The World’s Strongest Rearguard: Labyrinth Country’s Novice Seeker, Vol. 6

By Tôwa and Huuka Kazabana. Released in Japan as “Sekai Saikyou no Kouei: Meikyuukoku no Shinjin Tansakusha” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Alexandra McCullough-Garcia.

One of the strengths of this mostly ridiculous series is that I get the sense the author does not take it seriously. Now, I’m not saying it’s meant to be a comedy – the battles are clearly meant to be dangerous and deadly action sequences, and this volume in particular ends on a big downer of a cliffhanger. What I mean is that it doesn’t take the tropes seriously. It’s a harem genre with a passel of women all in love with our oblivious hero, but there’s no infighting or even any real anger about it – hell, the closest they get to being upset is when Misaki almost spills the beans on what they have to do every night after Arihito goes to sleep. There’s also the reality-bending power of fiction, where our heroes end up being the ones who always fight the strongest monsters, even when they’re told not to. But even then, after they win, they’re told “sorry, you really are that powerful, please have a special title.” It’s just… funny.

We pick up where we left off last time, with our party in a trap laid for them by Shirone, who unfortunately also appears to be trying to do a “suicide by dungeon”. This trap includes monsters that raise your karma if you attack them, and a named monster (of course) that can not only inflict pain on our heroes but also guilt of their past actions and present fears. And while they do end up escaping this and defeating the monster, it’s clear that Elitia is still feeling the aftereffects of this. Things aren’t really helped when they are asked to go to the 5th Level to help to subjugate a swarm of scorpion monsters… the 5th Level being where they were aiming for to try to rescue Elitia’s friend. The scorpion monsters and their leader prove to be fairly easy to take down. But the Simian Lord whose dungeon holds Rury proves, for once, to be too much for Arihito, and he pays dearly.

Despite that cliffhanger, this is possibly the most Rearguard volume of Rearguard ever. We get our heroes taking on THREE named monsters and defeating two of them, something that is almost becoming old hat. Everyone theoretically gets cool things to do, though I will admit that a lot of it is the narrative spewing game stats at us and then trying to figure out what they actually do in terms of visuals. More to the point, Arihito is the star of this series, and it’s made very clear that the narrative of this world knows it. There are other parties who were jealous of how fast he’s risen… then they see how he deals with The Calamity and they fall over themselves to apologize and grant him an even cooler title. As I’ve said before about this series, if you are a fan of light novels who takes them Very Seriously Indeed this must make your skin catch fire. It does not give two hoots.

That said… erm, hope Theresia is OK? Fortunately, we don’t have a year to wait for the next volume in the series as we did last time. Unfortunately, from what I’ve heard, the arc may go on even longer than that next volume. Still, I’ll be reading and enjoying.

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