A Wild Last Boss Appeared!, Vol. 2

By Firehead and YahaKo. Released in Japan by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Kevin Chen.

I am a big fan of the old classic cartoons of Tex Avery, be they the early Warner Bros. years or the classic MGM masterpieces. One gag he first used with Porky Pig, in The Blow Out (1936), and then again with Droopy at MGM with Dumb Hounded (1943) and Northwest Hounded Police (1947) was that of “the pursuer is always there”. Our bad guy tries to flee the seemingly slow and ineffectual hero, but everywhere he goes, no matter what he does, there’s the hero, right there, waiting for him. It works as comedy because the hero is Porky or Droopy, and the villains are bad guys who deserve what they get. That said, if you flip it so that instead of a hero you have what is essentially a monster straight out of a horror movie… well, you get something altogether more terrifying. Despite said monster being a robot maid. Easily the best scene in the book, I sense the author was familiar with those old Tex Avery cartoons.

As for the book itself, the first chunk involves Lufas going to retrieve said killer robot maid, who is currently at the top of a huge tomb that is supposed to be Lufas’s final resting place. Needless to say, her group has very little trouble with said tomb, despite everyone else in the world getting killed off due to the many killer traps and golems within. Once that’s done, she and her crew go off to meet another one of the Heroes, who is currently king of a land that is literally divided into black and white sides. Lufas wants to just quietly investigate and maybe talk with the King. Unfortunately, almost everyone else around her, including most of her party, have other ideas. Can she stop a war between the light-winged and colored-winged residents? Can she get the king to stop hating himself? And what’s up with Dina, anyway?

Other than Libra’s Droopy impression, the highlight of the book is Dina and her attempts to be a double reverse quadruple agent, backstabbing absolutely everyone. We saw hints of this at the end of the last book, but it’s in full flower now, and the explanation as to who she really is works quite well. (Actually, the series handles the idea of “is this trapped in a game or not?” in a very interesting way, with differences between types of canon becoming extremely important to the world in general.) As for Lufas, it manages to be more intriguing than annoying that her mind constantly slides away from Dina when she tries to think about her, and it’s not particularly surprising that, when it comes to a real battle, Lufas wipes the floor with her. I’m pleased Dina is not killed off – and I’m assuming she’ll continue to be a lovable traitor in future books.

So yes, overall a definite improvement on the first book, and I’m enjoying its somewhat laid-back pace, despite the need to defeat the enemy somewhere down the line. Recommended for those who like cool overpowered beauties, backstabbing, and Droopy cartoons.

A Wild Last Boss Appeared!, Vol. 1

By Firehead and YahaKo. Released in Japan by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Kevin Chen.

Sometimes you get books where the concept is drab and you’ve seen it before, but the execution is excellent, and sometimes you get novels with a great concept that can’t quite pull it off. This comes closer to the second type, which may surprise readers given that it’s another “Japanese gamer is pulled into his game world” sort of book. But there are intriguing things going on here. It’s sort of reminiscent of Overlord, in that we have a gamer who arrives in his game world as the villain he created, complete with minions (most of whom have to be tracked down, admittedly) and whose self of self is being somewhat overlaid with the character. That said, this book does not seem to be nearly as dark as Overlord gets. It’s just Lufas getting used to being back in the world (which is 200 years later), getting used to being a woman (the gamer who created her was male), and getting used to being far, far more powerful than everyone else. Does it work? Somewhat.

As noted, our hero is a gamer who played a fun MMORPG (she’s the blonde on the cover, not the blue-haired girl), taking on a character who ended up playing the role of the villain. She was taken down by seven heroes in a massive battle (which the gamer was totally in on, this was a controlled event) and killed off. Suddenly the gamer finds himself in what appears to be that world, two hundred years later, summoned as part of a botched spell to summon a hero. Lufus has no interest in dealing with the folks who summoned her (the character is a woman, something that actually has a lot less relevance than you’d expect) and so goes back to her old Dark Tower, which she finds is rather decrepit but still standing. It also has her minion and expodump girl Dina, who Lufas created as an NPC and then forgot about, but who can helpfully explain what’s happened since Lufas’ death. She decides to round up her twelve monster companions, which first involves talking one of them down from his roaring rampage of revenge.

There are interesting things going on here. The gamer’s memories and Lufas’ have sort of melded together, and as the book goes on the relevance of “this is a game I played in Japan” lessens, which is interesting. To my surprise, the book also has virtually no fanservice at all, and in fact Lufas notes that she doesn’t really feel any desires for women anymore – or men, for that matter. This does, admittedly, make you wonder why the gender bender was conceived of to begin with, except that Lufas looks really beautiful. There’s also some foreshadowing that one of the characters is not what they seem, and it’s handled very deftly. I am rather relieved that the book slowly starts to drop the gamer stuff as it goes along, as the gamer sometimes uses vocab and ideas that make me suspect he was one of those basic sexist Japanese guys. More to the point, while I appreciate that it has a long game in mind, the book meanders. It’s not meant to be a slow life title, but sure feels like one at times, especially when Lufas is doing things like making Golem Winnebagos.

So I’d say that the series has not quite gelled yet. That said, it’s interesting enough that I’ll read more, and folks who (have I said this a lot in my reviews lately?) don’t mind overpowered heroes will find something to enjoy here.