I’m sure many of you will be familiar with the title The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. However, today I’m here to talk about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Isekai, which borrows the name and sets off on an unthinkable adventure.
This book tells the stories of six light novel authors who tackle the question of how to survive should you find yourself isekai’d. With so many protagonists finding themselves transported to another world these days, it’s best to be prepared should this ever happen to you!
Each author approaches the topic differently, such as explaining the best way to get transported to another world, describing the delectable food found in these places, and detailing what to do if you find yourself suddenly leading an army. Throughout the book, the authors poke fun at the genre and its various tropes, but they still take the subject seriously and deliver six short but hilarious stories (which may or may not include useful teachings).
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Isekai is a light novel that was created for Comiket 96 as a self-published project. The book contains six stories, each one by a different author who writes fiction in the isekai genre: Carlo Zen, Natsuya Semikawa, Hoko Tsuda, Tappei Nagatsuki, Katsuie Shibata and Hyuganatsu. Readers familiar with the genre will recognise Nagatsuki as the author behind Re:Zero, and Carlo Zen as the creator of The Saga of Tanya the Evil.
I found myself particularly attached to Nagatsuki’s story, which begins by complaining about the people who judge isekai novels and say they’re all the same. After this Nagatsuki sets off to get himself transported to a fantasy world and meets an unhelpful goddess who is entirely unhelpful in her efforts to send him on to the adventures he dreams of.
I suspect a large portion of Nagatsuki’s story is poking fun at fellow author and friend Natsume Akatsuki’s (responsible for Konosuba) stories, which certainly led to much laughter from me as I am a fan of Akatsuki’s works.
It’s difficult to describe the charm of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Isekai. It’s a very unique book and ultimately it’s great fun to read. If you’re a fan of the isekai genre, then you’ll love the references to well-known works scattered throughout but perhaps most of all, you’ll be inspired to read more light novels in the genre.
As I mentioned earlier, this book was created to be sold at Comiket and as a way for the group to let loose and have some fun. They weren’t writing it with getting published in mind, which meant they could do whatever they wanted. This certainly comes through in the writing as we jump from one ridiculous tale to the next. By the end, I certainly had a big smile on my face.
I think that’s the most important thing here; the book isn’t all that serious and nor is it the best collection ever written – but it’s unique and fantastic fun. If you have no interest in the genre then this won’t change your mind. This is a release that is firmly aimed at those interested in these kinds of things and makes no effort to accommodate those who aren’t.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Isekai comes to the West thanks to J-Novel Club, who have given the book a digital release. Each of the short stories has been handled by a different translator, making this an ambitious release with not one but six different translators on-board!
These six are Emily Balistrieri, Noboru Akimoto, Roy Nukia, Andrew Cunningham, Andrew Hodgson, and Mike Langwiser. If a particular translator usually handles a particular author’s work (such as Cunningham with Re:Zero or Balistrieri with Tanya) then they’re paired up appropriately here too. This works well to keep the tone of the stories similar to what you’d expect of the writers, so it’s great to see J-Novel Club have gone to such lengths to get these translators involved.
There is nothing on the market quite like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Isekai. This collection of short stories captures the best and worst aspects of the isekai genre, hoping to both entertain and be a worthwhile resource of information. One thing’s for sure: this book is an unforgettable read that will leave a smile on your face.