Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 39

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

The Rokujouma landscape post-Volume 29 has thrown a lot more obstacles in the way of our heroes, but it is not frankly in a huge rush to deal with them. This has become a series that has no real plans to stop, so things will get resolved when they get resolved. This also applies to the romance, where we see that Koutarou is still uncomfortable with the idea that all the other girls have already come to accept, which is to say that he’s going to be in a polycule. Physical affection is also a work in progress, as we see in this volume when he’s forced to share a giant robot cockpit with Kiriha. But at least we’ve resolved all the potential love interests and aren’t adding anyone new, right? …right? Well, OK there’s been an asterisk next to that since Vol. 29, but for the most part we’ve ignored it as Nalfa has barely been in these recent volumes. That changes here, and you get the feeling she will be added to said polycule. If she survives.

After the big battle last volume, most of the enemy have fled, likely to regroup around Forthorthe. But the Grey Knight has hung around, trying to figure out why Koutarou’s magical sword is “incomplete”. In the meantime, it’s the start of a new school semester, and there’s going to be a huge influx of alien students. Nalfa has to give the welcoming speech, and it’s making her a bit panicky. That said, everyone else is on edge, suspecting that the Grey Knight is going to be attacking the ceremony. Fortunately, it goes off without a hitch. Unfortunately, the Grey Knight finally clues in and realizes what it is that he is looking for: Nalfa. She’s got some power he needs to draw out. He tries attempting to kill her – this doesn’t work. Then he tries attempting to kill Koutarou – that works. Can our heroes save her with the power of Sanae x 3?

Sanae, Sanae and Sanae fighting against the grey Knight is easily the action highlight of the book, and also gets in a few good one-liners (is it the power of friendship when you’re all the same person?). As for the Grey Knight, well, he may be from a different timeline but he’s still hella powerful and dangerous, and it’s going to take a lot more than Sanaes to get rid of him. As for the romance side of things, if nothing else I think we see here that Nalfa may be the only other addition to the polycule. She’s very blunt about her love for Koutarou, just like the other girls – and not like Kotori, who holds Koutarou on a pedestal compared to her “cheating” brother, but doesn’t see him as a love interest. That said, this is somewhat irrelevant, as any further romantic progress, if it happens at all, will be at the very end of the series.

We’re back to Forthorthe for the foreseeable future in the next book, with a few additions – Kenji, Kotori and Nalfa need to come along so that they’re not used as hostages. (This will kill Kenji’s love life, but he’s comic relief anyway.) Vol. 40 just came out in Japan two days ago, though, so it may be another few months for us.

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 38

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

It can be hard to thread the needle when you’re writing a story that actually *is* being published in light novel form first, as opposed to the usual these days, where a publisher picks up a series published originally on the web. The author admits that, after getting past the ‘we’ll end this in three books’ and ‘we’ll end this in 7-8 books’ hump and getting to the proper ending with Books 28 & 29… they STILL did not have the room to tell everything they wanted to tell. Which is why, even though it’s a 2-volume arc, those books felt a bit rushed. With this book, and its reveal about who their new Big Bad is, we get to go back and tackle the plot-related bits of the ending that were sacrificed for the greater theme. And we get to do that in a way that Rokujouma has become very accustomed to lately… though massive battles. This time in space, as after dealing with villains with fatal flaws up the wazoo for a while, Koutarou and company finally have to take on smart bad guys.

This book starts off with plot and does not really let go of it – any fluffy moments are now pretty much reserved for the short story volumes. Our three magical girls, out on patrol, come back with a surprise… Sanae! But it’s not Sanae-chan, our lovable ghost, or even Sanae-san, the shy but spiritually powerful human. It’s a Sanae from an alternate world… one where things went very badly. The Grey Knight, their mysterious new enemy, has progressively spirited away or killed off a good deal of the cast, and so they sent Sanae to a different dimension to try to warn our heroes about him (and get help if she can). This leads to the back half of the book, which is a battle between our heroes on one side and Ralgwin, the Grey Knight, and the mage Grevanas, back from the dead and experimenting with modern technology. What is the shocking secret identity of the Grey Knight?

…OK, it’s not that shocking. Given Koutarou has spent 30-odd books gallivanting around as the BLUE Knight, and that we have a Sanae from an alternate universe now, the identity of the Grey Knight is actually pretty easy to guess. I did enjoy seeing alternate Sanae, who is exactly what you’d expect her to be: a mature Sanae who is at peace with the fact that she had to fuse her two “selves” together but is still “Sanae” at heart. There is also some amusing romantic progression… amusing because, as you’d expect, it’s unconscious, with Koutarou saying that he hasn’t married Theia “yet”, a definite step up from the previous “we’re not getting married” denials. The dam is starting to crack.

The book ends by implying we’ll be returning to Forthothe soon, and catching up with our team of former evil magical girls, who now work for the Crown. But yeah, I suspect this alternate universe will play out over the next few volumes, though I’m sure we’ll get short story ones as well. Rokujouma may meander a bit these days, but it’s still worth reading.

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 37

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

Given the longevity of this series – at 39 volumes (counting the two .5 volumes) it’s probably the biggest light novel series to hit North America in full translation – it’s not particularly a surprise that the more recent volumes are taking the time to look back at the past. This is particularly true of this, a short story volume that follows the usual pattern we’ve seen to date – three web-only short stories and a longer story written specifically for this book. The three web stories all involve looking back at the past in some way, shape or form, and seeing how far people have come. Harumi and Clan, who are in many ways opposites, each envy the other; Theia and Ruth reflect about the fact that they can trust other now and are better people as a result; and Sanae and Shizuka think about life without Koutarou in it and decide “no thank you”, even if at the time they may have felt differently. Fortunately, the final story in the book looks toward the future… and has swimsuits.

In the first story, Clan and Harumi (and Alaia, as Harumi’s later ego) are looking back over events of two thousand years prior, where Clan is forced to admit that Koutarou basically did all the cooking and laundry. The two then use magic and technology to swap bodies, essentially, so Koutarou can roughly rub Harumi’s head and treat Clan with respect and politeness. The second story has Theia and Ruth trying to pick out photos for a news article about the Blue Knight, and thinking about their childhood together and how difficult it was for both of them. The third story sees Shizuka and Sanae spring cleaning all the apartments in the complex, and also stirring up memories – be it Shizuka’s parents before their death or Sanae’s “haunting” of Koutarou before the others arrived. Finally, Koutarou and the girls go on a private beach holiday… but also find time to sneak in some plot-based activities.

Shizuka’s story reminded me that there are other residents of the apartment complex besides her and the 106 herd, and we really haven’t ever ran into any of them, have we? Even if they don’t complain about the noise and/or property damage, you’d think the idea of one man living with so many girls would cause them to at least talk to the manager. Then again, she *does* know martial arts… As usual with these short story volumes, the longest was the best, as we see Nefilforan and her troops wanting to train against Koutarou and the other girls, as they’re all basically powerhouses. This gives us a chance to see just how powerful everyone in the group has become… and yes, for once that includes Yurika, though she thinks sleeping gas is not very cute and magical girl-ey. Unfortunately for the girls, while Koutarou is slowly getting over his past traumas and personality flaws, he’s not really ready to admire the girls’ swimsuits at all or show that he is sexually attracted to them. Perhaps it might take another 39 books.

Of course, this still leaves a cliffhanger from the last book hanging there, and the author promises that we’ll get back to the main plot in Vol. 38, which should focus on Sanae. Till then, this is a good short story volume that is a definite buy for anyone who’s read close to forty other volumes of this series.