Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 11

By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.

Sanae has always had the most difficulty as part of the Koutarou harem. First of all, as the author notes, it’s been about 10 books since she last got any real plot focus. More importantly, she’s a ghost, which is a heck of a larger bar to clear than “alien”, “magical girl”, or “underground dweller”. And so a plot like this one, in which we find that Sanae is both dead and not dead, a ghost and not a ghost, was somewhat inevitable. Its resolution is handled pretty well. It’s not surprising in the least (Rokujouma is frequently anti-surprising, but that’s because it’s trying for Warm and Fuzzy Feelings, which of necessity involves the comfortable and familiar plot twist), but it fits well with what has gone before, only uses Deus ex Machine once or twice, and ties in neatly to the previous book right at the end. Also wow, Sanae’s rich.

Sanae’s plot is not the highlight of this book, though, which excels at the girls analyzing Koutarou and why he keeps a wall up in front of most everyone he knows. This comes up because Yurika is an exception, and they reason out what’s so different about her compared to the others. The difference is, of course, Koutarou thinks of her as a “normal girl” – indeed, that may be a big reason he’s in denial about the magical girl thing – and thus their life together is unlikely to change. The others, though, he’s put in a “eventually they will leave me so I’d better not get too close” bucket, which as Kiriha says may be related to his mother’s death as a child. It feels a bit awkward to have all this character analysis dumped onto the page like this, but it does make for fascinating reading, especially when we see him treating the now-alive Sanae (who has temporarily lost her memories) as a past chapter of his life.

The book is not without its issues. Much as I’m fond of talking about how much the characters have grown since the start of the series, I don’t want the author to talk about it in the actual text – it feels a bit too much like patting oneself on the back. Likewise, The Sanae plot steams over any subplots that might have been happening, including Harumi, who gets a scene at the start implying that something is going to happen when they do club recruiting but then vanishes from the rest of the book. And, in terms of problems actually lampshaded by the character in question, why is Shizuka such a part of the harem group now? I like Shizuka, don’t get me wrong, but she doesn’t seem to be in love with Koutarou (Yurika hasn’t admitted this either, but at least she’s in denial about it). I get the feeling the narrative is edging towards that, but until it gets there, Shizuka feels a bit like an optional extra. So does Harumi, come to that.

In any case, this is another solid volume of the series, which I still enjoy a great deal. Next time looks to be heavy on the magical girl side, so let’s look forward to that.

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