I Shall Survive Using Potions!, Vol. 3

By FUNA and Sukima. Released in Japan by Kodansha. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hiroya Watanabe.

I’m at a loss for words to an extent. It can’t be that the author read my reviews – they’re in Japan, and this volume was out before the series started here. I double checked, and it didn’t change companies or anything like that. Perhaps someone told the author that an anime might be a possibility? But yes, it’s very clear that between the second and third book – actually, more like “after the timeskip” now that I think about it – the author acceded to the requests to dial Kaoru back a lot. She’s still very snarky, and won’t hesitate to mock and belittle obviously arrogant noble guys, but she’s (mostly) found an emotional center and is actually doing what I thought she would do when the book began – running a small potion store in a large city. I guess the answer to “how to solve a problem like Kaoru” is “keep her away from war”. Not that this has suddenly turned into a Slow Life title or anything. Trouble continues to follow Kaoru around. But she’s now a standard OP FUNA heroine, and not “will she turn evil?”.

As noted, Kaoru and her newly adopted daughter are starting a potion shop. But no overpowered healing potions this time around, just normal minor illness stuff like “soldier’s disease” (athlete’s foot). She makes the potions good enough to be palliative, but not curative forever, so they have to come back to buy new ones. But things aren’t easy. Soldier’s Disease is far more of an issue in this military town than she suspected. She’s being asked to join an association and give up her secrets. There’s a deadly disease killing people in a village a few days away. The “distortion” that the goddess had warned her about actually appears. No one will buy her shampoo/makeup products. No one prefers her “standard” box lunches. And worst of all, she’s still not attracting husband material. Can she put down roots in this town, or is it time to move on?

Now, don’t panic. Kaoru is still easily the meanest of the FUNA heroines. But she’s not getting revenge that may literally get people executed this time around. She’s also doing great things for the military, finding lost treasures for poor nobles, giving money to orphans and street urchins, and of course, preventing the world from being ravaged by disease. She’s become a heroine, rather than an anti-heroine. It’s fun to see, but it does make this a bit less of a must read as there’s no longer any sense that she’s going to completely lose it the way there was during the war last volume. The rest of the running gags are present and correct, including the rest of her group being so devoted to her safety that they all fall over each other to protect her from enemies, and don’t go on dates because that would take away from protecting Kaoru time. And of course there is Kaoru’s lack of self-awareness, as she, like Mile, occasionally talks about being a normal girl, to everyone’s amusement.

In the end, dialing Kaoru back is good for the future of the series. And it’s still a light, breezy read. But I miss my jaw dropping, I will admit.

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