Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 14

By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.

I have found that a series like Rokujouma is at its best when the cast it set up against a strong enemy. Be it Theia’s home planet’s military or the dark magical girls, this allows Koutarou and the girls to be able to use their strong bonds to maximum effect. It also makes it heartwarming whenever they go on and on about said strong bonds. Unfortunately, that does lead to an annoying side effect, which is that when you have a book where there ISN’T a strong conflict, the series can sometimes turn a bit smug. When Koutarou was asked to grade all the girls he liked on a scale of 1-100 (100 being “would marry her in a flash), and even Yurika, considered the “weakest” of the lot, still gets over 300… the tendency to roll the eyes can be very strong. We know where the author is going with this, but sadly Koutarou’s nature means that we’re a ways away from him knowing it, I expect.

This book essentially consists of three short stories. The second is the one I was telling you about above, which involves Koutarou realizing how important all the girls are to him, Ruth suggesting that he start a cadre of Knights he can command (with her as second in command, natch), and Yurika getting comedically tortured, because honestly that’s still pretty funny. It’s a pretty slight story, though, and the other two do better. The longest involves Shizuka, whose past we finally hear about. I’m going to be honest here, the moment I heart of the fate of her parents I knew where the climax of this story was going to end up, and it sure did. But I like her as a character, and she now no longer has to be kept in the dark, and can officially be added to the “harem”. Basically, it’s the Shizuka depth we’d been waiting for.

The last story follows up on Vol. 13, where it was made clear that Koutarou and Clan had met Theia’s mother before in their apparently endless time travel. Here we see that meeting happen. It’s fun if a bit predictable – Ellie is a strong princess who nevertheless falls hard for Koutarou like everyone else, and since she’s not going to be part of the harem, Koutarou is allowed to realize that. And we see that even back twenty years prior, the military was a bit out of control – essentially, the planet’s history has reached the crisis point that Koutarou’s presence can solve once more. I wish a bit more had been done with the fact that Koutarou was still in love with Alaia at this point, but it’s given short shrift in favor of time travel “do I have the right?” stuff.

So this is not the strongest book in the series, and might seem self-satisfied to a casual reader. But I’m sure that more conflict will come along soon, and it’s good to see Shizuka officially be part of the main group at last.

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 13

By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.

Much as the Rokujouma series in general has focused on life on Earth, and more specifically around Room 106, I’ve been starting to get a feeling that when the series does eventually end (and it’s showing a few signs it may soon in Japan, though we’re still long away from it here) it’s going to be having the cast emigrating to Forthorthe in some way, shape or form. Theia and Ruth’s plotline is simply too wrapped up in a world far away from here. We see that at the start of this book, where both of them go back to their planet to investigate her mother’s supposed illness, and the narrative kind of idles while everyone waits for them to get back. It takes a lot to shift these folks from where they want to be – next to Koutarou. That said, we’re also seeing that Theia and her mother are being set up to look like traitors by the bad guys, so a closer visit to modern Forthorthe is no doubt in the offing. For now, though, enjoy a volume that’s almost all battle.

Yes, Ruth’s evil ex-fiance is back, and bhe’s brought friends and a consuming desire to battle Koutarou. As such, once Theia and Ruth return with her mother the Empress (turns out the illness was a lie – no surprises there), our heroes are under attack from multiple fronts. This allows us to show off the varied skills of all the group while also showing that, unlike Koutarou, they are allowed to lose to superior numbers and firepower. Koutarou is an exceeption, but again this book takes the time to hammer home again and again that he’s using “borrowed power” from everyone. That said, what he does with all that power is purely him, even if he refuses to admit it. There are a few exceptions, of course. Harumi, newly awakened to the magic she has within her, as well as to the fact that she’s Alaia’s reincarnation (something only Clan and Theia’s mother seem to be figuring out), and suddenly she’s a huge powerhouse, though sadly this does push Yurika’s talents off to the side a bit.

And then there’s Shizuka. Now, given that the last few books have been trying their darndest to make Shizuka part of the main harem, despite the fact that she’s not in love with Koutarou (yet), there was always going to be a revelation about her. Her super strength for no reason at all was a signpost there. Still, it’s hard not to be amused when Koutarou literally pulls a deus ex machina and calls on his ancient dragon friend from the past… only to find the dragon has been within Shizuka all along. Shizuka herself seems unaware of this, possibly because the author wanted to have a wacky tag for the epilogue, but I suspect it’s only a matter of time before she ends up much the same as Harumi is now. Given the nature of this book, it’s unsurprising that there are an awful lot of last-minute saves and “oh, did I mention I can do this” twists to it. Oh, and we also hear about another Koutqarou and Clan time-travel adventure we haven’t seen yet, though I hope that doesn’t mean another .5 volume.

So with Theia and her mother likely having to stay in exile for a while, and the two biggest antagonists in the series joining forces at the end, what’s coming up? This feels very much like an “End of Part One” sort of book, so I suspect next time we’ll see the start of something new.

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 12

By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.

Rokujouma is, of course, a balanced harem sort of series that in all honesty feels like it’s going to end up with some sort of polyamorous resolution. That said, obviously as a reader I have my favorites. After after realizing that the three volumes where she gained character development are my three favorite volumes, it’s time to admit it: Yurika is my jam. (I may have admitted this before, but forgive me for the slight return.) It’s a somewhat unusual choice given that Yurika’s default state is essentially Usagi from Sailor Moon: a whining, clumsy, somewhat bad at life sort of girl. But, like Usagi, when you put her into a situation where she has to protect the world and her friends, she comes through with flying colors. In addition, her scenes with Koutarou in this book really have a nice amount of romantic tension, even if it’s just on her part. And finally, praise the Lord, everyone admits that Yurika is indeed a real Magical Girl. This book is basically everything I want in a character arc.

Being a Yurika book, it’s no surprise that the chief villains here are Darkness Rainbow, though one of the main plot revelations is that they’re getting help from another group of villains. This means that Maki also gets a large amount of character work, following up on her bond with Koutarou in the 8th volume… in fact, the literal bond created between them becomes almost a chain to Maki, who worries that it means that her feelings aren’t her own. And Harumi, who has always somewhat suffered from being the normal girl in the group (Shizuka can beat up monsters with martial arts, so doesn’t count), gets a power up thanks to the narrative explicitly acknowledging her reincarnation of the princess status, even if Harumi doesn’t quite get it herself. Her scenes with Yurika were also fantastic, as Yurika’s guilt in falling for the guy Harumi loves is wiped away by the power of friendship, and the two end up literally merging souls for a bit when things get rough.

The nature of the Rokujouma license means that’s we’re getting these books once a month, and while it can be hard to catch up, not to mention expensive, I also think it’s helped me appreciate the plot and the way the book tie together in a way I wouldn’t if I was reading these three times a year. The last several books have felt like one continuous narrative, even as they change focus and emphasis, and I’ve no doubt that when Vol. 13 focuses on Theia (as the cliffhanger implies), it will also pick up threads from this book and others. Koutarou too is recognizing his faults out loud, and actually doing something about them. Yurika as well, though she needs a lot more help with her more comedic faults. (The funniest joke in the book may have been the final one, where Shizuka points out to Koutarou that not letting Yurika get any sleep at all will not help her study habits.)

Broken record time: Invaders of the Rokujouma!? is the best light novel series you’re not reading. Catch up as soon as possible.