The Isekai genre is now a cornerstone of most light novels. And Isekai ‘with a twist’ plots are becoming just as ubiquitous. I mean, how many variations on the same tropes can you put out before it becomes tired and stale? Strangely, Eminence In Shadow does the same, but in a way where it doesn’t get boring.
The whole ‘Isekai But Not!’ trope in itself has become pretty overused. I mean you have Isekai where the protagonist is an OP or one where he is a loser. In others, he is just a regular guy that ends up helping build the economy or he is just some kid led to derangement after doing the same time loop over and over again. Isekai has been around the block so much, that there isn’t anything left to explore.
That doesn’t mean I hate Isekai by any means though. It’s a great genre with a lot to offer. And when it’s written well, it absolutely deserves the hype. But I was still wary when approaching Eminence In Shadow, a light novel by Daisuke Aizawa, slated for an anime release later this fall.
I love when stories don’t take themselves too seriously, like in the case of The Devil Is A Part-Timer. And, similarly, Eminence In Shadow promises a good time. However, on paper, it contains all the tropes I dislike in Isekai, including a harem subplot and an overpowered main lead. So, did it have something else in store? Let’s find out below!
Eminence In Shadow: Main Plot
The story follows Cid Kagenou, who had lived previously idolizing the Shadowbrokers present in his favorite video games and shows. That’s right, instead of wanting to be the hero in the limelight or the final boss waiting to vanquish his enemies, he dreamt of being a good guy behind the scenes. You know, the cool and mysterious kind with a secret identity? Of course, all he could do was pretend. Not like he could just magically become a mastermind in grade school. In that life, he was as mundane as they came.
So, how does our ordinary human become a ‘Lord Of The Shadows’? By being reincarnated into a parallel world of course! After an impromptu car accident where he dies, he is transported to a fantastical new realm filled with magic and conspiracies. And boy, Cid does not hold back! He aims to live this life on his terms, becoming the cool anti-hero his 8th-grade self always dreamt of.
However, Cid doesn’t realize just how much weight his overactive imagination holds in this new place. When he unknowingly rescues an elven girl named Alpha, Cid concocts this convoluted plot of an ancient organization that he leads. The ‘Secret Organization’ is sworn to fight an ancient evil, known as the Cult of Diablos. Moved by his sincerity, Alpha pledges her allegiance to Cid and accidentally gives his fake organization a real origin, now named the Shadow Garden.
But the problem? Those ‘make-believe’ enemies are a real threat. And everyone knows it – except Cid!
I don’t want to start this off with a ‘cool protagonist’ but honestly? Cid is pretty cool. He is so overpowered, and yet naïve, which ends up coming across as being genuinely refreshing. He adamantly believes that this is just some delusion he’s having, with no stakes to it. The reason he can guess every dangerous plot point is sheer luck. Like my guy is just living his dream here, having fun with secret identities, and being a cool mob boss! I mean, we’ve all had that fantasy, haven’t we?
Of course, the rest of the cast knows that all of it is real. The enemies, the danger, all of it isn’t just some fairy tale. There are real consequences here that Cid just can not comprehend. This leads to absolute hilarity when everything clashes together. Oh, Cid decided to propose to a princess because he thought he’d get turned down, helping him legitimize his normal guy identity and hide his cool alter ego?? Nope, the princess now loves him.
And then there was the time when he got excited when a terrorist take-over happened at his magical school? Because he got to be a ‘mastermind in the shadows’ and kick off ‘saving the school’ from his bucket list. Wild. Absolute comedy gold.
The story is heavy on the misunderstandings though, but I think it ends up adding to the charm of the cast. It’s got solid pacing and doesn’t end up being frustrating when things go array.
Is Eminence In Shadow Worth Watching?
When I picked this light novel up, I genuinely did not think I’d enjoy it. But I am happy to be proven wrong. Daisuke Aizawa has created a vibrant world that is as engaging as it is hysterical. The story essentially relies on one joke, but it executes it to perfection.
If you like laughing at Isekai tropes as I do, this might be a fun read! Highly recommended!