Publisher J-Novel Club is perhaps best known for its isekai titles like In Another World With My Smartphone or Ascendance of a Bookworm, but more recently they’ve started to branch out more regularly into titles that don’t quite fit the traditional tropes of the genre. Today I’m here to take a look at their latest offering Goodbye Otherworld, See You Tomorrow to see what it offers readers.
Our story follows Keisuke a high-school boy who suddenly finds himself in another world. While this would usually be the start of a grand adventure in other stories, for Keisuke it proves nothing but lonely as the world he’s found himself in has been through a great disaster and now very few people remain.
Keisuke spends his days travelling in a steam-powered vehicle, searching for a way to return home. As readers, we’re not sure exactly how long Keisuke has been travelling by himself, but it’s long enough for him to have become so fed up and lonely that he’s contemplated bringing an end to it all. Nevertheless, he trudges onwards and eventually his persistence is rewarded when he stops at an abandoned train station and meets Nito, a half-elf who is there, painting in her sketchbook.
Naturally, Nito is wary of Keisuke, to begin with; after all, she’s a young girl travelling alone. However, when Keisuke settles down to cook dinner for the evening, she becomes intrigued and wanders over. She’s still afraid of getting too close to him and stubbornly refuses his kind offer to eat together, but eventually, she’s won over as her hunger gets the better of her. From there begins a tender relationship that grows throughout the rest of the book.
Eventually, thanks to both their vehicles breaking down and only being able to repair one (by taking parts from the other), Keisuke and Nito decide to try travelling together, which delights Keisuke since he’s been nothing but lonely all this time. As it turns out, they’re both searching for something. Nito is looking for the places her mother visited and drew in the sketchbook she’s inherited and Keisuke is chasing after someone he met before this book began. Will either of them reach their destinations? Well, that remains to be seen…
In many ways Goodbye Otherworld, See You Tomorrow feels similar to Kino’s Journey or Wandering Witch in that it features fairly episodic stories with an overarching plot running through them. Despite the fact this world is fairly barren, Keisuke and Nito do meet other travellers on the road and spend some time listening to their stories and sharing a meal before moving on. I wouldn’t say the tales are ever as bleak as either of the series I drew comparisons to, but they’re never without a sense of loss and delicacy either.
The other nice thing is that author Kazamidori never drowns the reader in information dumps. Starting the novel partway through Keisuke’s story means we don’t have to deal with him finding his feet and learning how to survive like most other books in the genre. Through meeting Nito and other travellers, he (and by extension the reader) learns how the world came to be in this state and gets hints about how this world used to be when it flourished.
If there is one criticism I have about the writing, it’s that the cooking scenes tend to go on too long. I know it’s a trend right now with light novels to talk at length about food and cooking, but here I think it can distract from the otherwise engrossing narrative. Although Kazamidori’s previous series (currently unlicensed) was about a protagonist running a café in a fantasy world, so knowing that, it’s no surprise that this work would also be heavy on food descriptions.
But away from that minor criticism, I have to say how impressed I am with the story Kazamidori has presented here. It’s certainly not easy to create a world as interesting as this one while simultaneously drip-feeding the reader on its origins. On the surface, this seems like a fairly cute slice-of-life series, but dig a little deeper and there is a lot to think about long after you reach the end of the first volume.
Rather than an otherworld adventure, this one feels like a comfortable fantasy story which I think is to its benefit in this crowded market. It’s easy to recommend even to those who have long grown tired of the genre. Kazamidori never shoves it in your face that this is a fantasy world, instead, they set the scene just enough for you to feel the otherworldly atmosphere without focusing on it too much.
As previously mentioned, Goodbye Otherworld, See You Tomorrow Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to J-Novel Club who have released it digitally. The series is being translated by MPT and the translation reads well with no issues to note. Included at the end of the book are colour illustrations and a ‘characters log’, which talks about some of the design choices for the character’s outfits. Speaking of illustrations, these have been handled by Nimoshi and suitably capture the innocent and youthful appearance of Keisuke and Nito. The colour images, in particular, are very cute and portray the easygoing nature of the two well.
The series is ongoing at two volumes in Japan, J-Novel Club is already translating and releasing the second book through their subscription model with an eBook release to follow in early March. Personally, I’m hoping this one will also be given a print release, but we’ll have to wait and see there!
Overall Goodbye Otherworld, See You Tomorrow Volume 1 offers a terrific read for those looking for something different in the isekai genre. Just don’t be fooled or put off by the cute cover; underneath there is a gripping story waiting to be found.