Over the summer, I took a look at the first volume of If the RPG World Had Social Media manga adaptation and found it to be an entertaining read, which led me to wonder what the original light novel was like. Well, today I’m here to take a look at the source material and find out if it lives up to the enjoyment of the manga!
Our story follows sixteen-year-old Hero, who can only communicate with those around him through text messages. One day the Princess of the kingdom gets kidnapped by the Demon Lord and the King tells Hero to go rescue her. There’s just one problem – Hero is incredibly weak!
Thanks to a variety of curses being put on Hero, he’s incapable of even defeating the weakest of monsters. Luckily for him, the Demon Lord is really nice and after texting back and forth with Hero, she agrees to send one of her Demon Generals to help him reach the castle. As it turns out, the Demon Lord is really nice and Hero is looking forward to meeting her, especially after learning that the Princess is perfectly happy living with her instead of back home. Hero even goes as far as to ask Demon Lord to marry him, to which she says he’ll have to make it to her castle first!
So what ensues is a road trip of sorts, where Hero trains to become stronger (to no benefit it has to be said), while being protected by the Demon Generals that join him. Together they visit a variety of places and fight against powerful monsters, all the while communicating through text messages and dreaming of the end of their journey together.
What’s particularly interesting about If the RPG World Had Social Media is that 85% of the story is told through images of chat logs. Each page has one or two images of a back-and-forth chat between Hero and the other characters, complete with profile pictures and sometimes emoji. This is a concept that works quite well, even if it takes some getting used to in the beginning.
The story for the most part is your average fantasy fare, complete with fairly stereotypical OP characters. The blossoming relationship between the Demon Lord and Hero is sweet, but everything else is fine but forgettable. Of the four Demon Generals that join Hero, you have a fallen angel, a beastman (who speaks like a cat for some reason), a masochistic vampire and a delinquent ogre. All these characters fall into the tropes you would expect from their descriptions, which is a shame.
That said, I did enjoy the plot up until the final chapter where it became clear nothing was going to be fully resolved. It ends quite openly and given there hasn’t been another volume in Japan (nor was this one numbered), it’s just not satisfactory.
However, while all of this sounds okay, there is a much bigger problem with this release. When it comes to the text message images, Hero’s outgoing messages are white text on a grey background and these are near unreadable in the physical version. I have good eyesight but struggled to read some of them and I fear anyone with a slight sight impairment would struggle with this.
Out of curiosity, I took a look at the preview on Bookwalker for the digital version and while that does look a little better, the contrast is still terrible. I ran it through a test where it completely failed, coming out as a 2.2:1 ratio (where it should be 4.5:1 for normal text). This isn’t unique to the English version either, since the preview for the digital Japanese release is equally difficult to read. Because of this, I highly recommend checking out the preview for yourself before purchasing to see if you would struggle or not, but generally speaking, I find it almost impossible to recommend this release because of this issue. Instead, I’d suggest taking a look at the manga.
If the RPG World Had Social Media comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Daniel Luke Hutton. I’m not sure if this is the same translator as the manga, since there the translation credit was simply Luke Hutton. Either way, the translation reads well and there is certainly a lot of convincing use of emoji and ‘chat speak’ throughout the text messages. Although there is an illustrator credited for the book (Yukinatsu Amekaze), there are less than 5 images in the whole volume (including the opening colour page) largely due to how many text logs there are instead.
Overall, If the RPG World Had Social Media is an okay read with a big readability issue that make it incredibly hard to recommend to readers. If the premise interests you at all then I’d highly suggest just opting for the manga version instead.