Re: ZERO -Starting Life in Another World – Ex, Vol. 3

By Tappei Nagatsuki and Shinichirou Otsuka. Released in Japan by Media Factory. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Kevin Steinbach.

When this arrived, I didn’t read it for a while as I was expecting it to be the “second half” of Wilhelm’s tragic backstory. But no, as this volume ends we’re still in lovey dovey land, though there are echoes of bad things on the horizon. Instead this volume picks up where the last one left off, with Wilhelm having defeated Theresia in battle and thus proving that he can replace her as the main defense of the realm… or so he thinks, but given that he starts the book in a prison cell, it’s likely that he has a lot more convincing to do. What this actually is are three short stories mushed together telling the story of Theresia and Wilhelm getting married and going on their honeymoon, and all of the things that get in the way of their happiness, which at this stage are mostly played for comedy. That said, the main villain towards the end has some familiar equipment, and I’m wondering exactly how Big Bad he’s meat to be.

I get the sense that the author wrote these stories while taking a break from their usual “Subaru has the worst day ever” fare. I was not expecting this to be as light-hearted as it was, and in many ways it doesn’t even feel like a Re: ZERO novel. Having determined to become Wilhelm’s bride and not a sword master (Wilhelm at least adds “unless she wants to” to this, but the narrative still pushes hard on “cute girls should not fight” mode), Theresia now goes into full-blown tsundere mode, with lots of embarrassment, mild jealousy, and no doubt pouting while pushing out one cheek in the grand anime faces tradition. Wilhelm has become more human since the last book, but that does make him a bit less interesting, as he’s now the standard snarky male light novel lead – something Subaru takes pains not to be. Theresia’s overprotective dad doesn’t help either, as he is made of cliches.

The final short story is the most interesting. (Well, there’s a short fourth short story about Carol and Grimm’s romance, but it’s clearly an afterword sort of thing.) Our couple are on their honeymoon, accompanied by Carol (who loves Theresia a bit too much) and tailed by Theresia’s father (ditto). Things turn serious, unfortunately, when they run into Lord Stride, who is the classic “arrogant noble” of many a light novel, and his bodyguard/champion, a big guy with eight arms. Naturally, he and Wilhelm have to fight, and it’s the best fight in the book, though unlike the last book this one really isn’t about the fights. Stride reminds me far too much of Petelgeuse only witho0ut the insanity, and I have a sneaking suspicion he or a relative may be in the main story sooner or later.

This is a great change of pace for those who’ve been reading Re: ZERO waiting for bad things to happen to good people. On the downside, that does mean it’s a little boring. There’s no deconstruction here, just the author writing a fun little light novel where the sword cutie marries the sword snarker. No doubt this will be continued in the 4th EX, but that’s not out in Japan yet.

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