The Ideal Sponger Life, Vol. 10

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.

Gonna be honest, I have not warmed to Lucretia yet. Frankly, I’d be happier with Bona as a 2nd concubine, as the two of them could nerd out together. That said, after getting Lucretia’s backstory here, we certainly see why she’s so desperate to seduce Zenjiro and get into his good graces. Unfortunately, we know our hero better than she does, so she keeps striking out over and over here. It takes Freya spelling it out for Lucretia to get her to change her approach: any attempts to make Zenjiro fall in love with anyone but Aura are doomed to fail. Accept this is a purely political negotiation. She’s in a much stronger position there, especially when her family offers Freya something that, as she herself narrates, she would kill for. But in terms of audience appeal… I think I’m not alone in not really warming to her, and so she’s going to have to work harder in the next few books. But at least now she’ll BE in the next few books, even if she’s still on the outside looking in.

After their error in the last volume, the King and heir to the throne of the Twin Kingdoms are trying to get back into Zenjirou’s good graces, which is unfortunate because he’s still really pissed off. That said, he knows when he can afford to be emotionally furious and when he cannot. Getting a healer is easier, as he negotiates with the Pope there, and it goes very well. A bit too well, in fact. He’s then asked by Freya, who is slowly drying up in the Southern climate, if she can go with him to the Kingdoms to negotiate on behalf of her own nation. This proves to be OK with the Twin Kingdoms as well, who are absolutely delighted to be negotiating with Uppasala. Unnervingly so. What is really going on here?

What’s going on is that the series is now popular enough that things can be planned out for a long-runner, which means we’re setting up plots here for a payoff several books down the road. Honestly, I’m amazed Freya was able to keep her cool as much as she did given the tool they gave her is basically exactly what a nation sailing on a long dangerous voyage would most desperately desire. And then there’s Francesco, still essentially this world’s equivalent of a mad scientist, and trying to invent something that would lead to complete upheaval of the world as everyone knows it. This makes everyone unhappy, but as Zenjirou notes it also may be something that can’t be avoided, so it might be best to control the metaphorical explosion when it happens than to be caught up in it. It might lead to war. The Twin Kingdoms certainly think so.

But yes, Lucretia may be on the cover, and Aura may still be the one Zenjirou loves, but frankly Freya is still the most interesting heroine in these books. I loves her joy when Aura offered her a dress as a gift (which implies she accepts her as Zenjirou’s concubine), which very rightly also got interior art. Given that the next arc will involve Freya’s return home, the author may agree with me.

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