maruyama Kugane).

In the year 2126, a Dive Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (DMMO-RPG), YGGDRASIL, was released to the public. The game quickly became extremely popular for allowing its players to fully immerse themselves in a highly detailed, interactive, virtual game environment. After an eventful twelve years, the game’s servers are to be shut down. Within this game, there is a guild called Ainz Ooal Gown, which once consisted of 41 members but now only four remained including its leader, the lich Momonga. Saddened by news of the shutdown and reminiscing all the good times he shared with his fellow players on YGGDRASIL, Momonga finds himself alone at the guild’s headquarters and underground dungeon, the Great Tomb of Nazarick, and decides to stay logged in within the game until the shutdown.

Satoru Suzuki staying with the game to the end.

When the shutdown occurs at midnight, Momonga still finds himself within Nazarick. He quickly realizes that he is trapped in his game avatar and that the Tomb’s NPCs (Non-Player Characters) have all somehow become sentient, living creatures completely loyal to him. Taking stock of the situation, Momonga discovers that Nazarick has become a fully realistic location in a world completely different from Earth. Deciding to search for other YGGDRASIL players and uncover the reasons why he and Nazarick were transported to the New World, Momonga takes the name Ainz Ooal Gown as his own in order to attract those familiar with the game. He also resolves to protect Nazarick and its inhabitants, as the legacy of his YGGDRASIL exploits, from any and all threats.

Carne Village, the nearest settlement to Nazarick

Ainz’s exploits on the New World include the rescue of the nearby Carne Village from a band of marauding soldiers, the conquest of the local lizardmen tribes, and an alliance with the Baharuth Empire to have Nazarick recognized as the capital of the newly-founded Sorcerer Kingdom, with Ainz himself as King. In addition, one of the Nazarick Floor Guardians, Demiurge, has independently subverted the Eight Fingers crime syndicate, turning it into a secret ally of Nazarick.

As a result of being far, far more powerful than most of the inhabitants of the New World, Ainz gradually finds himself having fewer and fewer qualms with killing people and committing unspeakable atrocities. Since many of the Nazarick denizens are inhuman and evil, they have interpreted Ainz’s actions as steps towards world domination and will help him achieve that at any cost.

The Nazarick Floor Guardians, left to right: Demiurge, Mare, Aura, Albedo, Cocytus, Shalltear

Main Characters

Ainz Ooal Gown, a lich (a powerful undead magician) and the master of the Great Tomb of Nazarick. In YGGDRASIL, he was known as Momonga, the game avatar of Satoru Suzuki (鈴木悟, Suzuki Satoru), an ordinary Japanese salaryman. Cautious and somewhat unconfident, Ainz now finds himself having to play the role of a confident, charismatic leader, benevolent to his charges and ruthless to his enemies. Whenever he feels strong emotion, something within him suppresses it, allowing him to remain logical and unfeeling most of the time. As a former guildmaster from an online game, Ainz retains the ability to cast hundreds of magic spells and has access to the many resources within Nazarick, including YGGDRASIL items that could be considered legendary, magical artifacts in the New World. He sees the inhabitants of Nazarick as his children, the treasured legacy of the only things he valued in life – his friends in the YGGDRASIL game.

In the New World, Ainz has established a second identity as Momon, an adamantite-ranked adventurer, in order to travel incognito, build his reputation and indulge in occasional classic adventuring.

Momon, the Dark Hero

Albedo, a succubus and the overseer of the Nazarick Floor Guardians. Cruel, remorseless and generally level-headed, she manages the internal affairs of Nazarick and serves as Ainz’s second-in-command. As a result of Ainz changing her NPC settings just before arriving on the New World, Albedo is now deeply in love with Ainz and prone to extreme fits of jealousy whenever he appears to spend time with other women. Unknown to Ainz, Albedo secretly considers the other members of the Ainz Ooal Gown guild to be traitors and has vowed to murder any YGGDRASIL players found before they become rivals to her love’s power.

Shalltear Bloodfallen, a vampire and the Guardian of the first, second and third floors of Nazarick. Flirtatious and sadistic, she possesses a wide variety of combat and magic skills, giving her a diverse set of abilities on top of her natural abilities as a vampire. Shalltear is also a sexual deviant, having a taste for necrophilia and sadomasochism. Completely loyal to and in love with Ainz, she dedicates her best efforts to his goals and his terrified of failing him. She is a rival of Albedo for their master’s love and they bicker quite often as a result. After being mind-controlled into attacking Ainz at one point, Shalltear fell into a depression until she was “punished” by Ainz by using her as a chair!

Mesmerized by a powerful artifact, Shalltear attacks Ainz

Demiurge, an arch-devil and the Guardian of the seventh floor of Nazarick. Intelligent, polite, devious and utterly without conscience, he is extremely dangerous in his capacity as Nazarick’s strategist. It was Demiurge who first had the idea that Ainz wanted to conquer the world based on an off-hand comment that Ainz himself later forgot. While completely loyal to his master, Demiurge doesn’t realize that Ainz isn’t as smart or as ruthless as he believes, often taking the lich’s more innocuous actions and interpreting them as steps of a far grander plan. An example of this is Ainz’s rescue of Carne Village in a rare act of pure altruism. Demiurge has assumed this to be the first step in building a kingdom through benevolent rule. Unknown to Ainz, Demiurge is using humans as “natural resources”, from using their flayed skin for crafting magic scrolls to using them as subjects for horrific breeding experiments.

Cocytus, a hulking vermin lord and the Guardian of the fifth floor of Nazarick. Straight-forward and disciplined, he is a veteran warrior with some abilities in ice magic. An expert in all weapons, Cocytus follows a strict code of honor in battle and has a deep respect for those he considers fellow warriors. When Ainz targets the local lizardmen for conquest, Cocytus is impressed by their courage in the face of impossible odds and argues for their integration into Nazarick’s burgeoning holdings. Because of this, he is given leadership over the lizardmen tribes as part of Ainz’s experiment in the governance of a kingdom.

Cocytus vs. the lizardmen

Aura Bella Fiora, a female 76-year old dark elf (around 14 by human age) and co-Guardian of the sixth floor of Nazarick with her twin brother Mare. A cheerful, energetic tomboy, Aura cares for the non-sentient beasts that dwell within Nazarick and is keen on finding more exotic specimens. Despite this, she is terrified of insects. Aura tends to be dominant in her relationship with her brother, often telling him what to do yet trying to encourage him to be more assertive.

Mare Bello Fiore, a male (yes, male!) 76-year old dark elf and co-Guardian of the sixth floor of Nazarick with his twin sister Aura. Shy, insecure and mild-mannered, Mare is his sister’s polar opposite, with their precocious crush on Ainz being one of the few traits they do share. Mare’s appearance belies a terrifying degree of superhuman strength and her personality does not hinder her ability to carry out Ainz’s commands, no matter how ruthless. Unlike his sister, Mare is interested in reading and collecting plants and is skilled in nature-based magic, capable of making plants grow quickly and causing earthquakes.

The capital of the Re-Estize Kingdom, the first kingdom explored by Ainz

Personal Thoughts

Leaving behind an unfulfilling, mundane life in the real world and having invested his life’s accomplishments in an online game, Ainz has devoted himself to protecting the legacy left behind by his friends. Unfortunately, he has willfully blinded himself to the cruelty and evil committed by his cohorts in the New World. He also finds himself continually acting the role of a ruthless overlord in order to maintain their loyalty to him and they, in turn, believe him to be more devious and ruthless than he really his.

With no one to rein him in, Ainz gradually commits ever more heinous atrocities such as murder, torture and feeding humans to monsters, with some small part of his mind believing he should feel shame and disgust but he literally couldn’t. This creates a vicious cycle that threatens to destroy the human within him.

The entrance of the Great Tomb of Nazarick, a massive dungeon consisting of ten cavernous, underground floors

The utter loyalty of the Nazarick denizens, while noble in itself, actually encourages Ainz’s more reprehensible actions, since most of them are contemptuous of humans in general. Believing their leader to be the embodiment of power itself, the inhabitants are unknowingly helping to create the very overlord of evil they look up to. This is an example of how blind loyalty can encourage the worst traits in people.

Moral

Having too much power can eventually lead to corruption, especially if enabled by the blind loyalty of others.

The Duchess’ 50 Tea Recipes

Spoiler Alert!

“Oh my. Look over there. It’s the duchess!”

“Who’s that? Isn’t it the elegant duchess? Hee hee!”

You ignore the maids’ snide attitude as they walk past you, but you can hear soft mocking laughter as you continue down the corridor.

It’s already been about a week since you literally woke up in this new world, from the luxurious bed of a duchess! The mansion maids’ derisive attitude and casual mockery of you was even more shocking, but you’ve gotten used to it.

Your mind drifts, thinking back to your old life in South Korea…

Ever since you took up a job at an accounting firm, you’ve worked hard to ensure that your colleagues are happy with your performance. Over the years, the occasional favor for your colleagues became taking on much of their duties on top of your own.

One day, a major project fell through and your boss furiously deemed you responsible. You already had so much work on your hands at the time, but couldn’t bring yourself to say it.

You accepted full responsibility and he demanded your resignation on the spot.

That night, after drinking yourself into a stupor at home, you promise to live for yourself and never again work for the approval of others…

One morning, the head maid and two other maids come to your room, late as usual. They offer to get you dressed for the day.

Unnerved by the head maid’s look of utter disdain, you remember the times when she deliberately dressed you in dirty dresses for her own amusement.

Standing up, you tell the head maid to come closer.

You slap her, shocking the other maids. With firm determination, you tell them that you punished the head maid for being late and that further tardiness won’t be tolerated. For a moment, the head maid’s face becomes a mask of shocked fury, but she quickly regains her composure and leaves with the others.

That night, while having dinner with your husband, you think back on the opportunity you lost on your old world. The one joy you had in life but couldn’t indulge. Gathering your courage, you look at the Duke in the eye from across the table.

“I need tea”, you say.

The Duchess’ 50 Tea Recipes (공작부인의 50가지티 레시피) is a webnovel and webcomic written by Ji-ha Lee.

Ha-Jung Park awoke in another world as the Imperial Duchess Chloe Vandenberg on the day she was fired from her job as corporate accountant. Having sworn an oath to never let anyone take advantage of her again, Chloe turns her life around as she stands up to the people who mistreated her, maids and nobles alike, and focused her passion on the one thing that gave her joy in her first life: tea.

All these tea sets…they’re so beautiful!

In the Empire, tea is mostly unknown and is usually derided by the aristocracy as a barbarian’s drink, with wine and coffee being more popular. Making her first ever request to her husband, Chloe asks for permission to purchase a variety of the world’s teas. Intrigued by his wife’s newfound passion, Duke Alphonse Vandenberg purchases several crates of tea and Chloe uses methods from modern-day Earth to prepare it into innovative beverages unheard of in the Empire.

With her passion for tea, Chloe is able to win the favor of the people around her, from giving the household knights cold, fruity tea after a hot day of training to accompanying her once-indifferent husband over a daily cup of hot black tea.

Main Characters

Duchess Chloe Vandenberg, née Gray, the young wife of Duke Alphonse Vandenberg and the eldest daughter of Count Gray. Weak-willed, quiet and painfully timid, Chloe was deeply afraid of being hated by others. Ironically, her poor self-esteem has resulted in her becoming the laughingstock of the Empire’s aristocracy. She also had no appreciable skills to speak of and deferred her household management duties to her mansion staff. Ignored by her husband, Chloe was often mistreated and slandered by her own maids.

At the story’s beginning, Chloe became the second life of Ha-Jung Park (박하정, Pak Ha-jung), a 28-year old Korean corporate accountant. Kind and diligent, Ha-Jung constantly sought approval and never complained when others pushed their work onto her. As a result, her colleagues took advantage of her while they received the credit. When a major project failed, Ha-Jung was fired after she was forced to shoulder the blame. Afterwards, she swore to live for herself and not seek others’ approval again…

What new teas will the Duchess show us next?

Armed with Ha-jung’s memories and her own, Chloe began to retake control of her life. Her new confidence frightens the maids and noble ladies who once bullied her and wins her new friends as well. Focusing on her first life’s passion for tea, Chloe introduces a type of drink new to the Empire, piquing the interest of her husband, the Vandenberg household staff and, eventually, other nobles. With the business management skills retained from her previous life, Chloe is able to regain control over the Vandenberg household finances and start up a shop to sell spreads, particularly the milk jam she used to make in Korea!

Duke Alphonse Vandenberg, the ruler of the Imperial Duchy of Vandenberg. Aloof, authoritative and narcissistic, Alphonse is a handsome, intelligent and powerful nobleman who broke the hearts of many women. His marriage to Chloe was out of political convenience and he was mostly uninterested in her. This started to change once he noticed a confident passion in her that he had not seen before in their 13 months together. Discovering a curious interest in his wife’s tea, Alphonse begins to feel an unfamiliar attraction to Chloe and even orders tea from overseas for her. His passions stirred, Alphonse gradually spends more time with his wife.

Ms. Collin, the head maid of the Vandenberg household and the former second daughter of Count Collin. As a child, she was bullied by the other noble children until she joined them in bullying the young Chloe. After this, Ms. Collin continued to bully Chloe well into adulthood, even after she was sent to the Vandenberg household as a maid when her father faced financial difficulties. Cruel and spiteful, Ms. Collin encouraged the other maids to disobey and mistreat the Duchess. After Chloe starts to gain the respect of the Vandenberg household, the furious head maid plots to discredit her, including an attempt to frame the Duchess for a delivery of rotten food and manipulating a maid to recommend a dangerous location for a picnic.

Cale, the butler of the Vandenberg household. Responsible and loyal, Cale firmly believes in giving respect to those who deserve it. For this reason, he did not stop the maids from harassing Chloe, who had proven herself both socially inept and lacking in skill. This changes when the Duchess begins to stand up for herself and demonstrate her ability to independently draw up viable financial plans. She even makes him chamomile tea as a remedy for his insomnia.

Left to right: Jacob, Balt, Cain

Jacob, Balt and Cain, three knights of the Vandenberg household. Chloe offers them some cold, fruity tea when they come through the mansion parlor one day. The knights become friendly with Chloe, who prefers to treat them casually without a care for status.

Ellie, the youngest maid of the Vandenberg household. As the only maid who never mistreated Chloe, she becomes the Duchess’ first friend despite the risk of becoming shunned by the other maids.

Personal Thoughts

How can others love us if we don’t even love ourselves?

It’s easy to say that being selfish is bad, but being too selfless can be harmful as well. This story demonstrates that being too obedient and too humble can lead others to take advantage of you and ruin your self-image. It’s mostly about Chloe’s personal fight to regain her confidence in herself through being more assertive in her beliefs, using her skills to contribute to others’ livelihoods and indulging in her personal hobby while sharing it with others.

The happiness that Chloe gains from her new assertions also improves her relationships with others, resulting in friendships that never would have happened if she stayed timid. It also allows her formerly indifferent husband to think better of her. Self-love requires confidence in oneself, so some pride and some selfishness is necessary if we want a better outlook on life. We’re only human after all!

Care for some more iced tea?

For example, Chloe introduces tea to others and uses modern-day recipes to prepare it in a variety of ways. By maintaining her confidence in her passion and showing others how tea can also be a delicious drink, Chloe develops confidence with herself while teaching others to share her interest as well. Do you have an interesting hobby? Why not show it to your family and friends? Maybe they would appreciate it and you’d feel better about yourself!

The different types of tea and the methods used in their preparation show how deep global tea culture is, from casual cold fruit tea (how is ice kept cold in a Renaissance-era kitchen anyway?) to aromatic tea from China or India. Even tea sets can vary widely in design, to appeal to a drinker’s aesthetic or for use in certain brewing techniques.

Moral

If you want others to love you, you must love and care for yourself first.

Everyday Life with Monster Girls

Spoiler Alert!

What’s…that sound…?… Ah, the alarm…

It’s 6:30 A.M. now. Huh? Is someone holding you?

You find yourself face-to-face with a familiar, beautiful teenage girl…

“Miia, it’s morning. Wake up.”, you say.

“Five more minutes…no, five more degrees.”

You look down and find that Miia has wrapped her snake’s tail all around you. You can hardly move!

“Why are you in my bed, anyway?”

“I was cold because the sun hadn’t risen yet, so I thought you’d warm me up, darling. Lamias are cold-blooded after all.”

You sit up saying, “I’ll go draw a bath, so wait a minute.”

“No way♥!”

Before you could react, something thick and muscular wraps around your neck and pulls you back onto the bed. You find yourself pressed onto something warm and…soft…

“I want you to warm me up, darling.”

You feel something slither all around your body and it starts to get tighter. OwwwWWW! Too tight! You find it hard to breathe as well! You must do something!

As you flail your one free hand about, you grab onto something…

“Ahh! (gasp) Darling, not the tip of my tail…!”

You feel the pressure around your body loosen up. Did you find a weak spot? As you fight the urge to faint, you keep rubbing Miia’s tail tip, causing her to twitch.

“I…can’t take…any…more…aaaahhh!”

You feel a sudden crushing force all over your body. What’s that popping sound?

Moments later, you barely hear Miia saying, “Fine, I’ll get up. You were so feisty this morning, darling. Darling?”

You ache all over and don’t quite feel like getting out of bed just now. Maybe five more minutes…

Everyday Life with Monster Girls (モンスター娘のいる日常, Monsutā Musume no Iru Nichijō) or Monster Musume is a manga and anime written by Okayado (オカヤド).

The story takes place in a modern-day Japan where non-human species go about their livelihoods alongside the usual human citizens. Three years ago, the Interspecies Cultural Exchange Bill was passed after much deliberation between the Japanese government and representatives of the various extra-species races. As a result, the existence of extra-species races was revealed to the world at large and the Japanese government is permitting the integration of extra-species into human society through a cultural exchange program. Under this program, selected individuals from various races are given a limited “diplomatic immunity” and the opportunity to experience life in human society. These individuals can apply for a homestay where they can share living accommodations with a volunteer human host family.

Welcome to a new life with monster girls!

To manage the exchange program and enforce its laws, government-selected coordinators provide counseling to exchange program members, inspect prospective volunteer host families, supervise homestays and address problems relating to such. One such coordinator, and a less-than-stellar example of one, is Kuroko Smith, who has pushed a total of seven houseguests onto the young Kimihito Kurusu despite him not volunteering for the exchange program in the first place.

Kimihito is soon involved in a series of improbable adventures as he learns more about his unusual houseguests, encounters many kinds of extra-species races or gets involved with the extra-species community in Japan. Such events include visiting a gym constructed for extra-species use, meeting his houseguests’ mothers, staying at a hot spring inn run by a yuki-onna (“snow-woman”) and going to an extra-species cultural exchange expo!

Despite the exchange program, there are certain individuals and groups who take advantage of or harm members of extra-species races. While legislation has been enacted to protect human and extra-species alike from crime and violence, Kimihito and his houseguests occasionally run afoul of such rogues.

Left to right: Miia, Papi, Centorea, Suu, Meroune, Rachnera

Main Characters

Kimihito Kurusu (来留主 公人, Kurusu Kimihito), a young Japanese man whose parents work abroad. He is kind, gentle and selfless, which results in his houseguests falling in love with him. Kimihito is very skilled at cooking and sewing and is devoted to making sure that the girls around him are happy, either by offering kind compliments or accommodating their particular needs, such as adjusting clothing to their size. He has also consistently demonstrated near-superhuman durability and tolerance to pain, which has helped him to survive the rough physical handling or accidents he often gets in his life with all sorts of monster girls.

Miia, a lamia (a humanoid with a snake’s tail as its lower body). Cheerful, ditzy and somewhat abrasive, she is the most openly possessive of Kimihito as her boyfriend-to-be. While she might seem naïve, Miia can be rather cunning at times. She is feared in the Kurusu household for her poor cooking skills, since she often improvises her ingredients wildly and the resulting food usually causes severe food poisoning. Miia originally went on the exchange program as a way to find a “tribal husband” to bring back to her home village since all lamias are female. Ms. Smith soon introduced her to Kimihito, with whom she fell in love with due to his kindness and lack of discrimination towards her.

Papi, a harpy. Playful, happy and absent-minded, she is a free spirit who doesn’t let much trouble her.  Papi has a very short attention span (leading others to call her a “birdbrain”) and is rather poor at learning. Despite this, she is protective and supportive of those she considers her friends, including children and other non-humans such as Suu. When she first arrived in Japan, Papi flew off when Ms. Smith wasn’t looking. Soon after, she found Kimihito at his balcony and flew off with him so that she could get some ice cream, since extra-species houseguests must be with their human hosts in public. Papi soon became another houseguest at Kimihito’s home.

Centorea Shianus (a.k.a. Cerea), a centaur. Serious, disciplined and chivalrous, she is the very image of the medieval knights she admires. Although she has a gentler side, Cerea can get flustered rather easily. She is an expert warrior skilled in archery, jousting and swordsmanship. Cerea has a fascination with fantasy-style RPG video games and, like all centaurs, she is a vegetarian. Refusing to marry a male centaur (of whom most are muscle-bound brutes), Cerea joined the exchange program to search for a worthy “master” as her host. After getting special permission from Ms. Smith, Cerea galloped through the city and accidentally ran into Kimihito. After an incident in which he protected her from a purse-snatcher (it’s complicated), an impressed Cerea decided that Kimihito was the master she was looking for.

Ready for trouble, Cerea?

Suu, a sentient slime. Generally innocent and simple-minded, she is able to change her shape at will and learn through mimicking others’ actions or speech. Her body can also absorb foreign substances, resulting in drastic changes to her appearance and personality. Examples of this are poisoned plants (caustic personality), experimental growth fertilizer (growing to the height of a skyscraper along with an increase in intelligence) and minerals from a hot spring (rigid personality). Because of this, Suu is the most unpredictable of the houseguests. She simply appeared in Kimihito’s home one day and gradually endeared herself to the others, particularly Papi. Ms. Smith has pointedly decided that Suu is not her problem, despite Suu not having arrived in Japan through legal channels.

Meroune Lorelei (a.k.a. Mero), a mermaid. Friendly, polite and graceful, she is the daughter of the Queen of the Mermaid Kingdom. Because her lower body is a fish’s tail, Mero has to use a wheelchair to move on land. She is deeply fascinated with romantic tragedy (i.e. a dying lover, unrequited love) and has a taste for gothic lolita fashion. Because of her royal upbringing, Mero has a formal, dignified conduct that can impress people at times. She met Kimihito after she lost control of her wheelchair while going down a hill. Afterwards, Kimihito learned that he was chosen as Mero’s host by Ms. Smith, who had remodeled his home with underwater accommodations.

Rachnera Arachnera, an arachne (a humanoid with a spider’s lower body). Mischievous, seductive and worldly-wise, she is the most mature and level-headed of the houseguests. She enjoys tying up people in her webs in different ways and provoking people, displaying a talent for knowing just the right thing to say. During her stay with her first host family (who were terrified of her arachnid appearance), Rachnera accidentally injured the family’s daughter. After this, the parents illegally sold her off to a shady criminal. Because of this, Rachnera developed a cynical view about humans until the day she heard about Kimihito’s blatant selflessness. She kidnapped Kimihito and talked to him at length, gradually realizing that his kindness and lack of discrimination was genuine. Because of this, Rachnera decided to stay with Kimihito as another houseguest.

Nothing can escape the shadow of death!

Lala, a dullahan (a humanoid with a detachable head). Gloomy, stoic and forthright, she uses dramatic, flowery language and likes to refer to herself as if she were death incarnate. Lala is seen as having “middle school syndrome (中二病, chuunibyou)”, where one (usually someone in mid-teens) likes to pretend to be far more powerful or attractive than they realistically are. In the past, Lala constantly ran away from various host families, which resulted in Ms. Smith often tracking her down. When she met Kimihito, Lala became fascinated with his ability to stay alive despite being constantly in life-threatening situations and decided to stay with him.

Kuroko Smith (墨須黒子, Sumisu Kuroko), a human cultural exchange coordinator. Lazy and irresponsible, she often neglects her duties as a coordinator, pushes her work onto others and never admits to any mistakes that she makes. Because of this, she has pushed several extra-species houseguests onto Kimihito without consulting him. Despite this, Ms. Smith can be very capable whenever she gets serious. She enjoys drinking coffee and particularly likes Kimihito’s instant coffee. Ms. Smith is also the leader of M.O.N. (Monster Ops: Neutralization), a unit of extra-species specialists similar to a SWAT team trained to handle crimes involving extra-species criminals.

Personal Thoughts

Most of the story’s appeal comes from the colorful appearances and personalities of the various extra-species girls, which consists of an eclectic selection of monsters from various legends. The author has put a lot of thought and effort into building many of these characters, who each have their special motives, preferences, habits and outlooks. From this as a starting point, an entire community of monsters has sprung up in the midst of modern-day human society, resulting in a fantastical cultural melting pot.

Since most of the extra-species characters in this story are attractive humanoids, situations in the story sometimes become risqué as images focus on their enticing, seductive bust sizes and curvatures. This usually results in hilarity as Kimihito fights to retain his chastity and uprightness when monster girls try to seduce him. The fact that many of these women possess superhuman strength means that Kimihito is likely to get horribly injured if he does accept their advances. Thankfully, his kindness to others and his own ability to tolerate high amounts of pain allows him to persevere in his friendship with monster girls.

(Sigh) What am I going to do with you all…?

Beneath the cultural differences and different monster abilities, the monster girls of this story behave just like humans. Whether as law-abiding citizens, hermits, criminals or otherwise, extra-species people are all still driven by the same motivations as us. As humans, we all have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, two arms and two legs. How different can we possibly be deep down?

Moral

Beneath the surface, different peoples and cultures may be more alike than we think.

I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level

Spoilers Alert!

You’ve dedicated your entire life to your corporate job since graduating from college. In fact, you can’t remember the last time you’ve taken a break or spent time trying to find a boyfriend! The last thing you remember was working at a breakneck pace for 50 days straight…

Now you’re here, in front of what looks like a little girl in a simple white dress with white wings on her back. Is that a circle over her head?

Ah…you’re dead, aren’t you? So this is the infamous “overwork death (過労死, karōshi)” that you’ve heard about on the news.

Shedding tears, the angel tells you, “I want you to live your next life as happily as possible. I can help you if you have any requests.”

“Then please give me immortality and a long, slow life. Living a leisurely life on a plateau would be perfect.”

“Sure! I’ll make you a 17-year old…girl…as…we…ll…”

Opening your eyes, you find yourself lying on the grass of a hilly valley and see a village in the distance. Looking behind you, you see a small house. On its front door is a notice you don’t recognize as Japanese, but somehow still understand: the house is free to anyone who wants it! Inside, you find a full-length mirror and take a look at yourself.

You are now a teenage girl with long, flowing blond hair and blue eyes, wearing a black coat and a black pointed hat, like that of a witch.  Checking your pockets, you find a small dagger and some gold coins! Time to go to the village and do some shopping!

A few minutes later, a small, translucent blue blob jumps in front of you. Hmm? Is this one of those “slimes” you’ve heard about from role-playing video games? You draw your dagger and thrust it the slime clumsily. Eventually, the slime evaporates and leaves behind a small crystal. You take it, hoping to sell it later.

At the village, Furata, you are directed to the local branch of the Adventurer’s Guild, the only place where monster spoils can be sold. There, the receptionist signs you in as a Level 1 Witch and you sell the crystal for 6 copper coins. Not bad!

Over the next 300 years, you’ve been passing time at your own pace: sleeping, farming, fighting slimes or even simply lazing about. You’ve also been using your herbal knowledge, one of your skills as a Witch, to make medicines to sell at the village. The people there even consider you to be their guardian spirit and have named you “The Witch of the Plateau”.

One day, after selling slime crystals at the Adventurer’s Guild, the receptionist asks to check your status. Evidently, she’s been curious about it for a long time! Now that you think about it, you haven’t checked it since the day you first signed in…

Placing your hand on a magic slate, your stats are shown.  Your Level is now…99?!

I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level (スライム倒して300年、知らないうちにレベルMAXになってました, Suraimu Taoshite Sanbyaku-nen, Shiranai Uchi ni Reberu Makkusu ni Nattemashita) is a light novel series, manga and upcoming anime series written by Kisetsu Morita (森田季節, Morita Kisetsu).

After dying from a stroke at work, the 27-year old office worker Azusa Aizawa finds herself reincarnated on another world as an immortal witch. Resolved to living the lazy life, she gradually grows in power by killing slimes every day for the next 300 years. As a result, she reaches Level 99 and becomes a powerful magician whose abilities soon become the talk of the land.

Azusa is gradually approached by several unusual characters and they all get together as family. Despite wanting to continue living her lazy life at first, Azusa learns to appreciate and enjoy the company of her new family and friends.

She has also found herself befriending an elder demon, attending the wedding of a dragon, negotiating a centuries-long dispute between draconic races, freeing a trapped ghost and riding a flying whale to visit the demon king himself. Despite her lack of desire for excitement, Azusa still seems to find it!

Left to right: Beelzebub, Falfa, Shalsha, Halkara, Laika, Azusa

Main Characters

Azusa Aizawa (相沢梓, Aisawa Azusa), an immortal human witch. Having once died from overwork, Azusa is rather easygoing and somewhat lazy, but she is fiercely protective of her friends and has a sentimental streak. Accidentally gathering experience and power over 300 years by killing slimes every day, she has gained super strength and powerful magic in the process. As a result, Azusa can singlehandedly defeat several dragons with her bare hands!

Laika, a 300-year old red dragon. Brave, kind and competitive, Laika believes strongly in self-improvement. Able to take on human form at will, she has many skills such as cooking, cleaning, carpentry and magic. After she hears about the legendary Witch of the Plateau, Laika challenges Azusa to a duel and is quickly overpowered. The dragon persuades Azusa to take her in as a disciple and rebuilds her house, almost doubling its size. A month later, Laika attends the wedding of her older sister along with Azusa and her friends.

A red dragon challenges the Witch of the Plateau to a duel, much to her annoyance

Falfa, a 50-year old slime spirit and the twin “sister” of Shalsha. Over the 300 years that Azusa spent killing countless slimes, the spirits of these slimes slowly merged and eventually formed two sentient creatures in the form of young human girls. Energetic, optimistic and curious, Falfa considers Azusa to be her mother because the slimes’ deaths enabled her own existence. At first, Falfa was at odds with her sister Shalsha, who wanted to avenge the slimes’ deaths, but they both later accept Azusa as their mother. In turn, Azusa has grown very fond of her newfound “daughters”.

Shalsha, a 50-year old slime spirit and the twin “sister” of Falfa. In contrast to her sister, Shalsha is a reserved and stoic intellectual who enjoys reading in her spare time. When she first appears, Shalsha is consumed with the need to avenge the slimes’ deaths at Azusa’s hands and has trained herself in Haja magic, an offensive type of magic that is strong against a specific race or person (Azusa in her case). After being defeated by Laika with a flick of a claw, Shalsha runs out of mana, forcing her to give up on vengeance.

Aaah, this is the life!

Halkara, a 225-year old elf apothecary and entrepreneur. Ditzy and childish, Halkara is also voluptuously beautiful. After inventing a “nutritional wine” similar to modern-day energy drinks, she set up a business to sell it until she was hunted down by the elder demon Beelzebub. Halkara took refuge with Azusa until she was found by Bub, who simply wanted to purchase more nutritional wine! After this, Halkara moves her business to Furata village and later builds a new medicine workshop at Nascoute City.

Beelzebub, a 3,000-year old elder demon. The demon kingdom’s Minister of Agriculture, she is calm, polite and professional, but is of surprisingly weak constitution. Because of this, she has grown dependent on Halkara’s nutritional wine to enable herself to maintain her busy work schedule. Bub is a very powerful magician, possibly even greater than Azusa herself, and is known as the Lord of the Flies for her ability to turn into a housefly at will.

Rosalie, a human ghost. Formerly a merchant’s daughter, she hung herself after her father sold her off at Nascoute City’s red-light district. Graceful and polite in life, Rosalie is now rude, curious and carefree. Trapped at the site of her death (now occupied by Halkara’s medicine workshop), Rosalie eventually managed to escape with help from Azusa and her friends and was accepted into their family.

Does this count as being haunted?

Personal Thoughts

Death by overwork, from stress or deprivation, is fairly commonplace in Japan, whose culture places value on social harmony and group priorities over the individual. Unfortunately, there are bosses who abuse this notion and take advantage of it to abuse workers since complaints are usually frowned upon in Japan, where the social hierarchy is deeply respected. It’s no wonder that Azusa, a typical office girl, enjoyed living a lazy life for centuries!

The story brings a humorous touch of fantasy to a modern woman’s life and several women’s issues such as a busy work life, getting married and having children. With Azusa as the reader’s stand-in, Laika acts as the best friend, Falfa and Shalsha act as the children, Halkara acts as the ditzy colleague in need of guidance and Beelzebub acts as an older, experienced colleague. It’s almost like a family drama!

The Minister of Agriculture working as a maid?! What’s next?

There isn’t much focus or challenge in the story since Azusa is already an overpowered magician by RPG player character standards. It’s more about Azusa coming to terms with having a new, adopted family after centuries of living alone in comfort. She seems to become more fulfilled as she learns about and helps her friends, gaining a new kind of happiness and satisfaction from loving others and being loved in return.

Moral

Caring for others can be difficult at times, but it is surprisingly rewarding in itself.