The World’s Strongest Rearguard: Labyrinth Country’s Novice Seeker, Vol. 4

By Tôwa and Huuka Kazabana. Released in Japan as “Sekai Saikyou no Kouei: Meikyuukoku no Shinjin Tansakusha” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jordan Taylor.

Once again, I found this volume to be easy, peaceful reading, and once again I am at a loss to explain why as every time I try to describe it it sounds terrible. The same issues that plague previous books crop up here. The first half of the book features nothing happening. The main character has the personality of a herring, and yet has every single character in the series fawning over him. The battles are exciting, provided your idea of exciting is ‘reading other people’s transcripts of MMORPG fights”. Picking the proper stat is serious business. And, of course, everyone is horny on main for our hero but have generally agreed among themselves not to do anything (which is why when the married lady flirts with him they all team up to get upset). But again, there’s also nothing that immediately grates on me, nothing that says “OK, that did it, I now have an excuse to drop this”. It is serviceable wish-fulfillment of the highest order.

Arihito and company are still on the seventh floor, but have been making a bigger and bigger name for themselves. They’re still having trouble as the larger group on the floor, Beyond Liberty, are taking over the main hunting grounds and blocking others from going there. Oh yes, and they have a man whose skill is almost literally “pick up artist” who is a clear traitor. Something has to be done… after opening another cool treasure chest, choosing new skills, upgrading weapons, and getting a snazzy wool suit – and a gun, in case this wasn’t bad enough. They also need Beyond Liberty to go too far, which it does, and introduces yet another named Monster who is incredibly dangerous and who the main forces cannot remotely defeat. It’s up to our heroes, with the special guest Seraphina (again), to get the job done.

I know that we’d seen kids in this world before – indeed, Melissa is explicitly said to be the child of a human and demi-human – but I was still startled to see Daniella, a very pregnant adventurer, fighting on the front lines. Of course, it turns out that Beyond Liberty, like Elitia, has their own reasons for wanting to advance as fast as possible, but it does remind you that adventuring is the big thing here, and you either keep doing it constantly or you stagnate… which much of this floor has already decided to do. Ads for Arihito’s party, while everyone keeps praising him almost to the point of making one ill, the fact that his position is “rearguard” does mean that it’s the women in the party who get to do the really cool things. We are seeing some character development in Suzuna and Misaki, and they are very much becoming a family, albeit one that feels “warm” whenever their patriarch sleeps behind them.

So yeah, still not great. But it delivers what readers probably want, and if it tried to do something new and different it would likely be a disaster. Next time we see then going on a vacation, which means we should see even LESS happening. Fun times.

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