Review: My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World (Vol 1)

art by An2A

art by An2A

For general information on this seriesMy Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World entry

This review is for the first volume of My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World by Tsuyoshi Fujitaka. The English edition was released digitally by J-Novel Club in December 2016. The second volume is currently being released in English in weekly prepub installments. The series so far has seven volumes out in Japan.

Vol 1 -- The World's Strongest Little Brother

Vol 1 — The World’s Strongest Little Brother

The creation of J-Novel Club was one of my favorite developments from last year, since it has allowed for more light novels to be released in English–and more specifically, for light novels that otherwise would not have been licensed to make it over. My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World isn’t a particularly unusual novel in terms of content, but it wasn’t a title I saw anybody talking about prior to J-Novel Club’s formation. It’s great to try out more stories from Japan that haven’t already been popularized by anime adaptations.

This story works with a straightforward setup: it’s high school, and it turns out all the random supernatural or highly unusual beings from fiction are real–just as the protagonist’s wacky big sister has claimed all along. I was actually wondering if we were going to find out if there was going to be some psychological twist at the beginning to make it clear that all the nonsense was some kind of fabrication, but it turned out I was thinking way too much over what is ultimately a very breezy read. The prose is informal (even for light novels), and the tropes are played straight–but always in a lighthearted manner. The anime I would most readily compare this story to is When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace, as it has a very similar tone to that.

Curiously, this volume actually has very little to do with the eponymous Big Sister–the story is all about the protagonist boy Yuichi. The power he gains without explanation is the ability to see words above his classmates’ heads, revealing their true natures (e.g. “Serial Killer”). This is what sets off the fights and shenanigans that ensue over the course of the novel. There are a number of absurd reveals associated with his character that I won’t give away here, because that’s half the fun of this story.

Worth mentioning I think is that at times we also follow the point of view of one of Yuichi’s classmates, a girl named Aiko–who happens to be a vampire. We don’t learn as much about her as I would have liked, but the point of view shift is at least nice for a change of pace, and for giving a clearer perspective of what kind of boy Yuichi is. She and other side characters subvert a trope here and there, but I’d like to see them grow outside the archetype labels the story has given them.

I’d recommend My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World to those who are already big light novel fans, and are in the mood for a goofy take on high school action stories. It’s a quick read, and if you take a liking for some of the characters you won’t have to wait long at all for more volumes.

Cho’s Rating: Maybe Recommended

3 responses to “Review: My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World (Vol 1)

  1. I was surprised to find this book an enjoyable read. I picked it up out of boredom one day, and had fun going through it. While it wasn’t good enough to become one of my favorites, I do find myself looking forward to the next volume. Probably my favorite from what I’ve read from j-novel club so far, though I’ve yet to read all of them.

    • I found myself pleasantly surprised too! I might give the second volume a try too, but after I’ve finished a couple other first volumes I’d like to review.

  2. I really enjoyed this one as well. J-Novel Club really seems to be going for those smaller, self-aware titles that are just fun as hell! I agree with you that their joining the market this past years has been a boon for LN fans, as their business model seems to allow them to go for smaller titles with less hype/following. I hope they can get even more Japanese publishers on board this year so we can get even more great work!

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