In the Land of Leadale, Vol. 2

By Ceez and Tenmaso. Released in Japan by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jessica Lange.

Last time I jokingly said that the series was “Overlord meets Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear”, and I was not expecting that to be doubly true in the second volume, which features Cayna serving as a guard/guide to students going out in the woods for the first time (Kuma Bear), but also searching for other “players” and starting to discover that she is not the only one who ended up in this supposed game world far into its future (Overlord). Surrounding this are scenes of Cayna getting pissed off when getting called “grandmother”, Cayna having absolutely no knowledge of current currency at all, and Cayna one-shotting various terrifying monsters that would normally take 15 high-level people to take out. In other words, it’s a slow life series without the actual slow life. It FEELS like a slow life series in both the meandering pacing and Cayna’s somewhat blase personality, but there’s far, far too much going on here, and too many mysteries still to be solved. It is a lot of fun, though, and very quotable.

We pick up where we left off, with Cayna arriving at the capital of Helshper to deliver a message for Mai-Mai. The message turns out to have been a ruse, as it was going to the leader of the largest merchant house in the world… who is also Mai-Mai’s son, and thus Cayna’s grandson. Oh yes, and her granddaughter is a member of the city knight brigade. Cayna doesn’t like surprises like this (she’s also not fond of being called grandma given she still feels like a 17-year-old), but hey. The city is having a bit of a bandit problem, and as Cayna helps with it, she finds out that yes, there ARE other players trapped in this “post-game” world, though whether they think it’s a game or real depends on the mindset. Elsewhere, she gains a small fairy helper, continues to go to the other top player bases, and, to the disappointment of her children, decides to settle and build a house somewhere AWAY from the big city.

So yes, Cayna is not alone in being in Leadale as a gamer, though she does seem to be late – the other players have been there for years, and it’s suggested this might have something to do with the fact that she died in the real world before the game shut down. That said, she’s still far and away the most overpowered person in the entire world, and we see examples of that throughout this book – anyone who dislikes overpowered characters… well, should stop reading Japanese novels, really. Cayna’s delivery continues to be a treat, be it when she’s angry, happy, or otherwise, and I like how her priorities are simply nothing like what anyone else expects them to be. She finds out that another of the top players she knew had an NPC daughter who wants to meet her , and her reaction is “sounds like a pain, so no”. Keina spent half her life in bed on life support. As Cayna, she has absolutely no fucks to give.

So yes, another enjoyable volume in the series, and I definitely recommend it more to those on the Kuma Bear end of the spectrum rather than the Overlord end, though there is a suggestion of malevolent things going on in the epilogue. Cayna’s a treat.

In the Land of Leadale, Vol. 1

By Ceez and Tenmaso. Released in Japan by Famitsu Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jessica Lange.

I have to admit “it’s sort of like Overlord meets Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear” is not a sentence I thought I’d be typing, and yet here we are. In the Land of Leadale manages to use a bit of the premise and a few of the logistics of Overlord, but is decidedly non-evil in tone, and in the end is far more concerned about its heroine walking leisurely around this world and being superpowered. Indeed, its “isekai” premise doesn’t come up as often as I’d expect – it’s there mostly for Cayna to make comparisons about how things were in the game compared to her life in the land she now finds herself in, and to occasionally go overboard with stats (as this genre is wont to do), but Cayna is for the most part quite happy to be in Leadale, especially as she is now, and her goal, after realizing how different things are now from the game proper, is simply to go around and talk to people. And occasionally show that she is superhuman compared to everyone else. Much like Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear.

We only get a few bits and pieces of the life Keina Kagami had in Japan before this. She apparently has lost her parents, and is in a hospital bed, where she has been for several years (she mentions not getting to the end of elementary school). Fortunately, she has the VR game Leadale to entertain her, and she has grown to be one of the thirteen strongest players. Then one day a power outage takes out her life support briefly, and she dies… only to be reborn in Leadale as Cayna, her high-elf character. She is rather puzzled as to how she’s in a world based on her game, especially as this world seems to be two hundred years AFTER the game’s own timeline. Now she has to go around, investigate, track down the NPCs she made… erm, pardon me, her three children, and see if she can figure out what happened. Then, when she does get an explanation, she moves on and decides to simply live here as a superpowered ancient high elf woman (who still looks like a teenager, of course.)

The character voice of Cayna is tremendous, and kudos to Jessica Lange, the translator. Admittedly you might call it a flaw – Cayna sounds nothing like a bedridden, near-death Japanese teen might sound, but sounds exactly like you’d expect a flighty and practical high elf to sound. She’s mostly unflappable, though there are things that can set her off, such as when she unintentionally shows off her kick attack by shouting the attack name like a 13-year-old. She starts off in a backwater village and rapidly starts helping to cleanse its forest of monsters, upgrading its wells, and adding a public bath. By the end of the book she’s gone to the capital to meet her kids (two other high elves and an adopted dwarf), each of whom are still alive by dint of being from long-lived races. Unfortunately, what she finds is that the game ended, and that the 12 other top players all gathered for a final farewell, lamenting they weren’t thirteen. (This is why I mentioned Overlord.)

So what happens next? Well, she can always be an adventurer – she helps to catch an errant Prince who is constantly running away from home, and the end of the book has her guarding a merchant party from bandits (and suggesting that there may be other people here she knew from the game). Mostly, though, you want to read Vol. 2 and more because it’s fun to listen to Cayna’s narrative voice and see her going around being ludicrous. An excellent addition to the “slow life” genre.