Originally Posted: January 21, 2021
“After spending my final day thinking through my options, I decided to stick with what I’d chosen the previous day.
I’d use Rapid Recovery and Limitless Growth to improve my fundamental abilities. Martial Arts would sharpen my movements. Spell Weaver and Total Affinity would greatly increase the tools at my disposal, and my D-Rank skill would be my ace in the hole.” – Pre-Lugh Protagonist, on choosing his skills before reincarnation.
That’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? With the ‘1-in-1-quintillion’ blessing the goddess gives him, our protagonist uses it to kick-start his life’s plan. And so, from the outset, we’re jumping into an isekai starring an overpowered protagonist. Hopefully, we’ll find excitement and wonder in Lugh’s journey to do one thing – kill the hero.
The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat, Vol. 1 is the first entry to the fantasy-isekai series where nobles cast magic, assassins are employed by royalty, and cosmetics rule (not really). The protagonist, Lugh Tuatha Dé is a world-class assassin reincarnated after his employers decided to ‘conclude his duties’. With his new life, Lugh decides to live for himself. But in return for this opportunity, the goddess tasks him with killing a hero gone rogue 18-years in the future. What does living as a Tuatha Dé entail? What interesting characters will Lugh meet? Where will his adventures take him? And just who is this mysterious hero? Rui Tsukiyo tells a tale of magic, business, and growing up in a world of sword and sorcery. Reia then amplifies the cool and the cute with their expressive and fantastical illustrations.
Hey! It’s been a while since my last debut review. So, what do you think? This series certainly wears its premise proudly as the title, and I always appreciate the honesty. I had acquired this one up among others as a curiosity pick – perhaps thinking the flashy cover implied excitement. Well, let me start by saying that’s not the case. But before we jump into this review, I want to make a few statements. Firstly, my record with isekai is not great; Reincarnated as a Sword and The Dirty Way to Defeat the Goddess’s Heroes failed to impress. So, I was hoping The World’s Finest Assassin would fix that, and it’s by a prolific author, no less! Secondly, this (mostly) spoiler-free review covers the usual foundations but includes a technical rant later on. I hope this one’s informative as well! And with that, let’s jump into this review.
As always, we’ll be starting with the first impressions. The World’s Finest Assassin, Vol. 1‘s cover is flashy and colourful. The magic and outfits tell us of a fantasy setting, and the mix of ‘cool’ and ‘cute’ hints at this series’ fascination with both. But without a background nor any symbolism towards the plot, it’s about average in quality.
Next, the most notable thing is its size. The World’s Finest Assassin, Vol. 1 comes in at about 70,000 words (or 295 pages). This is relatively long for a Yen Press release, which adds to its value. It took me a few afternoons to finish it, so I’m sure it’ll bide time for the occasional reader. However, we’ll find that perhaps it could’ve done more with its length.
Finally, let’s talking about the coloured-inserts. Aside from the stylized table-of-contents, there are four: a cleaner cover, a character page (featured image, uncropped), an action shot (bottom, uncropped), and one depicting Lugh, Dia, and Tarte (below). The character page is great as a reference and to depict the non-serious parts of Lugh’s new life. And like Berserk of Gluttony, the choice of lighter colours for the sweeter scenes and an aggressive palette for action shots is well-done. My only real improvement would be to give the ad-like image (below) some sort of story context. But with that, let’s chomp into this tale.
To start, let’s elaborate on the premise. As hinted by my background section, The World’s Finest Assassin‘s is in the title. After being disposed of as a tool, the nameless pre-reincarnated protagonist is given a second chance by a goddess to be the son of a wealthy family of assassins in a world of swords and magic. He even gets to choose the skills he’ll be born with. But it all comes with a catch: he must kill the hero that defeats the demon lord in 18-years-time…!
Honestly, this premise generated mixed feelings in my mind. It’s not the most unique world to reincarnate into. But the interesting goal directs the plot and our protagonist’s choices in the pre-life; there are a clear beginning and end. This kept me hopeful. However, by allowing Lugh to min-max and retain his knowledge, we expect him to be overpowered (OP) from the start, and there are many risks in doing so.
An OP protagonist tends to create boring stories due to a lack of growth or challenges. One may circumvent this by adding restrictions, appropriately strong antagonists, and/or problems their powers can’t directly solve. Of these, The World’s Finest Assassin starts solely with the second. And the ‘hero’ is only a concept rather than a problem.
In short, I wasn’t too impressed with the premise. It’s one redeeming idea of killing the hero is weakened by the generic reincarnation and overpowered protagonist starting poorly. However, this is only the beginning. Vol. 1 still has a chance to break my expectations.
So, with the directed premise, where does Vol. 1’s plot take us? The answer to that is ‘on a wandering excursion’. For the majority of the time, we follow Lugh through all the things that (supposedly) provide the foundations of a successful assassin. He develops magic, learns to cook, conditions girls(?!), and more during his childhood through to adolescence. All of this creates the basis of what hopefully will end up killing the hero.
To be blunt, the plot is slow-paced and filler-like. Vol. 1 covers Lugh’s life up to the age of 14. During that, he is tasked with the requirements of becoming an assassin by his father. So, rather than through Lugh’s agency, we’re just going through the motions and completing a seemingly meaningless checklist. This is worsened by the fact he always does so with ease and is praised at every turn. And the only connections between each milestone are that Lugh is present and he’s conditioned(?!) another girl. It isn’t until this section’s end that something truly substantial happens.
Throughout the story, I kept asking myself, “When will we see the assassinations?” The answer to that is 2/3’s through. At that point, I wondered if the first ~200 pages were even necessary. This next section is far more exciting and meaningful than everything before it. We find Lugh reflecting on the requirements of his job, applying the magic he’s developed, and putting in a (relatively) significant effort. But was it worth the wait? I wouldn’t say so. It’s good but not rewarding. And this issue is then magnified by its unsatisfying conclusion soon after.
One could argue that the first portion of the story is to provide us with the backstory of Lugh, Dia, Tarte, and Maha. It does well in that regard but fails at having an engaging delivery. The World’s Finest Assassin already does plenty of simplifying, so why couldn’t it condense the boring parts? Organically revealing backstories when they’re relevant is always the most effective choice.
Overall, despite the direction provided by the premise, you’ll be trapped in aimless wandering for a while. And when The World’s Finest Assassin, Vol. 1 finally reaches what it promised, it swiftly concludes. The first leg up Plot Mountain ends at basecamp.
Now, after the underwhelming plot, let’s talk about the characters: general feel before any specifics. In The World’s Finest Assassin many characters are little more than a role and a personality. The caring father, the doting mother, the noble childhood-friend, and the loyal maid are all you’ll need to familiarize yourself with side characters. The people Lugh encounters rarely have their motivations or background described, and those that do are in it for money, power, love, a good fight, etc. In short, they’re simplistic and shallow. But as a positive, they have (mostly) unique manners of speech and are easily recognizable.
For the specifics, let’s start with Lugh. As we’re given his perspective, he’s the best example of a ‘developed character’ in The World’s Finest Assassin. Lugh starts as the professional assassin he’d been in his previous life. Thus, he’s calculating, logical, and fairly cold. He also has lots of experience and few qualms about taking another’s life. However, he decides to live for himself in this new life and self-motivates in his goal to kill the hero. And by the end of the story… he’s pretty much the same. There are some hints that he’s gaining some more human emotions, but they’re more tell than show and unconvincing overall.
Well, character arcs aren’t a necessity to have a great story. So, how about his characterization as a whole? As Lugh’s the ‘perfect prodigy child’, he’s perfect for any given situation (read: inconsistent). The lack of problems he faces is in part due to his lack of character flaws. And though this can be reasoned as the adult within playing the manipulation card, it’s uninteresting and lacking in depth. Why does he know how to optimally react in every situation? Has there never been a lapse of judgement? Of course not – he’s flawless! In short, I’m not engaged nor interested in continuing learning more about Lugh (if anything was there to begin with).
As the counter to Lugh’s weak and uninteresting characterization, let’s direct ourselves towards Maha. As the character page states, Maha is Lugh’s assistant based in Milteu. She’s an ex-orphan, and they meet under some worrying circumstances. Maha is strong-willed, smart, and, of course, she’s aggressively in love with Lugh, her adoptive guardian(?). Ignoring the conditioning behind the latter, a portion of the story is dedicated to her life and struggles before meeting Lugh. This glimpse into her backstory is one of the best parts of The World’s Finest Assassin. It tells us where she was before Milteu, her goals and motivations, and what she’d done in achieving those. Her suffering and emotional decisions make the first-person perspective distressing and engaging. Needless to say, we learn a lot about her, and it’s solidified by this great section.
As for everyone but Lugh and Maha, none are particularly memorable or remarkable. If Dia and Tarte were given the same treatment, perhaps it could balance the blandness of the protagonist. And if you were looking for a collection of strong characterization or compelling character arcs, you’d be better looking elsewhere.
As the last foundation, we’re onto The World’s Finest Assassin‘s world-building. The world of sword and magic Lugh finds himself in is fairly generic and has many of the expected elements – skills, magic, mana, nobility, kingdoms, etc. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Vol. 1 doesn’t create an immersive and convincing world.
Firstly, aside from Lugh, the existence of skills doesn’t seem to impact the world to any significant degree. From the outset, it appears that people are born with skills picked from a list. However, this is rarely mentioned outside of giving Lugh absurd powers (see quote above). In titles like Mapping or Berserk of Gluttony, the skills one possesses can determine their profession, social standing, etc. Such a system helps connect the concept to human society. In The World’s Finest Assassin, nothing of the sort exists despite the assumed prevalence of C- and D-tier skills.
Secondly, we’ll talk about the ramifications of the existence of magic. From Lugh’s and Dia’s discussions and efforts, we see that magic is extremely powerful (e.g. able to create metals from thin-air, anti-gravity, wind magic, etc.). However, it’s never mentioned outside the context of combat. And given the number of mages available isn’t insignificant, magic should have a greater effect on the world. Including something to this end would greatly help The World’s Finest Assassin‘s world-building.
In short, the world in which Lugh finds himself is simply a collection of locales with little in the way of defining features or skill- & magic-based influences. And other than the exhaustive list of available skills and marginally-detailed magic casting-procedure, The World’s Finest Assassin doesn’t innovate much here. There’s certainly some potential moving forward, but its current showing isn’t amazing.
Now that the foundations have been laid out, let’s talk about the adventure-aspect of this series. As the plot discussion mentioned, The World’s Finest Assassin manages to span a long time. However, what it provides in quantity lacks in quality. The majority of scenes are spent in cities, manors, or other civilized areas – the aforementioned generic locales. And rather than thoroughly exploring these locations, the time is used to praise Lugh’s universal prowess. Instead of variety and depth, we’re treated to the mundane and unremarkable.
Adventures should grow the character undertaking them. This usually implies gaining new experiences, overcoming tribulations, and meeting new people. Of those, Lugh arguably did two, but he certainly didn’t grow as a character. His studies with magic were highlighted once and then thrown into the background. His business dealings don’t force him to make difficult decisions or deepen his understanding of the people of Milteu. And the assassinations are quick work for an expert like him.
Each of Lugh’s milestone could be an entire adventure of their own: exploring the fundamentals, making conclusions, effecting change, and be affected by the journey. And though The World’s Finest Assassin may go through (most of) this process with each section, it’s condensed and simplified. Adventures are about the journey just as much as the results, and Vol. 1 shows that’s still true – by being a bad example.
(Warning: minor Vol. 1 spoilers start here.)
Not-so-finally, I want to discuss what the isekai-aspect brings to the table. Like other reincarnation stories, Lugh takes advantage of his technically superior(?) knowledge from his previous life. This always creates the opportunity to have surreal happenings with groundings in reality. However, though The World’s Finest Assassin has been the most explicit, it’s also the worst offender of inaccuracies. As one proud of her technical background, let me point and nit-pick at some for you. Oh! And as a word of warning, this might get a little deep into the books.
The first instance of inaccuracy is the development of metal magic: the ability to create pure (or alloyed) metals from thin-air. As we all know, metals possess a variety of types, mixes, and mechanical properties. The World’s Finest Assassin wants the reader to believe that the density, melting point, and atomic weight are what you need to define a metal. Of these, none truly specify an element. Density and melting point are functions of the external pressure (and impurities). And atomic weight is shared by isotopes of different atomic number. If Rui Tsukiyo wanted to get technical about it, the values should at least be the atomic number, atomic weight, and perhaps number of atoms; these would be enough to specify a metal, and the properties would follow from that.
The second instance of breaking my disbelief would be how moisturizer was a ground-breaking cosmetic in Lugh’s new world. Apparently, the people of Milteu have a wide variety of cosmetics available… all except for moisturizer/face-lotion. That’s right. They’ve already invented lipstick, blush, foundation, and more! And considering that taking care of one’s skin has been a part of human health since ancient times, the notion of moisturizer having not been thought of is ridiculous. What makes it worse is that The World’s Finest Assassin plays it up as some wondrous achievement of mankind. The real miracle(?) here is the ineptitude of humanity in the reincarnated world (which speaks even more to the world-building).
The last instance is how the effects of kinetic bombardment are calculated. Without going into too much detail, Lugh sends a spear into space using gravity and wind magic. It then returns with an explosive entrance. The numbers presented assume gravity is constant with height; this is not the case, especially at 1000 km in the air. It also mentions that the spear impacts with a speed of 4,480 m/s or ‘Mach 14’. Using standard values (Mach 1 = 343 m/s), Mach 14 is actually 4,802 m/s. And finally, with either speed and a mass of 100 kg, it released a ‘force’ of 3.6 GJ – by the way, it’s energy, and my calculations say otherwise (KE = (1/2)*m*v^2 = 1.15 GJ). They also avoid the effects of using ‘wind magic’ to divert air around a hypersonic projectile. So, what’s the lesson? If you’re going to include numbers and science, be sure to double-check your work.
Of course, all of this is not to say Rui Tsukiyo didn’t try; there’s a clear effort behind implementing all of these imaginative concepts. And I’m certainly being more than a little nit-picky. However, the fact that all of these issues could’ve been corrected with a smidgen more research peeves me to no end. And so, my verdict is thus, if you’re willing to gloss over the details, the creativity should evoke wonder in the average reader. Please be warned though, it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
(Warning: minor Vol. 1 spoilers end here.)
At last, let’s finish with some additional details. Something to note is that The World’s Finest Assassin is written in a first-person perspective. I’m not usually a fan of this, but it can be done well through an interesting character’s eyes. As we know from our discussion of Lugh, that isn’t the case. The information provided by him feels objective and emotionless – as expected from a professional assassin. He also seems to know more than might be reasonable. The result is a semi-omniscient bystander telling the story using first-person pronouns. It’s stiff, boring, and riddled with ‘I’, ‘my’, and ‘me’. Perhaps a shift to the third-person would’ve been more appropriate to explore the world (without Lugh’s baggage).
Another thing I’d like to mention is the outlook Lugh has towards women (including his female companions). As hinted at earlier, the first example is his ‘conditioning’ of Tarte and Maha to solidify their loyalty and affections. It’s not fully elaborated on, but it’s certainly manipulative. And though the necessity of trust is understandable, it reduces their personal motivations to dust and makes them akin to slaves rather than characters who’ve earned mutual trust with Lugh. There are proper ways to have attendants, and this is not one of them. Secondly, during the Milteu section, Lugh states that “The need to buy things was stronger in women than in men (pg. 145)”. And just before this, he also says that his store will be aimed toward women and consequently focuses on cosmetics with a future in confections. I’m not going to argue whether these stereotypes are true. However, by having such generalized statements as foundations of Lugh’s logic, we get another hint into how he views the opposing gender. One way to side-step this is to survey the customers/economy of his new fantasy world and create a reason as to why those ideas are the case. But like much of The World’s Finest Assassin, we just need Lugh’s thoughts to be taken as fact. And, to be perfectly honest, this soured my mood for the rest of the story.
But now, with the writing out of the way, let’s talk about the art. If there’s one thing redeemable about this book, it’s Reia’s work. Their illustrations are cool, sweet, and cute; each aspect is expertly presented in their respective scenes through the expressions, posing, and shading. There are 9 black-and-white inserts in total – quite packed for this 70,000-word volume. They’re used to introduce characters, amplify certain critical scenes, and has no shortage of action shots(!!!). And overall, perhaps one was misused on an inconsequential scene. Of the writer-illustrator duo, it is clear which one I’ve more confidence in. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of their work in a more favourable series! (Here’s their website, by the way.)
As a whole, The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat, Vol. 1 offers little more than being a power-fantasy and fails in many regards on that front. To start, let’s summarize the foundations. The premise is unremarkable except for the idea that Lugh must kill the hero; however, it doesn’t fulfil that promise. The plot is meandering and seemingly checking off a list of meaningless requirements. The characters are generally underdeveloped or simply uninteresting – Maha being a debatable exception. As for Lugh, he’s the flawless assassin-turned-aristocrat with a lacklustre arc and inconsistent characterization. And the nameless(?) world is generic and lacking the immersiveness of typical fantasy; cohesiveness & depth of the skills and magic are missing their societal impacts.
From these building blocks, The World’s Finest Assassin, Vol. 1 then doesn’t create a fun journey through its fantastical world as per its adventure tag. And though the isekai aspect has some creative ideas implemented through Lugh’s resourcefulness, the technical inaccuracies in metal magic, cosmetics development, and basic free-fall calculations prove his smarts are only for show. This series is then further soured by its ‘conditioning’ of female side-characters and baseless generalizing using stereotypes. On the other hand, the art is well-done and conveys cute/sweet/cool through expert shading, expressions, and posing. To be blunt, Reia’s potential is wasted on this story.
In summary, I wouldn’t recommend The World’s Finest Assassin. It’s another example of why the isekai genre has a bad reputation. Even if you were looking for a power fantasy, you should find one that has a better representation of science, history, and human relationships. At least there’s one thing The World’s Finest Assassin can be proud of, it’s being the first title where I actively used a calculator to assess its quality.
2.0 / 5 – Not Recommended
To readers of weak power-fantasies, middling-isekai, & cute and conditioned attendants(?).
To lovers of glossing over the details in favour of spectacle and looking smart (and not for those who know a bit about metals, cosmetics, and/or kinetic bombardments).
Hello! Thank you for taking the time to read my review (even if you scrolled straight to the bottom). I hope that you take home even a little of what I’ve written down. Did you buy into the hype? And if so, what do you think now?
In this extra bit, I normally talk about an additional draw to this series. Instead, I’d like to note that Rui Tsukiyo is also the author of the controversial Redo of Healer. If you’re curious about the writing quality of that series but unable to stomach its content, then give The World’s Finest Assassin a shot! I may not have liked it, but your perspective may be far different than mine. Good luck~!
For this review, a review copy was provided by Yen Press. Thank you so much for the opportunity to honestly critique this series! Though this one may be a miss for me, please don’t take it as an indicator of their general quality – many of my favourites are published by them after all. I hope they continue their hard work at bringing stories that we’d otherwise be unable to experience. <3
I’m 春華 or Haruka, aspiring novelist, light novel reviewer, and the recently titled “Effortlessly Effervescent Embodiment of Eloquence.” I’ve only started diving into light novels, so please bear with my naiveté. You can follow my Twitter for updates on my reviews and writing progress. And if you want to talk about light novels with me and many others, consider joining our Discord here! Let’s all get along!