Ascendance of a Bookworm: I’ll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!, Part 5: Avatar of a Goddess, Vol. 6

By Miya Kazuki and You Shiina. Released in Japan as “Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasen” by TO Books. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by quof.

This is another Bookworm volume that’s more relaxed and peaceful than others. The last book promised a huge upheaval in Rozemyne’s life, and this volume is all about how that upheaval is going to affect everyone around her. Its pretty much got everything you’d want in a Bookworm volume… well, OK, there’s a long, long, extended story told from Detlinde’s point of view. That was nightmarish to read. But other than that. The most amusing thing about the volume is the fact that everyone knows that something is going to happen soon to knock everything off the rails, because Rozemyne’s life is a series of such events. They have a year till she moves to the Sovereignty, those she employs have three years… but they’re all preparing to move at a moment’s notice because bad things always happen to this girl. Admittedly, she always makes them into good things, but that is beside the point.

Returning from the Archduke’s Conference, there’s a lot to discuss, namely how Rozemyne is moving to the Sovereignty in one year’s time. She’ll need servants, but not all of them can go with her, and Ehrenfest can’t lose ALL the people attached to her. So some folks have to choose whether to stay or go, which is made more difficult by the fact that Rozemyne, who is trying to be considerate, is not making her own feelings very clear. Meanwhile, she’s managed to save Ferdinand for now, at least, and proceeds to send him enormously valuable paper, and he sends her piles and piles of gifts in return, along with a letter that even asks, in obscure noble language, “do you like me in a romantic way?”. Rozemyne being the glorious asexual hamster that she is, does not understand this at all. (Yes, I know, Rozemyne’s asexuality will last exactly until the author decides to have her be attracted to Ferdinand, but let me have this for now.)

There’s a lot of great stuff happening here. Wilfried, given everything that’s been going on around him, and his low point in the last two books, took things a lot better than I expected. The scene with the four siblings having a tea party was marvelous, and it was amusing seeing Charlotte and Rozemyne trying to one-up one another in praise. Elvira and Rozemyne also had a long heart-to-heart, and we get a better understanding of just how AWFUL everything was in Ehrenfest before Hurricane Rozemyne arrived a good 20 or so books ago. Of course, there’s still some ominous rumblings going on – the aforementioned Detlinde story is a walking collapsing disaster, and Sylvester’s story basically has to have him talk his way out of a cleverly engineered trap (probably by Georgina, let’s face it). So yeah, even we don’t think everything will go smoothly in a year’s time.

Next tie we’re back to the academy, but no one cares, because if you look at the cover for the next book in the series… it’s finally happening! Join us for literal character growth.

Reign of the Seven Spellblades, Vol. 9

By Bokuto Uno and Miyuki Ruria. Released in Japan as “Nanatsu no Maken ga Shihai suru” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

Well, the good news is the Spellblades anime was not the complete disaster the way, say, Spy Classroom is. The bad news is that it wasn’t all that great, either, and I doubt a lot of folks who hadn’t read the books will be reading the anime and going “whoah, need to read that”. Which is a shame, as these really are a series of great light novels, but alas, “first rule of anime: drop the internal narration” strikes again. As for this volume, it was mostly excellent, with one major exception which I will get to. It also had a hell of a cliffhanger, as for once the author did NOT write the end of an arc with “and I’ve run out of pages, so bye”, but instead teases us with something that I really don’t want to have happen but will also be really interested in if it does. That said, most of this is the last of the tournament, so fight, fight, fight.

There are three big battles in this book. First, Oliver, Nanao and Yuri have to fight Ursule Valois and her other team members, Generic Person 1 and Generic Person 2. This gets into a long discussion of sword styles but is derailed a bit by a flashback that made me want to drop the series. After that, Stacy, Fay and Chela go up against Richard Andrews and his team of final bosses, and do their best despite Chela basically being told “you can’t win because the teacher is your dad”. Finally, Team Andrews and Team Horn get a knock-down, drag-out battle which allows Yuri to actually become a real live boy but gives Nanao her worst nightmare: an erotically charged swordfight between Oliver and someone who isn’t her.

There are so many ways that this series feels like it was written by an emo 24-year-old boy. Sometimes this is awkward but endearing, such as Horn and Andrews battling to see if they get to call each other by their first names and maybe hang out sometimes. Sometimes this is pretty damn cool, such as Katie sticking to her principles so much that she might eventually turn evil and die, or Chela needing to be Bright Slapped by her dad. And sometimes it’s really awful and stupid. I don’t like “let me show you a flashback to my super evil abusive family to show you why I am super evil and abusive” to begin with, but this one adds a kitten to the trauma to make things extra horrible. There was no need for that, and I say this as someone who wrote very similar things when *I* was 24. That said, I’m never going to be able to stop Spellblades wearing its heart on its sleeve, which means that sometimes you get really awesome stuff, and sometimes you get this. It’s all just out there on the page, everything.

So the arc is over, go in peace. Tune in next time to see if Yuri dies, if Katie turns evil, or if Oliver and Nanao finally bang. The first two are far more likely than the third.

Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense, Vol. 10

By Yuumikan and KOIN. Released in Japan as “Itai no wa Iya nano de Bōgyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu” by Kadokawa Books. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

Good news! This is a far stronger volume of Bofuri than the previous two were, and I think I can see why: the last book I really enjoyed was also pretty much just Maple and Sally, with the others barely appearing. I definitely enjoy the rest of the guild, there’s nothing wrong with them. But something about the main duo of the series causes the author to up their game. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s no major character development for Maple here or anything, she’s pretty much the same. (Sally… well, I’ll get to Sally.) But it’s simply fun and relaxing watching these two besties steamroll through the dungeons on earlier floors that they missed just to be able to see a really great view, or have a picnic, or learn about new ludicrous techniques. Well, only Maple gets that last one, as she manages to turn dark angel (scary) and also make her weird Atrocity ball do a Katamari Damacy (scarier).

Everyone’s still on the 7th level, and there’s no sign we’re seeing the 8th right away. So Maple and Sally decide to go sightseeing, going back to the earlier levels and taking in things they didn’t get to the last time around. They also meet new characters while they’re at it, because you can’t JUST have Maple and Sally and no one else, alas. Appropriately, of the two pairs they meet, one feels very Maple (Velvet, a brawler pretending to be an ojou, and Hinata, her introverted backup) and the other feels very Sally (Wilbert, an insanely powerful archer, and Lily, his maid backup… except when Lily is the powerful warrior and Wilbert is the butler backup). These two pairs make Sally worried, as she knows that they’ll be doing PvP before long, and she is concerned that she and Maple don’t have the synergy of the other two pairs… despite the entire book being evidence to the contrary.

The first anime had finished when this was being written, and I’m not sure if the author noticed the Maple/Sally yuri fans and decided to play it up a bit, or if this was always the case. Regardless, there’s a lot more yuri subtext than usual here, almost all of it on Risa/Sally’s end. Risa is a gamer girl who has struggled with the fact that her best friend has never really been able to keep up with her in any of them. Now they have this game, which plays to Kaede’s eccentric strengths, and it’s like heaven. She notes that she wants to keep playing with Maple like this forever (romantic, but hopefully not a death flag – I can’t see Bofuri ever getting dark), but she also wants to FIGHT Maple directly, even as she knows that Maple really isn’t into that sort of gameplay. It’s a combination of competitive tension and romantic tension, and it makes me wonder if the final book in the series will be Maple and Sally duking it out.

That said, pretty sure Maple will win. It’s her series. This was a terrific volume, though, and next time the rest of the cast should be back as well.