The Ideal Sponger Life, Vol. 11

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.

This is the start of a new arc, and also a point at which this series says “OK, we’re in it for the long haul”, so there’s a ton of setup both for the next couple of volumes and for the foreseeable future. That said, the difficult part is that it’s almost ALL setup, with payoff presumably coming down the road. If you enjoy seeing balls thrown in the air, though, this is fine. It also gives Aura more of a role than she’s had in some time, as even through she starts the book off delegating a huge chunk of her power to others, she still has to keep a close eye on them to make sure they are not trying to undermine her own rule. She’s also quick to see that something very ominous is coming, and that their desert neighbors are making a ridiculous amount of concessions in order to make sure to stay in their good graces. Is there an upcoming war brewing?

Aura’s pregnancy and birth of her and Zenjirou’s daughter goes very well thanks to the healer that Zenjirou was able to get. Now, though, it’s time to move some other pieces on the board. Freya has to return home to tell her family that she’s going to be the kingdom’s first new concubine, and it would probably be best if Zenjirou went with her to try to show her family he’s not a creep or evil. More importantly, the events I mentioned above show Aura that they REALLY need a second concubine from the Twin Kingdoms. He gets along better with Bona, but Lucretia has the drive, the political clout, and the tragic backstory to put her in the running. There is, of course, one slight problem. She got off on the wrong foot with Zenjirou trying to lean into “seduce”, and now he’s wary of her. The solution? Join Freya’s sea voyage!

I’ve joked before about how, over the course of the series, the title has become the opposite of Zenjirou’s life. That said, I do wonder if he still sort of sees it as applying to him. His Japanese reserve comes across to everyone else, including his wife, as a complete lack of desire to have ANYTHING for himself. She knows that he objected to both Freya and Lucretia as his concubines, but he gave in really, really fast despite this, and she now is getting concerned that eventually he’s going to start to resent her. I don’t see that happening anytime soon, but it’s probably not a bad idea for the two of them to try harder to understand each other. The rest of the book, as I said, is mostly setup, with perhaps the most interesting thing being that the “problem maids” are split up, with Dolores being sent with Zenjirou on the sea voyage. This allows for a nice, touching scene where Faye and Letti worry about her.

Having talked in the first paragraph about the series settling in for the long haul, I’m sure someone will remind me that there hasn’t been a new volume in almost a year and a half. But that’s future me’s problem. For now, this remains a good political intrigue series.

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