I Became the Secretary of a Hero! Volume 1 has elements RPG fans can like, but this volume is bogged down by too much talking and not enough fighting.

I Became the Secretary of a Hero! Volume 1Title: I Became the Secretary of a Hero! (Yuusha-sama no Hisho ni Narimashita)
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Cross Infinite World (US)
Writer: Tsukasa Yamazaki
Artist: Kiyu Kanae
Translation: Charis Messier
Original Release Date: September 30, 2017
Review copy provided by Cross Infinite World

It’s a day ending in –y, so it’s time for another isekai series. But instead of the protagonist being drafted as the legendary warrior who will defeat the ultimate evil, paralegal Aki is drafted as the legendary Hero’s sidekick.

(Props for being a little different.)

Aki arrives in another world while chasing after her sister, the chosen companion of the Dark Lord. Our heroine meets the Hero Elias and his allies Leo and Johann, and the Party sets out defeat the Dark Lord and rescue Nako.

If this sounds like an RPG, that’s because I Became the Secretary of a Hero! is a RPG in book format (Aki herself makes this comparison, but she is scolded because people just can’t reload saves when party members die.). While many fiction series flirt with game mechanics, this series wholeheartedly embraces them: towns are protected by barriers to prevent monsters, warriors (Adventurers) have classes based on their type of skillset (Swordsman, Thief, Priest), outfits and jewelry have bonuses or innate abilities, Adventurers have levels, and there are Quests that people can accept. All you need is some midi music and a controller in your hands to complete the game experience. As an JRPG fan, all the familiar gameplay aspects tug at my heartstrings.

But here’s the problem: this is a “game” with one of the longest prologues and introduction segments EVER. I’m having flashbacks to Xenosaga Episode I. In this entire light novel, there is exactly ONE chapter involving a battle. Yes, that’s right. I Became the Secretary of a Hero! features characters who can exceed the level cap, but they fight less than a tutorial battle segment. The one battle isn’t even a challenge since Elias, Leo, and Johann are so OP.

The tutorial feeling also stems from the story. As an outsider to this new world, Aki — and thus readers — are given often-lengthy explanations for how things are done, how things work, etc. Descriptions are nice, but did Aki really need a full explanation of magic users’ training school? Anyway, since she can’t fight, Aki takes it upon herself to support the kind-hearted yet somewhat lonely Elias and document their journey together. She does gain some special abilities, so she isn’t just functioning as a biographer. (Thank goodness she’s not just the group cheerleader!)

Despite all the slow, extended prologue-ness of this volume, I was also surprised at how fast-paced it could be. The opening chapter eschews any boring details about the sisters’ everyday life and goes right into Nako’s leaving, and Aki admits she’s attracted to Elias early on. The story isn’t shy about discussing the fact Elias’ journey may have a deeper purpose, and the original goal is already changing. I like how this type of revelation isn’t reserved for deep in the series, that the characters already know that the legends and the country in charge are suspicious. One flashback in the middle of the novel is also a highlight, and the author’s notes hint that we should see more in the next volume.

Aki, despite being older than most shoujo heroines, definitely has the upbeat, cheerful nature of younger female protagonists. She is obviously not much of a gamer, but I don’t understand why she (or, rather, the author) didn’t prioritize better and make some logical conclusions to save time. Okay, Aki summoned to another world with a Hero and a Dark Lord, there’s magic, etc. Maybe instead of worrying about Johann’s and Leo’s eating habits, ASK if there are monsters to fight? (I would have just assumed, but I am also genre savvy.) Another example: Aki is shocked to learn Elias thinks that a long-range weapon would be better for her so he can protect her. When’s the last time you’ve seen a newbie bow-and-arrow user take the front line?

Elias, meanwhile, is a good love interest, never putting down Aki’s lack of fighting prowess or hiding his feelings. Characters introduced at the end make for a far more interesting Party in my opinion, having a fun group atmosphere in the vein of Slayers.

I Became the Secretary of a Hero! Party 2As is tradition, a few illustrations are included. They have a strong shoujo feel to them, so much so I wouldn’t have guessed that Aki and friends aren’t teenagers. The cover illustration in particular is cute, but I kind of wish artist Kanae had made them look a little older.

The translation, meanwhile, reads more awkwardly than Cross Infinite World‘s other works. I noticed a few typos (for, Elias side), but some sentences are just unnatural:

“My secretary is as exemplary as I thought all along.”
“To be frank, I’m against taking this questionable Quest seriously enough to accept it.”

Most of the characters are noble, but still, I think some lines would have more impact if they were written with more common phrases.

I Became the Secretary of a Hero! Volume 1 has a lot of elements any RPG fan has come to adore, but this volume needed less talky, more fighty! Just like Xenosaga, there is a lot to like, but expect to have some long downtime at points.