In the Land of Leadale, Vol. 5

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.

We’ve introduced most of the main cast at this point, but there’s one other major player (and indeed Major Player) whose absence from this has felt like a plot point: Opus, Cayna’s rival and partner in crime. She knows he’s there, as the presence of L’il Fairy has demonstrated, but he has not really shown up in front of her and we haven’t gotten a good sense of his character. Well, despite the fact that he only appears in the last few pages of this volume, we have a much better idea now. He’s a troll. A massive troll. And while Cayna, who is also incredibly eccentric in her own right, proved to be OK with that when she was helping him do the trolling, being on the receiving end of it for once pushes her to a righteous fury we haven’t really seen from her that much. For all that Cayna tends to use fists to solve arguments, she’s a relatively mellow person. Well, OK, she’s not. But her own “persona” pretends she is.

Cayna is still going around being a force of nature, but she can’t be everywhere, particularly if something needs to be solved the hard way rather than the Cayna way. So Exis and Quolkeh team up with another ex-player to take on a massive Guardian Tower that is a mobile turtle… heading for the royal palace. (This is solved by a typical Japanese quiz game.) As for Cayna, she suddenly finds that L’il Fairy needs a name, So she goes with Kuu, because it sounds like Kee, because Cayna is still pretty childish most of the time. She then goes on to do what she does best: There Is No Kill Like Overkill, as she takes on a huge pile of monsters led by a goblin master who is somewhat stunned to see how easily she carves them up. She then takes Cloffe and Clofia (remember them? The anime cut them?) on a dungeon crawl to find Opus. A very annoying dungeon crawl.

Since our last review the anime ran, and it seems to be a case where fans of the light novels enjoyed it (despite the cuts) but those who had not read the books were deeply turned off by Cayna’s temper and the series’ lack of a plot. To be honest, they’re good points. The author really enjoys showing Cayna lose it and hit people with her fists or big-ass weapons, usually whether they deserve it or not. Fortunately, in this case, Opus definitely does deserve it. As for the lack of anything happening… that’s true as well. This is at heart a slow life series, it’s just Cayna doesn’t run a drugstore or a library, she goes around trying to discover the secrets of this post-game world. It’s a hard vibe to get into, and I don’t think the anime got far along enough to show it off.

Still, this volume is pleasant enough, and thankfully had less of the body horror of Book 4. Now that Opus is here, will he help shed some light on things? Or will he just be a dick? We’ll find out soon.

In the Land of Leadale, Vol. 4

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 called In the Land of Leadale “a slow life series with a potentially dark, chewy center”, and that definitely applies to this book, though keep in mind the darkness at the center may in fact keep you up at night. For the most part this continues to advance the series’ vague plotline. Cayna is getting better at social interaction (having a child to care for helps), and while she still does ludicrous things, they’ve become more of a spice than the entire book itself. There’s also lots of cuteness and slow life stuff. Unfortunately, there’s also a group of goons who are hired to kidnap the children Cayna is caring for, and they fill the “evil light novel guy” gamut from cheerful sociopath to literal pedophile. Seeing them get their asses handed to them by our favorite catgirl maid is a big highlight of the book. We then get to see their actual fate, which, not gonna lie, was straight up terrifying. I was not expecting pure horror in this series.

Cayna, settling in in the village with her adopted daughter and her butler/maid familiars, realizes that she has not interacted with Mai-Mai as much as her other two children, and also wants to introduce Luca to her. So it’s back to Felskeilo we go, with not only Luca and Roxine but also Lytt, just to make sure Luca has an appropriate companion. Once there, it’s time for the annual festival!… which may not happen, as there’s a mysterious unidentified swimming object in the massive river that goes through the city. Those familiar with previous volumes of Leadale will not be too surprised at what it actually is, but that does not make dealing with it any easier. Add to this that Cayna’s… unusual horseless carriage has drawn the wrong kind of attention, and it’s a wonder that Cayna has any time left over to be ludicrously powerful! But that’s OK. She makes time.

So yeah, I will not get too much into the fate of the horrible mooks, as I’d like to leave it for the reader. It’s scary, though, even if they deserve it. The most interesting part of the book might come near the end, where Cayna starts theorizing about why all of a sudden they’re seeing the reactivation of so many quests. It’s actually quite a clever idea, and manages to hit on another of the things I like about this book – we’re not sure if this is a “trapped in a game” world or not, and the narrative itself is deliberately obfuscating things. The other fun thing about this book is its sweet moments. Cayna’s casual overpoweredness can also lead to relaxed, fun situations, such as the giant fishing party at the end, and the bond she’s developed with not only Luca but also Roxine is great. (Also loved Roxine’s dere moments in this.)

This is the last volume to come out before the anime, and given the state of recent LN adaptations, that’s cause for worry. Still, if you still enjoy slow life OP women and don’t mind a literal demon coming along and turning evil men into things, this is a great series to read.

In the Land of Leadale, Vol. 3

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.

As we get more and more into this series, I am starting to wonder if it may be more connected to Keina’s life than I had thought. I had assumed that the general horribleness of her life before getting trapped in this “game world” was basically for drama purposes, and indeed we get a flashback to the car accident that saw her permanently on life support and killed her parents here, as well as showing why she’s so much more ludicrously ovepowered than everyone else – she literally had nothing else to do but lie in the hospital and game. That said, the narrative also notes that she’d been ill her entire life, and also offhandledly says her family were somehow involved with Leadale’s production. And we also heard form some other players who got trapped in the game that its shutdown was a huge surprise, and no one could work out why. Things that make you go “Hmmm”. That said, most of this book is not concerned with that at all.

That’s not to say that the book is not concerned with the interweaving of “game world” and this world with real, actual people, as it very much is. Cayna starts to find that old “game events” are seeming to reactivate years later… only now killing all the NPCs is far less easy to shrug off. With the help of two other players, she helps to clear out one of them, but the villages that were wiped out remain very much wiped out, and Cayna ends up adopting the one survivor, a little girl. There’s clearly ominous stuff happening. That said, the other half of the book is pretty much just Cayna being Cayna. She’s creating beer and whiskey, she’s battling dark elves with ease, and she’s basically about 200 levels above everyone else. That said, social interaction is still an issue, especially now that she has to be a mom. Keina did not emotionally mature much in hospital… and it shows in Cayna.

Given we’re seeing a few more gamers who have ended up in this world (and woe betide them if they try to explain “well, see, 200 years ago” to the authorities) we get an answer to a question that was bound to crop up eventually: what about players who gamed as the other gender? Turns out the game did not let you do that… but that did not stop one player, who used an illegal mod to play as a woman. Now she’s in the game, and is having troubles. Fortunately, this book is almost entirely service-free, so the troubles are more “I talk like a brash guy in this body”, something Cayna finds amusing. We also get two more servants that Cayna calls upon (and then keeps around, since it’s unclear what happens to them when unsummoned). They’re a cat butler and cat maid, and they both hate each other a whole lot. Comedy ensues. Sometimes it’s even funny. Mostly, though, the laughs come from Cayna and her ludicrous power.

So yes, this remains a slow life series with a potentially dark, chewy center. I’m enjoying it quite a bit.