The Magic in This Other World Is Too Far Behind!, Vol. 4

By Gamei Hitsuji and himesuz. Released in Japan by Overlap. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

You get the sense that this is the book where the author and publisher realized that it was enough of a success to start planning larger plots in the future. This isn’t as easy to assume these days since most of the light novels put out lately tend to be based on webnovels that are already 7-8 volumes ahead of publication, but it does have that feel. Suimei finally reunites with Reiji and Mizuki here, if only temporarily. We resolve the plots from the previous book, and gain a new “harem” member. And we get introduced to a whole buttload of villains at the end of the book, including one who had seemingly been an ally before. Yes, if Suimei is able to take care of villains with ease, and if Reiji’s party is hiding a secret master swordsman, then you also need to step up on the villain game. In the meantime, though, this gives the reader what they want: Suimei being cool, lots of fighting, and Lefille not being a loli anymore. Well, at least *I* wanted that.

The book can be fairly simply divided into its good and bad points. As usual, I like to start with the bad and work towards the good. So it has to be said, Liliana really loses out here. On the run, getting the crap beaten out of her by mooks, and finally rescued by Suimei, she’s not allowed to help out in clearing her name because of the nature of dark magic and how she’s essentially been brainwashed by the villain into using it. Understandable, but it does make her an absolute damsel in distress. Also, unless you’re a hardcore gamer or fantasy buff, the endless lectures on magic theory are going to numb your mind fast. They may be coached in different terms, but this is absolutely the equivalent of those isekai books where the heroes talk about leveling up their XP in morbid detail. So I’m a Magician, So What?

On the bright side, where Liliana falters Felmenia shines. She too got a bit of a raw deal in the first book, and has mostly been following Suimei out of a bit of lovestruck crushing. But she’s clever and very quick to learn, and is also a magic powerhouse, something that Suimei is well aware of. I didn’t like his endless lectures, but I very much did like his trusting her to hold off the cavalry (Graziella, who reminds me a bit of an evil Olivier Armstrong, and the other hero Elliot, who is much less of a womanizing creep here). And as I indicated, we get the return of regular-sized Lefille, kicking ass and taking names. Not sure if she’s still cursed (I suspect yes), but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I also liked the poignant relationship between Liliana and her adopted father.

There’s more I could get into (the idea that no one bothers to search Suimei’s place for Liliana for several days beggars belief, and I didn’t even mention Little Miss “I’m hiding my super awesome fighting skills so I can seem more girly and attractive”), but you get the idea. I’m less wild about Too Far Behind than I was when it first came out, but it’s still pretty solid, and the books are also fairly lengthy, so you get bang for your buck. Light novel fans will enjoy this.

(Note: the lack of illustrations beyond the color pages was apparently a feature of the Japanese version as well, in case you were wondering.)

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