The Eminence in Shadow, Vol. 2

By Daisuke Aizawa and Touzai. Released in Japan as “Kage no Jitsuryokusha ni Naritakute!” by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nathaniel Hiroshi Thrasher.

I may have to eat my words again. Last time I said this is the sort of story that could only work as a comedy. But in this second volume, I’m finding that I’m more interested in the actual conspiracies and backstory than I am in Cid being goofy chuuni guy. I will admit this book is not as funny as the first one, though it has its moments that made me laugh out loud. But when it’s focusing on other characters, particularly Rose, the princess who gets put through the wringer in this book, it actually makes me wish that it could work as a real book. The key there, however, would be that it would have to have a cast that did not include Cid or his minions, and that’s not going to happen. And, to be fair, it would deprive us of that most shonen of cliches, the tournament arc, which Cid tries to game for his own amusement and mostly succeeds.

The book is essentially divided in half. The first part has Cid, invited by Alpha, headed to see an event where fighters try to call up ancient heroes and do battle with them. Most fail. That is, most fail to even call up ANY spirits. Naturally, Cid/Shadow ends up calling up one of the most deadly. There’s also a hidden conspiracy involving the Church, which frankly should not surprise anyone reading this book. After this he decides to enter the local tournament battle, which his sister is also competing in, as well as Princess Iris. Unfortunately, while this is happening Rose, another princess, is set to be married off to a man who is so evil that he’s named “Perv Asshat”. She tries to kill him, then flees, but we know that’s not going to work out. She’s going to have to sacrifice something…

The funny parts of the book usually involve Cid when he’s trying to be edgy, or when he’s reacting in surprise to something that he set up and forgot about. (There’s a running gag of him thinking he’s finally met another isekai’d person, only to find out it’s one of his minions just publishing stories he told from our world, or music he played. It’s a much funnier running gag than Cid always crassly saying he has to “hit the can” before vanishing to be Shadow.) I was also amused at the hate/hate relationship between Alexia, Cid’s tsundere from school, and “Natsume”, aka Beta, one of Cid’s minions. They really can’t stand each other, and it can be funny. That said, Rose’s plot is not played for laughs at all (OK, the tuna wrapper was funny), and while Perv Asshat may have a very stupid name, he’s clearly got the villain thing down pat, and unfortunately survives to fight in another book.

So it’s not quite as silly a comedy as the first book, but I find its skeleton more compelling than I did in the first. Fans should still enjoy it either way.

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