Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World, Vol. 1

By Kei Sazane and Ao Nekonabe. Released in Japan as “Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jan Cash.

Let’s get this out of the way first: that is one awkward title, and it’s actually the much better choice, as when this was first announced by Yen the title was the even worse “The War Ends the World / Raises the World”. It’s trying to convey a certain apocalyptic mood, asking whether this book will feature the end of everything or the rebirth of something. This world has two power blocs fighting each other to the death. The Empire is a nation of science, with a mysterious council behind the scenes and battle-hardened swordsmen and engineers. The Sovereignty is a magic-dominated world, run by a royal family descended from their progenitor, and controls the very elements. They hate each other a whole lot. The Empire has just released its best swordsman, currently serving life in prison, to defeat the Sovereignty’s most powerful astral mage. He was a boy. She was a girl. Could I make it any more obvious?

If I was to be even more glib than I was in that last sentence (something I’m not sure is humanly possible), I’d say that this book is something like “Romeo and Juliet meets A Certain Magical Index”. Certainly Index fans will have a feeling of similarity with the magic and science sides of this particular world, especially given each have mysterious and possibly evil heads of state. Iska doesn’t quite have Touma’s bad luck, but the whole reason for his imprisonment seems to be that he saved an enemy mage (she didn’t have much power, and therefore he didn’t feel she deserved the treatment she got), which is very Touma. As for Aliceliese, there’s a good deal of Mikoto in her, particularly her tendency to get overemotional and upset when she keeps running into Iska coincidentally despite their being (supposedly) bitter enemies. Of course, they’re actually falling in love at first sight. Which, to be fair, is not much like Index, which will never given Touma romantic feelings.

This book is pretty solid, with some nice fight scenes, very amusing comedic romantic moments, and a reasonably-sized (for now) supporting cast. I will admit I did not immediately warm to Mismis, Iska’s commanding officer and “big sister”, mostly due to a very unfortunate interior illustration which can be described as “lol, huge boobs”, and I felt that her “empathic” skills that are apparently why everyone respects her should have been used a bit more often than the “ditzy klutz”. Speaking of the illustrator, they may be familiar to North American readers from Battle Divas, as well as the 2nd (of 3!) artists for The Magic in This Other World Is Too Far Behind!. Not a fan. Despite these flaws, though, I was intrigued enough to try more. It’s not as serious and dramatic as I’d have liked (for those who want that, give 86 a try), but if you want an “anime-style” action romance that for once does not seem to involve magic academies, this is a decent start.

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