Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town, Vol. 13

By Toshio Satou and Nao Watanuki. Released in Japan as “Tatoeba Last Dungeon Mae no Mura no Shonen ga Joban no Machi de Kurasu Youna Monogatari” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

There have been quite a few antagonists over the course of this series, but, with the exception of a few, they’ve mostly been pathetic mooks whose job it is to get humiliated and destroyed by Lloyd. That said, this is not a series that is really interested in killing off its villains, for the most part, so something had to happen to them. Why not a high-security prison? Because, of course, Last Dungeon Kid also enjoys making fun of various types of cliched plotlines, and “prison break story” is certainly one of them. The only problem there is that imagining Lloyd breaking out of prison is… ridiculously easy. He wouldn’t even break a sweat. Especially if he’s not even aware that it’s a prison at all. Ah well, it’ll lead to some good comedy. Well, right until the end, of course, when Eve makes sure we have a dramatic twist.

Rinko and Alka are trying to research all the evil things Eve has been doing, and have noticed that she seems to be getting a lot of experimental corpses from somewhere. A likely place is Hell’s Lock, the prison for those who commit the worst crimes in the kingdom. Clearly they need to send in someone to investigate, and they do… but somehow, because this is that sort of series, Lloyd ends up taking their place. Unaware he’s investigating, or even in a prison, Lloyd thinks this is essentially a training camp for mental fortitude. The evil warden does not take kindly to his cavalier attitude, and decides to torture and kill him on the sly, because (of course) the warden is the one supplying Eve with bodies. Still, killing Lloyd may prove a challenge…

This took a while to get going, like a lot of books in this series. It tends to run on “farce” principles, and thus is always better when everything is fast and chaotic, rather than providing setup. It didn’t help that I had honestly forgotten a few of the recurring villains, though some of them came back to me more easily than others. (Phyllo’s continued rage at the man who destroyed her family is both in character and very funny. She also gets the best joke of the book.) That said, as I noted last time, there is still a vague serious component to this series that occasionally rears its head. The warden’s sudden realization of who he really is is somewhat chilling, but it’s Eve taking off the bunny suit to reveal her face that’s the payoff. Well, OK, it’s probably the payoff for next book, which I assume will be Selen-based. I also liked Lloyd’s rage and fury, which given his normal attitude was quite refreshing.

All in all, a pretty good volume. More madcap next time, maybe?

The Saga of Tanya the Evil: Mundus Vult Decipi, Ergo Decipiatur

By Carlo Zen and Shinobu Shinotsuki. Released in Japan as “Youjo Senki” by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Richard Tobin.

As we get to the beginning of the end of this series, it’s worth looking at something we’ve discussed before: which world war is this? Tanya states clearly in this book she thinks she’s still in “the first war”, but is also very much fighting communism of a Stalinist rather than Leninist vein. We also have a clear Churchill analogue, as well as Lavrentiy Beria, who remains easily the most disturbing of all of Tanya the Evil’s disturbing villain characters. That said, given that this is a war fought with magic, I perhaps should not worry about it too much. In this particular war, the Unified States have finally entered the fray – at the behest of Ildoa, which the Empire is currently toying with. Given that the Empire is on its last legs, and the Unified States are a juggernaut of money and endless weaponry, you’d expect this to be bad news. You’d reckon without Zettour, though, who has decided to drag this entire war down into the gutter, to the point that even Tanya is aghast.

We pick up where we left off, with the Empire’s forces, including Tanya and company, in Northern Ildoa. Ildoa is not particularly worried about this – after all, they have far more manpower than the Empire, and the US is also now there. In addition, Colonel Drake’s international forces are told to leave the Federation and head there as well, which is incredibly aggravating for him, but that’s politics for you. That said, Ildoa and the US are not prepared for the Empire’s definition of war, which has changed tremendously over the course of the last few years. They still believe in things like honor and reason. The Empire has forgotten all that. Of course, given that Tanya keeps getting directed by Zettour into situations where she’s lucky to survive, she’s not worrying that much about this yet – and honestly would agree anyway.

I always enjoy seeing our heroes actually have to try a bit in the “military” part of this book. For all that Tanya’s attempts to escape this war have always failed on a political scale, there’s no denying her and her mage company are almost impossible to beat. Note the almost – Colonel Drake is in town, and not only are he and the Unified States using shotguns (which are supposedly banned, and Tanya gets so angry about this she literally writes a letter to the enemy in protest), but they also have Lieutenant Mary Sue, whose name may or may not be intentional, but if it is it would not surprise me. Tanya calls her a “bull” several times, and it fits – none of her company can even put a scratch on her, whereas Mary Sue nearly kills Tanya. The end of this series is going to have to have a final battle between these two, mano a mano.

The next books in the series are a two-parter, with the second due out in Japan in a few days. Given how long each Tanya book is to begin with, that’s sobering news. Still, I’ll always be hear to watch Tanya desperately try to figure out how to defect before everyone in the Empire is killed or executed. Also, kudos to the artist for that Mary Sue picture, which is hilarious and not remotely patriotic.

Fake Saint of the Year: You Wanted the Perfect Saint? Too Bad!, Vol. 2

By kabedondaikou and Yunohito. Released in Japan as “Risō no Seijo? Zannen, Nise Seijo Deshita! Kuso of the Year to Yobareta Akuyaku ni Tensei Shitanda ga” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Rymane Tsouria.

“Would you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage”, philosophers once said. It’s something that feels very relevant to this second volume of Fake saint, where a large chunk of it is taken up with locking Ellize in her bedroom forever because that way she won’t defeat the witch, won’t become the next witch, and the kingdom can be at peace. It’s a transparently stupid decision that ends up failing almost immediately, but the book at least shows us why so many people are making this stupid decision. It’s not only because everyone loves Ellize and is terrified at the thought of losing her, though that’s certainly part of it. It’s that this world was SO BAD prior to her birth. People starving, royal family dying in battle, misery and despair everywhere. Going back to that would be a horror show. That said, yeah, don’t lock up your one weapon.

Things are going relatively well for Ellize, who has negotiated most of the “bad end” parts of the plot that her “evil” game self did, and given that the witch is still refusing to come out and show herself, she gets to attend classes and try to figure out how to get rid of the witch without Eterna dying or turning evil. Unfortunately, the royal family, as I noted above, decide to lock her in her room forever so that everything can remain nice. They’re helped in this by her personal guard, including Layla, who feels exactly the same way. Sadly, “almost completely at peace” does not mean “completely at peace”, and the monsters decide that now is a perfect time to do one last huge assault on the capital, intending to massacre everyone. Can Ellize manage to get there in time? And just what is going n with this “game” anyway?

For the most part, if you’re reading this for the “fantasy” parts of the book, I’d say to just read Tearmoon Empire, which is funnier and has a more likeable heroine. That said, this series is doing interesting things with its “isekai” bit. Ellize may still be sounding like a cynical, selfish guy on the inside, but her actions are slowly starting to belie her attitude. She’s not attracted to Verner yet, but… Meanwhile, her actual Japanese self back home, even while slowly dying (every time Ellize appears in front of him for a status update/strategy meeting, another piece of his soul moves to her) is trying to find out why this is happening, and that involves going to see the creators of the game… and confirming that the game is rewriting reality both here and in Ellize’s world. I’m interested to see what’s really happening.

Everything is set up for the next volume to be the big climax, which makes it a bit of a shame that this series has 4 books and counting. Still, this is worth it for all the bits that aren’t done better in other, similar novels.