The Demon Sword Master of Excalibur Academy, Vol. 6

By Yu Shimizu and Asagi Tosaka. Released in Japan as “Seiken Gakuin no Maken Tsukai” by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Roman Lampert.

One of the sure fire ways to give a character suitable pain and determination is a good tragic backstory. And there’s no tragic backstory quite like the death of beloved family members. That’s what Sakuya, the Japanese — sorry, Sakura Orchid — swordswoman in Leo’s cadre of hot, powerful friends has dealt with since she was six years old. The death of her older sister right in front of her still gives her nightmares, and it informs not only her actions and, to a degree, disregard for her own future and safety, but also others also from Sakura Orchid, who are being far more, well, kamikaze about the whole thing. (Look, you don’t get subtlety in this series, read some other one for that.) As such, if you need to up the stakes a lot and devastate your character with the tragic past, nothing quite gets it across like resurrecting the family member who died in front of her. it’s not clear if Sakuya’s sister is actually still alive or merely a zombie of some sort, but either way, she’s still better than Sakuya in combat.

Leo may have taken over a terrorist group, but he’s having a lot of trouble keeping them from, well, doing terrorist things. Which is especially bad news when they find a cargo hold filled with… voids? How? Meanwhile, the aforementioned Sakura Orchid is having a festival, and our hero and heroines decide to attend it. It’s very much a standard Japanese summer festival, complete with yukatas (that Leo is reluctant to wear) and fireworks (that Leo thinks are an actual attack.) Unfortunately, there actually IS a real attack, but it’s not attacking the festival but the core of the entire Seventh Assault Garden. In order to stop it, Leo may not only have to push himself farther than he’s had to before, but also make another pact similar to the one he has with Riselia. Is Sakuya prepared to be no longer human?

Again, the calling card of this series is that it does not really do things well but it doesn’t really do things badly (apart from, as always, Leo being ten but being treated like he’s sixteen half the time). The fights in this one are particularly good, especially near the end, where Sakuya has to figure out what her new ability is and how it works while in a match where one false move would mean her death. On the down side, the threat of the Kenki gathering was rather pathetic – kamikaze or no, having them all suddenly be betrayed and turned into monsters was a bit too pat given they had not really accomplished much of anything. And of course there’s still the cute slice-of-magic-academy-life stuff, which such boffo gags as Leo’s minion using her spy work as an excuse to find the best places to snack and Leo’s monstrous wolf familiar essentially becoming Sakuya’s pet dog.

The next volume of the series has not been scheduled by Yen yet, so we may have to wait a bit. but that’s fine. This series does not require us to remember much about it except what’s on the surface.

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