How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 13

By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

Anyone who has consumed any amount of Japanese anime/manga/light novel material will be familiar with the concept of the “bland hero”. He is there to be the reader, essentially. He is nice. He is usually smart, at least in these sorts of books. He is sensible. He tends to get flustered easily, usually. Sometimes this can even be done well. Realist Hero’s Souma is a fairly good example of the type without having most of the negative points that people complain about. Unfortunately, this can become a problem when the situation requires the character to have a reaction that is NOT “bland hero”. Near the start of this book, Souma takes offense to the rather wet (no pun intended) island princess comparing her situation to his wife Roroa’s, and gets mad. Which is fine, except I do not for one minute buy his anger at all. I had thought it was a calculated move, like virtually everything else he does. But no, it was meant to be rage. And wow, nope. Fortunately, the book improves greatly after that.

We pick up where we left off last time, with Princess Shabon and her bodyguard Kishun begging Souma to stop the upcoming war with the Nine-Headed Dragon Archipelago Union. This proves to be quite a wrench in the works, not only because Shabon’s desperation and poor self-image leads her to piss Souma off, but also as, well, he’s already got a plan in place, no worries. That said, there’s a bigger issue here, as the reason that all this seems to be happening is a giant monster that is prowling the seas and taking away all the fish – and sometimes the fishermen. Souma has to find a way to not go to war, avoid having the Empire called in, and deal with what is, let’s face it, Gamera. Fortunately, he has a lot of tricks up his sleeve, including a Navy that is powerful and does things other navies can’t, a monster expert who’s still a kid (I mean, when I say it’s Gamera I’m not making things up) and also find time to deal with the fact that another of his wives is pregnant.

The action parts of this book are quite well done, as is the “clever plan”, especially when we realize who Souma’s contact inside the Archipelago Union is. As noted above, this is very deliberately an homage to old kaiju movies (Souma uses the word to refer to the creature), and like most of those movies, you feel sad when it is finally brought down. There’s also some good politicking for those who read the series for that. I’m especially interested in what’s going on 3with Empress Marie, who pretty blatantly says here that she’s fine with simply letting Souma rule over everything. (I’m still betting she’ll be a final wife.) In terms of the ongoing plot, however, it’s still simmering, with Souma and Fuuga knowing they’re going to have to fight to the death and not really wanting to do it.

The next volume isn’t out in Japan yet (late April, I think), so we’ll be waiting a while to see what’s next. Till then, Gamera is really neat, he is filled with turtle meat, and please try not to let Souma show actual emotions.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 12

By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

Sadly, my begging to the author did not help, as Machiavelli is cited again in this volume. It was originally written in the webnovel version interspersed with Vol. 11, but they decided to split it up for book publication. Which is fine, but it does mean this book is very short. And what’s worse, it still needs side stories to make up the length… and has to start Book 13, to the point where the chapter numbering actually resets. Basically, in terms of bang for your buck, this is pretty slight. Fortunately, it does a little better when it comes to actual plot, introducing us at last to the Zem mercenaries and finding that they are not QUITE as villainous as the book has painted them to date. More importantly, though, we meet the late Duke Carmine’s daughter Mio, who is determined to get to the bottom of why her father did what he did. Souma had been planning to try to clear Georg’s name anyway, so this works out, but there are some other things to consider.

War is tough, after all, and though Georg did his best to try to keep casualties to a minimum, there are still soldiers who were killed in a battle that turns out to have been part of a massive con game, and their families won’t be happy with that. More importantly, of course, is the presence of Kagetora, the tiger-masked bodyguard who is absolutely not secretly Georg Carmine, no way, uh uh. Mio’s seriousness and general anger is something that Souma tries to curtail by the shortest route, and he does so by having Kagetora and Mio face each other in battle, something that manages to clue her in – and only her – as to what’s going on. (Less successful is Mio after this cathartic moment, when she becomes more comedic and starts throwing herself at Finance Minister Colbert… the author really does want to pair up absolutely EVERYONE, huh?)

The other big event in this book, aside from the cliffhanger that leads into Book 13 (which I’ll just discuss when that comes out) is the first in-person meeting of King Souma and Empress Maria. He needs the Empire’s help with their upcoming war, and knows that such a conversation can’t happen over video conference call. I liked that this showed off Maria being exceedingly clever, seeing what Souma is actually planning immediately, and also showcasing Jeanne’s frustration at being unable to catch up to her genius sister. That said, Maria’s (unheard by the reader) request of Souma is worrying, as it certainly sounds along the lines of “when I die, do this”. And here I was thinking they were going to work out a way to add her to Souma’s wives… oh yes, and the mad scientist group discusses the need to add drills to everything, which I still maintain is just a big Maria-sama Ga Miteru joke.

So, despite its slightness, this book succeeds at what it wants to do, although (like many, many light novel authors) the attempts at humor are not all that funny here. In any case, next time we get mermaids and dragons, and see another clever plan of Souma’s upended by a heroine inserting herself into the narrative.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 11

By Dojyomaru and Fuyuyuki. Released in Japan by Overlap, Inc. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean McCann.

After spending the last volume having all the weddings, it’s no surprise that we’re starting to see the fruits of that labor, so to speak. No, not Souma, although he does bed three more of his wives in this book (it cuts away before the sex, sorry). Instead we have Poncho, whose two wives are already pregnant, possibly as they are banging so much he is literally getting thin because of it, and Hal, whose childhood friend Kaede is also pregnant. Fortunately, the sex and babies is only a tiny part of this book, which is otherwise devoted to integrating its new problem children into the kingdom. Sometimes this is easy – everyone loves Ichiha, the milder climate means he’s healthier, and he’s written the most important book in years. Sometimes it’s a bit more difficult, as with Yuriga, who is not only a budding tsundere in training, but is also writing her brother every week telling him what King Souma is doing. What is Souma doing? Oh, y’know, starting bicycle message services, doing a Day of the Dead costume parade, staging mock battles to cool anime music. The usual.

As you can see from the cover, the other big plot twist is that Roroa has de-aged, and is now attending school. OK, no. In fact that is Lucy, a merchant’s daughter who adores Roroa and models herself after her, to the point where she’s nicknamed “mini-Roroa” in story. The other addition to the schoolchildren ranks is Velza, the dark elf that Hal rescued who has fallen madly in love with him. It’s a bit too soon for her to be going after anyone, though, so in the meantime she join’s Tomoe’s posse to get some learning. As always with this series, part of the fun is seeing not only how Souma introduces things like sewers and the like to Friedonia, nut also normal Japanese things – in this case the idea of school clubs, who recruit just as violently here as they do in Japan. The kids are cute, and we’re seeing them start to grow up – Tomoe has a bit of a crush on Ichiha, and is also trying to be more mature in general.

Arguably the more interesting part of the book is Souma giving a symposium on monsters and what they’ve learned due to Ichiha’s drawings and analysis. Publicly, it discusses classifying monsters more easily and studying them to try to help prevent things like stampedes and the like. Privately, things are more disturbing – evidence points to the monsters being ‘created” rather than born, and if that’s the case, then what about say, the beastmen, or the sea serpents, or any of the sentient races currently living reasonably peacefully with humans. The last thing Souma needs is adding racism to a world that’s trying to get rid of it. And this doesn’t even get into the potential war with the demons they have coming up. The back half of the book is, therefore, lots of talk, but it’s interesting talk.

This book takes place back in Friedonia, but apparently in the next one we go off to another country and meet some more new characters – because honestly the cast is too small, don’t you think? Till then, this gives the readers what they want, and I enjoyed it. Though for God’s sake, stop citing Machiavelli.