An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride, Vol. 16

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.

These books are getting increasingly hard to review, as there’s simply not much that’s left in terms of “dangling plotline” beyond one or two minor things introduced here. Zagan has gotten to the point where he’s ready to propose to Nephy, and has a ring, but a) is waiting for Nephy to be emotionally prepared for a proposal, and b) has to use the ring as a magic tool when battling a demon. Barbatos and Chastille are still trapped in tsundere hell, but are at least able to go out on dates now, and it won’t be long before they manage to somehow get married while denying it to the last breath in their bodies. The only real ongoing new plot of interest is Asmodeus, who, as predicted, is trying to pretend that the whole Lily thing didn’t affect her, but it totally did.There’s also getting spirits out of angelic swords, but unless we meet any of these spirits, I don’t care.

Chastille’s birthday is coming up soon, and Barbatos is *so* bad at romance that Gremory actually asks another archdemon for help, Vepar. Vepar would rather chew glass, as he regards Barbatos as evil and thinks Chastille is being forced into this, but after a while hanging around Barbatos he starts to get the picture – Barbatos is just lame. Vepar, meanwhile, wants a chance to fight his former master Asmodeus. While this is going on, Barbatos is also approached by Astrologian Eligor, who is trying to recruit Barbatos to switch sides and fight against Zagan. Most of what follows is a string of wacky misunderstandings. While this is going on, actual demons have been appearing in the country more and more, and both Zagan and Asmodeus are trying to stop it. Though Zagan’s may be hard, as it’s 10.000 demons standing on each other wearing a trenchcoat.

There’s nothing really wrong with this volume. The humor is funny if you like tsunderes. The couples are cute, though I’m less fond of Selphy, Lilth and Furcas’ love triangle, possibly as I suspect Selphy will end up on the losing side of it. Zagan gets to do cool things, Nephy gets to do cool things. And another innocent kid walks down an alleyway when they hear a noise, which has happened in this series already about four times, and I feel the need to remind the populace about taking basic safety lessons. But while there’s nothing wrong with the book, it’s not exciting either. It’s there to incrementally move things along, but it has the air of “I can drag this out as long as my publisher lets me”, and it’s starting to show. The manga spinoff that just started probably isn’t helping.

So fans of the series should read this, but don’t be surprised if you, like me, feel a bit tired of the whole thing.

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.