Alkali Rettousei #Compass: Sentou Setsuri Kaiseki System - Spin-Off (Light Novel) - Reviews

Alkali Rettousei #Compass: Sentou Setsuri Kaiseki System - Spin-Off (Light Novel)
goopyguy's avatar
Apr 11, 2024

The Alkali Rettousei light novel is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. While aimed towards players familiar with 7 years’ worth of #COMPASS lore, even casual VOCALOID & Kairiki Bear fans can enjoy it.

To summarize the premise: Lyrica is a failing student hopeless about school and her future. She constantly compares herself to her best friend, Luruca, an honor student with an obsessive crush on Lyrica. Although Luruca is humble and gracious about her abilities, she stalks Lyrica out of misguided love. When a semi-sinister AI turns Lyrica into a magical girl, she finally feels like she has something to be proud of... until Luruca is given the same power and does a much better job of fighting "Degenerator" monsters.

Underneath the veneer of sparkling fame is a story about desperation, depression, and constantly unrequited love. All of these are major themes throughout #COMPASS as a whole. However, the specific kind of disillusionment I loved so much about the Alkali Rettousei song carries over just as well to novel form. We've seen how Lyrica's story ends, so why not the beginning, too?

At times, the story felt like it was just "going through the motions" of a magical girl story, so to speak. Some parts felt unnecessary and could have been shorter (such as the slice-of-life school scenes) while others flew by within a page or two when they should have been longer. It's far from a wholesome yuri romance, but I wish some of Luruca’s interactions with Lyrica (especially their interrupted café "date") were more fleshed-out. For being a Lyrica-focused novel, it makes sense to focus on the titular Underachiever’s backstory. Still, I would have liked to have more than a single line in the last chapter for Loroka, Laraka, and Lereka combined.

With that being said, I absolutely adored Luruca's characterization! Her interlude chapters really highlighted just how creepy and toxic she is, which often feels missing from Lyrica-centric lore. Once again, if you're looking for fluffy yuri, you won't find it here, but I loved reading about a stalker lesbian magical girl who doesn't feel sexual or fetish-y.

Lyrica is depicted as a near-textbook magical girl protagonist—an awkward but cutesy klutz—but her constant apathy and despair tie in the "Rettousei" aspect well. As previously mentioned, some of her scenes could have been more expanded, especially the ones where she considers giving up school. Maybe this could be interpreted as a negative, but she kind of reminded me of Shinji. Probably something about “teenager’s mental health rapidly declines as they’re forced into a savior role”.

Not including the colored fly pages at the beginning, there are 7 in-text illustrations. While a couple of them don't add much to the story, all of them are incredibly fun to look at and very well drawn.

7/10 story
8/10 art
9/10 characters
8/10 overall
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