How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 16

By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan as “Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha no Oukoku Saikenki” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

The Realist Hero series has occasionally shown us glimpses of the Gran Chaos Empire, but we’ve never really been inside it. And while we’ve seen Maria and Jeanne, for the most part they’ve been minor supporting characters in a series that, especially lately, has been far more concerned with Fuuga’s desire to be Genghis Khan and Souma’s reaction to this. That said, when we have seen Maria several things have become clear: she is very good at what she does, and she hates doing it. Sometimes just because you’re a born leader does not mean that leadership is the thing you actually desire. And lately, especially with the expansion of the other two major territories, her advisors are growing restless, tired of her “wait and see” approach. There has definitely been a sense that when the three powers clashed, the Empire would be the one to fall. That said, I don’t think we quite appreciated just how close to breaking Maria really was till the events of this book, which features what is for all intents and purposes a suicide attempt.

There’s a two-year timeskip near the start of this volume, which I point out only because the book itself is so blase about it you might forget. We also see Kuu’s marriage. After that, though, it’s all business. Fuuga will not be content till he’s conquered the world, and that means he has to take on either Maria or Souma… and frankly Maria is the more obvious choice. He and his people do a good job. They make the right feints. They coerce Maria’s allies into betraying her. They make it worth Souma’s while to stay out of things, even to the point of marrying him off to Yuriga (who is now 18, and yes, that’s probably the main reason for the timeskip). Fuuga even offers Souma the chance to actually rule the world after he conquers it – he has no interest in what comes after “I beat everyone”. That said, Maria is not without a cunning plan or two of her own.

I mention the suicide attempt mostly as it’s in the color pages, which are for once at the front of the volume (J-Novel Club started to put them at the back due to Amazon’s policies about art in the ‘ebook previews’), boldly feature it. It startles the hell out of absolutely everyone, including Souma, who almost panics and ruins their well-crafted plan (which, to be fair, did not have Maria jumping to her death) and Fuuga, for whom this would be the worst possible outcome. He doesn’t need the so-called Saint to be a martyr. As it happens, Maria’s not really sure why she did it either, at least until afterwards back in Souma’s castle when she essentially has a complete emotional breakdown and you realize that she’s been holding everything in for YEARS. Fortunately, thanks to the support of everyone (as well as marrying the man she loves – yes, Souma gets TWO new wives this volume), she can recover and go on to do what she’s really wanted to do all this time – philanthropy. AGGRESSIVE philanthropy.

These books are never going to be quality literature. But, like some of the more famous series out there, the quality of the writing is not as important as the resonance. Realist Hero resonates with its readers really well, which is why we’re still invested in it even after all these volumes. And all these wives.

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