The Simulacrum

by Egathentale

Original ONGOING Comedy Fantasy Romance Magic Male Lead Slice of Life Supernatural Urban Fantasy

"Um... Hello, I guess? Is this where I'm supposed to explain what's going on? Well, I would love if someone explained things to me for a change, but whatever, I will give it a try.

So, my name is Leonard Dunning, pleased to make your acquaintance. According to my ID, I'm a fairly average high-schooler, living alone while my parents are somewhere 'overseas', wherever that may be. I'm tall, pretty fit, living in an impeccably clean house, and I attend a scenic high school full of friends, romance and coming-of-age hi-jinks. Sounds neat on paper, right? Too bad I have absolutely no memory of any of this. One day I simply woke up in this weirdly pristine world with a splitting headache and a nasty case of retrograde amnesia that left me a blank slate unable to recognize even my face in the mirror. Worse yet, apparently this whole place is running on fairly clich├ęd writing conventions and stereotypes, complete with obvious background characters and dense harem protagonists!

So, what would your average guy do in this kind of situation? I have no clue, but as for me, I decided to roll up my sleeves, grab a notepad, observe this weird world and work out what makes it tick. If you are curious about how deep this rabbit hole goes (and trust me, we will need spelunking equipment), you are more than welcome to come along for the ride."

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Author
Egathentale

Egathentale

Achievements
2nd Anniversary
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Word Count (16)
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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Volume 1 Prologue ago
Chapter 1 ago
Chapter 2 ago
Chapter 3 ago
Chapter 4 ago
Chapter 5 ago
Chapter 6 ago
Chapter 7 ago
Chapter 8 ago
Chapter 9 ago
Chapter 10 ago
Chapter 11 ago
Chapter 12 ago
Chapter 13 ago
Interlude ago
Chapter 14 ago
Chapter 15 ago
Chapter 16 ago
Chapter 17 ago
Chapter 18 ago
Chapter 19 ago
Chapter 20 ago
Chapter 21 ago
Chapter 22 ago
Chapter 23 ago
Chapter 24 ago
Volume 1 Epilogue ago
Volume 1 Appendix: Research ago
Volume 2 Prologue ago
Chapter 25 ago
Chapter 26 ago
Super Important Announcement! (April Fools' Day chapter) ago
Chapter 27 ago
Chapter 28 ago
Chapter 29 ago
Chapter 30 ago
Chapter 31 ago
Volume 2 Extra: Crowey ago
Chapter 32 ago
Chapter 33 ago
Volume 2 Extra 2: Childhood Friends ago
Chapter 34 ago
Chapter 35 ago
Chapter 36 ago
Chapter 37 ago
Chapter 38 ago
Chapter 39 ago
Chapter 40 ago
Chapter 41 ago
Chapter 42 ago
Chapter 43 ago
Chapter 44 ago
Chapter 45 ago
Chapter 46 ago
Chapter 47 ago
Update ago
Chapter 48 ago
Chapter 49 ago
Announcement ago
Chapter 50 ago
Obvious April Fools Chapter ago
Chapter 51 ago
Chapter 52 ago
Chapter 53 ago
Volume 2 Extra 3: Contingency Plans ago
Chapter 54 ago

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Doctor_C
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Good so far, but with some troubling flaws

As a quick summary: should you read this? Will you feel like it was a good and enjoyable use of your time with no regrets? Yes.

Will there be certain things about the story that bug or frustrate you? Probably.

Overall, this is one of the best stories on the site with great characteristics and tons of potential. The fact that so much of that potential lies untapped is the biggest drawback.

 

Although no specific spoilers exist in the upcoming review, if you want every aspect to remain a complete mystery to you, it may be best to not read the review and just take my word for it when I say: you should go ahead and read the story.

 

Story-

It's an amazing concept. As portrayed in the story summary, a side character in a high school harem comedy story "awakens," as it were, to the possible fictional nature of their universe. He sees things that don't quite add up: automaton-like background characters, things that seem newer and cleaner than they should reasonably be, etc. He sets out to solve the mystery of just what the heck is going on. It's eerie, it's mysterious, is has hints of eldritch weirdness, and it's intriguing to read about.

But have you ever read a story where the author starts off writing one thing, but then seems to just give up on it and go in an entirely different direction? That's what happens here.

The protagonist starts off as an outsider character looking in to someone else's story. He's Leo, the "goofy best friend" character in a harem comedy. But about halfway through the first volume, instead of being an observer to the harem story, secretly investigating while hiding the truth of his nature, he just straight-up takes over. Now he's the new harem protagonist of a magical action story. He has the cool super powers. He steals the girls. He steps in as a Fixer Sue to take care of all the traditional harem story conflicts before they start and basically tells everyone what to do. It's frustrating.

Meanwhile, all I could think about is all of the interesting mystery bits that were never adequately examined, like "Where do the background people go at night?" or "Did those people even exist before they became necessary to the narrative? I bet they didn't," or "What's the deal with those side characters there? What makes them special? Hmmm..." That's what I wanted to read about, not fighting magical monsters and stuff.

It's still a decent story, but it's not the story I was sold.

 

Character-

Some of the story's strongest points, and also the weakest. The focal girls are well-developed and extremely likable. One or more will probably become your favorite character in the story. The less-focal ones are...okay? But considering they get comparatively little attention, they don't make a very strong impression yet. Everyone seems well-written and consistent at any rate.

The big problems come in with the male characters.

The "in-universe" harem protagonist doesn't seem the least bit protagonist-ey. Even considering that harem protagonists usually are boring, milquetoast, unremarkable, average-Joe types with weak personalities, they still usually do protagonist things. They get into crazy shenanigans, or at least minor, every-day shenanigans. Basically, even if they're not particularly interesting, at least interesting stuff happens to them. But here, the interesting stuff is actively prevented as part of the narrative, and as a result he's essentially relegated to a non-character. The contrast between what we're told he is versus how he's portrayed in the actual story creates a definite sense of discord, and not in a good way. This fact becomes especially glaring when you consider the most important part of the whole book:

Leo. He's basically Poochie.

I'm not even exaggerating. At one point, we learn that Harem Protagonist and one of the girls were off on a date-like-excursion, but they just spent the whole time going "Hey, where's Poochie, I mean, Leo?"

In the beginning, he seems like a great character. A fish-out-of-water who's struggling to deal with a very bizarre situation as best he can. His story is fresh and interesting. But as things progress, especially when it kinda switches from an eerie mystery to a magical action tale, Leo becomes the focus of the story, and not just to readers, but in-universe. Leo knows all and sees all. Leo tells everyone what to do and they just cheerfully go along with it. He says he wants to avoid "romance drama" but then becomes a harem protagonist himself. He was portrayed as a character that had escaped the confines of narrative tropes but then actively engages in every single one of them. He seems like a huge hypocrite and a douchebag, basically. Quick tip, if you want everyone to instantly hate a character, just make them give paper thin justifications for why they refuse to adequately return the heartfelt affections of a much more likable character.

Does Leo ruin the story? No, not really. But is he the worst part of it? Absolutely. Can he be fixed? Also absolutely. A fish-out-of-water who's in over his head, trying to solve an eerie mystery is a good character. A smug douchebag who exerts his authority over the rest of the universe to bend the plot to his whims is a bad character. If he were a lot less of the second and a lot more of the first, we'd have a top-5 book here.

 

Style-

It gets the job done. It's descriptive where it needs to be and keeps the pace. It is primarily a first-person story, though. This has the very unfortunate effect of exacerbating the issues with the protagonist. Nothing makes you think "pushy and obnoxious" like listening to someone talk about themselves constantly.

 

Grammar-

It seems well done. No glaring mistakes. But there is one thing here that I noticed and absolutely couldn't ignore.

For some reason, the characters don't seem to use contractions where they should. They'll say "do not" or "cannot" in the middle of a quickly spoken, casual sentence where you'd expect "don't" or "can't." It's small but remarkably jarring.

 

In conclusion-

You should read this story. You'll enjoy it. But I can't rightly give it full marks considering the weaknesses that I just couldn't overlook. This review covers Volume 1. Here's hoping Volume 2 will change things up a bit.

Rokson
  • Overall Score

Great writing! just not my cup of tea

Great story and excellent writing, especially the characters banter towards eachother. But i find the story kinda boring and repetative, altough very unique story and just becuse i dont like it does not mean you wont (it definietly deserves the stars i gave it)

catalinnr
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Best story in a long time

In short? This story is great.

Why? From the start we are introduced of a mystery that is slowly being unraveled by the MC. Where is he? How did he get here? Why is the world so strange? Who is he? 

The start might be slow for some people, but it needs to be like this since we are seeing through the eyes of the MC. He needs to assemble this puzzle all by himself and all we are doing is watching, unable to help.

Style, plot, grammar, characters, it has it all. But let me tell you about the characters. Even if at first they might seem like tropes with generic actions, it doesn't feel even a bit jarring reading about their interactions with the MC. No battles, no bs powers, no antagonist (not in the generic boss sense), only a relatable protagonist that is acting like a real human. 

The story keeps you engaged and waiting for the next piece of the puzzle to be revealed without spoonfeeding you the solution from the start.

Grim_Reaper
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A Very Interesting Story

Reviewed at: Chapter 26

The story is a very comedic story and it surprised me with stuff especially the Magic parts and the story follows the path of what seems to be a NPC gaining intelligence and figuring out that the world is actually...*Btw I'm not saying what the world actually is go read it yourself* this is my warning sign for those who avoid Harems like a plague ... HE  has TWO Girlfriends  and I want to say more but that would be a spoiler for more plots and secrets.

overrclocked
  • Overall Score

Was a great start, then the MC became everything he hated.

Reviewed at: Chapter 20

The story was an interesting sci-fi mystery about a fish out of water MC who was trying to figure out what makes the world he is thrust into tick. Then he becomes a douchbag harem protagonist with a weak personality. Just garbage after that. 

 

Then again, take this with a grain of salt since I stopped reading after chapter 20.

CiaphasAbel
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Better than the sum of its parts

If you only look at the surface tropes and elements, this story should be a mess. The characters are literal clichés and tropes, the world is intentionally bland, the protagonist is yet another amnesiac who adopts way too fast to his circumstances, and as for the actual plot, it is only hinted at through slow slice-of-life scenes for the most part, and then it even does a huge genre-shift in the middle of the first volume that recontextualizes everything we have read so far. 

However, the thing that somehow manages to take all of those elements and blend them together into an immensely entertaining and creative work of fiction, is the actual writing. More accurately, it is the character writing, which makes every chapter so much fun to read. The author somehow manages to take character archetypes, and make them feel like actual, three dimensional people through their interactions and banter. Most of the time I didn't even mind the slow pace, as I simply enjoyed the various characters bounce off the protagonist, each other, and even change in the process. 

I had fairly low expectations at first, but I was hooked very early, and now the author even has his hook in my wallet. I really hope he will reach his next Patreon goal and we could have weekly updates soon. 

CatchTheStars
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I'm actually surprised to find something as well written as Andur's work in this website, I recommend it!

Pro
- MC isn't dumb, he knows how to use his head and feels actually mature and calm, not like some hot blooded caricature, or even worse, some kind of pervert/evil dude.

- Characters are all interesting and cute, even past their supposed archetype, and I really appreciate how mc "tames" them, actually making them change for the better from what was a simple "tsundere", "childhood friend", etc, to something more complex, while still being very much endearing. I like when there is an actual character development and this is on point on that!

Also, kudos for not making useless forced drama around harem, making it quite natural overall, more realistic than many harems I've seen around.

Another good thing is that the mc seems like a secondary character, perfect for manipulating around and being some kind of third party for what's going on.

- The world is really mysterious, you want to know more about what's going on.

Con
- MC reaction in the beginning, not trying to understand the world by reading a wiki about where he is, the story of the world, etc, is weird.

- A tad too much humorous remarks in the internal mc dialogues in the first chapters... fortunately it got better later.

- It lacks characters outside of the main ones, mainly due to the setting. Still, it feels dry to not have more "tertiary" active characters around.

Spoiler: Spoiler

 

Aretae
  • Overall Score

Three things:

1. The story is very well written.  The language is complex and intelligent.

2. The story is meta-.  It's more meta than most of us readers are.  taking a minute to stretch the brain is good.

3. It's not action-centric.  Indeed, almost none of the book is action-y.  Rather, it's a high school anime, where 97% of the story is high school hijinx, and meta- plot devices.  

4. The chapters are longer than most of what I read here.

Overall, its a very different story than what I've found elsewhere on the site, and it's worth reading.   It probably takes a couple chapters to get a feel for whether you like it. 

Very well crafted, but targetted at a specific type of audience.

Nomikos
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Do not understimate!

Reviewed at: Chapter 44

I stumbled upon this story almlst by chance and to tell the truth the summary didn't intrigue me too much (It made me think of the Truman Show movie) but after a whioe I was hooked... My score review is how I feel about this novel. Strongly recommended!

Ians Not My Name
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One of my favorite fictions on this site that I've been reading for the past year. Just made an account so I might as well review it.

Style :
The story is engaging in its writing, but there is a lot of references, tropes and what-have-you from anime. I can see this being off putting to some. Many of the jokes grounded on reference humour didn't land with me, but to each their own.

Grammar :
Honestly. This one is the easiest to do right. That shouldn't take away from the fact that this author does do it right. Just a mini-rant on how many people on this site don't even bother. Unless english isn't their native language, which makes it perfectly understandable and I feel their pain. Grammatical errors are very rare.

Story :
Light-hearted slice-of-life for the first two dozen-ish chapters, shifts into a supernatural action type after. I think that both genres are done well and this type of plot progression makes perfect sense since it's a trope that anime does quite a bit (though I guess supernatural elements are usually established at the beginning too).

Characters :
Each of the characters fall under one to three typical anime archetypes. This is sort of the point however, since

Spoiler: Spoiler

Even though they are designed to be cookiecutter archetypes, the characters feel real, with understandable motivations. The author doesn't even do much of anything to deviate from the archetypes. He just writes them well, I guess.

Overall, a good read and I would recommend.