Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 38

By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.

It can be hard to thread the needle when you’re writing a story that actually *is* being published in light novel form first, as opposed to the usual these days, where a publisher picks up a series published originally on the web. The author admits that, after getting past the ‘we’ll end this in three books’ and ‘we’ll end this in 7-8 books’ hump and getting to the proper ending with Books 28 & 29… they STILL did not have the room to tell everything they wanted to tell. Which is why, even though it’s a 2-volume arc, those books felt a bit rushed. With this book, and its reveal about who their new Big Bad is, we get to go back and tackle the plot-related bits of the ending that were sacrificed for the greater theme. And we get to do that in a way that Rokujouma has become very accustomed to lately… though massive battles. This time in space, as after dealing with villains with fatal flaws up the wazoo for a while, Koutarou and company finally have to take on smart bad guys.

This book starts off with plot and does not really let go of it – any fluffy moments are now pretty much reserved for the short story volumes. Our three magical girls, out on patrol, come back with a surprise… Sanae! But it’s not Sanae-chan, our lovable ghost, or even Sanae-san, the shy but spiritually powerful human. It’s a Sanae from an alternate world… one where things went very badly. The Grey Knight, their mysterious new enemy, has progressively spirited away or killed off a good deal of the cast, and so they sent Sanae to a different dimension to try to warn our heroes about him (and get help if she can). This leads to the back half of the book, which is a battle between our heroes on one side and Ralgwin, the Grey Knight, and the mage Grevanas, back from the dead and experimenting with modern technology. What is the shocking secret identity of the Grey Knight?

…OK, it’s not that shocking. Given Koutarou has spent 30-odd books gallivanting around as the BLUE Knight, and that we have a Sanae from an alternate universe now, the identity of the Grey Knight is actually pretty easy to guess. I did enjoy seeing alternate Sanae, who is exactly what you’d expect her to be: a mature Sanae who is at peace with the fact that she had to fuse her two “selves” together but is still “Sanae” at heart. There is also some amusing romantic progression… amusing because, as you’d expect, it’s unconscious, with Koutarou saying that he hasn’t married Theia “yet”, a definite step up from the previous “we’re not getting married” denials. The dam is starting to crack.

The book ends by implying we’ll be returning to Forthothe soon, and catching up with our team of former evil magical girls, who now work for the Crown. But yeah, I suspect this alternate universe will play out over the next few volumes, though I’m sure we’ll get short story ones as well. Rokujouma may meander a bit these days, but it’s still worth reading.

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