The Demon Sword Master of Excalibur Academy, Vol. 6

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.

One of the sure fire ways to give a character suitable pain and determination is a good tragic backstory. And there’s no tragic backstory quite like the death of beloved family members. That’s what Sakuya, the Japanese — sorry, Sakura Orchid — swordswoman in Leo’s cadre of hot, powerful friends has dealt with since she was six years old. The death of her older sister right in front of her still gives her nightmares, and it informs not only her actions and, to a degree, disregard for her own future and safety, but also others also from Sakura Orchid, who are being far more, well, kamikaze about the whole thing. (Look, you don’t get subtlety in this series, read some other one for that.) As such, if you need to up the stakes a lot and devastate your character with the tragic past, nothing quite gets it across like resurrecting the family member who died in front of her. it’s not clear if Sakuya’s sister is actually still alive or merely a zombie of some sort, but either way, she’s still better than Sakuya in combat.

Leo may have taken over a terrorist group, but he’s having a lot of trouble keeping them from, well, doing terrorist things. Which is especially bad news when they find a cargo hold filled with… voids? How? Meanwhile, the aforementioned Sakura Orchid is having a festival, and our hero and heroines decide to attend it. It’s very much a standard Japanese summer festival, complete with yukatas (that Leo is reluctant to wear) and fireworks (that Leo thinks are an actual attack.) Unfortunately, there actually IS a real attack, but it’s not attacking the festival but the core of the entire Seventh Assault Garden. In order to stop it, Leo may not only have to push himself farther than he’s had to before, but also make another pact similar to the one he has with Riselia. Is Sakuya prepared to be no longer human?

Again, the calling card of this series is that it does not really do things well but it doesn’t really do things badly (apart from, as always, Leo being ten but being treated like he’s sixteen half the time). The fights in this one are particularly good, especially near the end, where Sakuya has to figure out what her new ability is and how it works while in a match where one false move would mean her death. On the down side, the threat of the Kenki gathering was rather pathetic – kamikaze or no, having them all suddenly be betrayed and turned into monsters was a bit too pat given they had not really accomplished much of anything. And of course there’s still the cute slice-of-magic-academy-life stuff, which such boffo gags as Leo’s minion using her spy work as an excuse to find the best places to snack and Leo’s monstrous wolf familiar essentially becoming Sakuya’s pet dog.

The next volume of the series has not been scheduled by Yen yet, so we may have to wait a bit. but that’s fine. This series does not require us to remember much about it except what’s on the surface.

The Demon Sword Master of Excalibur Academy, Vol. 5

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.

Before The Asterisk War went on hiatus here due to no new volumes in Japan (the artist has been sick), I was frequently asked by fans why I kept reading it given how generic and cliched it was. And granted, it absolutely is that. But my answer was, simply, “It hasn’t done enough wrong for me to stop reading it”. And The Demon Sword Master of Excalibur Academy feels a lot like that. There’s really nothing here you can’t get in other magical academy series, and they likely don’t have “lol, he’s in the body of a 10-year-old” dragging down the harem premise. But I dunno, it all feels so harmless. There’s goofy fun, there’s cool battles, there’s the occasional dribble of plot, and the girls are all beautiful. It is a series that you can read and immediately forget about, but when the next volume rolls around you’ll grab it and read it because it’s there. Plus, pool battle!

After the events of the last book, Leo now has to deal with the fact that a Dark Lord has been resurrected… albeit, like Leo, with only a fraction of her power. Also like Leo, that’s mostly irrelevant, because Veira is hella powerful even muted, and the first half of the book is mostly her getting a tour of the modern world and running our heroes ragged. That said, the second half gets more serious, as the Mysterious Organization that is behind all this has decided that the deadliest Dark Lord is the next one they want to bring back… the Undead King, Leonis. I, um, have some bad news for them about their timing. More seriously, there is also a problem of Holy Knights getting corrupted by a mysterious “voice of the goddess” and having their Holy Swords turn into Demon Swords. Which, unfortunately, also seems to send them into a rage.

Not gonna lie, I was startled to see the minor villain from the first novel come back to be a minor villain in this one as well. Arrogant jerkass shows he’s even worse is good only in small doses, so it’s absolutely fine that he gets taken down immediately. If there is a “focus heroine” beyond Riselia here it’s Elfine, who is suffering from PTSD from prior battles causing her sword to lose some of its power, and decides to go on the front lines with our team this time to do something about it. Good thing, too, as the other teams they’re paired up with to explore Leonis’ old underground tomb are being led by demon sword users. Elfine is able to get over her trauma and emerge victorious, but there’s a lot of others who also try hard but either get turned into demon sword users or lose their swords to said users, and unfortunately I don’t see a really good reason why Elfine is different from them other than “main character syndrome”. I wonder if we’ll ever see any of them again.

So yeah, if you like this series, this is a decent volume of it, and if you don’t, you dropped it ages ago. It’s still not doing enough wrong for me to stop.

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.