Book review: 本好きの下剋上 vol. 3 (Ascendance of a Bookworm)

This review comes late, not because I forgot to write it, but because I totally failed to prioritize my novel reading goal and have only just finished my first one of this year. In hindsight it might have been a better idea to read something more lightweight in order to catch up, rather than the ~460 oversized pages of very dense text that comprises this book, but oh well. At least I’m way ahead of the wanikani book club now!

Following up from the cliffhanger at the end of the previous volume, this one wastes no time in raising the stakes regarding Mayne’s terminal illness. While some of the tension is alleviated due to the fact that there are currently 23 more books in the series, it does add a sense of urgency to the entire book. The final act had me reading two extra chapters beyond my daily goal just because it go so exciting.

As with the rest of the series so far, I really enjoyed this installment. With the exception of the epilogue chapters, which are always a bit of a drag, the storytelling and characterization are as good as ever. There’s less of a focus on production of new inventions and more focus on the politicking involved with disrupting the status quo, all of which is handled in an engaging way despite the potentially dry subject matter. I won’t be moving on to vol. 4 immediately since I’d like to get a bit ahead of schedule before reading another huge book, but I’ll definitely be looking forward to it.

Japanese reading report

This week I finally finished up 本好きの下剋上 vol. 3. Feeling very positive about this pace (I ended on the exact day I planned to). I have to say, the last few chapters were kind of rough. After the climactic confrontation last week, the epilogue and everything after it just made the book feel like it was overstaying its welcome…not to mention, yesterday’s chapter was written entirely in keigo, which felt like driving over speed bumps the whole time. In any event, I enjoyed this book a lot and will be moving on with the series soon.

I also read a bit of 風の道しるべ here and there, finishing story #1, then reading all of #2 about half of #3. This current story is the best one so far since it has Inosuke and the author captures him quite well. Planning to finish this one up in the coming week.

Worth mentioning: yesterday I set up a Japanese google account so I could play Nier Re[in]carnation and spent maybe an hour on it. I’ve never played a gatcha game before so I don’t know how long I’ll stick with it, but so far it’s pretty nice. The worldbuilding is interesting and I’m able to follow along with the spoken audio just fine, though some of the UI text is short-lived enough that it’s impossible for me to grasp everything before it fades away. Good speed-reading progress I guess?

Japanese reading report

This week I decided that completely cutting manga out was just getting me down, so I decided to let myself read manga at night again. Started up ゆるキャン vol. 3 and read it a little at a time while I was falling to sleep; probably just a couple of chapters here. I also decided to rewatch the anime before getting into the second season (four episodes this week).

I made really good time on 本好きの下剋上 vol. 3, making up for my missed goal from last week and reading all the way to the epilogue last night, bringing me to exactly 75% of the way through. The last few chapters were really exciting and climactic (fitting for the end of an arc) and I kept getting swept along even though I was planning to stop.

I also started reading 風の道しるべ in parallel (the last 鬼滅の刃 spinoff novel so far) at a more relaxed pace, but still planning to finish it by the end of the month, which would get me totally back up to speed on my yearly goal. Unlike the other books so far this one devotes almost the first half to the titular story, which is focusing on 実弥 before he becomes 風柱. There’s a bit of interesting lore regarding his scars which fits really well with a few key points despite not being mentioned explicitly in the manga as far as I remember. I have to admit I wasn’t incredibly excited about this one after the last book left me kind of cold, but so far it’s off to a good start.

Japanese reading report

This week I stayed mostly on track with 本好きの下剋上 vol. 3, though not quite enough to get me to 50% — I think I read six chapters total out of eight that I would have needed. There have been some interesting developments as paper production ramps up and it seems like some political intrigue is about to kick off.

I also watched all of 京都寺町三条のホームズ, which I saw a few episodes of a long time ago and dropped for some reason. I really enjoyed this watchthrough and will be looking for an opportunity to read the novels. There was rather a lot of 関西弁, but fortunately it was fun rather than frustrating to follow. I would have liked to use jsubs or subs2srs to review some of the stuff that got away from me, but I guess that’s what the books are for.

Japanese reading report

I managed to prioritize 本好きの下剋上 this week, reading one chapter per day and bringing me up to 25%. I’ll be trying to maintain this pace until I finish it so as to get slightly less behind on my goal. There are some interesting development seemingly about to go down (the last chapter I read had a bit of a cliffhanger). It occurred to me as I was finishing up this last chapter that I’m only running into a few unknown words per page now, which feels nice (especially since the pages in this volume are really dense).

Throughout the week in dribs and drabs I finished up 午後3次雨宮教授のお茶の時間 vol. 2. It kind of has the same problem that 甘々と稲妻 had where every chapter inevitably has some surprised 美味しい~ reactions, which makes it a little tedious to read in big doses.

Finished up the トニカクカワイイ anime and enjoyed it a lot. I definitely lost track at some points but fortunately when I passed the point which I’d read up to, everything from that point on was nice and smooth. I also (re)watched Shall we ダンス and had a much tougher time comparatively (couldn’t find any J-subs so I had to watch it raw). Still was able to follow most of it and had a good time.

I forgot to mention it last week but I’ve decided to give vtubers a try; watched a few episodes of 鈴原るる’s Yakuza 0 playthrough. The 関西弁 is pretty thick but it’s been interesting. I’ve often been curious about the series but haven’t managed to enjoy playing it myself, so this is a good opportunity.

Finally, while I was able to make some good progress in other areas I did unfortunately neglect 大図書館の羊飼い…again. I was planning to read 3.5 hours of it today in order to catch up, but was only able to manage 1.5. Starting to wonder if my goal of five VNs this year was a bit ambitious…

Japanese reading report

This week I I read three and a half more volumes of manga, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can’t be trusted with anything. First was トニカクカワイイ vol. 4, which finally sold me on the series (I was already enjoying it but it moved to my “actively following” list). Next was ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 vol. 4, which I’ve wanted to keep reading for a while. Last was 怪物事変 vol. 1, which I got for free a while ago and pulled out now that the anime is running. I enjoyed it quite a bit and will probably start watching the anime at some point. I also read about half of 午後3次雨宮教授のお茶の時間 vol. 2 here and there while falling asleep.

January is almost over and I still haven’t finished any novels, so I’m feeling rather behind — once I finish 雨宮教授, I’m going on a diet until I either fall behind schedule or finish a novel, whichever comes first. In pursuit of that, I did get back to 本好きの下剋上 vol. 3, reading two chapters over the last two days. I also stayed somewhat up to date with 大図書館の羊飼い — they introduced a new character whose entire personality is that she tries to leave and is not allowed to leave. I feel kinda bad for her.

Last thing of the week: I also started watching トニカクカワイイ this morning. Just two episodes so far, and a lot of it was familiar since I’ve already read almost everything that the first season covers, but it was enjoyable and I need more listening practice anyway. There were definitely some words which I didn’t recognize when I heard them despite definitely knowing them in text, so those re-connections are good to get.

Japanese reading report

This week I just read one volume of manga, おいしいコーヒーのいれ方 vol. 1. I picked it up based on the idea that I would be learning good coffee making tips, but it seems to have been a bamboozle. So far it seems to be a romantic drama where coffee is only barely involved. I enjoyed it well enough but won’t be rushing out to continue it.

The rest of the week I spent on 大図書館の羊飼い. I’ve been pretty busy the last few days so I feel like I’m slacking a little, but I did manage to fit in at least half an hour per day. They introduced a couple of new characters and set up a means by which we can theoretically figure out who’s been sending the 羊飼い emails. Nothing major in terms of plot development but some of the scenarios have been hilarious. I’ve finally come around to 高峰 (he didn’t impress me at first) and everyone feels like they have good chemistry at this point.

Japanese reading report

This week I read actually kind of a lot of manga without meaning to, though not because of any quota; there was just a bunch of stuff I wanted to read. First up was Spy Family vol. 6, which I bought and read on the day it came out. This one was a ton of fun and ended with a pretty good cliffhanger so I’ll be looking forward to the next volume.

I also picked up 僕の心のヤバイやつ vol. 1, which I’ve had my eye on for a while after discovering the artist on Twitter. I gotta say it’s…not at all what I had expected? I guess it gets kind of wholesome as it goes along but at least here at the beginning it’s pretty messed up. The main boy has wild mood swings where he’s literally on the brink of whipping out a box cutter on his classmates, and the main girl is pretty unpleasant. I enjoyed pieces of it and I’m curious to see how it develops but I doubt I’ll be jumping back into it.

Next up was むとうとさとう vol. 2, which I read through pretty quickly. Not a lot to say here, basically more of the same awkward romantic comedy stuff as before. It’s a fairly young series so I might try to catch up pretty soon.

Last one this week was すいとーと vol. 3, which is actually suddenly the last one in the series. I’ve been reading it since day 1 so it’s kind of neat to reach the end. Just like before it’s got me desirous of a trip to 福岡, and this time felt like it had a lot more dialect than the previous ones. It was kind of weirdly paced and I think the restaurant-per-chapter format kind of worked against it at the very end, but not a huge deal.

Throughout the week I read a decent amount of 大図書館の羊飼い. I’m only at 3% of the total completion but it seems I’m on a decent pace through the first route? Kana is still a real treasure but the other characters are getting some good development as well. Surprisingly not needing to look up too many words lately, which is nice.

Japanese reading report

At the beginning of the week, I read two more volumes of manga (かたなかける vol. 4 and 5) to finish out my (doubled) goal for the year at 104. This also means I’m caught up with what I have of this series; I got some for free ages ago and have just been slowly picking through it one book at a time. I went ahead and grabbed the next volume so I’ll probably be moving on to it pretty soon.

Until the end of the year, I wanted to spend time on something else so as to not go over my goal number, so I went back to 真3 for a little bit and just…I don’t think I’m going to keep playing it. I don’t have a clear idea of where to go or what to do, and the friction introduced by the random battles makes it frustrating to try and figure it out. I might go back to it in a while but for now it’s going on the shelf.

After this I tried out a couple of demos on the Switch eShop (Daemon X Machina and Bravely Default 2) until I remembered that I had a stalled playthrough of 大図書館の羊飼い, so I went back to that. I was doing alright last time I tried it, but it feels like it’s going even more smoothly this time. I’m going to stick with it for a while, hopefully until I finish one route at least. Visual novels are part of my reading goal for this year, so I figured it would be good to start early since it’s still largely uncharted territory.