The Ideal Sponger Life, Vol. 5

By Tsunehiko Watanabe and Jyuu Ayakura. Released in Japan as “Risou no Himo Seikatsu” by Hero Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by MPT.

As promised at the end of my last review, this volume does NOT have Aura on the cover, choosing instead to focus on the newest arrival to the cast. A boat shows up containing a Northern princess-cum-captain and her crew/bodyguards. They need help getting their ship repaired… a ship whose technological advances are far beyond Capua’s own. As a result, Aura is very happy to have their shipwrights help to repair the ship, and also learn valuable things along the way. Unfortunately, she can’t go to the coast to greet them, so Zenjirou is sent – supposedly as a figurehead, but once again the book is taking its title and crumpling it into a little ball. That said, he’s got this in hand, and is getting along with the foreign princess. Everything would be great were it not for the pesky raptors from the previous volume, who have gotten away from the soldiers sent to kill them and are now laying waste to the coastal town. Can Zenjirou find a politically adept solution?

I’ve said before that this series is for those who love political wrangling, but it leaves a bit to be desired for folks of the other potential things that it promised. The romance between Zenjirou and Aura is still fine, but we don’t see any of their bedroom antics here, mostly as Aura is back at the capital most of the book. Likewise, the fights with the raptors are pretty good, but it’s clear the author doesn’t really excel in battle – some of the best parts of the battle are showing off Zenjirou’s plan to disguise their scent in order to throw the raptors off their trail. The best parts of the fight scenes come from Princess Freya’s bodyguard Skaji, who can kick a spear hard enough to pierce the head of a sea dragon, and therefore is completely badass. As for Freya, she’s more of the tactician of the group, seeing faster than the others that Zenjirou is both smarter than he looks and also more in charge than it would appear.

The highlight of the book is seeing him try to get out of the political disaster that Aura accidentally set upon him. After sending a message to her that seemingly described the situation without requesting help, she sent help anyway, meaning that he has to thread a needle as to who gets to be in charge of the battle and who gets the glory without pissing off too many factions. His solution is adept, but also unfortunately makes it so that he himself also gets a lot of the attention, something they’re also trying to avoid. Aura is quick to praise his solution… if it weren’t for the fact that it put him in danger, so she makes him promise never to do it again. (Spoiler: he’ll probably do it again.)

The raptors seem to finally be taken care of, leading to the start of a new arc in the next book. We do seem to have an excess of foreign nobility in Capua, though, so it’s not clear who will get the focus… oh wait, the cover to Vol. 6 has Freya on it, showing off her booty to the reader. No doubt we will continue to focus on her. In any event, this is still a good read if you like political wrangling.

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