The Invincible Shovel, Vol. 4

By Yasohachi Tsuchise and Hagure Yuuki. Released in Japan as “Scoop Musou: “Scoop Hadouhou!” (`・ω・´)♂〓〓〓〓★(゜Д゜ ;;) .:∴DOGOoo” by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Elliot Ryoga.

This was, to be a shovel, a much shovelier shovel than the previous shov… urgh. Sorry. But frankly, after reading the latest volume of this series you just start to do it naturally. This 4th volume has over 1000 uses of the word shovel in some way, shape or form. It begins with a half-failed attempt to make an anti-shovel device, and towards the end ends in a world that is literally made up of millions of shovels, representing Lithisia’s somewhat misguided desires. That said… and despite the continued threat of tentacle shovels molesting the female cast… this was a much better volume than the previous one. For one thing, it actually now seems to be headed for its endgame, and admitting that it has to have Alan and Lithisia talk to each other in a way that does not involve talking past each other. Secondly, the book admits that Catria is the best heroine we’ve got, and that we have the most laughs when watching her suffer.

We begin with our heroes having derailed most of the villain’s plans. They’ve already collected all the necessary orbs. The four deadly mini-bosses have all been either killed or made into Lithisia’s toy shovels. That said, there are still a few problems. The first is Catria’s continued attempts to remain vaguely normal, despite her ability to use Alan’s shovel powers getting better and better. With the help of a hellish artifact (literally), she now has to keep her shovel and anti-shovel thoughts balanced, or else had things will happen. That said, things may be worse for Lithisia, who has already noticed that Alan and Catria are bonding, and is basically a bundle of jealous insecurities. This ends up becoming a disaster of monumental proportions when the orbs grant Lithisia’s wish of a shovel world… one where even the sun itself is forced to have a shovel in it. Is this truly the end?

Lithisia has been the broadest of broad characters since about halfway through Vol. 1, and recently had been verging into actual mental disorders. At heart, though, she remains a maiden in love, and the core conflict of this series, beyond even the need to rescue her kingdom from evil, is her and Alan misunderstanding each other’s wishes. He wants an apprentice in regards to his mining. She wants love… and, perhaps even more importantly, a child. She ends up getting the first, amazingly, as Alan is able to come down from obliviousland in order to admit that he would be perfectly happy to spend the rest of his life with her. That said… this does lead to a very funny situation, as after 4 volumes of Lithisia using the word ‘shovel’ to mean sex, the idea of making a baby the normal way never even occurs to Alan. And that’s not even getting into the last-minute swerve that makes your jaw drop and also your forehead get smacked by your hand.

Despite my thinking that it was leading to an ending, this is not apparently the final book in the series. That said, it is the most recent to date, with Vol. 5 not out in Japan yet. If, like me, you were hoping to temper the shovel humor with actual character development, this is a good one to pick up. And it’s still pretty shovelly fun too.

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