High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World!, Vol. 6

By Riku Misora and Sacraneco. Released in Japan as “Choujin Koukousei-tachi wa Isekai demo Yoyuu de Ikinuku you desu!” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nathaniel Hiroshi Thrasher.

I am tempted to simply cut and paste the first paragraph of my last review here, because it applies even more. The middle section of this book is some of the bleakest, most cynical stuff we’ve seen in this series to date… and it’s a series that’s rooted in cynicism, so that’s pretty impressive. The Reform Party leader is seen as well-meaning but naive, and gets taken to the cleaners by the more experienced nobles. The leader of the interventionist party is a figurehead who has no idea what her supposed allies are planning behind her back, and when she finds out, well, bad things happen. (More on that later). As for Tsukasa and company, well, they get the confirmation they need that something is rotten in Yamato, and have to make a graceful retreat courtesy their powerhouse Aoi. It would be a dark but strong book in the series… were it not for the climax. Instead, I almost feel like dropping it.

Meeting with the leaders of Yamato, and after a brief game of Spin the Bottle that is the sole attempt at humor in this book, Tsukasa and the others get confirmation that, indeed, the nation is so peaceful and happy because of mind control – and that Princess Mayoi is driven by a fierce hatred and contempt for everyone around her. Making their escape, they end up reconnoitering with the resistance unit, which has far more resistance than Tsukasa expected. At the same time, the election heads to its conclusion, and unfortunately is being entirely controlled by Glaux, the noble who is manipulating both sides, plotting murders, and also selling out his country to boot. Fortunately, the cover up of one of his murders is not as smooth as he thinks, especially with Keine on the scene.

The dramatic revelation of just how evil Glaux really is was predictable, but well-handled, and Tetra’s murder was brutal and tragic. I knew Keine was going to be involved in some way, and when she didn’t show up until later I assumed it was going to be to help with the time of death at the autopsy, which it was. That said… Tetra showing up alive at the end of this book is jaw-dropping in its awfulness, and feels like a betrayal of the reader. I already don’t like Keine to begin with because she strikes me as the biggest sociopath among the prodigies, but I acknowledge she can work miracles. But there’s miracles and then there’s impossibilities, and please do not stab someone through the heart, then chop at their neck, then leave them for days, and expect be to be happy that they were somehow resurrected. It’s absolutely ludicrous, and makes the whole election feel pointless. I hated it.

At the time of this review the 7th volume of High School Prodigies is not solicited yet, and perhaps that’s for the best. I need a break to get the taste of this book out of my mouth.

High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World!, Vol. 5

By Riku Misora and Sacraneco. Released in Japan as “Choujin Koukousei-tachi wa Isekai demo Yoyuu de Ikinuku you desu!” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nathaniel Hiroshi Thrasher.

Churchill once said “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried”. Leaving aside his own legacy for the moment, there was sort of a minor fandom kerfuffle at the idea of the prodigies coming into this world and introducing the people to the wonders of free elections. It felt a bit condescending, to be honest, and the cynicism that some of them seem to wear around them at all times did not help. This volume serves to try to balance that out a bit. Democracy is happening, but what actually comes of it is anyone’s guess. We see the formation of two factions, one isolationist and one interventionist, and they both have good points. Certainly the interventionist one would be better for our heroes of their won. Sadly, they’re already corrupt from within and loaded with people who want perks and bribes… which is, let’s face it, another part of democracy.

There’s actually an extra story taking up most of the first third of the book, where some “bandits” have taken over a stronghold and are wiping out the military trying to stop them, mostly as the military still isn’t used to fighting against modern weapons. Ringo could fix things immediately, but instead Tsukasa leaves it up to a child genius girl, who is very much the classic princess curled OHOHOHOHOHOHO! sort, and also sadly has invented one of history’s most infamous weapons. The book proper is devoted to a plea from one of the Yamato princesses to save her country. Tsukasa is not interested in that, but might be interested in saving her people… if she’s telling the truth. And for once the prodigies are not united – the fellowship is broken as Masato and Tsukasa disagree on their next step, and he heads off to a port as part of his own agenda.

Unlike previous books in the series, this one does not have any glaring horrible bits in it, it’s very readable. Though I wish that all the talk about saving Roo’s dream had been done with Roo in the room… or even in the book, which she isn’t. There’s a sense throughout the book that we’re setting things up for the back half of the series (we’ve halfway done by the end of this book), and indeed the Yamato problem is not remotely resolved by the end of it. Everything else seems to be simmering but not boiling over as well, including Tsukasa’s love triangle, which is a very awkward one indeed giving he’s ignoring both love interests… well, the love part, at least. There is a crisis of conscience from Prince, who feels weak and feeble compared to the others, but I gotta be honest, I find Prince dull so it didn’t really resonate with me. And the illustrations are laden with service, though I was amused at Shinobu literally calling attention to her own shower picture in the novel text.

This feels like the sort of book that will feel better after the next book is out. Till that, I’m giving it a B minus.

High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World!, Vol. 4

By Riku Misora and Sacraneco. Released in Japan as “Choujin Koukousei-tachi wa Isekai demo Yoyuu de Ikinuku you desu!” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nathaniel Hiroshi Thrasher.

While there are no long-term disasters here, it’s safe to say that this might be the first volume to actually belie its title, as the High School Prodigies don’t really have that good a time here. Trying to get their kingdom to stand on its own so that they can make preparations to go home turns out to be easier said than done. The actual way to go home seems to be offered up to them on a plate… but what’s the catch? Aoi finds that it’s not enough having a really strong sword, she needs a really strong CURSED sword or she’s screwed. And worst of all, economics happens. All of this barely leaves time for the love triangle that still inhabits the heart of this book, but rest assured there’s still time to deal with that. And, thankfully, there’s a minimum of Keine here, so we don’t need to worry about any questionable medical practices.

The book is divided into three, with two medium chunks and one long one. In the first, the prodigies go to negotiate with the Empire, currently being ruled by a proxy, and finds things go… suspiciously well. What’s more, said proxy is also from a different world. In the second story, Lyrule and Winona try to teach Jeanne how to cook, which is interesting more for Lyrule’s own tortured love life than anything else. The final story features the new nation of Elm, with Elch as its new Finance Minister, trying to introduce a new currency to the other nations. Masato is there as well, but he’s trying to be hands off so that the natives can attempt to handle things themselves. m Unfortunately, he underestimates Roo, and thus everything turns out both better and much worse than it could have gone.

Changing a world is not particularly an easy task, and the Prodigies have limited themselves to merely one part of it. When visiting the empire, they get a glimpse of the slave trade there, and we see a maid of the main villain of this book who is horribly abused. But she’s not there to be rescued later on, and indeed isn’t; she’s there to show us that you have to fix what you can for now. Which here mostly means the currency, as there’s a lot of back and forth, deals, secret deals, and endless piles of backstabbing. We get to learn firsthand the difference between politics and economics, and also see what I feel may be the first of many attempts to lure one of the prodigies to the enemy side. (It doesn’t work.. yet.) We also get to see how Roo has been soaking up information and tactics like a sponge from Masato, and though she still ends up getting tricked and almost killed, her resolve is impressive. (I do sort of wish we’d seen more of her after this scene.)

Overall I was pretty happy with this book, and the cliffhanger clearly introduces what’s likely to be the Big Bad of the series. It’s never going to be what one might call a good light novel, but it’s perfectly serviceable popcorn.