The Sidekick Never Gets the Girl, Let Alone the Protag’s Sister!, Vol. 2

By Toshizo and U35. Released in Japan as “Shinyuu Mob no Ore ni Shujinkou no Imouto ga Horeru Wake ga Nai” by PASH! Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Tristan K. Hill.

This book continues to be very good at not really doing what I would like it to do. I had expected, after the climax of the first book, that we’d be seeing a lot of fallout, or at least evidence that memory-erasing magic does not really work all that well in modern-day Japan. But no, we don’t even SEE the little sister again till the second half of the book, and while her fate is a big part of the plot, it’s somewhat secondary to the romcom antics. This is especially annoying as we get an excellent start to the book where we see, in the fantasy world Kou was sent to, exactly how he managed to get traumatized and have complete disaster befall him. It’s a bit rushed, but heartbreaking. Unfortunately, the author likes using it as flavor text for their real ambition: a standard high school harem comedy. And I have bad news for them, other authors are better at that.

After using magic that really should not be used in this world to wipe Hikari’s memories of him, Kou ends up sick as a dog, and also flashing back to the girl he fell in love with in the fantasy world, Rei… as well as her brutal murder, complete with dying in his arms. That said, he really can’t reflect too hard on that when both Kiryu AND Renge show up to care for him. This is especially bad in Renge’s case, as she’s a terrible cook! Oh no! This amazingly cliched scene is broken up by, of all things, the naked sexual assault guy from the start of Book 1, who shows up (clothed) and smashes a durian all over Kou and Kou’s room, I know, stay with me. After a chase, which ends up roping in Kazuki, his athletic kohai, he finds that this world and the fantasy world are more connected than he thought. But there’s no time to dwell on THAT – finals are coming up! Study group!

As you can see, the book is trying to hit every single groan-worthy high school romantic comedy cliche there is. They don’t do a bad job of having the characters go through the motions, but they don’t add anything interesting to the genre either. Kazuki has a mom. She’s hot, and teasing. Kou is bad at studying and on the verge of failure. Et cetera. I wouldn’t be complaining nearly as much if it weren’t taking away from the actual interesting parts of the book. Kou’s avoidance tactics and trauma are fascinating! The way that the weird pervert from the start of Book 1 ties into the fantasy world is something I really want to hear about… till it is thrown away because they can’t discuss it in front of “civilians”. It *is* made clear that Hikari is (no big spoiler here, it’s obvious) the reincarnation of his fantasy love… but then the book ends. Sigh.

I’m sure you’re reading this and wondering why I’m so annoyed, rather than just mildly disappointed. m Well, it’s mostly because the novel series ends here. The webnovel apparently went to a decent conclusion, but PASH! Books has shown no signs of publishing any more in print form, which probably means Japanese readers were as frustrated as I was. There’s an interesting story here that’s struggling to get past the author shoehorning in their favorite scenes from 2006 comedy anime. But… grr.

Dragon Daddy Diaries: A Girl Grows to Greatness, Vol. 1

By Ameko Kaeruda and Sencha. Released in Japan as “Totsuzen Papa ni Natta Saikyou Dragon no Kosodate Nikki: Kawaii Musume, Honobono to Ningenkai Saikyou ni Sodatsu ” by GC Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Giuseppe di Martino.

While reading this book, I was asked about it on Twitter, and I made the observation that it was like reading a parfait. Having now finished the book, I stand by this 100%. Everything about this is adorable and sweet, and you get the added bonus of a good example of how found families can end up being much better for someone than a birth family that resents and disparages them is. All that said, please be aware, this book is not here to be serious or to raise questions that require deep analysis. It cares not about power levels – all four leads are ludicrously more powerful than anyone else in the book. There is a bit of worldbuilding, but it’s about as important as any other ingredient you’d have in a parfait. This book is here for a dragon dad, usually in the form of a hot guy, and his adorable daughter, who he dotes on.

Our narrator is an elder dragon who has spent the last few hundred years high up a mountain. One day, a four-year-old girl shows up, calling him “Daddy”. He tries to dissuade her, but after discovering what her birth father is like, he makes the decision to raise her as a doting parent. He makes her delicious milk soup. He moves them to a large castle, perfect for a growing girl… though the Demon Lord and her partner who already live there might think differently. And he teaches her how to read, and the Demon Lord teaches her magic. By the time she’s old enough to go to school, she’s possibly the most powerful human being alive. But, I mean, that’s fine, really? As long as she can make friends, and hang out with her dragon daddy and her two lesbian aunts.

It’s a sign of Bunny Drop’s fandom presence that I feel the need to say this once more: this is not going there. Even if the daddy weren’t really a huge dragon, this is by the author of Sexiled, and we can be pretty sure that they’re not going to have this end with the girl marrying her dad. Speaking of Sexiled, in the afterword the author admits they wrote this to have fun with tropes: adorable girl who dotes on her dad, hunky dad who’s really a powerful dragon… and the Demon Lord and her partner, who (because this is entirely narrated from the POV of the dragon, who doesn’t get relationships) are clearly a couple but never explicitly called such. The Demon Lord is amusing in her own right, essentially being a shut-in with a tendency to talk big but fold like a card table, having to be bailed out by her knight/partner. The four of them end up being a wonderful and amusing family unit.

By the end of this first book Olivia (the daughter, sorry, names are hard) has already pretty much blown school out of the water… though she and her father elect to have her stay in her proper grade anyway, so she can better make friends. I expect even more ridiculous and sweet things will happen in the next book. If you love the author, or love found family, or just love sugary books, this is a winner.

Der Werwolf: The Annals of Veight, Vol. 12

By Hyougetsu and Nari Teshima. Released in Japan by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Ningen.

It is a question often asked by authors, and even more often by publishers: when it the right time to end a series? It can depend very much on what kind of series it is, but for a series like Der Werwolf, the last volume certainly felt like an ending. Veight and Airia were together, she’d had their child, and he was busily uniting the entire kingdom and bringing a new era of peace to all. Medetashi, medetashi. Except frequently if you try to keep doing stories after “and everyone lived happily ever after”, it tends towards “until they died and here’s how”. Fortunately, Der Werwolf may be moving on to the Next generation, but it’s not quite ready to give up on Veight, or more accurately to give up on Veight being a living legend whose only fault is his absolutely crippling humility. Something that, fortunately, does not seem to have transferred over to his daughter, though she certainly seems to have inherited his ability to find trouble.

The book takes place, with many timeskips, around the first ten years of the life of Friede, Veight and Airia’s daughter. That said, most of it is still the usual setup for this series: Veight’s POV, and then an alternate POV from another character that expounds on Veight’s greatness. (I will assume that if this sort of thing bothers you,. you dropped the series ages ago.) Veight is filled with parental love and also Japanese ideas on how to raise children, which differ a bit from “give them to childcare people and see them once a year” that this world’s nobles tend to do. Friede is also not your typical child – while she can’t transform into a werewolf, she has all of Veight’s other abilities, enough mana to level a warship, and by the end of the book is learning swordfighting, martial arts, and diplomacy. Which may be needed, as she’s packed off to the Rolmund Empire at the end of the book, as Eleora wants to meet her.

Again, the biggest flaw in this book is is irrelevance: it’s After Stories, so if you wanted to drop the series neatly, doing so just before this book starts is a perfectly good response. That said, it doesn’t really do anything wrong, and gives us more of Veight being Alexander the Great as a wolf, only with more sense. He’s still resolving disputes, still occasionally being forced to fight 20-against-1 battles, and still insisting that he’s just a humble vice-commander. In addition, as much as Veight is hoping to usher in a time of peace, there are always going to be bad guys – someone in this book is kidnapping girls from other kingdoms and has them all holed up in a house in Meraldia… which Freide promptly finds in about two seconds, which bodes well for her. She’s a fun kid, who was raised thinking her dad was a normal goofy dad, and only now finding out that everyone reveres him. Which means she’s now in the “dad is so cool!” phase of her life.

So yes, if you really do like Der Werwolf, this is a fun read, and has a nice side story about Woroy trying to start his own city and realizing that the best way to do it is by inventing rollerball. Certainly the series was popular enough to be grabbed by a larger publisher… but we don’t have to worry about that till after Vol. 13.