When given the chance to be reborn in a fantasy world, not every isekai protagonist wants to become a hero or fight a demon lord. Some just want a simple life and that’s the wish of Hiraku, the main character of Farming Life in Another World. Today I’m here to find out if this manga adaptation offers an enjoyable read in the genre!
Hiraku has passed away from an illness and overworking on Earth. God feels responsible for Hiraku having such a feeble body previously and offers to grant him three wishes to make up for his early passing.
Our protagonist asks to be granted a body that won’t get sick and to be sent to a place with few other people around, having suffered at the hands of many on Earth. On top of that, God also asks what Hiraku dreams of becoming in the next life, to which he answers: a farmer. To aid him in his quest, God grants him an Almighty Farming Tool, which can change into many different tools depending on what Hiraku is thinking of.
With the details of his next life planned out, Hiraku is sent on his way and lands in the middle of a huge forest. Now he must secure food, water and a place to sleep while working hard to become a farmer in this new world!
With his Almighty Farming Tool in hand, it’s not long before Hiraku has built himself a comfortable area to live in. He also makes friends with some wolf-like monsters (which he initially believes are dogs), and a giant spider who helps gather crops and protect the land that Hiraku’s made home. Our hero has a very peaceful life. Even when some human characters are introduced toward the end of the volume, things stay relatively quiet.
I must confess that I was surprised to learn Farming Life in Another World is based on a light novel (formerly a web novel). The bite-sized chapters seem like the only way to experience this story without growing bored of the fact that nothing really happens. Hiraku wakes up, tends to his farm, sometimes meets a new character or simply talks about an upcoming project and then it ends.
As far as peaceful slice of life stories go, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with so little for the protagonist to worry about. Usually, there is an enemy of some kind or an overarching plot, but I honestly believe that Hiraku’s life will be no different in several volumes (perhaps just with a much bigger farm!). If you like that type of story it’s fine, but I personally wish there was a bit more to it.
The feeling of Farming Life in Another World being fine is unfortunately the biggest issue. Even just looking at the artwork by mangaka Yasuyuki Tsurugi, there isn’t a great deal here to elevate the series beyond fine. Tsurugi makes use of quite small panels page to page with a lot of dialogue and not a great deal of detail. I do like the diagrams they draw to show us what Hiraku is doing to expand his living area, but that’s about the most praise I can muster up for it. The artwork does the job, but I suspect for most readers that isn’t going to be enough.
Another problem with this release is that the dialogue feels quite stiff. The series is written in such a way that it feels like each chapter is a diary entry in Hiraku’s life, but I found the way sentences are put together is a little awkward and cumbersome in places. I’m not sure if this is the fault of translator Kristi Fernandez or a by-product of the original Japanese, but having read other translations of hers, I lean toward the latter.
It’s difficult to decide who the market for this series is. It does seem to be popular in Japan, but I wonder if that comes from its origins of being a web novel turned light novel turned manga. Like I said earlier, these chapters are relatively bite-sized and if read one at a time in a magazine or on a digital platform (as they’re released in Japan) they’re much easier to appreciate. As a book, I’m just not sure there is enough substance here, at least not for me personally.
Farming Life in Another World Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to One Peace Books and as mentioned earlier has been translated by Kristi Fernandez. The series is ongoing in Japan at six volumes so far and One Peace Books have the second instalment scheduled for release in May 2021.
Overall, Farming Life in Another World is an okay read and may appeal to fans of the slice-of-life/isekai genre, but I can’t help but feel there are better series out there. If the synopsis appeals to you, then it’s worth a read, but otherwise, I can’t see a major draw here.