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“I Was Invited to the Otherworldly Country As a Warrior, But Refused and Decided to Start as a Soldier” Manga Review

“I Was Invited to the Otherworldly Country As a Warrior, But Refused and Decided to Start as a Soldier” Manga Review

May 15, 2024

A new manga series from Aneko Yusagi, author of best-selling light novel and manga series The Rising of the Shield Hero, which sold 6.2 million copies in Japan. Shield Hero has been adapted into an anime by Kinema Citrus, with the second season scheduled for April 2022. New release manga reviewed by JC Hallows.

Possibly the longest title for a manga in a genre known for its long list of long-titled series, I Was Invited to the Otherworldly Country as a Warrior, But Refused and Decided to Start as a Soldier (let’s call it “Otherworld Soldier” for short) is, as the title suggests, a very true-to-form isekai story. Ordinary high schooler Yukikazu Totsuka suddenly finds his life turned upside down when he’s transported to another universe — along with his whole class! While his classmates are hailed as heroes and appointed Warriors in the new world, Yukikazu chooses to follow a different path: starting from the ground up as a humble military recruit. Can he climb the ranks, survive life as a soldier, and find out the truth behind this mysterious summoning?

The protagonist, Yukikazu, is an ordinary high school student with very average high school concerns… until he is miraculously transported to a high fantasy universe where the locals expect him to step up and save the day as a warrior from beyond. Interestingly, the manga breaks with the usual isekai formula by having Yukikazu’s entire class be transported along with him — and while his classmates all undergo a magic ritual to become great warriors right off the bat, Yukikazu instead takes a humbler path and starts his career as a common soldier. From here, the story takes a turn into the tropes of military fantasy — strict training, crooked superiors, and forging relationships with your fellow recruits. Along the way, there are hints of deeper machinations at work, both political and mystical.

Like most isekai, Otherworld Soldier doesn’t bank on the strength of its protagonist, who is essentially another nondescript high school kid who always wants to do the right thing. Instead, it focuses on the setting, with the audience learning more about the world along with the protagonist. This manga does feature video game mechanics as a natural part of the universe, which tends to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it plot devices. Overall, the fantasy world they find themselves in probably won’t surprise any long-time fans of the genre, but there are a few inspired twists (like “dragon riders” who actually climb inside their steeds like mecha) that may add up to a truly memorable setting over time. And even though the protagonist himself might not be the most interesting guy around, he’s surrounded by a promising variety of fantasy-world natives, and the fact that his classmates are along for the ride could lead to some engaging conflicts down the road.

The art is quite good, with well-choreographed action sequences and appealing character designs. The artist seems to have a particular flair for cute monsters, like Yukikazu’s tiny orc companion Bert and the puppy-like young dragon he encounters on his first big adventure. Even within the confines of the dungeon the protagonist finds himself in early on, there’s a surprisingly wide variety of sights to see — the heroes traveling through a wide-open expanse of waving grass to find a research lab filled with unsettlingly modern-looking equipment bristling with organic veins. And even though the storyline follows the typical story beats of an “underpowered protagonist” isekai pretty closely at first, there’s some hints that all may not be as it seems, and there might be sinister forces manipulating their adventures.

Author Aneko Yusagi scores again with this isekai tale that doesn’t stray too far from the core of the genre, while still offering enough new sights and plot hooks to keep a long-time isekai reader interested. Otherworld Soldier is certainly worth a good look for isekai fans.

I Was Invited to the Otherworldly Country as a Warrior, But Refused and Decided to Start as a Soldier is releasing December 29, on the Mangamo app on iOS and Android. The first 3 chapters are available to read for free during the holidays. This series will update weekly.

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