This review was written for a review swap, so if that's a factor to the reader, please consider it.
If we remove nature from nurture, are the memories that are left still capable of influencing us? That's what I'm left wondering after reading Hero Scout. It's a commendable effort, at times confusing, but that doesn't necessarily detract from the earnest charm of its main character. I found it readable, functionally similar to Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken (I'd be surprised if it wasn't inspired by it), and actually a thousand times more legible than that light novel, but I digress.
Can we accept the memories of others and, if that doesn't debilitate us, can we even decode them? Are they like dreams, or visions, or just raw feelings? I'll come back to this in a moment.
Hero Scout, apart from its rather original scheme, is very par for the course in specific plot points. There's a goddess who's snarky! A hero/antihero who's... also snarky! He both doesn't and does have a spine, which sort of fits with his being an amorphous slime, I suppose. There are villains who crumble from a single face slap, overpowered abilities passed off as weaknesses, and classic isekai hijinks, which I will say I enjoy. I like those things.
But among all of the chaff, all of the distractions, is singular--almost throwaway--minutiae to the hero's slime-like powers. Not merely the ability to take something's form, but to apparently take all their memories in the bargain! It catches me, not because I worry about plot holes and contrivances, but because the hero doesn't seem bothered by this at all.
So, who are we? As people, I mean. There's a great debate between nature vs nurture, how much of our character is endowed in us by our parents, and how much of it we learn from our experiences. Even if you separate the nature, the nurture can be extraordinarily powerful. Personally, I can speak to instances of nurture, like reading a very compelling story, having shattered me emotionally. What we experience, and how it touches us, can have profound effects on who we are.
And Kenji is able to, suddenly, consume that in a very direct way. I imagine it's not quite like watching a movie, it must be much more instantaneous--confusing--and strange. Would any of us really be able to process memories in the way their original bearer held them? And if we couldn't, what would they look like? An abstract painting? An emotionless dance?
If we could, understand those memories, I find it highly unlikely that Kenji wouldn't feel a terrible impact. That nurture colliding with his own weasely nature. For example, the experiences that made a knight into a hero? He doesn't seem to really reflect on them as he uses the knight's skills for tricks. Part of that might be his character, part of that might be the slapstick comedy, but I feel like it taps a serious--very interesting--complication without due pause.
I think Hero Scout is very interesting, derivative in some respects, but original where it counts. It has good ideas at its core, though a little flippant with the real philosophy. I enjoyed it despite the miss steps and came out of it wondering where the author will take it. Is this a 'kenji sucks up all the hero candidates memories and becomes a super hero' story? I don't know, too early to say. I do think the author has interesting choices and a fairly open-ended plot. If those kernels of good ideas could be elevated, then this could really be something great.