It's time for another Isekai tale, and it feels like they've been around for 300 years at this point! This is the manga adaptation of the original light novel of the same name. It concerns an overworked salraywoman called Azusa Aizawa who drops dead from overwork at the age of 27. The angel that meets her at the pearly gates offers to reincarnate Azusa as an immortal witch who is physically 17, with a ton of magical potential and a nice place to live a lazy, laid back life (should have just reincarnated her as an immortal sloth!)
Azusa starts her new life, delighted at her surroundings and enjoying the facilities of the nearby village. 300 years later, and after only killing the Slime creatures that surround her home to earn enough cash for some luxuries, Azusa is the most powerful person on the planet. With all her levels maxed out from her laid back levelling, she's starting to attract more attention than she'd like, and it's not long before ambitious adventurers, mythical beasts and even her own daughters (it's a long story!) are turning up to challenge her. What's an immortal, all powerful witch to do?
So we're back into the realm of reincarnation isekai, which always make me a little sad as it really sends out a dangerous message to young readers unhappy with their current situation, whatever it may be. We have to put that to one side in order to be objective, but it's telling that Azusa finds more happiness in her fantasy realm than she ever did in her past life, and that's really rather sad.
As wish fulfilment goes, this is really rather pleasant. It's an easy read, with Azusa proving sympathetic and likeable, with a peaceful setup and engaging supporting cast. It is a bit predictable if you've read any of the other Isekai stories (and there are an insane amount now), but this is a solid example of the genre.
Yusuke Shiba's art is sharp and well paced, expertly conveying action, emotion and comedy in every panel. Benio's character designs are not particularly original or outstanding, but they're certainly appealing and fit the world well.
Laika's dragon form is oftentimes superbly rendered, all muscle and fiery death - I do love the scenes in which she's pulling odd faces, it's adds lots of character and honestly I prefer it to her alternative form if only for comedic value.
There's a lot to be said for the pacing of volume one too - you get several distinct events all thrown into a solid, linear plotline that's easy to follow and fun to read. While the ending shows us a new character on the way, you could comfortably buy this as a one-off and not feel short-changed. The amount of fan postings I've seen online for the series suggest that the anime, due in 2021, will be a major hit too.
All this is to say that you'll find few surprises in this book - it's cookie-cutter isekai and everything that entails; a fantasy land, cute characters and magic all leading to grand adventure. It certainly doesn't mix things up like Shield Hero, but it's a lovely read, and a great choice for anyone that, like Azusa, wants a laid back experience.