Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 43

By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.

(This talks about the book’s surprise ending, but after the picture.)

If you’re still following a series 45 novels in (counting the two .5 volumes, as always), you’d better have some pretty damn good reasons. Especially given that they’re light novels, which, even with a smaller page count than a lot of other series, simply are not going to be read as fast as a manga would be. And there’s lots of places this story could have ended already. Where the anime did. Right before the arrival of Clan. The 29th volume, which even had a “final volume” style cover. But it’s still ongoing, and I still really enjoy every volume of it, because the writer does things I enjoy well. There’s a ton of likeable, distinct characters, who I mostly don’t have to look at a wiki to remember who they are. (Sorry, Darkness Rainbow, I still only know half of you by name.) There’s some good romance. There’s fantastic action sequences, which take up the 2nd half of this volume. And, yes, still the occasional shocking twist.

We pick up right where we left off. Ralgwin is being held prisoner in a hospital while he heals up from his near-fatal injuries. Fasta is still determined to rescue him, and while everyone sympathizes with her, they actually have to try to stop her doing that. More worryingly, Grevanas and the Gray Knight also are thinking of rescuing him – Grevanas so he can use Ralgwin’s body to resurrect Maxfern, and the Gray Knight for his usual “I’m not evil Koutarou from an alternate universe, I promise” reasons. Every single ally is gathered to help move Ralgwin to a more secure prison to await trials. Heck, even Fasta has brought along allies to help her, allies we really had not expected. Our heroes are stronger now, they can surely take on anything that the bad guys can dish out. Right?

Here’s where those spoilers are. I don’t think the Rokujouma?! series has ever ended an arc quite as viciously as this. This is a full on “the bad guys win” ending, I was surprised, as while I saw that Ralgwin had been captured by the enemy, I was expecting it to swing into another search and rescue arc. But honestly, we had a huge battle in this book, and following it up with one in the next book might risk repeating. (The author has straight up said to expect a short story volume next time, so that will be fun.) But we’ve spent so many volumes humanizing our villains. Hell, we were rooting hard for Fasta to succeed. We brought back Elexis and Maya after like 15 volumes for a surprise visit, and they’re more likeable as well. The villains have their own sensible motivations, and they can also fall in love. So to see the cartoon villain get his wish and parade around a resurrected Maxfern (who is a bit less of a cartoon villain, but only just) really, really feels like the book is punching you in the face.

Even the “Corona Convention” is downbeat this time around. An excellent volume of the series, but it hurts.

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