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I…Don’t Hate It?!

By Waltzoid, author of Through the Motions

Oct 30, 2019: It seems that nowadays you can’t throw a rock without hitting an online novel that features characters being reincarnated or otherwise drawn into worlds that operate on RPG logic, with characters referring to "levels", "stats", and "skills" as if they were everyday concepts. I Hate Being Wed in a Fantasy World is (as of this review, which will only cover Volume 1) a six-volume tale of a group of Japanese high school students dragged into a fantasy world against their will to fight an unknown force of evil.

Sounds pretty generic so far, right?

The hook to this story is that an antisocial video game nerd, Kenta Katsuragi, possesses a cursed magical ring that reveals its true power when he reunites with his class president, Kyou Momokawa. Through a series of misunderstandings, the two are accidentally "married" and are forced to work together to find a way back to safety despite neither of them liking each other before (or even after) their reunion.

I Hate Being Wed . . . , like many stories of its kind, seems to be geared toward readers who are already familiar with RPG and MMORPG tropes and trends, so the casual reader will scratch their head at the many bracketed skill names and phrases being thrown around, but it’s otherwise consistent and easy to understand. The actual writing style isn’t as good in this regard, as there are frequent comma breaks that disrupt the flow of reading where one wouldn’t expect commas to be, sometimes as many as two or three per sentence. These become somewhat less distracting as you read on and get used to seeing them.

Much of the story is told from Kenta’s perspective, with occasional breaks into Kyou’s perspective. After getting in these characters’ heads for a few chapters, I often found myself wanting to get out as quickly as possible. When the main couple narrates, everything suddenly dries up. There’s lots of exposition, but not enough emotion.

The main character is the story’s weakest link by a good margin. Kenta, for all his professed gamer savviness, routinely does and says stupid things that get him into trouble that could have easily been avoided if he’d just stop and think ahead for once. One could chalk this up to being an impulsive teenager desperate to survive in an unfamiliar world, but there are times when the self-inflicted bad luck he often complains about ("I hate it!" is something of a catchphrase for our dear Ken-san) just isn’t harsh enough. He’s also a moderate asshole (he even says so himself) who views others, including his bonded partner Kyou, with contempt. He sees her, and the rest of his classmates, as phonies who only care about making themselves look good. Ironically, this opens him up to be tricked by Kyou and others into furthering their own goals.

Compared to the self-centered and abrasive Kenta, Kyou feels like the relative voice of reason. Despite being much lower-leveled than Kenta, she’s bailed him out more times than he likes to admit. This makes their partnership a marriage of (plot) convenience, where they know they have to take advantage of the system – and each other, hence the title – in order to survive. Seeing Kenta and Kyou perform forced gestures of affection to score points toward their first shared power-up can be eye-rolling at times, but it’s these occasions where they stop bickering and sniping at one another and put their heads together to solve a problem, producing some of the first volume’s more exciting moments.

Despite my issues with the dull narration, superficial romantic elements, and having to deal with a pair of annoying blockheads as the main couple, I can safely say that Volume 1 of I Hate Being Wed in a Fantasy World is . . . an acquired taste. The idea of having a dysfunctional couple of teens as the focus of an RPG adventure is surprisingly unique. Kenta and Kyou won’t factor into any "cutest couple" contests any time soon, but I still found myself equally frustrated and fascinated by what was going to happen next. I had to raise my annoyance tolerance bar high enough above my head to make a basketball hoop to do so, but I made it.

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