Culinary Chronicles of the Court Flower, Vol. 5

By Miri Mikawa and Kasumi Nagi. Released in Japan as “Ikka Kōkyū Ryōrichō” by Kadokawa Beans Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by afm.

The words “game changer” can be overused when referring to an ongoing piece of media, but I can’t think of a better way to describe this volume. Honestly, it feels like a penultimate volume, with things getting resolved next time. But I know that there’s six more to go after this. Building on everything that we’ve seen before, it shows us Rimi finding her inner strength and standing up not only for herself but for the Emperor. She’s come a long way from … well, even from the 4th book, really. This despite the fact that she also spends this volume under constant threat of death, but this time it’s from assassination rather than execution. And she’s not alone, as Hakurei also makes great strides in kicking back against manipulation, Shohi manages to do the right thing by simply restraining himself and not exploding in rage, and as for Shusei… well, that’s where it all falls apart, really. Look, I love a good romance as much as the next person. But he’s making the WRONG choice here.

Now that Rimi has accepted the Emperor’s proposal, there’s still a looooooong way to go before they’re home free. Most importantly, the anti-Shohi faction of the palace has said that they won’t stand for it because she’s Japanese… erm, sorry, Wakokuan. The way this is solved is blatant sophistry but also works; have Rimi leave the palace and vanish, and then have the identical Setsu Rimi, whose bona fides show that she’s from Konkoku, show up in the palace and become Empress. Of course, this assumes she’s not murdered in between those two things. And even then, Shusei has to train her to pass the rigorous Empress Question Time, where she gets hammered with seemingly ritual questions where she can memorize the answers… till some of those questions change.

Apart from the cliffhanger ending, the best scene in the book is Rimi answering question from the officials. She’s can’t solve everything with food here, and is especially in danger when Shusei is suddenly forced to leave her side so he can stop feeding her the answers. That said, insulting the emperor so publicly awakens something furious in her, and the response is amazing. Also, apologies to Jotetsu, who I haven’t mentioned yet, as it’s basically his book along with Rimi’s, and we get his backstory along with what drives him and why he wants to help Shusei. Unfortunately, there’s also the simmering “we have a secret child who can become Emperor” backstory that has been simmering for a couple of volumes, and it comes to a boil here. I somehow get the feeling that we’re going to be seeing a lot of military battles in the future of this series. That said, we do at least get to see Rimi save a life with the power of delicious food, so the series gets to stay on brand for those who picked it up as a foodie title.

What’s next? Chaos. Till then, please enjoy the best volume yet.

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