How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 16

By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan as “Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha no Oukoku Saikenki” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

The Realist Hero series has occasionally shown us glimpses of the Gran Chaos Empire, but we’ve never really been inside it. And while we’ve seen Maria and Jeanne, for the most part they’ve been minor supporting characters in a series that, especially lately, has been far more concerned with Fuuga’s desire to be Genghis Khan and Souma’s reaction to this. That said, when we have seen Maria several things have become clear: she is very good at what she does, and she hates doing it. Sometimes just because you’re a born leader does not mean that leadership is the thing you actually desire. And lately, especially with the expansion of the other two major territories, her advisors are growing restless, tired of her “wait and see” approach. There has definitely been a sense that when the three powers clashed, the Empire would be the one to fall. That said, I don’t think we quite appreciated just how close to breaking Maria really was till the events of this book, which features what is for all intents and purposes a suicide attempt.

There’s a two-year timeskip near the start of this volume, which I point out only because the book itself is so blase about it you might forget. We also see Kuu’s marriage. After that, though, it’s all business. Fuuga will not be content till he’s conquered the world, and that means he has to take on either Maria or Souma… and frankly Maria is the more obvious choice. He and his people do a good job. They make the right feints. They coerce Maria’s allies into betraying her. They make it worth Souma’s while to stay out of things, even to the point of marrying him off to Yuriga (who is now 18, and yes, that’s probably the main reason for the timeskip). Fuuga even offers Souma the chance to actually rule the world after he conquers it – he has no interest in what comes after “I beat everyone”. That said, Maria is not without a cunning plan or two of her own.

I mention the suicide attempt mostly as it’s in the color pages, which are for once at the front of the volume (J-Novel Club started to put them at the back due to Amazon’s policies about art in the ‘ebook previews’), boldly feature it. It startles the hell out of absolutely everyone, including Souma, who almost panics and ruins their well-crafted plan (which, to be fair, did not have Maria jumping to her death) and Fuuga, for whom this would be the worst possible outcome. He doesn’t need the so-called Saint to be a martyr. As it happens, Maria’s not really sure why she did it either, at least until afterwards back in Souma’s castle when she essentially has a complete emotional breakdown and you realize that she’s been holding everything in for YEARS. Fortunately, thanks to the support of everyone (as well as marrying the man she loves – yes, Souma gets TWO new wives this volume), she can recover and go on to do what she’s really wanted to do all this time – philanthropy. AGGRESSIVE philanthropy.

These books are never going to be quality literature. But, like some of the more famous series out there, the quality of the writing is not as important as the resonance. Realist Hero resonates with its readers really well, which is why we’re still invested in it even after all these volumes. And all these wives.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 15

By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan as “Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha no Oukoku Saikenki” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

This feels like a volume we’ve been waiting for a long time. Fuuga is still in it, but for once he is not the entire focus of the series. Souma gets to play a large, active role. We even get to see the Empire again, and get a sense that Maria is unhappy but very good at hiding it. All of this leads up to one of the better volumes in some time, even as it takes on an issue that the author was a bit wary of doing when they were writing the webnovel. Yes, it’s a pandemic, though this is not a viral infection like COVID-19 and is more parasite oriented. And of course there’s the revelations we get about Souma’s summoning, which feels like it’s been a long time coming. It makes a lot of sense given what we’ve known about this world, and also explains why some of Souma’s reforms have gone so smoothly. Oh yes, and in case you were worried, MORE BABIES!

The story starts with us getting a look at one of the few nations we haven’t dwelt on yet, the Spirit Kingdom of Garland. They have not made a good impression in the series so far, being high-elf supremacists and also driving out their reformer Merula. That said, they have a more pressing problem: the demons have overtaken one of their two islands, and they want Souma’s help to get it back. Unfortunately, the negotiations go badly. They go badly with Maria as well. Fortunately… or not… Fuuga can see an opportunity to conquer more lands, and agrees, planning to overthrow the current kingdom and install a puppet state (something that gets a big boost when the royal princess of the Spirit Kingdom falls head over heels for one of Fuuga’s aides). Unfortunately… there’s a sickness going around the spirit kingdom.

Realist Hero has never been known for its subtlety, and this book in particular is a bit on the nose with its insistence that all countries must put aside differences and unite when there is a pandemic that could kill us all. Fortunately, unlike Machiavelli’s teachings (which do come up here a lot as well, no fear), I am 100% behind this. I also appreciated Souma lecturing on the danger of making ideas too simple and that it might lead to people accepting conspiracy theories. (*cough*) That said, my favorite part of the book was the big summit which unites the three main powers in the world. This gives Maria a chance to talk with Liscia, and drop several unsubtle hints that Liscia nevertheless completely fails to pick up on. “Gosh, I wish someone else was ruling the Empire! Oh hey, Souma even has rulers from other countries as his wives! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.” I don’t think Souma is going to take over the Empire anytime soon, but I also don’t think it will be long before Maria becomes part of the polycule, somehow.

By now everyone knows the kind of series Realist Hero is, and those who don’t are certainly arguing about it on anime forums, as the second season is currently running. But for novel readers, this should give you a lot of what you want.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 14

By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan as “Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha no Oukoku Saikenki” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

Given that he’s clearly being set up to be the main antagonist, it’s not particularly surprising that we now get an entire book devoted to what Fuuga Haan is up to. Souma and company are certainly in the book, but they feel more like supporting players. Instead, we watch as Fuuga continues to be a cross between Genghis Khan and Romance of the Three Kingdoms, removing his enemies and then, as an encore, removing anyone who’s staying neutral as well. This does allow us to see how the inevitable battle between Fuuga and Souma is going to go, though, and Souma is not enjoying it at all, as it turns out Fuuga does in fact listen to advice, even when the advice given is, dare I say it, Machiavellian. This is due to the Chima family, who turn out to mostly be varying degrees of clever and too clever by half. Souma really lucked out getting the youngest son as an ally, though he may be getting more before this is all done.

On the cover we see Mutsumi, who unfortunately is not nearly as much of an action heroine as it implies. That said, she is very much devoted to her husband, and she to him, and I hope that we do not see her killed off in order to give him grief and vengeance down the road. The plot kicks off when her younger brother, who knows his father is plotting against Fuuga and is confident in his sniping skills, takes it on himself to try to assassinate Fuuga. This goes badly, and forces Mathew, the patriarch, to kickstart his plan into action. What follows are a series of tactical battles, lots of fighting and bloodshed, and Fuuga winning the day, mostly because the eldest Chiba decides to betray his father and advise Fuuga instead. Meanwhile, things look bad for Julius and Tia, as their tiny kingdom is very strategically placed, and Fuuga has it in his sights…

I’ve talked before about my dislike of how much Machiavelli is hammered on in this series, but I’m clearly not going to get anywhere with that, so I will admit that it is interesting comparing and contrasting Souma with Hashim. Souma talks about Machiavelli a lot, but for the most part the only time we’ve really seen him behaving like the modern-day adjectival use of the word is when he slaughtered all those nobles – something he recalls in this book. Hashim does the same thing here, planting a bomb at a meeting of neutral nations, but is far more clearly villainous, and you get the sense that, unlike Souma, he would absolutely do it again and again if it suited him. He’s also happy to tear his family apart, which is a shame, but it does mean that we get a few more Chimas in the allied countries. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward, especially as the Empire and Maria have been very noticeably absent recently.

All this plus MORE BABIES! Yes, who knew when everyone got married in Book 1o0 it would lead to pregnancies? In any case, provided you don’t mind that Fuuga Haan is the focus, this is a decent volume of Realist Hero.