Book Light Novel Review

There’s No Way a Side Character Like Me Could Be Popular, Right? – Vol.1 – Light Novel Review

There’s No Way a Side Character Like Me Could Be Popular, Right? sums up the premise in the title. This light novel by author Sekaiichi with illustrations by Tomari, follows Yuuji. While he thinks of himself as the typical protagonist’s friend, unlikely events start happening to him. This review will cover volume one of this title translated by Alejandro De Vicente Suárez and published by Tentai Books.

The Side Character

Yuuji is a relatively nice guy, but no pushover. He’ll stay calm even when treated badly. Unfortunately, he doesn’t look that way. With a mean look constantly on his scarred face, people don’t get close to him. In fact, most are scared of him and some even believe rumors about him being a criminal. But when he entered high school, he made a friend.

Haruma seems like the perfect guy. Handsome, top of his class, friendly to everyone, and athletic. Women want him and men want to be him. He even has a talented and beautiful childhood friend that hangs off him and a cute little sister. Haruma really seems like the protagonist of a light novel and Yuuji sees his place as the best friend. He happily supports the person who reached out to him and Yuuji supports him in return. It’s a great friendship.

 But things start to change in the second year of high school and this is all sparked by a few unexpected words: “Senpai, will you be my boyfriend?”

There’s No Way a Side Character Like Me Could Be Popular, Right? - Yuuji

The Bitch

Touka is Haruma’s little sister. Beautiful and top of her class, it seems she’s not too different from her brother at first glance. On meeting Yuuji, she’s flirty and tries to become close to him quickly. Conversely, she’s cold to her brother and doesn’t even want him talking to her.

She asks Yuuji out quickly, but between her acting and his own lack of self-esteem, he soon understands that she’s not being honest about her feelings. She doesn’t particularly like or dislike him, but just wants to use him.

Saying that she has been constantly asked out and needs a mean-looking guy to keep people away is her stated reason. Trying to manipulate and threaten his reputation doesn’t work, but she still convinces him to enter a fake relationship with her. Yuuji finds his own motivation for this.

This felt like one of the early powerful moments of There’s No Way a Side Character Like Me Could Be Popular, Right? My distaste for Touka was incredibly strong and I found myself wondering if she would be redeemed somehow. She’s even self-aware that she’s a bitch and says it herself.

A Spark of Change

With Touka very publicly claiming a relationship with Yuuji, new encounters start happening. Kana, Haruma’s childhood friend starts talking to him, though she barely can. Student council members start spreading the word about how much he helps. New relationships are built up and slowly some people start to realize that Yuuji isn’t just some thug. While not everyone is happy about this new relationship and challenges appear, it starts to change Yuuji’s life for the better.

Despite feeling like a side character, it seems like Yuuji is growing into the protagonist of his own story. Meeting new people, and being part of various events, he starts to break out of his supportive friend’s shadow.

Being a romantic comedy, as you’d expect a real affection starts to build too. We get more of an insight into Touka’s motivations and she becomes much more likable over time. I particularly liked the contrast between how the two handle a shared part of their lives – him with acceptance and her with a constant struggle. We get a deep look at her thoughts in particular and some great development of her as a character.

The contrast between them overall is interesting. Him an introverted loner with extremely low self-confidence and her outwardly projecting the opposite.

Over the Top and Dramatic

There’s No Way a Side Character Like Me Could Be Popular, Right? is very much a comedy. The very premise can feel a little overblown at times, with other students so scared of this mean-looking boy that they’ll clear the room if he enters. Beyond that, there are silly moments and misunderstandings. I ended up laughing out loud at times; the comedy is on point.

After the main story, there are some extra short stories included. These really ramp up the comedy, with constant romantic misunderstandings between Yuuji and other guys.

As well as romance, there are quite a few dramatic moments. As mentioned, not everyone wants them to be together and some certainly raise objections. While only a few of these were serious, they were an interesting way to display how Yuuji handles problems and gave an insight into his past. I didn’t want to put it down, so I could find out more.

Physical Edition

I’ve been reading the physical edition of this book and overall it’s great, though there are a couple of minor issues in the version I have.

The dust jacket cover shows Yuuji and Touka together, with her appropriately looking more enthusiastic and interested than him. It comes with a small icon on the top of the side. The font on the side is plain and not consistent with the next volume as seen here, which might bother some people. The same design is echoed on the book cover itself.

One very nice feature is that there are several color illustrations near the front. They fold out, showing Yuuji and the main women in his life.

It’s a rather large book, measuring 21cm tall and 15cm wide. This is consistent with other titles I have from Tentai Books but taller than some others. The text size is standard and easy to read. The print quality of both color and greyscale illustrations are great too.

There do appear to be a couple of print errors in the copy I own. It may just be a single print run, as I hear it has not been widely reported. It included some extra pages with an alternate version of the first chapter and later on in the book there is a page with an <Insert Image>. The image isn’t missing though – just on the next page.

I believe these issues are a rare occurrence. They’re fairly minor, didn’t impact my enjoyment and the publisher is now aware. I would expect that any new books sent out will not have this issue. I’ve confirmed that these issues are not included in the eBook version or any other physical copies of books from Tentai games that I own..

There’s No Way a Side Character Like Me Could Be Popular, Right? also comes with a bookmark inserted featuring a pouting Touka crossing her arms. It’s always a nice extra and a cute illustration.


I certainly enjoyed volume 1 of There’s No Way a Side Character Like Me Could Be Popular, Right? It set up the situation well, grabbed my attention with how interesting the relationships are, and has set up for further developments that have been hinted at. I’ll be continuing straight onto volume 2.


Purchase: Tentai Books, Amazon, Google Books, BookWalker

Want to read another Light Novel? How about checking out How to Melt the Ice Queen’s Heart? Or our visual novel reviews?

Many thanks go to Tentai Books who provided a review copy of this title.

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