Summary: When Lizel mysteriously finds himself in a city that bears odd similarities to his own but clearly isn’t, he quickly comes to terms with the unlikely truth: this is an entirely different world. Even so, laid-back Lizel isn’t the type to panic. He immediately sets out to learn more about this strange place, and to help him do so, hires a seasoned adventurer named Gil as his tour guide and protector. Until he’s able to find a way home, Lizel figures this is a perfect opportunity to explore a new way of life adventuring as part of a guild. After all, he’s sure he’ll go home eventually… might as well enjoy the otherworldly vacation for now!
Thoughts: The isekai genre is a pretty popular one, and for storytelling reasons, it’s easy to see why. Someone from one world magically ends up in another one, and it’s a great way for characters to drop a whole load of world-building exposition on the newbie. It’s a good way to get readers to relate to the protagonist, since the reader is just as ignorant about the new world and gets to learn and grow alongside the main character. Usually this is done with someone from this world getting teleported into a new world, whether that world is a pure fantasy world, the world of a video game, or something based on history but with a twist.
In A Gentle Noble’s Vacation Recommendation, we have a character from a secondary world getting plopped down into another secondary world, which, honestly, is something I don’t think I’ve really seen done before. It instantly removes the intended relatability from the main character, since the reader can’t approach the story from the perspective of, “I know the same things as this person because we grew up in the same world.” (Even though, if I’m honest, that relatability is often just a shell; lots of people grow up in this world and can’t understand or relate to each other; the biggest way readers tend to relate to protagonists in isekai stories is through their shared ignorance of the new world, which we tend to interpret as being alike because we’re from the same world.) The main character of this manga, Lizel, comes from a world that’s as much a fantasy to us as the one he randomly finds himself stuck in.
This leads to a bit of an awkward beginning in the manga as we don’t know what Lizel’s world is like or in what ways this new world is different to him. Both worlds seem to involve magic, so him trying to buy a magic bag with infinite capacity isn’t weird or unreasonable in either his world or the new one. But he’s pretty tight-lipped about what his own world was like, so A Gentle Noble’s Vacation Recommendation seems at first less like an isekai story and more like an instance of a resourceful person dealing with some degree of amnesia, or just someone who had spent their life very sheltered. It’s difficult to tell sometimes which areas of Lizel’s ignorance are because he’s from a different world, or because he’s just encountering things in life that he hasn’t encountered before.
The world he ends up in seems rather like a generic fantasy video game. There’s a ranked adventurer’s guild, where people sign up and take quests for profit, like killing ten rats outside of town. Some weapons are only found as loot at the end of dungeons. It’s always weird to me to see ideas like this outside of video games, though logically, there’s no reason they should fit into a video game’s world any more realistically than a world portrayed in any other medium.
Which brings me to what I consider A Gentle Noble’s Vacation Recommendation‘s strongest point: getting the reader to question preconceived notions. Why is something more believable or acceptable in this form as opposed to that form? What qualifies something to be considered this instead of that? Why do we relate to some protagonists we often have absolutely nothing in common with them? As I read through this manga, I found myself hitting stumbling blocks, and then being prompted to consider why they were stumbling blocks to begin with. Was it a flaw with the manga and its story, or was it just that I’d come to expect things to be a certain way and instead was being given something other than the typical presentation?
I very much want to continue with this series. It gave me some good food for thought, and I enjoy the way Lizel and his bodyguard/tour guide Gil interact with each other, especially since they both guard so many secrets about their respective lives. (Also want to see if the slashy vibe I’m getting off them is actually leading to something or is just there for the fanservice.) The story’s progression revealed that there are connections between Lizel’s original world and the new world he ended up in, so I want to know how that aspect of the story is going to develop. Apparently this manga is based on a light novel, so I’m sure I could just go look up the answers to my questions, but I’d prefer to keep reading the manga for now and be surprised as I go.
I think fans of isekai stories could like this one a lot, if they go in with the understanding that they’re not going to get stereotypical isekai fare. It hits a lot of the same points, but also is its own unique story. It’s a good one for those who enjoy their manga with a strong fantasy flavour, but who are also looking for a combination between the “fish out of water” story and the “rich noble who can do what they want” story. I’m intrigued, and I really do want to follow A Gentle Noble’s Vacation Recommendation to its conclusion; my interest has been piqued, and I’m not about to let it lie.
(Book received in exchange for an honest review.)