Last Round Arthurs, Vol. 5: Once King & Future King

By Taro Hitsuji and Kiyotaka Haimura. Released in Japan by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jan Cash.

Yeah, that really did not stick the landing, did it? After a series that mixed up wacky romcom “shout at the appalling girl being appalling” stuff with Shonen Jump battles, the series goes all in on the latter here at the end. Which is fine – given the glimpse of Kay and Emma *still* in fetishwear in the epilogue, I’m quite happy to have a final volume of serious fighting. The trouble is that the fighting is not all that great, and the beats are very, very predictable. I’ve compared it to Jump before, but here it sort of reads like one of those Jump series that gets cancelled 2-3 volumes in and told to wrap things up here. We meet the final boss, who is exactly who you’d expect, and our heroes are almost defeated, as you’d expect, except Luna simply! will! not! give! up!, as you’d expect. What about Rintarou, you ask? Well, he’s trapped in another dimension. Will he make it back just in the nick of time? Take a guess.

We pick up where the last book left off, as our merry crew (minus Rintarou) have gotten back from their Holy Grail Quest to find that New Avalon has been overrun by monsters, and that evacuation of the island is being cut off by magic. Someone wants a massacre here. (Casualties are implied, but we never see or hear about dead bodies, so…) There’s also a massive dark evil castle in the center of the city now. Making their way there, our heroes split up to take on the bad guys: the original King Arthur, who has been corrupted into evil, his two companions, and Morgan Le Fay, who we find in this book would like the entire world to end so that she can be reunited with a nebbish ordinary knight she fell in love with back in the day. Luna may declare herself to be the next King Arthur, but can she go up against the original without Rintarou’s help?

Well, no, because the entire point of the series is that you get a partner for your quest and rely on them. Plus, again, Jump-esque series. When Rintarou showed up to save Luna in the nick of time, all I could think was that she’s going to hit him and tell him “You’re late!”, and sure enough, that’s exactly what happens. There’s a lot of discussion of what makes a king here, especially when Luna gets all the other candidates to basically give up and join her as subordinates. Luna says that being a king is about determination and never giving up, which certainly defines her, though give the fights in this book I sometimes get the sense she’s a Tex Avery dog slamming against a door over and over till it opens. Rintarou basically had his character development finish last time, so he essentially is absent for most of this book until he comes to save the day.

And so we end with Luna in charge, a new Round Table, and a world that is now aware of magic and monsters, which means that we’re seeing more of them across the globe. You get the sense that Luna’s going to turn the new Round Table into a modern-day Avengers. Fortunately, the series ends here, so I don’t have to worry about it. There wasn’t anything really bad with Last Round Arthurs, unless you dislike obnoxious women, but it never really rose above “yeah, it went there” in terms of narrative thrust.

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