Der Werwolf: The Annals of Veight, Vol. 15

By Hyougetsu and Nari Teshima. Released in Japan by SQEX Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Ningen.

This is a perfectly decent volume of Der Werwolf. There’s lots of politicking, and there’s a big fight against a danger to every country towards the end of it. Fans should be pleased. That said, when the author stated in the afterword that the 16th volume would be the final one, it was hard not to think “Thank God”. It’s gotten harder these days to end popular series, and Der Werwolf is a classic example. I enjoy the next generation, but it really isn’t doing much beyond the same things that the previous one did. Indeed, Friede gets less page time here than in the two prior books, and Veight once again takes center state. This is partly because Friede doesn’t travel to a new foreign country, but the foreign country comes to Friede. But it’s also because Friede is her dad, only with “bright-eyed young woman” added to it. Even other characters note that they’re the same. When you’re just writing the same things over and over again (much like this review), it’s probably time to call it quits.

Meraldia is visited by the crown prince of Kuwol, Shumar, who gets off to a very bad start with Friede due to cultural differences, but seems a pretty nice guy at heart. He’s unlikely to be added to Friede’s group of friends anytime soon, though. Veight, meanwhile, is starting to think of the future, specifically what will happen to the world after he and those of his generation pass on, so he’s trying to explain the differences between Monarchy and a Parliamentary Democracy to that next generation, with limited success. Unfortunately, disaster soon arrives in the form of a massive dragon, apparently powered by mana, which is slowly making its way out of the woods and towards the other countries. Parker is send to investigate… and is incinerated into bone dust. Can anything defeat it?

‘Dragon’ isn’t one of the fantasy creatures we’ve seen in Der Werwolf. The reason for that is that we already have reptilian humanoids, and they pretty much fit in that little block next to the werewolves and vampires. This, though, is not so much a dragon as a kaiju – instead of fire, it fires off laser beams from its mouth, which reminds me of several Gamera films. Given that it absorbs mana, most of the traditional ways this series fights things don’t work at all. One interesting thing that comes up is that the dragon needs to be stopped before it evolves into a Hero. We haven’t really dealt with Heroes since the very beginning of this series, and it’s worth remembering that, to Veight and the others, a Hero is the worst thing that could happen to the world. Fortunately, Veight is able to use the power of diplomacy plus the power of being a one-man fighting machine to help take the dragon down, helped in the end by his daughter.

I’m not sure what the final volume will give us – retirement? I highly doubt it ends years in the future with Veight’s death. Mostly as it’s hard to imagine him ever dying. But Vol. 16 is not out in Japan yet, so we’ll have to wait to find out.

Der Werwolf: The Annals of Veight, Vol. 14

By Hyougetsu and Nari Teshima. Released in Japan by SQEX Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Ningen.

A new publisher for Der Werwolf made fans of the series briefly panic, as we’ve seen manga titles cancelled in the past when they jumped from one publisher to another. Fortunately, after a brief delay, the series is back with its 14th volume. Nothing has really changed now that it’s with Square Enix – cast is the same, artist is the same, it has the same “the entire book is one long chapter” style to it. And it still stars Veight’s daughter, although (as the author admits in the afterword) the balance between her own adventures and that of her dad is struggling a bit. This is The Annals of Veight, not The Annals of Friede, and I think a lot of fans would rather we stuck with the vice-commander. That said, they may be disappointed – there’s some setup here for Airia retiring, which means she and Veight might do more traveling and leave governing in the hands of the future generation. As for Friede herself, well, she’s a lot like her dad, and that includes getting young women to fall in love with her.

After tearing up Rolmund in the last book, this time Friede and company are invited to Wa, partly as a goodwill visit but mostly so the leaders there can see what sort of person she is. Veight is fine with this, ready to give her more slack to do what she wants, and she heads out with her best friends/harem. While there she’s given a minder, Iori, a serious-minded teenage girl who at first regards Friede as soft and riding on her dad’s reputation, a first impression that changes very, very rapidly after seeing her fight and seeing her steamroll any possible obstacles with her cheerful, straightforward attitude. Heck, she even charms the local cat people Grimalkin so much that they reveal to her a secret dance that might reveals a hidden treasure…

I mentioned on Twitter that I was not expecting this book to be yuri, and I suppose it’s not TECHNICALLY yuri, but it is true that Iori falls for Friede so hard and fast that it might as well be, and most of the latter half of the book is made up of what should absolutely be scenes of flirting romance. She’s an orphan girl who has struggled to prove herself, and (like half the cast in this series, including its two leads) tends to put herself down constantly. That said, I think she’ll be a fun addition to the series, because she definitely invites herself to go back with Friede and the others at the end of the book. I also loved her and Friede discussing Veight’s habit of downplaying all his own achievements, which I’ve mocked him for since the series began – “I’m just a simple vice-commander”, etc. It’s called “toxic humility” here, and I could not agree more. That said, I doubt it will go away anytime soon.

I agree with the author, I’m not sure where the series goes from here, but be it Veight or Friede’s book, I’m looking forward to finding out.

Der Werwolf: The Annals of Veight, Vol. 13

By Hyougetsu and Nari Teshima. Released in Japan by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Ningen.

We continue the trend of the series gradually shifting from Veight’s adventures to Friede’s, though as long as the subtitle of the series remains the same I would not worry too much about losing everyone’s favorite vice-commander. (the best joke in this volume, by the way, is how everyone now wants to be a vice-commander because that’s what Veight was and they associate it with being all-powerful.) The narration here is closer to a balance between Friede and Veight, as is the action, though it’s weighted more towards Friede in the front. She’s something of a breath of fresh air in that, while she is undeniably strong and clever, she’s also a kid and thus cannot simply brute force her way through everything the way that Veight does. Indeed, late in the book Veight gets yelled at for solving a problem by blowing it up, even though, to be fair, that was likely the only way the problem could be solved. Friede is not super OP, so we are more interested in how she fixes things.

We pick up where we left off last time, with Friede, Shirin and Yuhette being sent to Rolmund as part of an ambassadorial visit, with the hopes that if it goes well it could lead to actual negotiations by adults in the future. What follows is essentially a continuation of the Rolmund arc from previous books, as it turns out that, unlike Meraldia, things are still very much in flux there politically. Eleora mostly has everything handled, but insurrections keep happening, and she cannot be everywhere. This is problematic when her niece, the heir (you know she’s not gonna get married, she’s one of the women who lost to Airia in the Veight sweepstakes) ends up kidnapped by one of the rival factions. Who’s going to be the one to find her? Will it be those whose job it is to do it? Or will it be our little girl protagonist? Take a guess.

I was amused at the niece/heir, Micha, who at first appears to be one of THOSE rich kids (you even see her pointing, always a sign in Japanese media that someone is rude) but quickly bonds with Friede, to the point where by the time the visit ends they’re best friends. Admittedly Friede also saves her life, which does help cement close friendships, or so I hear. As for Veight, he gets to do more on the back end of the book. Facing off against a sandworm is a scene for those who prefer the old, Veight is badass sort of story, but for me the highlight was the politics, including Veight opening up to his daughter about being a reincarnation. I too would miss easy to access potato chips if I were a werewolf in a fantasy kingdom. Not to mention paper curr3ency, which rears its ugly head as this book ends and will likely come up in Book 14.

Which we may or may not see soon. Square Enix has purchased the rights to Der Werwolf in Japan, so Vol. 14 and forward need to have J-Novel Club negotiate with a new publisher. Till then, fans of the series can enjoy this book which continues to very, very slowly pass the baton to its new heroine.