Sexiled: My Sexist Party Leader Kicked Me Out, So I Teamed Up With a Mythical Sorceress!, Vol. 2

By Ameko Kaeruda and Kazutomo Miya. Released in Japan as “Onna dakara, to Party wo Tsuihou Sareta no de Densetsu no Majo to Saikyou Tag wo Kumimashita” by Overlap Novels. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Molly Lee.

As we start the second volume of Sexiled, things are looking good for Tanya and company. They’re celebrities now, heralded by the women in the city for what they did. They’re now guiding other parties to grow and learn. But, of course, there’s still the inherent sexism of everyday life. Some of the parties they’re guiding just want to show off in front of them. Sexual assault is framed as “she was asking for it by wearing that outfit.” Promises of marriage are extorted by drugging a girl. Even fashion is against them, as Tanya is told that only men can wear swords at the palace ball… even though Tanya is there as a bodyguard. And then of course there is Laplace’s behavior, as lately she’s seem distracted or even depressed at times. Why was she sealed up in the first place? And is is possible for her to also get revenge?

As with the first book, the writing here reminds you of the sort of thing that women deal with every day. The first half is filled with frustrating assumptions and casual misogyny that makes our heroine’s brains burn. Katherine, the fox-sorceress who was a minor antagonist in the first book, has joined Lilium, and she proves to be an excellent addition to the party, gaining confidence, inventing popcorn chicken, and also helping save the day so that things don’t have to end with a lot more deaths. Because the back half of this book is a lot more serious than the first one. Many of the relationships in this book are abusive, including the princess of the realm, as well as Laplace, whose determination to stand up against her abuser is very well done. I also liked how the kissing was reframed as plot-relevant (and Tanya noting that it was non-consensual at first, even if she ended up not minding it), and this leads to an excellent callback at the climax of the book.

The book is still a light novel fantasy, of course. We briefly see Tanya and Laplace fighting goblins, and there is much discussion of mana and its ability in helping to attain immortality. The fight scenes are relatively simply but breezy, never getting too bogged down in spell creation or other pitfalls. There’s also a healthy dose of humor – I quite liked Nadine yelling “POW POW” in Tanya’s ear, and the smarmy tone of one of the jerks dealt with in the book is mocked by criticizing the very typography of his lines. There’s also a nice scene at the very end of the book which shows a young palace guard who was also inspired by Tanya’s party to chase after his own dreams, and his genuine gratitude and admiration of her feels like a “not all men” that’s actually earned for once. I will admit I think the art that comes with the book is merely adequate – there are some nice scenes of Tanya and Laplace in the middle of the book where the illustrations feel very flat. I wonder if we’ll get some fanart from others.

I’m not sure where the series goes from here – we’re caught up with the Japanese release – but I will definitely be devouring the next book in the series. Still an excellent takedown of misogyny as well as a good light novel fantasy.

So I’m a Spider, So What?, Vol. 7

By Okina Baba and Tsukasa Kiryu. Released in Japan as “Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka?” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jenny McKeon.

(Note: This review, especially towards the end, gets more spoilery than usual as you can’t not talk about the end.)

I have to admit that “they battle a bunch of fighter jets in order to infiltrate a UFO with tanks and robots” was not really the plot I was expecting when I picked up the seventh volume of Spider So What. But, having finished the volume, I can’t say I’m too disappointed in it. We’ve seen robots and cyborgs in this series before, of course. It also helps to show off the true arrogant brokenness of Potimas, who manages to be an evil elf while at the same time being an embarrassed chuuni who can’t bear to see people using his old design specs that he made back in the day. There is not one moment in this book where you like him, and the relationship between him, White, and the Demon Lord helps to remind us that the “truce” between the later two is miles and miles ahead of the loathing and antipathy they feel for Potimas. They might even be… friends?

After accidentally freeing two world-killing pieces of tech from an underground bunker simply because of her insatiable curiosity, White and the rest of her merry band have to join forces to destroy it. Unfortunately, this means joining forces with Potimas, whose designs they’re based on, as well as the Pontiff and a group of local dragons. Most of the book is spent on the battle, with White’s chatterbox narrative voice, constantly belittling and mocking herself and showing self-doubt at every confrontation contrasting with how everyone ELSE sees her, which is to say an emotionless, morally ambiguous nightmare who is STILL GETTING STRONGER. There’s a lovely moment where White is in a fury and the Demon Lord wraps her in thread to stop her. White immediately teleports out of it, and while she’s calm again, she notes offhandedly the Demon Lord looks super surprised but doesn’t get why. This push and pull on her character is one reason this series works.

Then we get to the climax of the book, where the Demon Lord, Potimas, and White are faced with a bomb that is about to explode. There are really very few options that are available. Still, I suspect only White could come up with “swallow the bomb”, which causes a Daffy Duck-esque explosion but does not, remarkably, kill her off. Good thing too, as Vol. 8 is due in the spring. What’s more, she has now leveled up to the point where the “game system” part cannot help her anymore… she’s a god. “D” helpfully explains this, and decides to give her another name: Shiraori, which I will start using in future. (Notably, “D” does not suggest calling her “Wakaba”, supposedly her old name from Earth, and refers to her as “nameless spider”. This feels very much like ominous foreshadowing.) As a God, Shiraori as all the power she used to and more… but has to learn how to do everything without the “game world” help. Including walking on her new human legs. To her, this is very much “restarting from zero”.

So overall, a solid book of fighting, but the last fifth or so is dynamite (literally), with one revelation after the other. I can’t wait to see where things go next. (Also, when will we catch up to the other kids?)

An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride, Vol. 8

By Fuminori Teshima and COMTA. Released in Japan by HJ Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

This series started out starring two people, but the cast has grown exponentially sine then. As such, it seems appropriate that this volume is fairly light on both Zagan and Nephy – in fact, it actually manages to work that into the plot, as Foll is planning a massive party for the not-Christmas holiday that is upon us and wants to surprise both of them. Zagan is completely in the dark about the holiday, but Nephy isn’t – in fact, she’s working part-time at a pub to get money for a present. As such, both are absent from the main plot itself till the end, though there’s many scenes with both of them, of course. The main plot focuses again on Kuroko, who is literally confronting her past – unfortunately, she has to confront it as a small kitten. She (accidentally) joins forces with another sorcerer, one who has a troubled past that is a lot closer to hers than she’s aware. And worst of all, due to a villain and also the nature of the holiday, the dead are riding up.

Also on the cover is Alshiera, the vampire who’s trying her best to get everyone to see her as someone not worth saving but doing a fairly terrible job of it – indeed, by the end Zagan has figured out the way to handle her best – it’s how to handle Nephy, and Chastille, and indeed literally everyone in the cast. Yes, be really nice to her until she cowers in embarrassment. She and Shax, the sorcerer that Kuroko befriends here, are both examples of the classic “can a former villain be redeemed” school of writing, and the answer is fairly firmly “yes” in both cases. Indeed, Shax is pretty much set up here as a love interest for Kuroko, complete with a father who now wants to kill him for daring to have his daughter take interest in him. Combining this with the somewhat sad and pathetic pairing of Chastille and Barbatos (who both have a long way to go), and you can see the author is definitely “pairing the spares” here.

The holiday during this book is Alshiere Imera, which (it’s hinted) is named after Alshiera, the vampire whose birthday it is. It’s an odd fusion of Christmas, Halloween and the Day of the Dead, which allows for the plot to happen (the zombies are created easily as it’s the one day per year when the line between here and the afterlife is so thin) but, let’s face it, is also an excuse to put Nephy and her friends in Santa outfits, even though Santa is never quite mentioned. Much as I mocked Chastille and Barbatos earlier, she and Zagan are not all that further along, though at least they have confessed. The present-giving scene is the sort of “so sweet it makes you sick” scene that people read this series for.

We are almost caught up with Japan on this series, as the next volume is the latest. Will it move the plot along/ Depends on what you’re calling the plot. In any case, this is a nice, solid volume of this sweet series.