Isekai has fallen into a rut of tropes lately, so naturally the way to make isekai great is to subvert the crap out of those tropes. For example, Ascendance of a Bookworm, and Otherside Picnic. However, one relatively recent isekai, The Hero is Overpowered But Overly Cautious (short version, Cautious Hero), conforms to isekai tropes so hard that it implodes and ends up subverting them in its own unique way!
In the realm of the gods, a goddess named Ristarte is charged with summoning a hero to save a world from a generic evil force. She leafs through the resumes of some average Joes when she comes across Seiya Ryuuguuin, who has great stats but a cautious personality. She summons him because his cautiousness shouldn’t at all be a problem. The story, uniquely enough, is told through the perspective of Rista, so you get to experience the cringe-inducing hilarity of Seiya alongside her.
The selling point of Cautious Hero revolves entirely around our cautious Best Boy Seiya. His personality makes him super untrusting and condescending towards others, like an edgelord without the edgelordiness! Watching his interactions with the other characters is what makes this light novel so appealing. Seiya follows through on his exploits. After every battle, he heads back to the gods’ realm to train. He also makes three of every piece of equipment, just in case (sometimes, even breaking to Rista’s room and pulling out her hair to craft better kits). He uses top-tier magic against slimes, and even against the dead bodies of enemies (just in case they regenerate). This causes him to destroy the towns he’s supposed to have saved in the first place, which he funnily enough doesn’t care about. The most important aspect of Seiya is his catchphrase, translated by Yen Press as “I’m perfectly prepared.” I’m not gonna lie, but I literally started fangushing at one point with this catchphrase, and it’s only volume 1. I love this meme and I hope it stays forever.
The only real issue (other than the usual stuff that isekai’s critics would hate) is that as a result of Seiya’s indisputable greatness, almost everyone else gets the shaft, which is a shame because a lot of other characters are also great. Rista is a good girl and a great audience surrogate with a lot of personality. We see some of the other gods, and out of all of them, Valkyrie has the most potential (plus she’s on the cover of volume 2, so I know that there’s more with her). Mash and Elulu, two companions Seiya recruits, are the blandest characters by far, but it’s on purpose because they literally exist just to carry Seiya’s massive inventory.
The art in Cautious Hero is great. The illustrator really captures the characters’ personalities in their facial expressions, which is important for a parody series such as this.
Sorry, for the short blog, but this series is as simple as a retro JRPG. You know the old phrase: “Less is more.” A simple twist to something that’s been done a million times breathes new life into the isekai genre with Cautious Hero. If it continues like this, it will become one of my favorite light novel series of all time.
Sadly, the anime is going to air six episodes by the next volume release, more than enough to adapt the first two volumes and beyond, so being a “I-was-a-fan-before-it-was-cool” hipster isn’t gonna last for much longer. But nonetheless, reading Cautious Hero is worth it at any time, and it will have you perfectly prepared for the days ahead.