Monday, May 3, 2021

REVIEW: The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent, Vol. 1 (book) by Yuka Tachibana, illustrated by Yasuyuki Syuri, translated by Julie Goniwich

The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent is an isekai fantasy series (portal fantasy). It's licensed by Seven Seas. I bought my copy brand new.


Sei comes home after another extremely long day at work, only to find herself suddenly transported to a new world. In that new world, a magical miasma has a tendency to gather near places where people live, producing deadly monsters. Knights and mercenaries are usually able to keep the monsters in check, but every once in a while the miasma produces too many monsters to handle. When that happens, a Saint is often found somewhere in the world, but on rare occasions a summoning ritual must be conducted. That ritual is what brings Sei to this well as a second person, a 15-year-old girl named Aira. 

Moments after the summoning ritual, Prince Kyle swoops in and takes Aira away, declaring her to be the new Saint. Sei, annoyed, asks if she can go home, but it seems that's impossible. With nothing else to fill her time, Sei's amateur interest in herbs soon lands her a job at the Research Institute of Medicinal Flora. She becomes determined to live as normal a life as possible while she keeps an eye out for a way to go home, but her curiosity gets the better of her, and it isn't long before she's making enormous amounts of magical potions and learning magical spells and how to enchant gems. 

This was a surprise: a light novel that I liked more than its manga adaptation. Granted, I've only read one volume of the manga, which only covered the first half of this novel, but still.

Like many isekai light novels, the writing and overall flow had some issues, the fantasy world had bizarre knowledge gaps that didn't make sense (the people in this world don't season or flavor their food with anything other than salt and vinegar, WTF), and the protagonist was pure wish fulfillment (overpowered, beloved by nearly everyone, yet humble). Although the text was mostly first-person from Sei's POV, whenever the author wanted to infodump about the world's political situation, there'd be a third-person scene in which characters sat around and chatted with each other. That said, the book was very readable. I had fun with it and basically flew through it in a day.

The characters were overall more likeable, or at least more sympathetic, in the light novel than in the manga. Although Prince Kyle's complete lack of acknowledgement of her annoyed Sei, that annoyance didn't spill over onto Aira - she was clearly still rooting for the girl, both because she didn't want to have to take on the responsibilities of the Saint herself and also because, well, Aira was only 15. I don't think the manga ever mentioned just how young she was, and I'm really hoping Sei and Aira end up getting along and becoming friends when they finally get a chance to talk to each other. I'm not holding my breath on that one, though, since characters like Liz kept painting her as a manipulative fiance-stealer.

Even Prince Kyle was a tiny bit more sympathetic in the novel, despite only having one brief on-page appearance. He made an enormous mistake by instantly favoring Aira over Sei, but his behavior was partly spurred by insecurity caused by the current political situation. Although he was the Crown Prince by virtue of having been born first, the second-born prince was more talented than him and had several factions that would support him if he tried to take power. He didn't seem interested in doing that, but it didn't stop Prince Kyle from feeling like he had something to prove. 

Sei is definitely "tired and overworked female employee" wish fulfillment. In her old life, her every waking moment was devoted to either work or commuting to and from work, and her few hobbies (herbology, aromatherapy, making soaps and lotions) were centered around her desperate efforts at maximizing what little self-care time she had available. She was so exhausted when the summoning spell transported her that everyone initially assumed she was sickly. In her new life, she actually has free time and a small group of people doing their best to see to it that she's happy and occasionally spends time relaxing. She's also more beautiful (magical lotions!) and manages to stumble across a hot boyfriend (who takes her on a first date that she doesn't realize is a date, lol).

The one issue: she's such a workaholic that she doesn't really know how to relax. Since her new job involves some of the same things she used to do as a hobby, it doesn't feel like work...which is how she rationalizes becoming a potion-making machine and spending her free time reading about magic and potions. I'm interested to see how (and whether) Tachibana ends up addressing this - it seems like it would be very easy for unscrupulous characters to force Sei to work as long and as hard as her Japanese employer used to, simply by guilt-tripping her over all the good she could/should be doing as the Saint.

On the face of things, the romance aspect wasn't really any different in the novel than in the manga - in both versions, readers don't learn much about either Sei or Albert except their basic personalities and that they don't seem to do much except work. However, I found I enjoyed the romance a lot more in the novel than in the manga. Sei's obliviousness was more amusing and believable, and their date and the gift-giving that came after (which I expect volume 2 of the manga will be covering) was fun and sweet.

Since I thought the manga was so-so, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Considering Sei's actions at the end of this volume, the story could shift considerably in Volume 2, and I have no idea if it'll go in a direction that will work for me. Even so, I decided to take a risk and order the next couple volumes. Crossing my fingers that this ends up being one of the very rare light novel series I can enjoy for more than a couple volumes. 


A few full-color illustrations (the image on the cover, character illustrations for Sei, Jude, and Albert, and an image from a scene near the end of the book), black-and-white illustrations throughout, and a brief afterword by the author.

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