Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 18

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.

Now that’s more like it. After being a bit disappointed with the minor villains in Kiriha’s resolution arc, we get a much higher standard of villain here. Darkness Rainbow are back, and they’re getting backstory. Not a hell of a lot, admittedly – that may be next volume, as this is sort of a stealth two-parter – but it’s clear that more care is being taken with these teenage, evil magical girls. (I’ll go with evil for now, given that they kidnapped ten small children, and if the ritual had finished they may have all ended up the way Sanae did.) This is also a continuation of Maki’s redemption arc. She may not win the big fight here, but the greater picture has her succeeding, as she’s forcing Crimson Rainbow to consider her relationship with both Maki and the rest of the Darkness Rainbow team. If there’s a way in to redeem this group, it’s likely to go via Crimson.

Given that we’re dealing with Darkness Rainbow here, it seems only natural that we finally get to see Nana, Yurika’s predecessor as a magical girl until her painful sacrifice. We find out how painful here, as we see her shakily trying to stand on crappy artificial legs, and her spirit energy is nearly nil. Fortunately, we have Koutarou’s harem, who between all of them are specialists in nearly everything, and they resolve to better Nana’s situation. In the meantime, though, kids are getting kidnapped as Darkness Rainbow makes its move – and they’re desperate, clearly, as kidnapping is not something easily papered over with memory erasure. Once it’s clear who’s behind it, Yurika asks everyone to help her save the kids and defeat the bad guys. Unfortunately, only one of these is accomplished by the end of the book, so it looks like we’re going on a field trip to the next dimension over next time.

Readers of these reviews know that I’m a huge Yurika fan, so I was pretty delighted with this book, where she spends most of her time in serious, competent mode. The joke is that everyone is really uncomfortable with Yurika being mature and competent, and wishes for the old whining Yurika to return. (This is admittedly a better joke than Shizuka’s running gag about her weight, though I liked how it became more about Koutarou being unable to princess carry her.) Yurika does an excellent job here, leading the team that discovers the bad guys, relying on others for support, and not breaking down once. The afterword hints of even better things in the next book. The rest of the cast are also good, and we’re starting to see the girls attempt to flirt harder with Koutarou, but he’s still not emotionally ready yet.

The book isn’t perfect – the battle in the hotel almost feels like there’s a chunk of the book that was randomly cut out, and the climax is similarly rushed – but overall this was a very strong entry in the series, and I really can’t wait to see what happens next.

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