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I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled in the Real World, Too, Vol. 1 Light Novel Review

9 min read

When you are at your lowest … sometimes life changes for the better.

Creative Staff:

Original Story: Miku
Illustrations By: Ren Kuwashima
Translation: Noboru Akimoto
Cover Art: Ren Kuwashima

What They Say:

A mysterious door stands open, inviting a boy who’s been brutally bullied his whole life to take a courageous step forward into the unknown. On the other side, he finds a hoard of priceless artifacts and a world as filled with magic as it is with monsters. The most shocking revelation, however, is that he can bring back whatever he wants back with him when he returns to Earth. It won’t be long before this double life changes him forever …

Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):

For as long as he can remember, Yuuya has always been bullied, and no matter how much he begged for it to stop, it only enticed his tormentors to continue, pleading to teachers had no results for they ignored him, with everyone finally shifting the blame onto the victim himself. Tenjou could have tolerated this behavior at school, but it was no better at home since his parents never loved him, and the condition became worse as skin blemishes and excess weight accumulated year after year, for while he ate normal portions and attempted to exercise, the fat amassed as if his own body was mocking him. But as he began to think this was some type of illness, everything changed once his parents had new children, a set of adorable twins who looked nothing like him, all of the affection shifting to these offspring with they getting the best food and all anyone gave their first born was leftovers and table scraps. Basic necessities were ignored for Yuuya, such as washing his clothes, the family claiming doing so would ruin their clothes and it was a waste of water, so the boy was left to cleaning them in via a park faucet as an elementary school student, with new clothes also going to his siblings and he was left with secondhand items, and by the time he was in kindergarten, Tenjou was left to do everything on his own.

But even as Yuuya began to think something was wrong with him, there was still one person who showed any affection, his grandfather was the only person who paid attention to this rotund and ugly child, but even if he was rarely home due to frequent trips from which he brought strange souvenirs, this man showered him with unconditional love and ignored the twins. While he was thought of as an eccentric due to his strange habits and Tenjou’s parents never liking him, Yuuya always visited when he was at home after starting elementary school since his place was nearby, but no matter how much this elder objected to the manner his grandson was treated, due to his own odd behavior and the boy’s ugliness, everything he said was ignored and nothing changed. That was until his beloved grandfather died, and now left all alone, Yuuya still remembers his parting words: no matter how hard life may became, as long as he keeps smile on his face, happiness will eventually find him, for someday he will be able to show everyone they were wrong about him, and all he has to do is remain patient, take his time and stay true to himself.

After his death, the home and all of his grandfather’s wealth was left to Yuuya, and while his parents attempted to take it away, the elderly man cleverly secured all legal rights to the young boy, leaving these uncaring people to essentially abandon their son and prompting Tenjou to move into his new house, with just enough money to pay tuition through high school, and yet there was none left for daily expenses so he was forced to take up part time jobs. However it was on such a day when he was dragged behind the gym and given his regular beating by local delinquent Araki, leader of the Red Ogres gang, but as blows and verbal insults about his weight gained momentum, this dyed bully watched as the gathered took pictures, only to come up with a perverse notion to strip the poor boy down so they could get some nudes, with everyone sending invites to their contacts. It was only then when Yuuya heard familiar voices complaining their boredom, it was twins Youta and Sora who wore scowls of annoyance and venomously attacking their older brother, even if they were a year younger they showed no respect for their sibling, with Araki addressing the male twin directly and asking if they knew each other, laughing when he heard the unforgivable truth and telling the boy to have fun while he was here.

Enduring the diabolic habit which was his daily school life, Yuuya is given a temporary reprieve as spring break arrives before starting high school, and while he would normally work during such vacations, due to the countless beatings Araki gave him, Tenjou lost all of his part time jobs, so he decided to clean the home inherited from his grandfather. Even as he considers the unavoidable reasons for his loss of employment, this disadvantaged teenager cannot but wonder if there is anything he can do so improve his position, such as lifting weights, only to realize it would all be worthless waste of time. However as Yuuya takes up rags and vacuum cleaner, he knows no matter how much scrubbing on a daily basis, their is nothing like a thorough deep scouring, and yet at the same time, Tenjou understands this is just a distraction. As the poor boy brings bucket to the sink, he cannot but see a contemptible face which is the source of all his problems, bloated and pimple ridden landscape with a short pig-like nose, thick lips, crooked teeth and balding head, a combination which looks nothing like his parents or cute siblings, only then unleashing pent-up fury upon the reflective surface with bare fist, resulting in blood dripping into the basin. But as Yuuya repeatedly slams his bleeding knuckles into what remains of the mirror, wondering how he could earn money for cosmetic surgery while dealing with daily life expenses, he once again punches the wall and notices it begins to turn upon itself, revealing a concealed room which he never noticed before, perhaps hiding more curiosities from his grandfather’s numerous trips.

In Summary:

Upon turning and perusing the first page of I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled in the Real World, Too, one cannot but feel an immense amount of sympathy for our self-depreciating protagonist Yuuya, especially if the reader can remorsefully empathize with the feeling of being bullied themselves, allowing for an immersive understanding of feeling weak and not being able to do anything for their current situation. Writer Miku skillfully utilizes this thoughtful narrative tactic by infrequently switching the story’s literary perspective from first person to third with wondrous effect, allowing for Tenjou’s slanted sentiment to feverishly color the powerful emotions which are encased within his telling, permitting the audience to build a moving rapport which is essential to understanding how trapped this helpless boy feels before stepping through a mysterious door, and only becoming more distant when an outside perspective is necessary to describe what cannot be seen impartially through Yuuya’s viewpoint. It is due to a focused narrative from which this story has such a driven passion, allowing the now invested reader to create an immediate emotional bond with our young prisoner, trapped inside his useless body and willfully inspired due to his grandfather’s hopeful last words, and while wanting to give up several times, Tenjou knows the only person who cared for him would not cease to cheer with every tentative step he takes forward.

I will admit I did cry several times while reading Yuuya’s beginning adventures, not only from to sadness but also the empathetic compassion which grew with each passing moment of his daily trauma, remembering how it felt to be bullied and seeing as no one stepped forward to help, with cowards only picking areas where they would not be noticed, surrounded by people who had similar interests or those who would not speak out due to fear or some perverse interest in watching someone suffer, as long as it was not themselves. And while Miku’s narrative creates a formative foundation in which you want to step through so as to stop the terror, they never describe the violence in such a way as to make it graphically objectionable, always teetering on the brink of allowing our imagination to create the most painful events with creative manipulation of words. At the same time, interior and cover artist Ren Kuwashima’s is sincerely moving due to the limited number of illustrations, never contributing any violence due to the gentle nature of the images, always opting to show more dramatic moments of the story, from a boy venting frustrations, the tenderness of budding relationships, or the heroic nature of the man Tenjou is becoming, much to the audience’s proud agreement.

It is due to the unconventional escapism for a self-proclaimed coward through an isekai story which makes Miku’s narrative so immensely entertaining, promoting Yuuya into a bold hero which we never would have expected, encouraging this rotund and self-deprecating teenager into a prime paragon of his grandfather’s teachings of staying true to himself and never hesitating to help others in need, pressuring our once downtrodden protagonist into someone who we can silently cheer for and proudly want as a friend. Even after his first tentative step through a Door to a Different World, the reader cannot but warmly smile and chuckle at Tenjou’s shaky doubt if what he is doing is not criminal, never willingly recognizing he is the new owner of another house and that all of the unique and otherworldly treasures are his to do with as he pleases. You can imagine the ingrained fear which has plagued Yuuya for so long seeping through his brave facade, but it is this painful cowardice which has kept him alive for so long and now allows him to survive within a strange new world, making his reluctance to step outside of a self-imposed comfort zone all the more rewarding once he accepts this new adventure as a way to improve himself, something which he always wanted but was too afraid to do due to the pain of failure. The initial gratifying moment and resulting progress create a journey which is intensely satisfying, with each sincere step something which we willingly want to witness, all while hoping his sincere improvement will be something that will enlighten a hopeful future, even as new problems break on the horizon in both of his accepted worlds.

I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled in the Real World, Too is quickly becoming a new favorite and something which I will not hesitate to read several more times as we painfully wait for the next volume within this moving series. It is painful to remember the tentative Yuuya which we were introduced to in the prologue, a teen who was disappointed by his body and too afraid to assert himself when he saw a wrong being committed, but when he did speak out, the pain that resulted only caused him to withdraw further into a hardened shell. And yet it is the teachings and love from his grandfather which proved to be his salvation, both literally and figuratively, allowing a once sheltered boy to finally crack that protective shield and step toward a bright horizon, and while we may chuckle at his lingering hesitance, we could not be prouder to see Tenjou finally receive what denied him – a hopeful future in which he may find more happiness than any one man deserves.

Content Grade: A+
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A-

Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: May 17, 2022
MSRP: $15.00