My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World Vol. 2 - Digital Light Novel Impressions [Parts 1-4]

Yuichi finally begins to settle into his extraordinary life as summertime rolls around for him and the rest of the Survival Club. Things might not be all relaxation and fun though, as a sect of vampires plot a takeover that might put vacation on hold...

The Lowdown

After befriending a vampire, fighting off oni, and inadvertently enthralling a serial killer, Yuichi Sakaki has his hands full with the unexplained power to read people’s true nature in the form of text above their heads. His first semester in high school comes to a close, and his club plans a trip with the downtime. Led by his imaginative older sister Mutsuko, only heaven knows where they’ll end up. Unfortunately for him, his friend Noro’s younger brother is spearheading a vampiric assault on the normal (well, normal to everyone but Yuichi) town.

Part 1-4 Impressions

Big Sister is a wild ride in experimental comedy- it tries a lot of different things and sticks to a few working gags to keep it on its feet. Where it works best by far has to be when it is parodying its insanity with hilarious day to day humor. Something so small as a club wishing for a vacation straight out of a manga feels goofy coming from a group that have traits that are very well from material of the sort. What is more, the locations for these meetings succeed as punchlines (an unfortunately named restaurant, for example) that carry a little extra oomf. The most charming recurring joke within the series is the unbelievably thorough scenarios of being trapped in an isekai (another world) that the most normal member of the club, Kanako, devises and even dabbles in writing about. It is the prime example of experimenting, getting something right, and sticking with it. They don’t overkill the joke, and it is always right around the corner without being expected. With a little more time, I’m fairly certain that there will be a funny routine working for the volumes to come.

That being said, however, the light novel stumbles in how it doesn’t seem content with establishing a steady nucleus and keep to what works in both comedy and story, ultimately coming off rather unstable. There was a real impressive stretch for the first two/two and a half parts where story was balancing well with comedy and everything flowed nicely. After an awkward shopping trip to the mall that missed the point with comedy and hamstrings things to point, the pacing became rattled and things started happening spontaneously and way too quickly. Without any context, the audience is given a random forest battle between serial killer-turned love interest Natsuki and Yuichi that happens within a three hundred word range start to finish and abruptly cuts somewhere else in another time without fleshing out much about it. While they did already mention the two would spar, it feels like there could have been a lot more done in moments such as this (both from a comedic and a character development angle). It is almost as if the story is so excited to tell itself that it sprints ahead of things that work and leaves a lot on the table that would make a good story great. Hopefully it doubles back and goes into detail later, but two volumes in (the first volume showed its hand far too early in the game) this trend is a little worrisome. Pacing is an issue that can be fixed relatively painlessly- as characters and events unfold it typically smooths itself out and the early hiccups are almost non factors. With promising characters like Yuichi, his older sister, and extraordinary classmates, there is a lot riding on cleaning those wrinkles up.

Despite having some rough waters, the main overlaying plot has me interested enough to keep reading (as it has since the jump). While half of the antagonists introduced to date fit into a growing harem for Yuichi, a multi-layered plot unfolding arms the narrative for an intriguing ride. Once just a joke, a young man with middle school syndrome (also the younger brother of one of the main characters) grabs hold of insane power in feeding vampirism. Where the first volume’s conflict was coupled with the introduction to a hilariously overpowered protagonist and didn’t pop out that much as a storyline (between the two big fights that happened in the first volume, there wasn’t a real build-up to the conflict), a boy obsessed with the abilities to force people to believe his young delusions is a chilling concept. Along with his conniving aunt, I am hooked on reading the growing conflict alluding to an interesting showdown (and given the style, potential comedy) in either a final act of this volume or built upon for the inevitable somewhere down the road. It is pretty exciting to imagine something like the comedy scenes firing off all cylinders and more deep fantasy plots keeping things fresh and intriguing for Big Sister. While it can be off at times with misses on jokes or oddly placed ecchi scenes, it is hard to resist the fascinating direction this digital light novel is taking things.

My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World Vol. 2: The Half-Baked Vampire vs. The Strongest Little Sister?! is being published by J-Novel Club digitally on their subscription service, and will be available for purchase as a whole digitally afterward. Authored by Tsuyoshi Fujitaka,  the series is currently running with 7 volumes published by HJ Bunko in Japan. 

Total Parts Currently Out: 8

Author: Tsuyoshi Fujitaka

Translator: Elizabeth Ellis

Editor: Emily Sorensen

Publisher: J-Novel Club