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.

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.