I don’t quite remember when I discovered the light novel for Welcome to Japan, Ms. Elf! (maybe last year?), but I have wanted to read it for a longggggg time. When I saw that a manga edition had released yesterday, I was shocked, and snatched a sample up ASAP, and dove head first into the story!
Welcome to Japan, Ms. Elf! is about a twenty-five-year-old office worker, Kazuhiro, who cares more for sleeping then he does about working late hours. But when his sleep hobby involves falling into a dream world where he can go on exciting adventures, who can blame him? As he spends more time in this dream world, he becomes familiar with and eventually friends Marie, a female elf. On one of their adventures, however, trouble takes a turn and they both end up in Japan (and she is technically not supposed to be there…or is she?) to encounter new adventures!
The Welcome to Japan, Ms. Elf! manga was everything I dreamed of it being and more (HA! No pun intended, but let’s keep it anyway!)! The reason I was so deeply interested in this series is because the idea of an elf coming to Japan and experiencing the culture absolutely fascinates me. And it was not disappointing! The mangaka captures the beauty of Japan as viewed through the eyes of the foreigner, Marie, who also brings a sunshine to the page that absolutely captivates. Her host and friend (and possible love interest?), Kazuhiro, is a wonderful complement to Marie, especially art-wise. They create such a great balance!
One thing I was unprepared for, but absolutely loved, was the dream world. I absolutely love the idea of going to another world in one’s dreams (one of my favorite novel series does this!); this was actually the reason I decided to continue reading past the sample. The story is amazing!
I really enjoyed how the manga expresses that time passes differently, in addition to a few aspects that give a clear distinction that this is another world (like the food being bland and Kazuhiro appearing younger). These aspects seem so subtle and natural in the story that I’m very much impressed with how the world is presented to the reader! This is probably my first foray into a fantasy manga that has dragons, and I loved the lore surrounding them (The elves too!). The Arkdragon (a dragon we meet later on) was nothing like I expected and definitely made me laugh!
The world building in the “real world” was equally awesome ! As I mentioned before, I really enjoyed being able to experience Japan through a new set of eyes. While we don’t necessarily see Japan through Marie’s eyes, I just loved the feeling of this being like a “tour guide” to Japan but much more low key and very fun (because hello, Ms. Elf!).
Also with this, having Japanese food be the highlight is perfection! I actually caught myself wanting food when reading! And while it’s a small thing to mention, I greatly enjoyed the one brief moment of Marie saying she wouldn’t eat raw fish and then actually trying it and loving it because eating raw fish is still a thing that makes me nervous, too. I bring this up because it made me want to try it just like she did because you never know if you might just find your next favorite Japanese dish!
When it comes to characters, I absolutely adore Marie, but I have to admit that I deeply enjoyed Kazuhiro’s character! I found myself instantly relating to him within the first few pages alone, and it’s rare for me to feel that connected to a main character so quickly in manga. While his hobby might be considered sleeping, I feel it goes much deeper then that and is a reminder to me why isekai is so popular among the manga and light novel community.
Kazuhiro captures the longing for many of wanting to be able to fight dragons and go on magical adventures that we can’t experience in our own. He gets a chance to experience that small longing, and a “tether” of sorts is created to this sweet character that forms more than just an interest, but a relatability.
The only other thing I do want to mention is that there is some fan service in this manga. I’m personally not keen on fan service and usually steer clear of it, but beside a few scenes, everything was mostly handled in moderation. I did appreciate that while Kazuhiro appreciates Maria’s outer beauty, he does respect her privacy in the slightly awkward scene both of them faced in one scenario.
Overall though, I lovedddddd this manga! It featured a fantastic story and one I deeply enjoyed. I am looking forward to reading the next volume and seeing what the main couple(?) will experience next in Japan and in the dream world! I really want to see more of Japan through Marie’s eyes and get hungry for some sushi!
The Welcome to Japan, Ms. Elf! manga is available through J-Novel Club.