Spy Classroom: Fool Erna Once

By Takemachi and Tomari. Released in Japan as “Spy Kyoushitsu” by Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nathaniel Thrasher.

It should go without saying, but the series Spy Classroom involves spies. And spies can sometimes be not nice people. Downright unpleasant, in fact. We’ve seen that in previous books, with villains working for other countries ranging from weak to comically evil. But for the most part, we know our girls. Those wacky, lovable scamps who are all dropouts but come together in the end with the power of friendship. Surely they’re all different! Well, OK, not Annette. We already know fro previous books that Annette is one of the only girls in Lamplight who can, when push comes to shove, do something cruel. But she may not be alone, as we learn in this book that focuses, for once, on the character the anime tried desperately to adapt and failed miserably. The character that even the publisher tried to avoid drawing for the longest time. A girl plagued by misfortune. Which even extends to this review, because sorry, Erna, Sara is my favorite character in this book.

After the triumph of the fourth book, and becoming an official team, things are not going very well for Lamplight. They’ve been screwing up mission after mission, and believe it or not, it’s not JUST Lily. Things take a turn for the worse, though, when they meet two members of another spy organization working for their country, Avian. If Lamplight is composed of dropouts and washouts, Avian is composed of only the top graduates of spy schools. And recently, their handler was killed, meaning they don’t have a leader. After discerning that Lamplight are pathetic and awful, Avian decide that Klaus should be their leader instead, and Lamplight can all go back to spy school where they truly belong. Of course, the girls are not going to take this lying down, and it ends up becoming a competition to see who the best spy team really is!

If you thought that my description of Lamplight in the last paragraph was a bit mean, you ain’t heard nothing yet. Avian may be just as eccentric as Lamplight, but they’re far, far more skilled, and they have a heaping helping of arrogance to go with it. They’ve also had actual completion of spy school, which means they have an extra technique the Lamplight girls do not, and much of this book amounts to our heroines “trying to reach their second form”. Sara comes close, and actually manages to kick ass and take names (yes, Sara, the animal girl), but of course Erna is the star of the book, for spoilery reasons, and it’s her own development that provides the big climax. It also allows Klaus to have a paternal talk with her, which I appreciate, as Klaus as a hottie everyone wants to bone is not my favorite thing. (That also comes up here, alas.)

All this plus one of THOSE epilogues, the ones that really like to kick you in the teeth and then make you wait for months or so for the next book. This book, though, was good, and arrives just in time for the second half of the anime, which… has nowhere to go but up.

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