With many light novels these days feature stories of guys getting transported into another world (isekai) by various means, light novels that mainly portray ordinary life in their stories seem to be taking the backseat. It can’t be helped since light novels generally aim to entertain readers with a world full of imagination. But it doesn’t mean the real world we’re familiar with can not offer that ‘world full of imagination’ things. There are some novels that tell the story of usual daily life, but still attract many readers.

One of those light novels that seems to bring the term ‘light’ to the extreme, being very simple and easy to understand, is GJ-bu.

Megumi preparing tea (©Shin Araki/Aruya/Shogakukan)

I came to be aware of this novel after a chance viewing of its animated adaptation on cable TV. What I noticed back then was that the story doesn’t have any plot: it just depicts a guy named Kyouya who spends his daily life with 4 eccentric girls in a club they named ‘GJ-bu’ (Good Job Club). It didn’t make me laugh out loud, nor it is a heart warming story. But it is a simple yet quite funny story.

With its depiction of simple daily life activities without any goals, it’s easy to assume that the anime was adapted from a 4-panel manga. But as I looked into it, it’s surprisingly sourced from a light novel. Thinking how is it possible to write a story like this as a novel drove my curiosity to read the novel myself. Indeed, it is interesting, if you see it from certain point of view.

Another daily activities of GJ-bu: tea time (©Shin Araki/Aruya/Shogakukan)

To put it simply, this novel is ]like a snack: you can read it anytime, anywhere. The novel consisted of 36 short stories that mainly depict how Kyouya deals with the four girls in the club room. From eating, drinking tea, being teased, getting embarrassed, being bitten, and so on, it really focuses on simple events in their daily life.

Further driving its semblance to snacks is its simplicity. Since it’s a slice of life story, understanding it doesn’t take much effort. It’s so simple that it can even read it in a crowd of a festival, while waiting to pick up someone in airport, or during school break. Just like when you eat a snack: you don’t have to think to taste it.

Mao and Shion, after ‘unexpected’ accident (©Shin Aragaki/Aruya/Shogakukan)

It also doesn’t matter where to start reading. The novel doesn’t even detail how these schoolkids get into the club: the first chapter just go straight into Kyouya issue with his necktie. Every chapter stands on its own, so feel free to start reading from any chapter.

The author said in the afterword that this novel could be regarded as a ‘4-panel novel’. It is not only to make it sounds like 4-panel comics, because the fact is that every chapter consists of only 4 pages. Sometimes there are chapters that are marked with numbers 1 and 2, meaning those chapters come as a set, but every chapter really are taking only four pages. It explains why the anime episodes consisted of many short segements.

Skill Chart of Amatsuka Mao (©Shin Araki/Aruya/Shogakukan)

The novel includes many illustrations, because there is one for every chapter. In total, there are 40 illustrations, with the addition of some simple 4-panel comics. There are also charts of some trivial information regarding every club member’s ability, to help to understand what kind of eccentric people are the members of the club. With that many illustrations, the novel is almost like a picture book, although personally I prefer it to be like that.

If you’re looking for a reading material that will help to relieve your stress after facing serious books like Perry’s Chemical Engineering Handbook, GJ-bu might be a right choice.  It’s also  suitable for those who like stories with slice of life genre. To make it simple, as the author said in his own words: “…..something I could read in a more carefree way, something lighter than a light novel, like a soft and fluffy tea time.”

The Indonesian Anime Times | by M Razif Dwi Kurniawan

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