“How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom”. It’s definitely a title that stands out, to me at least, compared to some of the other big hitters from the land of the rising sun. Sure, it does follow a similar, uber-popular type of story that seems to be used a lot lately of a modern day protagonist being sucked into a fantasy/virtual world (see: GATE, KonoSuba, NGNL etc.), but Realist Hero seems to be trying something different. Instead of having these characters pulled into the world, and living out their day to day lives like nothing has really changed (besides being stupidly strong and fighting some version of a “demon king” or “demi-god”), this tale takes a look at the more realistic version of what a fantasy world would be like.
Of course, in keeping with the Yatta-Tachi trend, I also have not read a light novel before Realist Hero, so when I was given the chance to read and review this book, I jumped at the opportunity. Special thanks to the team over at J-Novel Club for letting me check it out!
I’ll be the first to say it; my opinion might very well be different from yours. I’m more than happy to hear your thoughts on Realist Hero though, so leave a comment down below OR let me know over on Twitter what you think of it. Without further ado, let us check out How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom.
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Overview:
“”O, Hero!” With that clichéd line, Kazuya Souma found himself summoned to another world and his adventure–did not begin. After he presents his plan to strengthen the country economically and militarily, the king cedes the throne to him and Souma finds himself saddled with ruling the nation! What’s more, he’s betrothed to the king’s daughter now…?! In order to get the country back on its feet, Souma calls the wise, the talented, and the gifted to his side. Five people gather before the newly crowned Souma. Just what are the many talents and abilities they possess…?! What path will his outlook as a realist take Souma and the people of his country down? A revolutionary transferred-to-another-world administrative fantasy series starts here!” – J-Novel Club
As with a majority of current anime/manga/light novels, Realist Hero is mostly aimed at young adults. Notice the use of mostly, however, as I can see this story being liked (or loved) by much older audiences as well. Realist Hero dives fairly deep into the topic of politics that you wouldn’t see much of in another story like this, but it still has its fair share of anime antics. There are your typical tropes here and there (it wouldn’t be a light novel without them), but if you’ve never seen anime, read manga/light novels, played a visual novel or anything along those lines, then here’s a pretty interesting place to start.
Realist Hero manages to hit a lot of high notes, even if it rushes through and makes up some pretty poor excuses for a “just because” answer for the reader. Before getting to some of those bad points though, let’s look at what makes it shine.
First up is the world. Landia is the super-continent of Realist Hero, home to a huge diverse cast. Not really a surprise coming from the type of story that it is, but it’s still nice to see what the author’s take on anthropomorphism is. Ranging from wolf-people to elves, beast-men to sea serpents, and the all-mighty dragonewts, your typical human being seems a little out of place. The way they’re handled, at least in this introductory volume, is very interesting, as only some of the multitudes of races are on good terms with one another. I won’t spoil anything, but tensions seem to be hanging by a thread for some of the civilisations and I’m curious to see where they end up as the story progresses.
Of course, the world doesn’t just consist of the people. Landia is very vast and beautiful, with large vistas being described just enough to absorb you into it. A prime example is from early on in the book, where our King heads out from the castle to the farmer’s fields during the early morning. “Indeed, there was nothing but verdant fields of green leaves here. Green fields, wet with the morning dew, as far as the eye could see.” It’s the small things in life, y’know?
For every good sight is a bad one, however, with a particular moment in the final chapter showing the horrors of the real world, regardless if it’s on the “real” Earth or just a fantasy one. Luckily, the author holds back on the descriptions a tiny bit, but even still it is a little squeamish. Still, I like the fact that everything isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and the world ain’t exactly perfect by any means.
Our main cast is pretty entertaining, albeit with tropes tacked on to most of them. Take our King, Kazuya Souma for instance. Copy+Paste haircut? Check. Oblivious to the harem he is making and/or oblivious to the romantic feelings forming from his partners? Double check. Has no family left and is left to do what he sees fit? Triple check and bingo, you win! To be honest, though, I’m somewhat happy that these tropes, in particular, are present with the cast. Sure, you might want to bang your head against the wall when your main hero has no idea that one of the main female protagonists likes him (while she flings around a giant neon sign that says “I LOVE YOU IDIOT NOTICE ME”), but like the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it; it’s these sorts of dumb things that keep me hooked.
There are moments in which you see raw emotion from them. Taking a look at the last chapters again, when the ‘horrors’ are shown you see how badly it affects a major character, and how they break down from it. Looking at the lighter side from around the middle of the book shows our two main-main characters having some (somewhat) alone time and how their relationship develops in a cute and touching moment. The characters are full of life and are super entertaining.
We’ll look at the nit-picky stuff before we get into what Realist Hero slips up on. In the early to mid-stage of the book, you might notice some broken English here and there. While that isn’t a fault of the author himself, it definitely is for the translators/localises. Certain sentences will leave you scratching your head as to what is meant to be said or told, leaving you to fill in the blanks.
Remember what I said about Souma having no family left? That trope is one such double-edged sword that hurts the story, and backstory for him, leaving me with a “Yep, I’ve seen that a million times before” thought. Pacing and narration in Realist Hero are something that needs a bit of touching up. The fact that in the first few pages Souma is at home, and then in this new vast fantasy world is beyond ridiculous, especially when there is no real explanation. “Oh, we just had this hero summoner thingy-majigy that we have no idea how it was made or how it works” is not going to cut it. I’m somewhat fine with plot-device anythings, but at least put some effort into what it is and/or how it works.
Pacing issues do ensue as well, skipping whole months’ worth of time in the first book. It doesn’t have to be a day to day thing, but huge time skips can easily come back to bite you on the arse, when instead you could be fleshing out your characters and/or story. It doesn’t help that we have such a huge cast of characters as well, so hopefully, in the later volumes, we are given the opportunity to learn more about them.
Finally, the narration part. It started out well, with Souma being our main and our main heroine Liscia Elfrieden being the other. However, out of left field, we get thrown in more random narrations from other secondary characters, without warning as well. It’s quite the task to figure out who’s who when the narrators are passing the baton often, without there being a smooth transition. To be honest, there isn’t really a particular reason to have all these narrators; finding out the backstory or how a person ticks can be done in a multitude of other, less confusing ways. While being a huge trope and meme in our community, let’s be real, flashbacks can help shine light onto these characters. Maybe in the use of an intermission chapter or extra story at the end of the book even.
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom still hits some pretty high marks for me and was a great place to start my light novel reading. I’m hugely interested in where this story goes, and I’m a big fan of these characters so far. Of course, this can all change at the drop of a hat if the author goes AWOL on the story (e.g. Haganai RIP my beautiful prince), but I have high hopes that won’t happen. If you’re a fan of KonoSuba, No Game No Life, GATE or any other story along those lines, then you’ll definitely find something you’ll love here. And if you’ve never read a light novel, then like I said earlier Realist Hero is a great place to start off, with it avoiding most of the ‘anime’ stereotypes.
However, pacing issues could become even more of a problem if left unchecked. With the story having such a huge cast already from the first novel, I’m a little concerned with how the author will keep up with them all. Most of the kingdoms haven’t shown their faces yet, including our main antagonists, so I’m hoping that it won’t be too difficult. It’s both been done extremely well and flopped really bad in the past, so only time will tell where Realist Hero will fit in.
How would YOU rebuild the kingdom? Let me know your thoughts on the book, and my review, down in the comments below!
- Lovable main cast, albeit a bit trope-y
- Vast world with diverse characters and races
- Interesting take on the isekai format, choosing the politics over the sword
- Translation issues from the editors
- Pacing issues throughout the story, using lackluster plot-devices and skipping over events
- Confusing narration, with the cast using baton pass a little too much
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