Tearmoon Empire, Vol. 6

By Nozomu Mochitsuki and Gilse. Released in Japan as “Tearmoon Teikoku Monogatari” by TO Books. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by David Teng.

It can be hard to let go of a gimmick, especially when the gimmick in question is the main reason you got readers in the first place. One reason everyone loved Tearmoon Empire 1 was not only the dissonance between Mia’s own thoughts and actions and what everyone ELSE thought of these, but also the snarky narrator constantly pummeling her. I’d theorized before that the narrator was hired by future Mia to try to slow the publishing of hagiographies about her. That being said… Mia has grown and matured a little bit, and I feel now that the goofy “she only thinks about herself and food” shtick is holding her back. And the narrator, especially when he’s making fat jokes, is starting to grate. Most importantly, though, I’m starting to feel like all the other cast members Mia has misled: if you ignore Mia’s intentions and the narrator, this remains a fantastic read, filled with intrigue, action, character building, and plot twists. Mia being a dumbass and the narrator pointing it out all the time isn’t needed anymore.

Mia is in the background for this cover picture, which is a good thing, as it shows us that Bel is, finally, going to get some actual attention. Much of the book is about Mia trying to avoid her own assassination in various ways, though honestly she mostly just avoids thinking about it, as she doesn’t want to get anyone else in danger. So we get things like a massive mushroom hunting party in the nearby forest (where she accidentally discovers deadly poison mushrooms that were what killed off a large number of people in the prior timeline) and preparing for the Holy Eve Festival, which we do not get to see because, of course, Bel is kidnapped in order to force Mia to leave the island and then kill her. There’s only one thing Mia can do… exactly what they say, hoping that if she managed to rewind time once she’ll be able to do it once she’s killed again.

Not to spoil or anything, but Mia is not killed off again, this is not that kind of time loop book. And I’ve complained about the parts of the book I didn’t like above, so let me talk about what I did like. Sometimes Mia’s thought processes are wonderful, such as when she discovers Bel is kidnapped and tries to think of the many very good reasons that going after her is a mistake… all the while getting dressed up and preparing to leave, because unconsciously she knows she’ll never abandon her granddaughter. Bel is basically a shoujo protagonist here, winning over the villains by the power of being sweet and kind, and it’s adorable. The villain is obvious and hammy, but hey. There’s also some good worldbuilding here, showing us the underside of the Yellowmoons and also a few flashbacks to the previous world, where everything went terribly. And the chase and fight scenes were wonderful, and also introduce a new minor villain who I hope we’ll see again, along with his huge puppies… OK, wolves.

So yeah, I don’t expect Tearmoon Empire to drop Mia being thought of as smart when she’s really thinking about cookies, or the narrator pointing out how her altruism is bullshit, but I’d like more of the growth we saw in Book 4-5. Also, I have no idea why the narrator is insulting her “mushroom outfit”. She looks stylish! That’s clearly a raffish cap!

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