I haven’t read any light novels in a while, and I thought Chronicles of the Hidden World would be a great title for me to get back into them as the blurb gave off Inuyasha vibes.
Yae is, or better, was a Japanese woman who died and was reborn in a fantasy world with the memory of her past life. Izumo, the country in which she was reborn, reminds her of feudal Japan although there are monsters and gods and things with forgotten names (you’ll get what I mean with this in a bit).
Yae doesn’t know if she’s lucky or unlucky to remember her past life but since she was found, she has been living with the village chief and follows his orders, even when he orders her to get married to a member of a neighbouring village. Yae doesn’t object. In this world, every creature has a nature and the creatures with the same nature share many personality traits (e.g. gentle nature), and sometimes one village can be of just one nature and this in the long run leads to inbreeding. There is a one small problem, though… Yae is natureless. Nonetheless, she is chosen as one of the girls to marry off to a member of the neighbouring village, thanks to her special power—she can deal with deformations: things and people with forgotten names that change shape and become evil spirits. Yae is immune to deformation thanks to remembering her past life while growing up and is also able to name things on their way to become deformed but before they reach the breaking point for deformation.
On the way to the new village, her caravan is attacked by deformations and she gets thrown to the monsters as bait while the rest escape. Yae doesn’t have any option but to run, and thankfully she encounters a sealed god with an almost forgotten name, Arai, and has his help in defeating the monsters. In exchange, Yae has to help him in saving his brother Sui from deformation. Yae accepts because what other choice does she have? And so Yae, Arai and Sui’s journey begins.
Do you see now why I mentioned the Inuyasha vibes? I though the plot was very tempting, but unfortunately, I didn’t like the execution.
Let’s start by talking about this new fantasy world. Yae is a 14 to15-year-old-girl who is going to be married off. Hello child marriage? But she just accepts it anyway. She’s been used and abused by the villagers all her life—she needs to take care of creatures at the point of deformation when she is still a kid, and she needs to do a ritual where she follows the monsters and makes sure they don’t attack the village. Moreover, she accepts everything thrown at her because she feels like she needs to repay the village chief who took care of her when she was reborn in this world. If that weren’t enough, she starts living alone and taking care of herself when she doesn’t even reach her teen years because the villagers cannot fully accept her, and she feels better staying on her own.
The world-building is confusing. The first few chapters are quite boring and can be considered an information dump, and the same information is also repeated throughout the volume, which could have been fixed with an extra round of developmental edits. Moreover, there are attempts to give a horror vibe to the story when describing how creatures become deformed, but it’s more disturbing than anything else. The deformation process and appearance is similar to what happens to the animals in Princess Mononoke. I believe that having more illustrations showing these aspects of the fantasy world would have helped the readers to have a better visual understanding rather than mainly illustrating the “human” characters.
On a positive note, there is quite strong character development for Yae. At the beginning of the novel, she’s a complete doormat and doesn’t know how to say no or how to talk back. Thanks to the support of Arai and Sui, though, by the end she grows more as a person and is able to make decisions for herself. I was really happy and excited when she said no for the first time in her life.
Although the storyline is quite confusing, there are some elements that bring a smile to its readers, and one of them is the houses. Objects from Yae’s previous world such as bottles appear in Izumo, and they are way bigger—big enough that some can be converted into housing. And who wouldn’t want to live in a coke bottle?
Lastly, we don’t know yet how the relationship with Yae and Arai and Sui will develop, especially when two more men, including the one she was supposed to be married to, appear on her doorstep and enter her life. It gives subtle reverse harem vibes (the female character doesn’t have to choose between the love interests), but I don’t think it will go down that route. I always look for romance in what I read, and I’m already shipping the possible future (let’s not forget that Yae is still quite young) relationship between Yae and Arai.
Chronicles of the Hidden World: How I Became a Doctor for the Gods was written by Tamaki Itomori and illustrated by Izumi. The English translation was done by Luke Hutton and is published by Yen Press. No date has yet been announced for Volume 2.