Galge no Sekai yo, Youkoso! Vol.1
Tsuzuki Takenori is a normal student living a relatively boring life. Living with non-blood related siblings, having a female childhood friend living next door, meeting the school idol, bumping into the new transfer student… None of these standard galge archetypes and events happen in the real world. One day he receives a mail with just one line: “Do you want to change your world?”. He thinks it’s just a spam mail, but his curiosity gets the better of him. Deciding to use his favorite galge Eternal Innocence as a base, he enters a world where the game world now becomes reality.
Hearing someone calling out to him, Takenori wakes up and finds the game’s childhood friend character Akihara Rie by his side. Somehow she knows his name already even though he had never told it to her. After the initial confusion and surprise in seeing Rie in front of him, he realizes that something is clutching his lower body. That something is the imouto character, Natsumi. She had come to wake him up and instead ended up getting in his bed to sleep a bit longer. Afterwards, he also meets two other game characters: oneesan Harumi and the school idol Kagura Saki, who has her own fan club.
It’s quite a change for him walking to school with four cute girls by his side. At school, many events that happen in the game also appear. Knowing the protagonist’s lines by heart, he repeats them and gets the same responses from the girls as in the game. However, many other things that do not occur in the game also happen. He wonders if it’s just because the game makers didn’t want to write ‘normal’ events or the illustrators didn’t want to make more character sprites. Regardless, it’s a refreshing bonus to a game he loves dearly. He now experiences the warm family and harem life that he had wished for.
Knowing what would happen if he did not pursue Saki’s route first, he attempts to meet up with her to further their relationship, but it’s not as easy as clicking on an icon on map select. It seems instead that he is activating flags on other routes as well. Could it be that all routes are happening at the same time?
However, even though they are originally game characters, this is still reality. It is not normal for little sisters to be that close to their older brothers. Being a school idol means you are loved by some, but also hated by others, including Takenori’s actual classmate Takahashi Aiko. Bad things befall all the characters at once: Harumi gets injured during a tennis match and gets sent to the hospital, Natsumi has an argument with her best friends and locks herself in her room, and Saki is bullied by her classmates and collapses due to her illness. Everything is different from the game scenario now and Takenori is at a loss of what to do.
He feels that unlike the protagonist, he does not have the ability to solve all these problems and save those he loves. Rie comes and yells at him to not run away. It is not courage and passion that is the reason he’s the protagonist, it is his kindness. With that, he realizes that he needs to take initiative in order to bring happiness to everyone.
It is no surprise that I would come upon this light novel considering the heavy galge/eroge influence. This is the author’s first work and his background is in the gaming industry. Galge no Sekai was the grand prize winner of the Enterbrain Entame novel competition. The novel starts off slow being pretty much a copy of any love comedy visual novel storyline and a depicts a world that many of us eroge players have dreamed of at one point. However, it soon picks up when things start to go awry and Takenori has to summon his courage to solve them. This is reality and you must always take the good with the bad.
This is only the first volume of this series, but you can really read it like a standalone. The illustrator worked on Love Delation! and the subchars for Hoshikaka, but I found the artwork somewhat lacking (possibly because Bokutomo‘s was much better). The pacing is fast after the first few chapters and there’s lots of challenges along the way, which help build Takenori’s character. At the beginning, he is just pretending to be the protagonist by replicating words and actions, but by the end, he is thinking for himself, protecting those he loves and bring happiness to them. Some sudden plot twists regarding the last game heroine, mysterious transfer student Akashi Aoi, make for an interesting last few chapters.
I liked how the game world mixed in with reality. You begin to realize just how unrealistic games are. How can you tell where a character is at any point? Why are there only 3 choices and there’s always a right one? Why don’t you see other heroines anymore after you’re locked on a route? Galge no Sekai brings up a lot of good points that many galge/eroge players would appreciate. I also love how the girls have gained their own identity after coming to reality. They’re not just fictional characters anymore, but girls with their own heart and mind. When problems arise, it isn’t as easy to overcome as in a game where there is always a happy end.
The ending was a little bit of a letdown since I wish that he had made a clear decision, but I guess it sets up nicely for the next volume. In particular, I hope that they will reveal more about the origins of the e-mail and the fairytale.exe program. While the art is standard, this should be a fun read for those that are familiar with galge and wish they were the protagonist in one. I know I’d love Sana to be with me!