An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride, Vol. 5

By Fuminori Teshima and COMTA. Released in Japan by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

Given that An Archdemon’s Dilemma rarely has threats to its titular Archdemon that actually go anywhere (once again he’s the strongest one in the entire area, and is only greviously wounded once by his own choice), it makes sense that the series runs on putting loved ones in peril. Though it can take a lot to make Zagan actually admit to caring about people, he absolutely does, and therefore when Nephteros is once again sought after by the series’ major villain, he’s there to help her. Thankfully, he’s not really there to save her, as he generally rescues people based on power level. Innocents, such as the young fox girl who is possessed by black sludge, he is perfectly content to save entirely. Nephteros, who can get out of her own troubles once she gets over her identity issues, just needs a helping hand. And Chastille, who Zagan very much frames as “not a love interest”, has to fend for herself. Luckily, the author seems to finally let her do this.

I’ve talked before about how Chastille seemed like she was going to be the tsundere secondary love interest but then the author realized how much he loved seeing her flailing around and crying. Last time we saw that her ‘work’ and ‘rest’ phases are almost two different people. And here the two seem to combine, as she seems to have finally accepted in her heart that she loves Zagan but he doesn’t love her back… and moreover, she doesn’t want him to, as this would ruin things with Nephy. This actually allows her a stronger bond with Nephteros, who also is drawn to Zagan and Nephy but can’t really be with them. Zagan may say that she’s a sister to Nephy, but for once we get someone deciding NOT to live at Zagan’s castle of increasing population. Nephteros needs to cultivate her own story, as does Chastille.

Speaking of love stories, the biggest new character introduced this time around is Kuroka, a blind priestess with a grudge against a) sorcerers and b) Chastille. With her we get to examine the ‘driven by revenge’ trope, though I admit it was a bit too on the nose to have Zagan literally spell it out for the reader. Fortunately, aside from the revenge she’s a perfectly nice person. Also fortunately, the revenge she was seeking turns out to be unnecessary to begin with. There are hints of the ongoing plot here, as there seems to be a thirteenth sacred sword, and the corruption in the Church is still a larger problem even without assassination attempts on Chastille every book or so. As for the titular couple, well, they’re still awkward – by the end of the novel, Zagan has finally asked Nephy on a date, but that’s as far as we get. Unless you count the muffler scene, which was adorable.

I’m not sure I can point to one thing and say “this is why I enjoy the series so much”, but enjoy it I do. I was particularly pleased with Chastille this volume, who did not have one extended nervous breakdown. And it’s always nice to remind myself sometimes that Zagan is NOT an isekai protagonist, but just a poverty-stricken fantasy lad who got really, really powerful. Fun stuff.

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