The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent, Vol. 5

By Yuka Tachibana and Yasuyuki Syuri. Released in Japan as “Seijo no Maryoku wa Bannou desu” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Julie Goniwich.

The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent may be an atypical light novel in some ways, but it is still an isekai when you get right down to it, and that means that the isekai cliches are still there to be walked into. Our heroine has ended up in the fantasy equivalent of medieval Europe, as is typical for these sorts of books. She really misses the taste of home, with good old fashioned rice and miso, as is also typical. Generally these sorts of books fall into two types: either our isekai’d Japanese person tries to make rice and miso and the like themselves in the kingdom or they hear about a country far across the ocean that just happens to have the exact foods they’ve been looking for (and sometimes samurai, but hopefully the Saint series isn’t going there). We get the latter here, as Sei happens upon a slow boat from China – or its fantasy version – that gives her the meals she’s been craving for so long.

After discovering not only that her cooking can deliver magical power ups to those who consume it, but also that Turkish Coffee is being imported nearby, Sei is on a cooking tip. She also has to do something about her cosmetics company, which has become so popular that the nobles are taking *too* much interest in it. As a result, she has a new umbrella company founded for future Saint developments. Disguising herself as the daughter of said company’s head (which is, in reality, her) she travels with Johan to a nearby port town to track down the rice she’s wanted to find for so long. Getting a hold of this proves to be an adventure in itself, and features Sei almost giving away who she really is multiple times. Then, back at the capital, she has an even more dangerous event lying in wait… her debutante ball.

After waiting nine months between books 3 and 4, the wait between books 4 and 5 hasn’t even been one month. Which means I have a bit less to say than I normally do, as I just talked about all this. I will note that Sei’s aversion to romance is starting to not only get on people’s nerves, but to be a genuine problem. Albert is trying to be aware of her feelings and courting her at the speed of a glacier, but she’s the Saint, and is also very much of marriageable age. She can’t simply stay in the back of the research lab and make potions for the next ten years. She manages to get through the ball designed to introduce her to society, but is terrified of dancing with any men she doesn’t know. Fortunately, the palace agrees with her – they certainly don’t want other nobles getting a chance to woo her. Given the author does not really seem to care much about the romance in this series, I’m not sure where this plot will go, but it’s what is interesting me most at the moment.

All this plus Sei teaches Aira how to make a magical Coleman Stove. Thankfully, Vol. 6 of The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent is not coming out in December. That said, I’m still interested.

My Daughter Left the Nest and Returned an S-Rank Adventurer, Vol. 2

By MOJIKAKIYA and toi8. Released in Japan as “Boukensha ni Naritai to Miyako ni Deteitta Musume ga S-Rank ni Natteta” by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Roy Nukia.

After a first volume that seemed to take 200 pages to finally get to its point, we finally have a bit of meat to its sequel. There’s a lot going on here, both in terms of more action, more ongoing backstory and plot development, and more of a daughter who loves her father perhaps a bit too much. Note, as I said last volume, that isn’t the way you think it is. Unlike seemingly every other daddy-adopted daughter series out there the past few years, there are no romantic or sexual feelings here at all. But it is true that when Angeline is around her father, she tends to regress several years and act like a spoiled kid. Not to mention that she puts her dad on a massive pedestal. Of course, he does actually seem to deserve some of that. By now the reader realizes that his description of himself as just some guy with a sword is absolute crap. But then, he is living in Backwater Town, USA.

The start of this book is indeed the promised vacation, with Angeline and her two companions staying for a while and enjoying Belgrieve’s hospitality. That said, things can’t stay slow life forever. There’s a young albino girl and her stoic companion who are proselytizing in the big city, and seem to be secretly evil. And when Belgrieve and his daughter’s party arrive in the Bordeaux capital, they find that roads to their remote town are not as easy as they’d like as the local lord is kicking up a fuss. Indeed, the local noble, Count Malta, is actually allying himself with the religious duo, and his goal is simple: kill Helvetica off so that things can go back to how they should be, with nobles having all the power and abusing the common people. Can Angeline and the others save the royals?

Two points to make. First of all, we are getting a harem here, it’s just not the usual one we see in fantasy light novels. Belgrieve isn’t attracting lovers, he’s attracting girls who want a father figure. With the exception of Helvetica (who still really wants to marry him, and has annoyed Angeline by being obvious about it), the girls in this series are the kind who want a pat on the head or a shoulder carry. Even Charlotte, the Ilyasviel von Einzbern clone we meet in this new volume, seems to suddenly realize revenge is wrong after just a brief moment of being treated like a daughter would. Secondly, this book gets quite dark in places, and it works very well. The evil noble is exactly the stereotype you’d expect, but it’s Helvetica’s character who does the heavy lifting here, as she realizes what it truly means to lead for the good of the people and makes some hard, bloody choices. Hope to see more of her.

Angeline returns to the capital at the end of the book, so I assume the third one will be in two different places. Till then, though, this volume improves on the first, and is a great one if you love dads being great dads – to everyone.

Slayers: Delusion in Crimson

By Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi. Released in Japan by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Elizabeth Ellis.

It can be somewhat annoying to come at the Slayers novels from someone who grew up with the anime and realize how a huge chunk of them are Lina, Gourry, and one-off characters. Zelgadis and Amelia stuck around for a bit, as did Xellos, but they’re gone now. We’ve had Luke and Mileena come in with an attempt to add a new supporting duo to the cast, but they’re more of the ‘we keep running into each other’ sort than actual party members. They’re also not in this particular book either. We do get a villain from two books ago… but she doesn’t appear, she’s just an offscreen catalyst. It can be rather disheartening. Where’s the wacky fun times? Where’s Lina accidentally destroying things? Where’s Gourry being rock stupid? But this isn’t the anime, these are the light novels. And because of that we get something here which the anime almost never tried to do unless it was a huge world-shattering crisis: we get a straight up tragedy.

Lina and Gourry arrive at a city that is telling any and all sorcerers to report to the local sorcerer’s council at once. Doesn’t say why, and does not appear to be from the government. Lina, who has just been through sorcerers trying to take over a city a book or so ago, thinks we’re seeing much the same thing here, and she’s mostly correct. She teams up with Aria, a young woman who is trying to rescue her sister from the lord who killed her fiancee and forcibly married her, and Dilarr, a passing adventurer who just seems to like Aria, though he does find Lina somewhat terrifying, to her displeasure – her reputation is now that death and disaster show up whenever she arrives. Sadly, this book does not really change that reputation. Once they arrive at the city where Aria and her sister Bell live, we get a Chthulhian nightmare featuring lots of monstrosities and lots of death.

Despite the fact that these books frequently seem as if they’re written without an outline by the author simply going to the typewriter and typing till he stops, there is some decent character work here, particularly in regards to Aria’s sister Bell. Set up as the unwilling victim through most of the book, the reality is far darker than we’d expect. The second ‘series’ of light novels were never adapted to the anime, and this one shows why – the sister who is forcibly married after her fiancee is killed sends her little sister off to safety because she loves her, but also has hatred in her heart, as her sister is safe and can be happy while Bell is trapped. It’s a very real look at family dynamics that can stem from a family member being abused. Unfortunately, Slayers is still a fantasy, not a realistic look at power dynamics and coping mechanisms, so we get a massive bloodbath.

As Lina and Gourry walk away at the end, both are subdued and disturbed, and the reader has to agree. This is on the darker side of the Slayers novels, a series which is already much darker than its anime equivalent. I hope the next book has a bit more jollity.