Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 20

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.

As was possibly easy to predict, after the excitement of the last two books, we’re getting a short story collection here. In fact, the author notes that the plot will basically alternate with these sorts of books from now on, so as not to alienate those who enjoy the lighthearted comedy bits. As such, we get three short stories that were first published online, and one original novella. They all pretty much fulfill the lighthearted part, but as with a lot of Rokujouma, comedy has slowly been replaced by heartwarming as the go-to thing. This is a sweet group of girls, all best friends, all in love with the same guy, and things are great. For a lot of people, this might be annoying, showing off a lack of conflict that helps to drive most series. I find it refreshing. The conflict comes from the enemies in the main plotline. As such, this is basically just pure cuteness.

To no one’s surprise by now, let me focus on my favorite character first. Yurika gets the first story as a focus, and it shows that even though she’s seriously matured and leveled up in the past few books, she is still the same old somewhat whiny, lazy girl who has to be prodded. The difference now is that she CAN be prodded… as well as now Koutarou realizes how he feels about her. The first story deals with the cosplay club hearing (by mistake) that Yurika is going to stop wearing magical girl “costumes”. They know the main reason why girls stop cosplaying – they get a boyfriend. The rest of the story is them hilariously finding they’re right – sort of. To the outside observer, Yurika has become a “reajuu” – she has a great boyfriend, a nice best friend, and a fulfilling life. To the outside observer only, of course. The other two short stories deal with a) Sanae and Ruth peering into Koutarou’s dreams, and realizing he has a ways to go to be healed, and b) Maki and Theia finding that though they may be opposites in many ways, they can still bond as good friends.

The story that takes up the second half of the book is a cooking competition for the school festival, with all the girls competing and Koutarou the judge. This ranges from the obvious (Kiriha and Ruth are great cooks) to the good character building (Yurika is forcibly taught by Shizuka, and her efforts pay off for Koutarou if not anyone else – she didn’t burn or otherwise ruin it) to amusing fun (everything about Clan’s SCIENCE! dish). Moreover, it helps to hammer home one of the main themes of this “harem” series – Koutarou likes them all equally. He gives everyone the same score – even Clan’s “meal” – as to him, they’re all great as the girls all put their heart into them. For a lot of other series, this would make Koutarou into a bland milquetoast protagonist, and to be fair he had elements of this at the start. But he’s developed too, to the point where the reader can smile and nod when this occurs.

So overall a really nice volume, and a good break before we no doubt go off into SPAAAAAAAACE! next time.

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