I Shall Survive Using Potions!, Vol. 4

By FUNA and Sukima. Released in Japan as “Potion-danomi de Ikinobimasu!” by K Lanove Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hiroya Watanabe.

To a degree this volume of Potion Girl is not as interesting as the other three, mostly because the author has settled down and found Kaoru’s voice. There’s absolutely no danger of her going to the extremes we’ve seen before, starting from the beginning of the book when she goes to a new town and starts up a perfectly ordinary convenience store. Of course, there’s still the one-two problem that most isekai people have: she’s not well-versed in the products of this world, and she’d ludicrously overpowered. As a result, suddenly it comes out that she has access to incredibly rare medicine (that she created out of thin air) and is once again saving the lives of mobility (who are starting to learn not to talk when a girl with scary eyes comes by). It’s a lot of fun, and Kaoru’s combination of practicality and exasperation is mined for good humor. It’s just a bit more predictable.

The other characters, as if to contrast Kaoru getting more normal, are getting a bit more eccentric. Belle’s desire to sacrifice her life for Kaoru turns out to have been driven by Francette (the two give me a Pearl-and-Connie sort of vibe), and Francette herself seems to be far less interested in taking advantage of her regained youth to be with Roland and far more “obsessed with Kaoru to a terrifying degree”, though thankfully it’s not the sexual kind of obsession. Indeed, poor Roland is starting to realize that his fiancee is very likely to abandon him and run off with their benefactor, much to his dismay. (As with most FUNA books, the woman are awesome and the men tend to be schmucks, and if this bothers you you’d do well to read a different author.)

Two other major events are in this book: first, Kaoru uses her ability to talk to animals to help to solve the murder of a noble family and the punishment of the man who did it. This is probably the strongest chapter in the book, with lots of funny revenge stuff (as with many light novels, the villain is just a horrible man you don’t sympathize with him even a little bit) and Kaoru being goofy (she even fixes her eyes to be droopy so no one recognizes her). We then get her party going to a hot spring, where they are tricked into helping a far-off village defend itself against an attack by bandits. This helps to show off Kaoru’s brutal practicality, which is another way that she distinguishes herself from the more amiable Mile. Kaoru is not here to save your village for you. You’re going to have to save yourself.

The artist has a lot of tiny interstitial art here, which helps to add to the illustration count. The illustrations are also getting more and more ‘cartooney’ by the volume, delighting in evil grimaces and the like. This isn’t going to amaze anyone with plot twists of shocking character swerves anymore, but it gives us a healthy dose of what FUNA does best: super powerful young women having fun.

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