We’ve just started a new anime season which has graced us with several new isekai series. One of these is My Unique Skill Makes Me OP Even at Level 1 and I’m here to check out the original light novel. Does it prove interesting? Let’s find out!
Our story follows Ryota Sato, a Japanese salaryman who awakens in an unfamiliar world where he meets adventurer Emily Brown. Emily informs Ryota that he dropped from a slime she defeated here in the Tellurium dungeon and that everything in this world originates from a drop from defeating monsters in a dungeon. This includes food, air, water and other items. Anything you can think of probably came from a dungeon. Ryota appeared on floor B2 of Tellurium, where Emily hunts slimes for beansprouts which is why she’s so shocked that a human appeared instead.
Being in a fantasy world, Ryota is eager to find out if he has any notable skills or abilities. With the help of Emily he checks his stats and is disappointed to find he’s only Level 1 with no way to raise it (everyone has a set level cap and unfortunately Ryota is already maxed out). However, everyone also has separate ‘Drop Stats’ which dictate how many and the quality of drops you get from defeating enemies in a dungeon and it just so happens that all of Ryota’s are at Rank S!
This means that when Ryota fights slimes his beansprouts drops are far better than Emily’s and when he sells them at the nearby guild, he learns that his drops will give him enough money to live comfortably in this new world. So begins the daily grind of hunting monsters in the dungeon, selling the drops and slowly making a new life for himself.
I’d like to say there’s something more meaningful to the plot, but there isn’t. The whole of Volume 1 follows Ryota as he farms monsters for drops and while we see plenty of interactions with Emily (whom he ends up living with) and some fellow adventurers, there’s not a whole lot of depth here. Certainly, there’s no great evil to overcome or any real danger to our protagonist’s life. But that means there are no real goals either. Ryota wants to live comfortably but overcomes that hurdle almost immediately thanks to his abilities.
The series started life as a web novel, which means this book is filled with short 10-15 page chapters. This helps take away how repetitive the story feels since you can easily pick it up to read a couple of chapters and then put it back down, but it certainly doesn’t help the reader get invested in the story.
It would be an easier sell if Ryota or Emily were interesting characters, but they’re both unfortunately quite bland and generic for the genre. In fairness to it, this series started as a web novel in 2017 so not all of its fault would have been as generic then, but it does make it difficult when it’s introduced to the English market so much later when these kinds of stories are a dime a dozen. In many ways, it feels like a story that’s better suited to manga or anime, which adapts it in smaller chunks before the reader or viewer’s patience runs out. And I’m sure that it’s fun to watch Ryota fight monsters and then get these weird drop items from them. If you’re interested in the series, that might be the better route to start with and it’s good timing with the anime currently available on Crunchyroll.
As much as I didn’t dislike the narrative, I do think it’s a shame that there isn’t more depth to it. Especially as the premise of everything in the world coming from dungeons is quite interesting from a world-building perspective. It’s established early on that living drops outside of the dungeon will result in them reverting into monsters, but how does that work for the lumber that became houses? There are a lot of nitty-gritty details that I’d love to see explored, but of course, an OP isekai fantasy is not the kind of story that’s interested in delving into that side of things.
I’m willing to give this one a second chance with Volume 2 since there are seven already out in Japan (with #8 scheduled), so surely an overarching narrative of some kind comes to fruition, right? I can’t imagine it has continued like Volume 1 long-term, whatever the case.
My Unique Skill Makes Me OP Even at Level 1 comes to the West thanks to Kodansha under their Vertical imprint. This release is translated by Benjamin Daughety and reads well with no problems to note. Volume 2 is already available in English with #3 following in August and #4 in November. Kodansha also publishes the manga digitally and is currently at Volume 10 of that.
Overall, My Unique Skill Makes Me OP EVen at Level 1 gets off to an okay but flawed beginning. It’s difficult to understand how the series has gone on for so long given how repetitive the content is. It’s a hard sell right now, given the lack of a compelling narrative but perhaps things will improve in Volume 2. Not a total write-off yet either way.
Our review copy from Kodansha was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services).