How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 6

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

This volume of Realist Hero sees our heroes go off to meet the dragon people of this world. Most of them are as you’d imagine dragon people to be in an isekai light novel series written for guys – Western dragons types who can fly and breathe fire, carry men on their back, and can also turn into beautiful women. Indeed, the carrying men on their back thing is explicitly stated to be the same as losing your virginity for a dragon – with heavy consequences for the dragon if the guy doesn’t end up partnering with her. That said, none of these dragons are the star. The star is Naden, who is a dragon who doesn’t have wings and can’t breathe fire, and thus is mocked by the other dragons around her. Fortunately the star of this series is Souma, and so you know he’s going to find value in her (she can create electricity!), see what she’s really based on (Eastern dragons – which means yes, she can fly), and end up partnering with her in order to save the dragon nation from a disaster – and also because they’ve fallen for each other.

The plot of this book is very straightforward, to the point where it even seems a little rushed. Naden falls for Souma almost immediately, and there are several scenes to reassure us that he’s not going to be marrying her simply because of her powers or status, but because he likes her as well. I also appreciated the development given to Ruby, one of three “Mean Girls” style dragons who bully Naden for being different. It’s framed more as “each wants what the other can’t have”, and as Ruby points out, at least she’s being a jerk to Naden in person, rather than behind her back. Ruby, during the crisis, also has to be ridden by Hal, which of course means that he has to marry her, which is possibly poor timing given that he and Kaede finally got engaged before this book. Fortunately, everyone’s super fine with polygamy here, so it works out.

There are a few seeds for future books sown here, the biggest of which is the nature of the world that Souma was summoned to as a hero, which may not be as “alternate fantasy world” as first expected. I expect this may have something to do with the demons, which we’ve already heard are not quite as “they’re just evil, OK?’ as previously thought. The other implication of the book’s ending is far less surprising – Liscia is pregnant. This may be why the author had her go with Souma for the final battle even though she didn’t do much – it’s possibly the last time she’ll get to be involved. The next book looks to feature Juna and Roroa, so we may simply get revolving fiancee development for a while. And there is also a nice helping of humor here, ranging from Aisha destroying everything around her because Souma disappeared to Empress Maria’s new career as a pop idol. Souma’s influence is felt far and wide, clearly.

There may not be quite as much kingdom developing as previous volumes, so some fans may be disappointed. But for the most part this is a decent Realist Hero, introducing a new fiancee quickly and economically. She’s cute, too.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 5

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

There is something of a cliche about light novel fans, many of whom are teenage boys and young men, that when a new light novel is announced and the plot summary appears, the first questions asked by said fans is whether there is sex in the series. (Actually, they tend to say “snusnu’, which is a Futurama reference, for added nerd appeal.) I mentioned on Twitter the other day that if I saw one more fan asking about whether a light novel has snusnu, I was going to flip tables. It therefore amused me greatly that a great deal of the plot of this fifth light novel in the Realist Hero series involves the fact that he hasn’t yet had sex with any of his fiancees, and that it’s beginning to annoy people who want an heir. This being Realist Hero, of course, we get long discussions of why heirs are important, the succession order, and the pros and cons of why Souma should or should not take Liscia to bed before he feels ready. That said, fans may relax. There is sex in this. But it’s offscreen, so they may stay frustrated.

Fortunately, there’s a lot more going on in this book than just wondering when Souma and Liscia will get it on. In fact, I’d argue it’s the strongest volume to date. There are finally hints that we’re going to be getting, if not forward plot motion, at least more just than running to stand still. The religious theocracy country has sent a representative to Souma to ask him to accept their religion as his country’s own, as well as make him a Holy King. Given they’re already angry at Maria of the Empire for daring to call herself a Saint, even though that’s a nickname not of her choosing, the reader is not inclined to hold them in high esteem. That said, the author does not appear to have it in for religion in general, unlike other light novels (hi, Smartphone), and Souma’s solution as to how to avoid the Papal State while not inciting them to foment rebellion is quite clever. We also get a setup for the next volume, showing that we will be meeting the Dragon People, who (given we’re told they can take human form and mate with Knights) I suspect will be providing another fiancee for our busy king.

There’s also some ridiculousness, as we’ve seen every volume. Souma bringing children’s television to the masses is a heck of a lot of fun, combining aspect of Sesame Street with the sentai superhero shows he recalls from Japan. And he’s also trying to think of ways to improve the nation, ranging from aircraft carriers disguised as islands to turning the wyverns into aircycles (which Kaede and Hal are in charge of, in case you were wondering about the cover). And of course the “bridal training” mentioned earlier, which is being handled by Excel Walter (you do remember Walter, right?) with the help of some truth serum spiked in Souma’s alcohol, which I was not happy with, but at least she didn’t try to bed him after that. We even have a discussion of idealism vs. realism, which I found quite amusing given that I myself sometimes tend to forget that this is not supposed to be “about an Idealist Hero”.

Essentially, a very good volume to the series. Also, feel sorry for Liscia, who even her own fiancee says is the standard, ordinary heroine. All she has going for her is her Saberface. Sad!

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Vol. 4

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

Realist Hero continues to keep my interest even as my teeth grind more and more at the mindset of the author and his characters, which is to its credit. Certainly there are similar isekais that did not hold my attention and have since been dropped (hi, Death March). It’s even more impressive given that, for the second volume in a row, this feels like a setup book, putting various things in place, introducing new technology that will no doubt be needed down the road, and (at last) finally answering one of the lingering questions of the series: why on Earth did the former King abdicate to Souma after merely having one conversation with him? And for fans of the romances, you not only get a new queen added to the mix, but Souma finally comes to terms with the fact that he is in this world for good, and that he is worthy of being loved, and is able to take that next step.

The girl on the cover is Roroa, who we’ve seen crop up in cameos before this book, here to save the day (despite Souma completely ruining her planned overdramatic entrance). Roroa is, in many ways, an Osaka stereotype transferred to the fantasy world: she not only has the sort-of-Southern accent, but is also far more of a merchant than she ever is a Princess. Yes, she’s the Princess in Amadonia, which is now fully incorporated into Elfrieden (which means the new name of the country is Friedonia, which I refuse to believe is by accident) and has presented herself as a prospective bride, Like other prospective brides we’ve seen in these sorts of series, she runs rings around Souma till he gives in. That said, she does look like a good addition, and it will be nice to see Souma try not to juggle economics quite as much. Oh yes, we also get a mad scientist girl, though she won’t be part of the harem. She is very much in the “ditzy teen genius” mode.

There is an extended plot here regarding slavery in this world, which I was less happy with. I accept that slavery in this fantasy world does not carry with it the baggage that it does in our own world, and that it seems to be more indentured servitude. But both Souma and the author seem to treat slavery as an intellectual problem to be solved, rather than as a monstrous evil. This is not unique to the isekai realm, of course, and I should be grateful that the protagonist doesn’t simply say “oh, slavery exists here” and shrug his shoulders like some others. It does add to my biggest beef with this series: it can be as dispassionate as its hero is, and as I’ve said before, seems like it’s one of those “dark/grey/independent” fics you always saw in Harry Potter written by teenagers who wondered what the world would be like if everything were more badass. (Hint: it involves hating Weasleys.) I like books to be fiction. I am less happy when they are thought experiments.

That said, when the book concentrates on its harem cliches, such as the relationship between Souma and Liscia, it may be less original, but it makes it more human. I hope we get a bit more of this going forward. I also hope the demon realm invades soon, as I really need Book 5 to not involve puttering around making new roads and discussing the Helsinki Accords. Mildly recommended to isekai fans.