Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!, Vol. 14

By FUNA and Itsuki Akata. Released in Japan as “Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne!” by SQEX Novels. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Diana Taylor. Adapted by Maggie Cooper.

It’s been a while since we last had the adventures of Mile and company in front of us. Most of the reason for this is that the series got a new publisher in Japan, Square Enix, which necessitated renegotiating the license for the series, which takes time. But now, a mere 16 months after the last book, we have a new volume of the series. Perhaps sensing that this was a chance to show off why the series was picked up by a larger publisher, the author has decided to get slightly more serious than usual this time around. Oh, not to worry, there’s still plenty of “Mile does OP stuff” and fourth wall breaking, it’s just that the volume as a whole seems to want to go back to the main plot of the series, the one it usually ignores for books on end. It’s going to get harder to ignore from now on, though, as there are portals opening from another world.

That said, we have another plot to get through first. The Crimson Vow are hired as escorts/bodyguards… supposedly… to take Clairia and her fellow elves back to their village. The reason turns out to be trickier than that, as they wanted the Vow to distract from what turns out to be a “get married already” meeting set up by the village. This involves a lot of inbred misogyny, and the Vow quickly take matters into their own hands. The Guild then hires them to investigate a nearby kingdom, where things are just going… slightly worse than usual. For no stated reason. Mile is the perfect person to figure out what’s really going on… robots are making portals to their world from another world and sending in stronger, smarter monsters to take out the adventurers!

The elf stuff was not as good as the rest of the book, mostly depending on “ha ha, it’s funny because elf men are lolicons” and a heaping helping of “women should stay in the village and breed more elves”. The latter, to be fair, the narrative rips apart with its bare hands, and indeed one of the main themes of the entire series has been “you don’t have to get married immediately”. The second part is more setup for the next few books, made more amusing by Mile literally sacrificing some of her nanos to a portal to another world just to get information, and their irritated response. We also see that the Crimson Vow are a mature, powerful, respected team… but only in their own lands, and when they go elsewhere, or when their intelligence is disseminated by the Crown, it still has an air of “these are stupid kids, why should we care?” to it. Mike needs to become more famous, and not just as an author.

This is a good, not great book, with the series’ usual flaws. But it also has the series’ usual strengths as well, and fans should be pleased.

Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!: Lily’s Miracle

By Kousuke Akai and Itsuki Akata, based on the novels by FUNA. Released in Japan as “Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne!: Lily no Kiseki” by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Diana Taylor. Adapted by Maggie Cooper.

Like a lot of readers who first saw this spinoff announced, I was a bit confused. I thought it would be about one of the many side characters we’ve seen along Mile’s journey, and indeed thought it was about the young princess who needed a balanced diet in order to not die (her name is similar to Lily’s). But no, it’s nothing like that.l Instead we have a (mostly) new cast, in the same world that we know of. The Crimson Vow briefly show up at the start, and Mile jump-starts the plot, but otherwise they are entirely absent. Which is fine, really, as it allows us to truly focus on Lily. As with Mile, she’s a former noble with a lack of common sense due to circumstances. Also as with Mile, she has a truly ludicrous amount of magical power on hand. Unlike the childish Mile, though, Lily is a literal child.

Lily Lockwood is the oldest daughter of the local margrave. Unfortunately, she was born deaf, and so has been hidden by her family and quietly ignored. Then one day bandits arrive and attack the family, who vanish… with the exception of Lily, who is hidden in a cupboard by a kindly (?) maid. After emerging, she’s pretty much starving to death when the Crimson Vow come upon her. The girls give her food and water. Then Mile sneaks back in the night to cure her hearing… by giving her a bunch of nanos. Readers of the previous books likely know where this is gonna go. Now Lily is trying to make her way in the world, find allies and money to put food on the table, and also perhaps find her missing family. And all she has going for her is magic that is so strong it can destroy the local landscape.

This side story is not by FUNA, and it shows. Not that this is a bad thing – it’s quite a strong story, and I very much enjoyed it. But with a few exceptions, stupid comedy is mostly absent from this book, and it takes Lily seriously. I was impressed that Mile’s curing of Lily’s deafness did not magically allow her to suddenly hear and understand conversation properly or speak, though she does eventually get past that. Some of Lily’s feats, such as creating 30 fireballs that are almost the literal sun, show us that this author has been doing their homework in terms of the chaos Mile + nanos can bring. But Lily’s 9-year-old POV makes it both more innocent and also multitudes more terrifying, as she’s never been taught magic so does not know how to use only a tiny bit… or turn it off. There’s also a great supporting character in Lafine, the classic “cynic with a heart of gold” who winds up, as the cover might suggest, getting dragged around by her young charge.

I’m not sure if Lily will get another side story, but we may see her show up in the main series. That would be fun. Till then, this is an action-filled, somewhat emotional entry in the Make My Abilities Average series, with a spunky and likeable heroine.

Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!, Vol. 13

By FUNA and Itsuki Akata. Released in Japan as “Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne!” by Earth Star Novels. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Diana Taylor. Adapted by Maggie Cooper.

At last, after missing each other for a few volumes, the Wonder Trio and the Crimson Vow finally meet each other in the latter half of this volume, which leads to the fated battle of who gets to have Mile as their bestie. The outcome of this is very much up in the air… theoretically. In-universe, certainly. In the meta sense, the outcome is very much set in stone, as we’ve been traveling with the Crimson Vow for 12 books now, and the Wonder Trio are merely beloved supporting characters and backstory for our heroine. But it’s a good thing, really, as it reminds us of the Crimson Vow’s biggest flaw, which is that the other three have gotten so used to having Mile around that they’ve forgotten to think about basic things… like food or shelter. Reina gets this, being more used to the hunter life than the others, but when it comes to the fated battle… well, it appears to be a bit one-sided.

But wait, we also have the first half of the book. There are a few cute short stories, but mostly it has three main plotlines: the resolution of the battle with the Elder Dragons that formed last volume’s cliffhanger (turns out that controlling the nanos that control reality is super useful, who knew?); Kelvin, the guy who challenged Adele at school and got creamed growing up and leading a huge battle force (that would have lost without Mile, but hey, baby steps); and the Crimson Vow coming upon a small village, whereupon they save a young girl from being kidnapped by bandits. Said girl reminds Mile a lot of her little sister from her previous life… and it doesn’t help that she had an older sister in this world who died EXACTLY the way Misato did. I was actually waiting for this to go somewhere, but it really does seem to have been a coincidence… but it allows Mile to gush a lot, and the rest of the group to beat the crap out of bandits, their favorite thing.

The battle honestly feels like a bit of an apology to the wonder Trio. I’ve always felt it sort of baffling that the first volume in this series gave Adele a supporting cast of friends… and then dumped them and had Mile gain a NEW supporting cast of friends. As such, here we see that the trio are more intelligent and adept at magic, to the point where Mile is teaching them things that she would never teach the other members of the Crimson Vow. She also, like the Little Sister from earlier in the book, assigns some nanos to watch over them… not realizing that these nanos love to do anything in order to break their cycle of boredom. Combine that with the Wonder Trio figuring out uses for Mile’s storage magic that even she hasn’t dreamed of, and they start to look truly terrifying. That said, sorry to spoil but Mile remains with the Crimson Vow.

Aside from the usual flat/large breast remarks, there wasn’t even a lot of annoying fanservice in this book. The best part was the back half, but it was solid overall, and fans should be very pleased.