The Extraordinary, the Ordinary, and SOAP!, Vol. 3

By Nao Wakasa and ICA. Released in Japan as “Hibon, Heibon, Shabon!” by ArianRose. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Emily Hemphill.

This is the final volume of this romantic fantasy, and that feels just about right. The wary reader will also note that everything seems to be resolved by about Page 80, and knows that we’re not going to get 130 pages of wedding prep. Indeed, this volume balances out dramatic crisis and romantic fluff almost equally, sliding from one to the other with verve. There is one thing I wasn’t too fond of, but that was driven by the plot, so I can’t complain too much. More importantly, I really loved the way that the friendship between Lucia and Maria was shown – it’s just as important as the romance between Lucia and Celes, and the ongoing development of Maria continues in this book. Indeed, I’d argue Maria is the best part of the series, which pulls off its isekai with a twist fantastically. Well, there are a few annoying romance novel tropes as well, but eh. For the most part, I was quite pleased with this.

We begin in a bad place, as our heroes are separated and locked up in the final kingdom they’d been visiting. This leads to Lucia getting kidnapped and almost killed by some evil nobles – someone seems to have it in for her. After this, it’s almost an anticlimax when the final tree is purified and the monsters are removed from the land… though that includes their baby dragon pet, which makes Maria and Lucia sad. That said, success! The sacred maidens did it! Lucia and Celes are engaged! Lucia no longer has her Soap! powers, but that’s likely because there’s no reason for them anymore. Now they can all go home and… wait, something is tickling the back of my brain. Wasn’t the king evil and wanted the shrine maiden killed off after they completed their duty? And isn’t Lucia without her Soap! powers… just a commoner maid? Is this going to have a tragic ending after all?

So yeah, about halfway through the book everything falls apart and we have to put it back together. That does not take long. I do wish Lucia had a bit more agency in the whole ordeal, but the problem with taking away the awesome magic powers from your heroine after her work is done is that it does tend to leave her powerless. I did love Maria’s solution to finding Lucia, which was very clever and also helped to make Lucia’s adventure well known among the entire kingdom. And yes, after THAT we get the wedding prep and the reunions and everything else, now that the evil king has been removed and Edoardo is in power. (Maria and Edoardo’s romance is not quite as heartwarming – let’s face it, if it weren’t for Celes this would be a yuri title.) And Lucia may not have Soap! anymore, but her debt is paid off, she has a husband and an ever-growing family, which is all she really ever wanted.

This was, overall, quite a nice read, and I liked the gimmick of the heroine being one of the fantasy world residents, with the actual isekai’d from Japan protagonist being a supporting character. Those who enjoy J-Novel Heart titles will want to read this one.

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