In the Land of Leadale, Vol. 8

By Ceez and Tenmaso. Released in Japan as “Leadale no Daichi nite” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jessica Lange.

The Leadale series does something that I very much appreciate… well, to an extent. It knows that readers may not always remember what’s come before, so has a handy summary of the series before each volume. That said… perhaps the summary can be shortened a bit in the future? By the time I read through what had previously happened in the first 7 books, I was already nearly 30 pages into THIS book. It needn’t pad out the word count so much. As for the book itself, it continues to have fun with its main joke, which is that Cayna sees the other powerful players in her old group as eccentric lunatics, and they see her as the exact same if not worse. But really, Leadale is the ultimate book for folks who just want to read the worldbuiding. So much of this series is about game mechanics, both past and present, and how to abuse flavor text or what happens when your last boss monsters get unsealed. The gaming really is the plot.

Cayna is invited to help guard the princess as she and her fellows go out on an educational camping trip (a plotline also done, almost note for note, in Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear). Unfortunately, she also has a job she has to do for Opus, checking out the stability of a barrier holding back the last boss monsters mentioned above. The second mission quickly outstrips the first, and the school trip has to be rapidly cancelled. (The entire purpose of the trip seems to have been to introduce Exis’ little sister, who was also a player and thus is also in Leadale. That said, they need all the players and strong NPCs they can get, as the barrier is finally breaking, and bad things will overrun the kingdom if they don’t stop them. What’s more, if Cayna dies, the whole “game” part of this world goes away forever.

The connection between this world and Cayna has been its strongest mystery, still being revealed to us, and the most interesting part here is the fact that the players that have ended up inside Leadale is a figure much larger than the players who were actually active when the game shut down. Cayna has no idea why this is, and apparently Opus doesn’t either. As for the rest of the book, well, if you like Cayna being Cayna, it’s fun. She overreacts, she terrifies people, she will brings out a terrifying monster to act as a blanket so she can be warm when she sleeps. And, since the book is from her point of view, we as the reader don’t regard it as oddly as everyone else who deals with her. It doesn’t help that she’s now getting fangirls, thanks to players being too glib when creating their “children”…

The book ends with a cliffhanger, as our players are still in the midst of a big battle against a monster horde. Sadly, this is the final volume out in Japan as well, so we’ll be waiting a while before we continue. Probably long enough that I’ll need the 30-age summary for Book 9.

In the Land of Leadale, Vol. 7

By Ceez and Tenmaso. Released in Japan as “Leadale no Daichi nite” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jessica Lange.

One of the main reasons to read the Leadale series is to see the dissonance between Cayna as a centuries-old high elf who has great-grandchildren and can casually wipe out a continent with Cayna, who is a teenager who spent almost her entire life in a hospital bed and is still learning how to act like a normal person while also having the aforementioned massive power. That dissonance is felt keenly in this volume. At least twice in the book, Cayna overreacts to a situation so much that she causes terror in those around her. She claims that Opus is the dangerous loose cannon, but he (and the reader) know the actual truth. Watching the anime recently helped remind me of this, as there were a lot of viewers who could not get past Cayna’s “comedic violence” towards people, and the violence is no longer quite as comedic. She needs to get a handle on herself, especially now that she knows the true nature of where she is.

Cayna and Opus spend a lot of the start of the book looking around for the magic projector that will allow them to livestream the upcoming fighting tournament, which results in a sort of mini-tour of all the previous towers and shows off the eccentricities of the people who own them. This includes moving the giant turtle so it looks slightly less like it’s about to destroy the nearby city… as well as running into another relative, an elf queen who is rather enthusiastic about meeting Cayna. Unfortunately, now that Opus and Cayna are walking around together, her kids are starting to notice that Opus sounds exactly like who she said their dad was, which requires some last-second lying to avoid the topic. And then we get the tourney itself, which Cayna sits out but even so manages to accidentally ruin.

The world in general seems to treat Cayna as a natural disaster, and honestly the world isn’t wrong. She doesn’t react to things the way anyone would expect, mostly as she’s a teenager who never had a normal life being forced to deal with things that worry, upset, or embarrass her. She also looks like a cute l’il elf girl, so can occasionally be underestimated, though any of the players actually in this world who are able to see (or more accurately not see) her stats will be running away fast. She’s smart enough to know not to enter the tourney, but she then goes and gives Shining Saber one of her ludicrous monster swords, which results in the entire arena getting destroyed as he fights his opponent so hard that no one can continue. The reason I harp on this is because, unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of development with Cayna maturing. The series realizes that her overreactions are funny. So I will attempt to not take it too seriously. There are many funny bits here, which helps.

Leadale is never going to be great, but it’s always entertaining, and it’s a good read if you like fun fantasy with OP girls.

In the Land of Leadale, Vol. 6

By Ceez and Tenmaso. Released in Japan as “Leadale no Daichi nite” by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jessica Lange.

Last time I wondered whether Opus’ introduction would lead to him explaining the plot a bit more, or just to him being a dick. As it turns out, it’s both. Indeed, the explanations come fast and furious, which is a bit of a surprise. We’ve occasionally thought back to Keina lying in her hospital bed, and how Leadale was created essentially for her. But this volume shows that goes MUCH deeper than we’d expected , and that Cayna is tied to Leadale in a far more significant way than I think she’d really like to be. I don’t want to get too much into spoilers, but suffice to say that Opus’ real-life identity was the least surprising part of it. That said, the real world is not an option for Cayna anymore, so best make the most of it and do what she does best – be a terrifyingly powerful mage who you never, ever want to see get angry. Sadlty, in this volume, Opus is at her side most of the time, so no luck there.

After recovering from her MP-draining rage attack on Opus from the last volume, Opus actually deigns to answers a lot of her questions about the true nature of this world. From there, she goes back to the village she’s now calling home, trailed by Opus and his Maid/Bodyguard/Tsukkomi Siren, who has definite opinions on what servants should be like but also is well aware of how much of an asshole her boss is. She then returns to the capital, where her granddaughter asks her to deal with a loose end… the player/bandit leader she put a punishment collar on several books ago, who has basically learned his lesson. As for Opus, he’s just starting to walk around and get back into the swing of things, but he certainly enjoys putting the fear of God into anyone he interacts with. This won’t change.

There’s a prologue where we see Keina at the hospital, interacting with her family and the programmer who’s there to tell her about Leadale, and it helps to hammer home how mentally exhausted she was in there, and also how truly immature she still is. I’d mentioned the reaction against her violence last time, and I think that’s because we’re told (as everyone else thinks) to see her as a 200-year-old all-powerful grandma rather than a teenage girl who get really, really excited simply by the fact that she can run around. As for her and Opus, leaving aside the various reveals, I am pleased to see that they have exactly zero romantic chemistry together… though admittedly that’s not what the rest of the cast thinks. It’s OK, sometimes you can just have a relationship be two antagonistic friends who have the power to destroy a continent. Cayna yells, Opus smugs, punches ensue, rinse and repeat. It’s fun.

Leadale is not for everyone, and if you didn’t like the anime I don’t think this adds enough value to recommend, but for those already invested, there’s a lot of payoff here you weren’t expecting.