I'm just some guy who read a decent amount of Light Novels. I had fun with most, found some to be dumb or uninspired or just simply bad.
This is the first one to make me feel uncomfortable, frustrated and sometimes even appalled.
I already felt this way while reading Vol 1 but couldn't quite put my finger on what it was. So I even bought Vol 2 to see if the story changes somehow or at least to figure out what the problem was. I stopped reading Vol 2 at around 50% because I found myself unwilling to read more of it.
To give a short summary
of the plot:
Tomozaki, a supergood (and very competetive minded) gamer has given up on life because he's of the opinion that there are no clear rules to life and it therefore does not qualify as competition.
Hinami, the (female) idol of his school, is secretively also a gamer and very competitive, but loses to him in an online match.
She wants to meet with him in an offline meeting, but is quickly disappointed in how he has given up on life, claiming that "life is the best game there is" and that there are indeed very clear rules to it. Our protagonist is convinced to let her teach her about "winning" at life, since she is undoubtedly successful.
So far the story sounds like a classic story of life improvement and slice-of-life, with a little pontential for romance on top. Maybe simplified and naive, but also life-affirming and with a fundamentally positive attitude.
And then the teaching process starts.
Some things that are pointed out during that, are true without a doubt.
"Don't slouch", says the conceited girl while readily assuming her teaching position, "Posture is important to how people perceive you".
At another point she tells him that intonation is an essential point in order to have an appealing conversation with someone else. I think those tips can be considered to be objectively true and valuable.
"Now, wear this face mask", she continues her lesson at another day. "I want you to smile for 2 days straight beneath that! It will train your facial muscles and make you more attractive!" Yeah. And our protagonist follows that order to the point.
Some time later, she gives him the goal of getting a girlfriend. Is that a bad goal for someone going through a social learning process? Debatable, you might think. But it's a lot less debatable if the one setting the goal gives her "student" a time limit for that, specifies the exact girl to be convinced into starting a relationship and hushes him when he answers "But I don't even like her!" because he can break up with her right afterwards. Also, lying's super okay. Don't mind that.
From very early on it is absoluetly clear that Hinami thinks of herself as superior to anybody else and is letting Tomozaki have it. Her holier-than-thou attitude is unnerving but since the story pictures her as very successful in what she does and our protagonist is unwilling to stand up to that, she's allowed to be as conceited as she likes. While her behaviour is certainly frustrating, I think she can get a pass for that. What is really unsettling is her world view. The center point of all her thinking, what drives her forward and what she believes in AND what is, in my opinion, very wrong with this story is:
What she is actually trying to teach our protagonist isn't how to improve himself to become a better person, isn't how to live a better life. Our protagonist doesn't set out to willingly change from an introvert to an extravert to find friends or even just to try something new. It's a quest to be able to manipulate others effectively. To become better at making them think what you want them to think and do what you want them to do. Sometimes just as a game to kill time to see who can do it better, not even because the result is desirable.
Later on Hinami compares her teachings to control the thoughts of others to how to control a nation with sparkling eyes. Such a cute girl, isn't she!? Also, there is an event in Volume 2 where Hinami and Tomozaki turn a school election into a game for themselves to compete in actively manipulating masses to favour one over the other. Not to spoil too much, but it involves lying, bribing and deceiving. And of course it doesn't matter at any point who would be more suitable for the work involved with the position.
If you can have fun with this story regardless, don't let me stop you. I have no intention of ruining your fun, but I would like to you to think about what is being said and done in this Novel as to not be manipulated by it.
Manipulated into thinking that this is an innocent story about life improvement.