An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride, Vol. 15

By Fuminori Teshima and COMTA. Released in Japan as “Maou no Ore ga Dorei Elf wo Yome ni Shitanda ga, Dou Medereba Ii?” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

If the 13th volume in this series was the big climactic finale, and the 14th was a short story interlude, then this new volume is very much “start of the next season”. We are reminded that there are a few archdemons that we still have not met, and that many of them are terrible people in almost every way. We also have fallout to deal with from the previous “season”, which means that Kuroka has to go into hiding and Foll needs to get used to being one of the main players on the board. And of course there’s also room for love – Nephy’s birthday is coming up, as is Chastille, and the men in their lives are scrambling for the BEST present. Alshiera’s old crush has been resurrected… as has her old husband, Zagan’s dad. Love triangle? Not so much. Zagan’s dad may, in fact, be there to torpedo the one yuri relationship in this series, alas. In any case, A LOT OF STUFF.

After the big battle from Vol. 13, there are new Archdemons galore… though unfortunately, there’s no room for Barbatos, as there’s a missing sigil meaning he doesn’t get to join in the fun. Fortunately, he’s too busy competing with Chastille in “who can be the lamest possible person” sweepstakes to care. Foll, meanwhile, has been designated by Zagan to handle the Nephilim, who regard Zagan as The Enemy but might be more amenable to a dragon girl. Foll is pretty much sweet as pie and also hella strong, so things go well… till an amnesiac girl arrives. Though she calls herself Lily, her true identity is Asmodeus, one of the Archdemons, and a mercenary who will steal anything and sell out anyone. Is she faking her amnesia? And if so, is it right to just kill her?

The book does not really answer that last question all that well. It’s framed by Asmodeus towards the end of the book that she was faking it all along, but given that we even had POV narration from “Lily” that belied that, I’m inclined to believe she’s lying, possibly to herself. She’s an interesting character… but there’s also a sense that we’ve seen her character arc before with different people. It’s even pointed out they have ANOTHER amnesiac girl to help her out, in a case of non-subtle lampshading. As for the other new Archdemon (well, the one who gets actual screen time), he’s clearly not here to be redeemed by the power of niceness the way Asmodeus is, so is allowed to simply be a terrible monster, though his debate with Zagan about what you should feel when murdering something is interesting in a “cool motive, still murder” sort of way. And for all that this book starts off making a big deal about getting Chastille and Barbatos to admit they’re in love, it really doesn’t follow through at all, does it?

So an OK volume of the series, that will probably read better when this new “season” really gets going. Who knews, maybe the anime will have a release date by the time the next volume comes out, and I can’t see this series ending till that airs.

An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride, Vol. 14

By Fuminori Teshima and COMTA. Released in Japan as “Maou no Ore ga Dorei Elf wo Yome ni Shitanda ga, Dou Medereba Ii?” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

Last time I asked where the story could go after the previous volume really seemed to wrap up most of the plots and put a bow on them. I really should have been able to guess, as the answer is: a short story volume. This one has a wraparound of the cast all having a post-saving the world party at Zagan’s castle, and Gremory (who is in a wheelchair, and also looks 16 years old becauze of, I assume, nearly dying) is trying to get everyone to tell her love stories, which ties in to Foll going around asking about love a couple of volumes ago. There’s a bit of ongoing romance stuff – Selphy has clearly very much come to terms with her love of Lilith, and is going to try harder to make sure she does not take the het route. (She probably will, be warned.) But really this volume is about the four stories, which range from good but slight to excellent.

In the first story, Zagan, Nephy and Foll go to visit a haunted house… one that looks very familiar. Chastille is there as well, separately, and runs into a boy who seems to have gotten lost. In the second, shortest story, Shax and Kuroka eat cute. In the third and longest story, we learn the story of how Raphael met Kuroka’s mother, and the love affair that sadly never was. And in the final story, Zagan and Nephy go on the most adorable date you ever did see, buying cute outfits eating parfaits, and making everyone else around them ill. It’s basically everything that readers of this series have dreamed of, except it doesn’t end with them banging each other like drums at the end of the date.

The reason to get this book is the third story, where Raphael comes to a merchant town to try to track down a serial killer who has been murdering people with swords. Also there is Heidi, who by day is a waitress at an inn and also helps out the local church, and by night goes around masked and attacks people with swords. Is she the person with swords who’s been killing everyone? This one was very compelling, and I sort of hoped that they’d get together, even though I know based on what we know about Raphael and Kuroka that wasn’t happening. It does, however, really require the reader to know what the significance of “the moon is beautiful” is. The first story (and the wraparound) give us the return of crybaby Chastille, who I’ve never really been too fond of, but oh well. The last story is absolute 100% pure sugar, and will be perfect for those who love that sort of thing. Also, Zagan and Nephy’s outfits are pretty cute.

I assume next time we will kick off whatever the next plotline is – Alshiera, I assume – but till then, this was a pretty solid short story collection.

An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride, Vol. 13

By Fuminori Teshima and COMTA. Released in Japan as “Maou no Ore ga Dorei Elf wo Yome ni Shitanda ga, Dou Medereba Ii?” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

This is a long book. I’m not sure if it’s the longest in the series, but it has to be pretty close. Which is good, as the whole book is basically one giant battle scene, and length gives me more things to attempt to talk about other than “mmm, fight good”. It helps that we see pretty much the entire cast here, heroes, villains, and the morally grey area in between that is the majority of the group. Shere Khan finally gets a chance to try to be the Big Bad, but in the end he still manages to be upstaged by Bifrons. You know it’s bad when the villain is looking back at the one good deed they did once. We also finally – finally – get the explanation for Zagan’s past, and who his parents are. That said, in the end we learn the real reason for all of this, the reason Zagan fought back so harshly – and it’s hilarious.

Things are not in a good place at the start of the book. Nephteros is possessed AND dying, the worst combination. Richard is in a coma, Stella is in a coma, and it’s gotten to the point where they even have to abandon the castle, or at least hide it in an alternate dimension. Gremory is missing and possibly dead, and there is also the slight problem of all the resurrected heroes who are on Shere Khan’s side. To fight back they’re going to need absolutely everyone… though possibly not Chastille, who they are trying to prevent finding out about Nephteros in case it triggers her crybabay side. (They really should know better). Can they save Nephteros? Can they save Aristella? Can they deal with all these people coming back from the dead with close connections to the entire cast? And will they be able to celebrate another birthday?

There are a large number of cool scenes, as you’d expect from a book like this. Everyone gets a chance to do awesome things, either by being powerful (Foll, Kimaris) or by being “the heart” (Nephy, Chastille). If there’s a downside to the book, it’s that Shere Khan, by his very nature, can’t really do much once Zagan reaches him except die. The entire book is about trying to stop Zagan getting to him, and once he does, the book is basically over. The biggest surprise, though, may be Bifrons. He was so busy being evil and sneering that I forgot that he was also a sorcerer trying to do something that no other sorcerer had ever done, and if that means he ends up being the man who saves the day and makes everything better, trust me, that’s just a side effect. Good for you, Bifrons. Now please stay dead.

This very much has a feeling of “this is the final book in the series”, but there’s more on the way. We’ll see what it can do next – isn’t Alshiera still dying? In any case, fans of the series should be very satisfied with this one.