Wednesday, April 26, 2023

… What did I just read?

After reading Campfire Cooking in Another World With My Absurd Skill, I wondered if Japense light novels had reached the point where deconstruction no longer has a functional meaning. What’s more, I really doubt that it’s the most absurd or extreme example out there.  

Campfire (I refuse to type out the whole name again) started out as a web novel. Since then, it has become a light novel series, a manga and an anime. I’ve just stuck to the light novels because they’re easier to read on my phone.

After going pulled into a fantasy world, salaryman Mukohda quickly figures out that he’s been summon by an evil empire and takes off to do his own thing. He’s able to easily figure things out because he’s read lots of web novels!

More than that, he has a unique magical talent: Online Supermarket. It’s a magical combination of Amazon and Grubhub (that still costs him money) With it, Mukohda has access to modern Earth food and other products. With the power of refined sugar and prepackaged sauces, he is able to gain unbeatable legendary monsters as allies and  the favor of the gods.

Campifire is such unbelievable wish fulfillment that it’s fascinating. There’s no shame about it or trying to hide it at all. Thanks to his shopping skills, Mukohda has no functional worries beyond cooking meals for his monster buddies.

To be fair, that does sound pretty fun lol

I will note that, while there’s tons of food description, I really wouldn’t call the descriptions foodie or gourmet. Mukohda uses lots of prepackaged and premade ingredients. Which actually just builds on the whole wish fulfillment angle. I mean, that’s how I cook.
I have to say that I found the actual writing to be stilted with a lot of repetitive phrases. I don’t know if I should blame Ren Eguchi or the translator. There were pieces of dialogue that felt like they would have made more sense as a comic panel full of speech balloons.

But the absurdity of the concept and the way the work went whole hog into wish fulfillment just kept my interest.

Campfire is a profoundly self aware work. It couldn’t exist in a vacuum. Instead of a parody, it’s a celebration of escapism.

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