The Demon Sword Master of Excalibur Academy, Vol. 4

By Yu Shimizu and Asagi Tosaka. Released in Japan as “Seiken Gakuin no Maken Tsukai” by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Roman Lampert.

There’s a lot of things to love about found family situations, but one of my favorites is that everyone seems to know that everyone else has *a* secret, but doesn’t know what it is, and doesn’t really care. That’s shown off to good effect here, as everyone in our main cast seems to be hiding something. Leonis is a Demon Lord, of course, which only Riselia knows, but the others clearly know he’s not just a normal 10-year-old prodigy. Riselia, of course, has to hide that she’s now basically a vampire queen. Regina and Elfine both have their secrets, though in Elfine’s case it’s the fact that her secret is figured out in 2.5 seconds that makes it amusing. And then there’s Sakuya, the “Sakura Orchid” (read: Japan) resident who’s now living here in not-quite Europe. She’s a seemingly stoic swordfighter, and her secret may in fact be the most dangerous one of them all. Fortunately, our heroine who witnesses said secret is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

It’s school festival time at Excalibur Academy, and you know what that means: it’s time for a maid cafe. Unfortunately, the dorm that our heroines and Leonis live in has been getting creepier of late, what with all the ravens wanting to hang around their vampire mistress. There’s only one thing they can do: make it a combination cafe and haunted house! Oh, but one big problem: Leonis is a guy, and thus can’t participate… UNLESS… we dress him in an adorable maid outfit and disguise him! Fortunately, wacky hijinks are not everything that drives this volume. Elfine’s sister has uncovered the frozen body of another demon lord, and brought it back with her. This surely won’t be a terrible decision! Spoiler: it is, and now Excalibur Academy is once again surrounded by void creatures.

There’s fun to be had here provided you don’t think too hard. Everyone gets to do a cool thing or two. The ancient elf from the previous volume shows up again, and has discovered her true calling, with is to stare in amazement at the stupidity of everyone around her. Which is mostly Leonis’ terrorist minions, who prove to be top-tier dumb mooks. There is a cute plot where Shary, Leonis’ obsessive stalker… erm, dark minion, gets a ring from her beloved… which is just a summoning ring that will immediately call to her the strongest monster. He doesn’t get why she’s disappointed, but we do, especially when we see her seething at Riselia the entire volume. Still, in has a sweet ending. And there’s the ongoing worldbuilding, as we have… you’ll never guess this… evil laughing priests who are trying to restart long dead schemes. A lot of this book, which has everyone call out their attack names all the time, reminded me of Slayers, and you should take it about as seriously.

This remains the light novel equivalent of a late night hamburger meal from Wendy’s, but again, there’s nothing wrong with it. If you like cute girls and magic battles, pick it up.

The Demon Sword Master of Excalibur Academy, Vol. 3

By Yu Shimizu and Asagi Tosaka. Released in Japan as “Seiken Gakuin no Maken Tsukai” by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Roman Lampert.

It’s always the same, isn’t it? You get a thousand-year-old powerful being with a desire to take over the world resurrected, and all of a sudden the bus arrives with ten more. Still, it keeps you busy. this series continues to feel like someone wrote a Shonen Jump manga and, instead of getting it published in Jump, decided to novelize it. Well, OK, this would fit Shonen Magazine better than Jump, especially given the large number of kickass women who like to take baths with our hero. (It’s OK, he’s 10! Right? It is somewhat odd to see the “she looks 8 years old but she’s really 600” cliche used to justify underage fanservice seen in the opposite direction… again, also to help with fanservice.) Fortunately, aside from said bath scenes, this third volume is much like the first two. It will never be anyone’s favorite, but I’m probably going to be reading the next book in the series. And it is starting to show off its plot, though that relies on Leonis being dim.

We’re briefly back in actual classes at the start of the book, as Riselia and Leonis are doing team battles against a top-standing rival. This mostly serves to show the school that Riselia is not “that girl with no holy Sword” anymore, and she can kick ass and take names. She’s also a vampire queen, but that’s still pretty much a secret. The main plot, however, starts when the Third Assault Garden, Riselia’s birthplace and last seen being totally destroyed by monsters, has now floated back into vision… and there’s a distress signal. As such, our team is sent out to see what’s happened. Will Riselia be OK with digging up her past? Who’s behind the distress signal? Can we really work an elf AND an evil priest into the same book and not smack our foreheads? And gosh, who is Roselia reincarnated as, anyway? It’s a mystery…

Again, this is a good book. The girls are likeable and also take on a majority of the combat. The combat scenes are well done, and the villains are also good at being villains. There are some things I was annoyed by. After a second book where a confrontation I was waiting for didn’t happen, the same thing happens here, as Riselia is definitely set up to have a big showdown… that does not actually occur. Instead, she grabs an ancient book. Secondly, it’s gone from amusing to vexing to really really annoying that Leonis is unable to understand, as everyone else who sees her manages to do, including anyone who might see their two names side by side, that Riselia is Roselia’s reincarnation. One of the villains literally dies of happiness on seeing this, but Leonis remains clinically thick about it. As a running gag, it drives me nuts, especially as I expect it’s only going to be drawn out more. (It has been pointed out to be the two don’t look alike, and OK, I can kind of accept that.)

Still, as with previous volumes, this was good enough to warrant my reading more. If you want a great light novel, look elsewhere. If you want a book for an afternoon’s read on the beach, this would be fine.

The Demon Sword Master of Excalibur Academy, Vol. 2

By Yu Shimizu and Asagi Tosaka. Released in Japan as “Seiken Gakuin no Maken Tsukai” by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Roman Lampert.

I am, as readers of this site well know, easy to please. This can sometimes be a bit frustrating when I have series that don’t do anything particularly wrong, but are also not particularly stellar. The Demon King Master of Excalibur Academy falls under that. I will admit that I find the fact that the Demon King is in a 10-year-old body irritating, but it is mostly avoiding fanservice and groping, so that’s not a big enough reason to move on. The books are short, the prose is readable, the girls get things to do, and the battles are pretty cool, so boxes checked off there. That said, this really isn’t going to be making anyone’s top 10 light novels list anytime soon. There was an argument recently about whether using the word ‘generic’ is pejorative, and yes, it probably is, but there’s no word that better fits the series than this. It’s like eating a slice of bread. No butter, no jam. Just the bread.

The Academy is put on the back burner for this volume, with the biggest class-related event happening being that Leonis skips class. There’s a good reason for this, though – a huge ship is arriving carrying the Fourth Princess, who is paying a visit. Unfortunately, a horde of void creatures break out as she arrives, causing those who have gathered to see her to have to be evacuated onto the ship. Also unfortunately, this turns out to be a plot by terrorists, who are there to kidnap the princess and gain more equality for beastmen. Also also unfortunately, the terrorists have a mole in their ranks who has her own agenda, which is “kill everyone by having the ship slam into a reef, so that she can get her hands on a bunch of demon swords. Fortunately, Leonis and the girls from the first volume are there to stop them.

One of the interesting things in the series is the fact that it’s post-apocalyptic, and not very far away from it either. This allows Leonis to be thoroughly confused at how much has changed since he was alive, and also allows the book to constantly be interrupted by monster attacks, which are well-written but also mean that there’s not much actually happening here, even with the short page count. We do get a few revelations about Regina, Reselia’s maid, comrade in arms, and Girl With A Secret (TM). The secret is not hard to guess, and I will admit that I was frustrated that a meeting we were building up to did not happen, but that’s the trouble with long-running series like these. (Also, sadly, the princess was very underwritten, and I wish we’d seen more of her.)

That’s one interesting thing about these books – they read like they’re cancellation proof. The author has been told “your name is big enough, so we’ll guarantee that you won’t be cut after two novels”, and it shows, as there’s a lot of long-term things going on here. Unfortunately, that means we don’t really get satisfying answers in THIS book. It’s a series that is “good enough for now” to a T.