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Light Novel / The Ideal Sponger Life

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Zenjirou Yamai is an overworked salaryman for a shady company who's thinking about how he's going to spend a rare two consecutive days off, when he suddenly finds himself before a beautiful bronze-skinned woman in what appears to be a throne room. She introduces herself as Aura Capua, queen of the Capua Kingdom and the possessor of her family's Space-Time Magic which she used to summon him to her world.

In the aftermath of a major war, she was the only royal heir left, becoming a queen regnantnote  in a traditionally male-dominated society. However, there is great pressure on her to marry another noble from the royal bloodline and have children who will inherit the royal magic. Since her noble suitors would be likely to assert their own authority if one of them became her husband, she's asking Zenjirou—a long-lost descendant of a crown prince of Capua who fled to Earth with his lover—to marry her. And what's in it for him? All he's got to do is make children with her, and she'll happily let him laze around in the palace while she does all the governing.

Once Aura has answered all his questions, Zenjirou agrees to marry her and gets his Earthly affairs in order before returning to Capua for good. He and Aura have great chemistry, and he's brought some modern technology to help make his stay more comfortable, but he's still got a lot to learn about his new world, and staying out of politics might not be as simple as he thought. How will things turn out as Zenjirou tries to start his sponger life in another world?

The Ideal Sponger Life (A.K.A. Risou no Himo Seikatsu) is an Isekai Light Novel written by WATANABE Tsunehiko and illustrated by Jū Ayakura (文倉十 Ayakura Jū). Originally a web novel that won first prize in the "Let's Become A Novelist" competition, it incorporates elements of fantasy, ecchi, romantic comedy, and government procedural. The Sponger Life manga adaptation is licensed in North America by Seven Seas Entertainment. The novel is licensed by J-Novel Club.

The ideal troper life:

  • Alternate Universe: The not-Earth world where most of the story takes place. Among other things, dinosaurs and dragons exist alongside humans. And of course pretty much everyone has the potential to use magic.
  • Alternative Number System: A strange variant in that Aura's world does at least seem to use base 10, but they never invented a numeral system to represent them. Aura is immensely fascinated by arabic numerals and how much easier they make calculations.
  • Artifact Title: While Zenjirou moves to Aura's world under the deal of living a lazy life in the inner palace while leaving the politics to Aura, it ultimately proves impractical for him to avoid all interaction with the court. In the process of fulfilling his expected duties, he develops quickly into a sociable and hard-working ruler while being an aid to Aura's authority rather than diminishing it. The whole sponger theme actually falls by the wayside quite early in the story; this is eventually discussed when Aura notes that she’s gotten worse and worse at keeping her initial promise to him, while Zenjirou confesses that he never actually believed that a member of royalty could get away with being a total slacker.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: Zenjirou is very enthusiastic about Aura's big breasts. Aura seems to be of the same mind, if only because they entrance him so.
  • Cassandra Truth: Some of the Capua Nobility find it hard to believe that Zenjirou truly loves Aura and desires no concubine, and just think Aura is being selfish by forbidding any woman to be with her husband.
  • Chekhov's Gun: During the Wedding at Galeel arc, while walking down a dark corridor with no lanterns Skadi, Freya, and Nilda confront the visiting Knight Raymond of the Navarra Kingdom for coming out of a forbidden corridor and he denies it. Zenjirou then arrives with a flashlight from the direction the knight claims he walked from. During the trial to see who is telling the truth, Zenjirou corners Raymond by asking if he didn't notice Zenjirou and his escort's footsteps, then how could he have missed a bright light coming from behind him. Unable to maintain the lie, Raymond confesses.
  • Crushing Handshake: General Pujol and his old wartime rival, General Martin Nadal, greet each other at Pujol's wedding with a handshake so intense it looks more like arm-wrestling. Pujol's new wife Lucinda steps in before it escalates any further.
  • Decadent Court: Zenjirou has to be wary of a good number of the Capua nobles, since they're always plotting to undermine Aura’s power or gain something for themselves. They engage in various schemes like offering their sisters or daughters as concubines for Zenjirou, or giving priceless gifts that oblige the recipient to give a gift or reward of equal value in return.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Aura's people see no problem with powerful men having concubines as it's considered normal. So they find it absurd that Zenjirou, who comes from modern Earth, is not into polygamy and is fine having a monogamous relationship with Aura.
    • By the same token, while Zenjirou considers Aura to be his ideal in most every way (even if her strength effects his confidence at times), many in her culture find it hard to understand how any man could love her so fervently. By the standards of the Capua nobles Aura's strength in battle and accomplishments in the war make it hard for them to find any feminine charm in her at all. They may still respect her as a ruler and warrior, but find her lacking in the things they find attractive in a woman.
    • The story is careful, however, to make it clear that often (though not always) the differences in values are not due to those who hold them being "bad" people with malicious intentions or lack of standards, but rather having different priorities and life experiences. In particular the focus on the importance of keeping bloodlines as pure as possible has very practical uses as it's the best way to keep unique bloodline magics strong and available.
  • Domesticated Dinosaurs: The drakes of the southern continent are mainly used as horse substitutes, including for riding and hauling wagons.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Kingdoms are based on medieval European cultures, judging from the names and aesthetics. To wit:
    • Capua Kingdom is Medieval Spain, with names like Carlos and places like Wallentia (Valencia). It's also noted to be hotter/closer to the tropics than the other kingdoms.
    • Twin Kingdoms of Sharou-Gilbell is a theocracy with royalty coming from the Papacy, which might indicates Italy and the Papal States.
    • The Kingdom of Uppasala, from which Princess Freya and her warrior Victoria Kronkvist (a.k.a Skadi/Skaji) seems to emulate the Scandinavia, coming from the north and having superior ship-making technology compared to the southern kingdoms.
    • The Gupta Kingdom, judging from the name, is Medieval India. Similarly, Makarov might be Russia, Bernhard might be German/Austria, and Harkonen might be Finland, separate from Uppasala.
  • Government Procedural: Zenjirou has to help Aura deal with the problems of running her kingdom, which involve the competing agendas of numerous parties.
  • Happily Married: Zenjirou and Aura grow to love each other, and in fact it surprises the court just how much Zenjirou adores Aura and wants no other woman.
  • Harem Seeker: Enforced. While Zenjirou states multiple times that he is not interested in anyone other than Aura, politics pretty much force him to have concubines.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The southern continent of the other world mostly uses reptiles as mounts and beasts of burden. They're referred to as drakes and wyverns and so on.
  • Language of Magic: There is a magic language that can pack a whole sentence in one word. Because the "Soul of Words" can translate it automatically, a viewer can feel some dissonance from seeing the lip movements not matching what they hear.
  • Lord Country: Most of the Royal families in the other world share their surname with their kingdom i.e. Aura's surname is the name of her kingdom, Capua.
  • Love at First Sight: When Zenjiro got summoned the first time by Aura, he was so enamored with her that he didn't notice other people (i.e. the guards) in the place he was summoned until one of them spoke up.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: There are two forms of magic in this world. One is Elemental Magic, which (in theory) anyone can learn (in practice if you lack a good teacher and/or enough free time to practice you might never reach the point of being able to use it), granting them the ability to create and control water, fire, etc. The second is Lineal Magic, which is limited to certain bloodlines and has unique effects such as healing, enchantment, space-time effects, etc. New Lineal Magics can spontaneously appear in people known as "first generation mages," but such people are only born once every few centuries. Further, these new Lineal Magics have never been known to be the same magic as that of a previously known Lineal Magic. As such, Lineal Magics are incredibly precious to the world in general and the nation they are found in in particular (each royal family in the present being a practitioner of a Lineal Magic that the entire nation bases much of its identity around). Should a family line be wiped out (as almost happened to the Capua family), the magic is most likely lost forever. Likewise, to maintain it requires that the line marry relatives (though marriage to immediate family seems to be avoided when possible) on a regular basis to avoid diluting the power, albeit distant relatives sometimes are born with the Lineal Magic unusually strong in them (in such cases they can find themselves suddenly adopted as part of the main royal family in the case that the Lineal Magic is part of the royal line, rather than the distant branch royal family they were part of).
  • Medical Monarch: Those of the Gilbell Royal Family bloodline can perform Healing Magic. In a world without modern medicine their powers have given them great influence and prestige.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The glass marbles from Earth which were cheap mass produced toys are highly valued to the Sharou Royal Family due to them being perfect for them creating magic tool in a short amount of time with their bloodline magic.
  • Mundane Object Amazement: In addition to the electronic devices Zenjirou brought, the other world never invented glass, so the inhabitants are fascinated by the glass cups, wine bottles, and marbles he also brought (to them the closest equivalent is transparent crystal). Figuring out how to make their own glass is a recurring plot point as mastering it could basically revolutionize their world. Glass also proves to be an ideal material for making enchanted items.
  • Nonindicative Name: "Raptorial dragons" are herbivores and quadrupedal.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: While why they look like that hasn't been mentioned in the manga, In Aura's world, the dragons are what Zenjirou's world knows to be raptors, triceratops, and one other species that this troper doesn't recognize. There are more typical dragons as well, called flying wyverns.
  • Royalty Super Power: The royal family of most countries has a unique magical power passed down through the bloodline. There are exceptions though.
    • The Randlion continent (a.k.a. the 'Southern Continent'):
      • The Capua Kingdom's royal family has 'Space-Time Magic'.
      • The Twin Kingdom of Sharou-Gilbell has two. The Sharou royal family has 'Bestowal Magic' while the Gilbell royal family has 'Healing Magic'.
      • The Gupta Kingdom's royal family has 'Lightning'.
      • The Harkonen Royal Family has 'Mind Search Magic'.
      • The Bernhard Royal Family has 'Gardening Magic'.
      • The Makarov Royal Family has 'Creation Magic'.
    • The royal families of the 'Northern Continent' do not necessarily have 'Bloodline Magic' but that doesn't mean that there are not any.
    • An added complication is that someone born from two bloodlines could inherit both magics if their magical power is sufficient. This has potential political ramifications since much of the south continent's royal families' claims to power and legitimacy come from their monopolies on their unique bloodline magics. Marriage between royal families is thus effectively forbidden.
  • Secret Test of Character: Fabio, Aura's loyal secretary, tests Zenjiro by suggesting he could request a domain from the Crown's royal holdings for funding to do more work and help Aura in her work. Zenjiro earns Fabio's respect when he states he won't do anything without consulting with Aura.
  • Showing Up Chauvinists: Throughout the series there are women in the not-Earth who are trying to break into/succeed in the male dominated world.
    • Aura Capua is the first ruling married queen of the Capua Kingdom (there were two other previous single queens; one adopted a branch family and made him her heir, while the other made her baby brother her heir) though many of the country's nobles believe that a king should be the ruler due to reasons such as that a woman would not be able to do administrative duties when they are pregnant.
    • Freya Uppasala, the first princess of Uppasala kingdom, is the first female captain who made an intercontinental voyage from Uppasala in the upper north of the northern continent to Capua in the south continent and back.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Lucinda, first daughter of the Margrave of Gajeel, and later wife to General Pujol, appears a slight, gentle lady. However, she has a calculating mind and razor sharp intellect. She correctly assumes her husband's rival and counterpart from Navarra, General Martin Nadal, will be attending her wedding despite him not being named as a member to the Navarra's delegation, and has a room prepared with a chair sturdy enough to hold his large frame as well as sweets which he dislikes. Later on after an incident between Lucinda's younger sister and a Navarra knight she arranges for her father and General Martin to coincidentally be in the same room at the same time while waiting for a private audience with the now-married couple. This allows the leaders to meet and discuss how to resolve the incident while having a cover for their encounter during these problematic moments.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Zenjiro tends to cause this in several women.
    • Aura falls in love with Zenjiro because of his gentle nature and his willingness to help her in any task she needs, even though she had agreed he would not have to do anything.
    • Princess Freya falls for Zenjiro as well because of how (unlike the mostly patriarchal culture she comes from) he treats her as an equal, backs her up in the discussion about Knight Raymond's intrusion into a forbidden corridor and demands that Captain Pinto apologizes for insulting her skills.
  • Spell My Name with an S: There a some spelling of names in the English translation that are spelled one way in an earlier volume at first then change in a future volume.
    • The "Kingdom of Navarra" to the "Kingdom of Nabara".
  • Starcrossed Lovers: An important part of the backstory. Legend has it that a prince of the Capua Royal Family fell in love with a princess of another kingdom, but due to the above mentioned political ramifications of mixing royal bloodlines, they were forbidden to marry. He used his Space-Time magic to elope with his lover to another world. The story was true and that other world was Earth. Zenjirou is a descendant of that prince and that is why he was summoned. It turns out that the princess the prince eloped with was a member of the Sharou royal family, meaning Zenjirou inherited the ability to pass on Bestowal magic as well. Zenjirou and Aura's son Carlos turns out to have enough magical power to use Space-Time Magic and Bestowal magic. A fact they have to keep secret to avoid causing political turmoil.
  • Stunned Silence: Aura orders the belongings Zenjiro brought from his world searched just in case and during it one of the soldiers pulls something out of one of the boxes and immediately stuffs it back in. Aura of course notices and demands that he show what it was, fearing he may have tried to poison Zenjiro or something else sinister. Aura and all the other soldiers are promptly shocked when he reveals a sheer negligee.
  • Superstitious Sailors: Uppasalan sailors have a wide array of superstitions, many of them relating to the captain's relationship to the ship. There is a symbolic marriage between the captain and his ship, which they consider female: Traditionally, the captain should be an unmarried man, and a married captain is required to temporarily divorce his wife before a voyage. A woman must dress as a man while in command. In addition, the captain is expected to stay onboard for A Date with Rosie Palms after coming into port while the crew goes ashore to find a brothel.
  • Tempting Fate: When Zenjirou visits Bruno the Third, King of the Sharowa-Jibel Twin Kingdoms, Zenjirou introduces himself in the customary formal fashion. He thinks to himself that this conversation won't be too stressful, since he expects Bruno's reply will be similarly formulaic and predictable. Bruno shatters this idea by abruptly declaring to Zenjirou and everyone in the room that he won't be ruler for much longer, because he plans to abdicate his throne. Even Bruno's own courtiers are blindsided by this announcement, so imagine how Zenjirou feels when he realizes that he's in a foreign court in the midst of a political crisis that he was totally unprepared for.
  • Translator Microbes: The 'soul of words'. It uses a little bit of magic power to allow people who speak different languages to understand each other. It has limitations such as that the language must be acknowledged by a few thousand people; both parties must have magic flow between them; words of one language might have no equivalent in another; and words can have different meanings between cultures. A skilled magician can deliberately stop the flow of magical power to stop the function between themselves and another party. Further, the 'soul of words' does not allow you to read words in a given language, only to understand a language when it is spoken aloud. Another problem is that it doesn't affect electronic recording, so that Zenjirou cannot understand what Aura is saying when he plays back a video of her lesson.
  • The War Just Before: There is a frequent mention of a pre-series war that happened in the Southern Continent which resulted in the Capua Kingdom losing many soldiers, nobles, as well as the majority of the royal family with Aura as its sole survivor. Aura is under pressure to marry, make children to continue the royal line and to step down as queen. Not wanting her partner to be either General Pujol Guillén or Raffello Márquez, this leads to her using her lineal magic to summon a male from another world who has Capuan royal blood but is unambitious and loyal to her so she can reign as queen. Thus Zenjiro Yamai is summoned and began the series.

Alternative Title(s): Risou No Himo Seikatsu