For general information on this novel: Infinite Dendrogram entry
This review is for the first volume of Infinite Dendrogram. This series is written by Sakon Kaidou and features illustrations by Taiki. The second volume released on August 29th, and will be followed by volume 3 on October 31st. So far there are five volumes for this series in Japan. Special thanks to J-Novel Club for providing a review copy of this volume.
Virtual reality and MMO games. I don’t have much experience with either, but that is the setting for Infinite Dendrogram. And really, that is the entire premise too. The official synopsis is simply “there is a VRMMO called Infinite Dendrogram, and a boy named Reiji plays it.” To be honest it didn’t sound like much of a hook to me, but a lot of readers said it was a really great story so I decided it was worth a try.
In the end though, there wasn’t really anything that clicked with me in this one. The story goes into extraordinarily great detail regarding things like player classes, job skills, level-up abilities, item crafting, monster stats, unlockable treasures, magic bonuses, environment effects, buffs and debuffs, and guild formations. But honestly, none of these things interest me. They’re the sort of details that are nice to flesh out the setting a little, but for Infinite Dendrogram this style of world-building takes center stage. As such, the prose often feels more like a game manual than a story.
Instead of spending so much time on all that jargon, I would have liked to learn more about the main characters, and how this virtual reality game affects their lives. But we didn’t get much of that at all. Reiji is shown to be a nice boy, and that’s about it. His partner, an A.I. girl named Nemesis, is shockingly just as plain. I was expecting a more vibrant personality from a weaponized child whose power revolves around enacting revenge, but instead she just felt… there. Another major character in the story is Reiji’s brother, who is dressed up as a bear–but the entirety of his personality is he includes a bear pun in seemingly every single sentence he speaks. It got really old after a few pages, but it’s something I had to put up with the entire book.
Browsing the interwebs, it’s clear that Infinite Dendrogram is a well-loved series by more devoted fans of virtual reality game stories. So if you’re really into that kind of setting, it probably makes sense to give this a shot. Personally I was much more entertained by the first volume of Paying to Win in a VRMMO, but obviously that’s more of a comedy rather than a straightforward adventure.
Cho’s Rating: Maybe Recommended