An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride, Vol. 7

By Fuminori Teshima and COMTA. Released in Japan by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

As the author indicates in the afterword, this series has gotten reasonably successful, to the point where they can now plan foreshadowing and deeper plots for future volumes. It also means that they can afford to have the cast simply hanging out on the beach for half the book as well. We get lots of swimsuit watching, everyone goes deep-sea fishing, there’s a barbecue, there’s yukatas, and everyone has lots of fun watching Chastille and Barbatos be the worst Ranma and Akane ripoff ever. Yes, it’s all fun and games till someone loses an eye… that someone being a mysterious man who has been going around killing archdemons (well, an archdemon) and has now decided he wants to go after Zagan using the strength of his mighty fists and the power of his mystical silver cursed eye giving him tons of mana. Unfortunately for him, Zagan has both of those to spare. Fortunately, there are a few additional twists and turns to help the story along its merry path.

Zagan’s past has always been given to us in dribs and drabs, but we get a lot more of it now than we did before, including mention of other kids on the streets he was living with in his pre-archdemon days (stories of which seem to reduce his entourage to tears). And I hate to spoil things, but if you’re surprised you haven’t read too many light novels; it turns out those same kids may now be getting involved with his life as adults! One is a older brother figure wearing glasses, so he has to be a Big Bad going down the road. The other is more of a spoiler I won’t give away, but I was very impressed with how the author handled it, making it obvious to the reader just before the actual revelation, in the best mystery tradition, though this isn’t much of a mystery. We also meet a new Archangel who helps us to understand that the relationship between the Church and the Archdemons is not nearly as cut and dry as some people think it is, and they also provide the best battle scene in the book.

Nephy and Zagan both mention in this volume how much they’ve changed since they first met, and it’s a good reminder that in Vol. 1 Zagan was stiff and sullen and inclined to brutally murdering bandits in front of young women just because he didn’t really think much of it, while Nephy was a death-seeking stoic who was an abuse survivor. It’s quite heartwarming to see how far they’ve come, even though they STILL have not gone on a cliched love-ydovey date the way that Zagan really wants, nor has their relationship advanced physically. Still, they’re way ahead of Chastille and Barbatos, who are trapped at the “embarrassment = love” stage of things, or Richard (assistant to Chastille) and Nephteros, in the “hopeless suitor” stage. They’re still the best couple to watch.

The final scene implies that future volumes may get darker. That said, I suspect they won’t get that dark. We know why readers want to read this series, and it can be summed up in one word: ‘D’awww!’.

An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride, Vol. 6

By Fuminori Teshima and COMTA. Released in Japan by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

Come on, you weren’t really expecting a normal volume where Zagan and Nephy go on a cute little date, right? Especially after seeing that cover. No, here we get the inverse of two volumes ago. Foll wants to grow up faster (so that she can be more powerful and protect Zagan), so Gremory suggests using a spell much like the one she uses to swap ages. The trouble is, as Foll’s a dragon and thus magic resistant, Zagan has to help by pouring mana into it. This causes… bad things to happen. Now Foll’s a busty 18-year-old, Zagan’s a little kid, and Nephy is pissed… when she’s not snuggling her now adorable l’il fiance. Fortunately, unlike when this happened to Nephy, Zagan is still of sound mind and with the proper memories. Unfortunately, no one knows how to fix this. Maybe the inter-species conference under the sea will be able to help? And does this mean they really have to rely on airheaded Selphy?

There’s a lot of good stuff in here about having more than one side to a person. It’s not clear if the spell/curse on Foll and Zagan actually affects them mentally, but certainly Zagan is a lot more petulant in this body, possibly because everyone is trying to snuggle him as he’s such a cute kid. The lesson learned here, though, is that just because he can do everything himself doesn’t mean he should – and that his loved ones want to stand on equal footing with him, not stand behind him while he protects them. This applies to Foll, who pretty much knew that there are no quick and easy ways to grow up but gets the valuable lesson drilled into her anyway, as well as to Nephy, who is still attempting to figure out her place in this world when it’s not just her and Zagan. Amusing as it was to see her calm fury several times during the book, the most significant scene may have been her reuniting with Nephteros and figuring out how they’re going to speak to each other going forward.

It’s possible that I’m making this book seem more serious than it is. My mistake – it may be the funniest book in the series. With Zagan as a kid, he has to get a new outfit, and you know what that means – it’s dress-up doll time with Manuela. Zagan’s horrified reaction when he realizes that Manuela and Gremory have met and are friends already is hysterical… actually, as usual, any scene with Manuela is great, leaving aside her sexual harassment. Also, those scenes with angry Nephy really are great, as she has the standard “smiling calmly while the top half of her face is shadowed’ ojou-sama style anger. It fits her well. I also really liked Selphy here, who is normally very much the ditz, but also shows signs of understanding the other cast members and getting them to open up.

Slave chokers and molesting sales clerks aside, this remains an excellent and fun light novel read. And it’s not an isekai, for those that try to keep track of such things.

An Archdemon’s Dilemma: How to Love Your Elf Bride, Vol. 5

By Fuminori Teshima and COMTA. Released in Japan by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

Given that An Archdemon’s Dilemma rarely has threats to its titular Archdemon that actually go anywhere (once again he’s the strongest one in the entire area, and is only greviously wounded once by his own choice), it makes sense that the series runs on putting loved ones in peril. Though it can take a lot to make Zagan actually admit to caring about people, he absolutely does, and therefore when Nephteros is once again sought after by the series’ major villain, he’s there to help her. Thankfully, he’s not really there to save her, as he generally rescues people based on power level. Innocents, such as the young fox girl who is possessed by black sludge, he is perfectly content to save entirely. Nephteros, who can get out of her own troubles once she gets over her identity issues, just needs a helping hand. And Chastille, who Zagan very much frames as “not a love interest”, has to fend for herself. Luckily, the author seems to finally let her do this.

I’ve talked before about how Chastille seemed like she was going to be the tsundere secondary love interest but then the author realized how much he loved seeing her flailing around and crying. Last time we saw that her ‘work’ and ‘rest’ phases are almost two different people. And here the two seem to combine, as she seems to have finally accepted in her heart that she loves Zagan but he doesn’t love her back… and moreover, she doesn’t want him to, as this would ruin things with Nephy. This actually allows her a stronger bond with Nephteros, who also is drawn to Zagan and Nephy but can’t really be with them. Zagan may say that she’s a sister to Nephy, but for once we get someone deciding NOT to live at Zagan’s castle of increasing population. Nephteros needs to cultivate her own story, as does Chastille.

Speaking of love stories, the biggest new character introduced this time around is Kuroka, a blind priestess with a grudge against a) sorcerers and b) Chastille. With her we get to examine the ‘driven by revenge’ trope, though I admit it was a bit too on the nose to have Zagan literally spell it out for the reader. Fortunately, aside from the revenge she’s a perfectly nice person. Also fortunately, the revenge she was seeking turns out to be unnecessary to begin with. There are hints of the ongoing plot here, as there seems to be a thirteenth sacred sword, and the corruption in the Church is still a larger problem even without assassination attempts on Chastille every book or so. As for the titular couple, well, they’re still awkward – by the end of the novel, Zagan has finally asked Nephy on a date, but that’s as far as we get. Unless you count the muffler scene, which was adorable.

I’m not sure I can point to one thing and say “this is why I enjoy the series so much”, but enjoy it I do. I was particularly pleased with Chastille this volume, who did not have one extended nervous breakdown. And it’s always nice to remind myself sometimes that Zagan is NOT an isekai protagonist, but just a poverty-stricken fantasy lad who got really, really powerful. Fun stuff.