An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride, Vol. 12

By Fuminori Teshima and COMTA. Released in Japan as “Maou no Ore ga Dorei Elf wo Yome ni Shitanda ga, Dou Medereba Ii?” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

Usually when I’m reading books that I’m going to be reviewing I try to come up with a theme for the review so that it doesn’t end up just being me babbling on for 500 words. (Sometimes I can’t, as longtime readers who have read my babble know.) With this volume of Archdemon’s Dilemma, watching everyone suddenly obsessed with birthdays, it was going to be about how this series tries to balance out the cute romance aspect of it with the much darker plot and backstory part, and how that can be difficult because it’s pretty clear the main audience – or at least me – are far more interested in the former. Seeing magic battles and having traitors get rewarded as they deserve is all very well and good, but where are the blushing idiots? That *was* the plan for the review. Then Richard and Nephteros had to pull a “your shirt” moment, and everything went to hell.

The fun part of the book is the fact that Zagan has the idea of a birthday party for Nephy, and this just spirals on until everyone wants to know everyone’s else’s birthday. This is both hilarious and tragic because half the characters are either orphans, constructs, or hundreds of years old, so have no experience with birthdays or parties. So you get a lot of randomly chosen days, and a lot of worrying about presents. The three “main” couples (Zagan and Nephy, Chastille and Barbatos, and Shax and Kuroka) all get a cute scene or two. As the book goes on, though, the cuteness takes a back seat to the darkness. Nephteros is dying and does NOT want to have the usual fix when a homunculus is dying. Dexia is on the run and desperately trying to resurrect her sister. And we have two bad guys from the past suddenly show up in the present… and they seem to know who Zagan is? Finally, Nephteros too finds out what it’s like to love someone. In the worst way possible.

I think we can all agree that Bifrons is the Big Bad of this series, and he’s at his absolute worst here. You know a villain is bad when they start quoting Izaya Orihara, and that’s what we get here, with Bifrons “I love humanity” amounting to the same thing – he loves seeing them suffer and struggle. The Nephteros and Richard scenes were very good, but I will knock the book off two points for reminding me of that scene with Willow and Tara in Buffy that I pretend never happened. There’s also an attempted rape, which I could also have done without. I did enjoy seeing a new love triangle form, especially when one of the points in it admits that she’s a lesbian, but I’m pretty sure that she’s going to be the one left out of it in the end, so oh well.

As the book went on and got more serious, it was very well written but not really what I read this series for. I suspect the next volume, whenever it comes out, will be rather dark, but I hope it finds the time to remember its core plot: dorks in love.

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