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Slum Online

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  366 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Etsuro Sakagami is a college freshman who feels uncomfortable in reality, but when he logs onto the combat MMO Versus Town, he assumes the personality of "Tetsuo," a karate champ on his way towards becoming the most powerful martial artist around. While his relationship with new classmate Fumiko goes nowhere, he spends his days and nights online in search of the invincible ...more
Paperback, 210 pages
Published April 20th 2010 by Haikasoru (first published January 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  366 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Dec 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese, reviewed, 2000s
There have been plenty of stories about characters inside video games in recent years. Slum Online was rather ahead of its time in that regard, having been published in 2005, and showing intricacies of coping with a person's real life and their MMO one. For the record, World of Warcraft, undoubtably the biggest craze in terms of MMO gaming, came out in 2004, just one year before the publication of this novel. It's rather fascinating for that reason alone. It stands out in other ways of course; t ...more
Jul 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Not as compelling as the author's other book, All You Need Is Kill. Taking place in modern day, the story follows a laconic, stoic young fellow with the compelling personality of a brick as he ploughs through an online game to become the greatest virtual fighter in that game. Somehow along the way, he picks up a girlfriend. I'm a little baffled how, but at the same time, I can sort of fill in the blanks as to how that may ocur in an extremely subtle, understated sort of that's not reall ...more
Colin Barnes
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Brilliant book. A story told in first person narrative of a young student balancing his life between being the best fighter in the MMO game Versus Town and managing his studies and relations with a kind of girlfriend. There's something I love about Japanese fiction and their take on technology. This story acts as an interesting and thought provoking philosophical look on what gaming means, whether it has any meaning, and how that impacts on people's real lives and personalities. It places techno ...more
Feb 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction, 2010
I don't think Etsuro Sakagami ever confuses virtual reality with real life (RL), but he does get a little distracted. Eventually he figures out what's important (hint: a girl is involved). Ultimately he concludes: "You can live your life, fall in love, grow old, and no one will point and laugh at you for never having played an online game."
Dec 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: challenge-16

The blurb for this book gave me the impression I could expect anything, but after finishing it I'm not entirely sure what the point was. I'm feeling strangely lukewarm about this book. I gave it 3 stars as apposed to 4, but I don't know why... I didn't exactly hate this book, it just failed to make me care either about the characters or the plots.

I'm going to try to avoid spoilers in my review, but there might be mild ones...

So when I was going through high school and college most of my fr
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slum Online is an interesting journey into the psyche of a young man who is a dedicated player of an online MMO game that is basically an online martial arts fighting game.

At least one source I read described there being "cyberpunk" in the story. I don't really think it is there. It has some elements similar in the main character Etsuro (Tetsuo is his avatar in Versus Town) being on the fringes of society at first. That said, it is not a dystopian work, and there is no real fantastical element.

May 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: jp-books
So imagine a fanfiction about fighting games. OK.. now open your eyes! Yes this is a book that is basically about a dude that somehow gets a girlfriend and treats her like trash, but she sticks with him anyways. That's after you are left wondering how they even hooked up and when they started dating as she's mentioned so little past a part that you see on the cover where she's squeeing for a stuffed animal and of course dudebro gets it for her. Also she's terrible at fighting games of course.

Ilkka Prusi
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Story follows events online and offline, protagonist who aims to be at the top without knowing exactly why.
It is curious to read for people familiar with games and might be eye-opening for some trying to understand people playing them. Worth reading in both cases.
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Boring. Author spends too much time explaining how video games work to readers who probably already know. Main character's obsession with "sound FX" grated on my nerves after a while, too. Maybe if fighting games were more my thing I would have been more invested in the story but I was bored.
D.M. Dutcher
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
You'll connect with this in proportion to your knowledge of fighting games and MMOs, but it's marred by some impossibilities that bring it down.

Etsuro is on the borderline of being hikkikomori and a normal college student. He spends his nights fighting in a place called Versus Town, an online Tekken style MMO, fighting and scheming to beat the top player in the world, Pak. One day he hears rumors about a fighter even stronger than Pak. Ganker Jack. While he searches to fight the elusive Jack, he
Sep 30, 2016 rated it liked it
A college student has a secret double life, playing in a multiplayer fighting game online. He wants to become the very best, and sometimes that quest means that school, his new girlfriend, and other concerns must fall by the wayside. Also catching his interest is the growing legend of a mysterious character challenging, and winning against, the best players in the game, in the unranked matches outside of the arena.

I'm not sure I'd consider this a science fiction novel. Yes, it deals with techno
Robert Fenner
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: subculture
Etsuro's a college slacker who sleeps through class and stays up all night to play MMO fighting games. Fumiko's a star pupil with a hamburger-shop smile. Will they get along? Between a rock and a hard place, Etsuro's found he's bitten off more than he can chew! Tune in Thursdays, 9.30/8.30 central.

Slum Online is a book that follows a dual narrative, chapters alternating between Etsuro's waking life and his nightly brawls as his alter-ego Tetsuo in the online fighting game Versus Town. The waking
キタ━━━━(゚∀゚)━━━━!!!! ricecrackers
I both hated parts of this book and liked others. For one thing, nothing in it really suprised me. After fifty pages I had my perdiction for the entire plot of the novel and it was almost entirely correct. I have never really played fighter games (maybe thats why I did not enjoyed it all that much?). The fight scenes, while well described, just made me picture a flat match in street fighter that never did all that much for me. This is probably more because of how the narrator insists on creating ...more
Michael Loring
Jun 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Slum Online by Author Hiroshi Sakurazaka is a standalone novel depicting the life of Etsuro Sakagami – a young man obsessed with becoming the best gamer in the MMO Versus Town.

Etsuro is a normal young college student. He spends his days (sometimes) attending his classes, commuting on the train through the bustling streets of Japan, and his nights as Tetsuo – the karate master with the ambition of being the absolute best in Versus Town. When a new, mysterious player named “Ganker Jack” comes to t
Jason Seaver
May 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
An odd thing sometimes happens when you follow a line: You get to the end of a novel like "Slum Online", and only when you hit the "you might also like..." page do you find that the author, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, also wrote something else in the line that you liked; in this case, the first novel Haikasoru published, the time travel/alien invasion action story "All You Need Is Kill". In this case, it's a pretty big surprise, as "Slum Online" is very much set in the present day, and straightforward, ...more
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Perhaps this book is aimed at gamers — it did hold my attention and was reasonably entertaining, but when it came to the real world aspects, it somehow alternated between predictable and confounding. There were hints at philosophy, a sort of examination of what gaming and/or online personalities say about us, but Sakurazaka only touches briefly on the really interesting aspects of that. To top it off, they weren't well integrated into the story, but kind of smashed into it as monologues by chara ...more
Jul 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Unlike to main character in this books, I am not obsessed with video games/computers games. However, ocassionally I do enjoy a fighting game and I was able to like the book because of this. The fault I found with this book is there was always a wall between RL (real life) and VT (Versus Town) where the game is played. This makes sense--reality is reality and a game is a game--but any connections that existed between RL and VT were merely hinted at and were mostly ignored by the main character. E ...more
Geoff Taylor
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is perfect for video game addicts, ex-video game addicts, parents of video game addicts and anyone else trying to understand the modern generation of otaku (video game addicted shut-ins).

Where his previous novel, All You Need Is Kill, is brilliantly structured like a video game, where you repeatedly die and are re-born, improving your skills over time, this novel mixes video game life and real life and seems like really a pretty good depiction of the life of a Japanese semi-otaku, both
Nicole B
I got this on awhile back. The first thing I will say is that the translator did an excellent job on this book. It felt well written and I felt the personality of the characters portrayed.

The story was entertaining and seeing the world through the imagined eyes of a Japanese gamer was interesting. As it was seeing it through the eyes of shut in. How real life relates to people's virtual lives is intertwined no matter how much people try to keep them separate but seeing it throug
Oct 22, 2009 rated it liked it
I wish I could rate this higher, but I just can't.

I love the rhythm that he writes in, I wonder how much of his style is affected just because he writes in Japanese and their language just has different structure and rhythm so that it translates over very cool.

I think the concept of this book, a character that lives one life in his online game and another life in RL (real life.) I just didn't like to read about the different combinations that he was entering into his controller.

I also like how t
Jan 27, 2014 rated it liked it
I had to skip some parts because the fights were a little too detailed.

Also, I had a wrong impression about the book. I thought the main character was going to get absorbed into the game or turn into a game character. That is not the case. He just had a lot of video games on his mind. And that had an affect on how he viewed life.

Even though the main character is 20 years old, it seems like a coming of age story, which I kind of liked.

Kind of Spoiler

I like the ending though. It shows how life ca
Ian Reay
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I liked this story a lot. This is an easy read -- probably aimed at teen boys. The English version even with the bonus story is only about 210 pages long.

With most novels I know what is coming next, but this story takes unexpected turns. This is probably because it's a translation of a Japanese novel. It also has gives some insight into the Japanese Culture I think.

I don't want to say too much more. I'm giving it a 5 because I thoroughly enjoyed the story and was completely engrossed in it.
Hat of Nikitich
Jul 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A thoughtful look at the intersection of the virtual and real world, one that appeals pretty directly to the current generation's fascination with MMOs and the complications they entail. That said, it seemed to ramble and miss its mark a little for me. I definitely felt like the Bonus Round was the more compelling story, rather than the relationship between the main character and his girlfriend that takes up the bulk of the book.
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book would have been everything All You Need Is Kill was if it only would have had the same translator!! I don't understand, why switch translators if the last one was absolutely amazing? This guy failed to capture the hard-hitting suspense that made his last novel mind-blowing. This is still a great read and I hold it dear in my heart, but I can see what it is missing, and personally I would have paid my last translator whatever he wanted...
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

This was recommended to me by a friend who games a lot, and I did enjoy the book. It's got a unique style to the way things are portrayed in the virtual realm, and the main character is likeable. I enjoyed the small mysteries that were happening, but I can't say this book had a deep resonating message that I will think of again and again. Overall an easy and entertaining read.
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
even if you're well versed in fighting game and mmo mechanics the battles and interactions don't feel right. since it's impossible to convey the clutch nature of a dash-cancel-throw-break mix-up slobberknocker, the critical moments end up relying on parkour/terrain shenanigans. the love interest was totally forced/arbitrary, despite being fully aware of the unlikelihood of some normshitter having the best of both worlds. did we really need the after story?
Apr 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: in-translation
I really enjoyed this, a quick and fun read perfect for the train. It does try to be deep about that fine line between online and real world realities and how we perceive both and ourselves in them--and doesn't quite pull that off. I will be using the line "I am ninja" however, whenever anyone asks me what I mean or why I am doing something.
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read this if you want some philosophical thoughts on gaming. While not a perfect book, it touched on a lot of problems and questions anyone who has been involved in gaming culture has asked at one point or another. Be prepared to skim over some excessively detailed (read: boring) simulated fight scenes. Overall a fun and thought-provoking read.
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
If you spend too much time playing computer games, this book is written for you. The plot, in a nutshell: Etsuro Sakagami is a college freshman busy failing at life, until he finds a way to integrate his online fun with an offline life.
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Gets a little navel gazey, but still a generally fun and interesting read. Not that I've read a lot of similar things, but it has to be one of the best written descriptions of the skill involved in fighting games.
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Kanji Name: 桜坂洋

Sakurazaka made his debut in 2002 at the second Super Dash Novel Rookie of the Year Award with the novel Mahō tsukai no netto, which was later published in December 2003 under the name Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahō. This work has subsequently been expanded into a series of light novels and has also been made into an anime. In 2004 he was presented the S-F Magazine Readers Award's best sho

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