More like the death march of apathy.
Title: Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody
Publisher: Fujimi Shobo (JP), Yen Press (US)
Artist/Writer: Hiro Ainana (Writer), Shri (Artist)
Translation: Jenny McKeon
Original Release Date: January 24, 2017
A review copy was provided by Yen Press.
The English light novel market is starting to become peppered with “regular Earth guy is transported to another world (and it looks suspiciously like a video game)” type stories, but Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody may be the most boring and generic of them yet. All of the other series have their own problems — Kirito is too close to being a Gary Stu if he hasn’t already crossed the line, Log Horizon is perhaps too nerdy about its setting, and Grimgar simply has pacing issues — but Death March borrows all of these bad points and doesn’t even put an original spin on them!
The story tries to have an original “origin story” for how Suzuki gets stuck in another world: He’s a game planner who falls asleep under his desk and can’t seem to wake up from this new world — a world that seems suspiciously similar to the two games he was just working on. Unfortunately, after that Death March focuses less, not more, on why the character has been transported to another world; the author just doesn’t seem to think that that’s important.
One of the few good points about this story is that the translation reads really well. It almost gives Suzuki a personality! Sadly he’s an even greater Gary Stu than Kirito was when Sword Art Online began, and he has at least as many if not more girls crushing on him within a single volume. To top it all off Suzuki has been mysteriously de-aged from his 20-something adult self to a teenager, and all of his potential love interests are teenagers or even younger.
The actual pacing isn’t too bad but many of the plot events in the story feel simply too convenient. Zena, who appears to be the main girl, falls head over heels for Suzuki immediately. Suzuki runs into mostly nice people constantly, and he’s literally 300 levels above the average person his age. The story is terrible at foreshadowing as well, so it’s to no one’s surprise that the fact that a “hero” is summoned every so often to defeat a demon lord is going to come into play here. That, and of course various items Suzuki buys will be useful at critical points within the story. It’s less of a “Chekhov’s Gun” moment and more of a “Chekhov’s Open Carry” moment.
Frankly no matter what you like about “stuck in a video game” stories, there’s another series out there that do each facet better than Death March does. Log Horizon has you covered on the game mechanics and world building front, Grimgar gets more philosophical than this series can ever aspire to be, and even the parts that I’ve read of The Rising of the Shield Hero seem to tackle the idea of demi-humans versus “human”-humans better than the uncomfortable scenarios here. If you want a truly “light” read then perhaps this wouldn’t be a bad choice, but otherwise there is no reason to pick up this particular series.