Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 31

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.

And so I finally finish my Rokujouma catchup. This is also where the upcoming print boxset that was Kickstartered will end, as it had to cut off somewhere, and this is as good a place as any given the series is still coming out in Japan. It’s another one of those “three short stories from the online site and one half-book original” novels, only in this case the half-book overwhelms the short stories even more than usual. The short stories aren’t bad – first there’s a Triathlon our heroes are competing in, and we focus on Clan, who is out of shape, and Yurika, who is in shape but has little motivation. It’s cute, even though they’re also both very pathetic. We then get Harumi and Maki playing board games, which if nothing else shows off how desperately these two nice introverts need someone else to bounce off of. And Shizuka and Ruth have another sentai battle, bringing back Ruth’s beetle phobia, which, let’s face it, no one wanted to bring back.

The half-novel is the first of the “what ifs” the author said he was doing, but it’s framed as also being canon – in the brief interval between when Koutarou and company bring Nalfa back to Room 106 and when she wipes everyone’s memories, the idea of alternate universes comes up. Koutarou was relieved to hear that there are universes where his mother is alive, and Nalfa offers to show him one of those in a dream. (Pointedly, we don’t see that world, possibly as I suspect it would be rather sweet but dull.) The girls all then realize they can look at a world where they won and Koutarou is their boyfriend, and after a jan-ken-pon competition, Harumi is the first to see what that life would be like. She ends up sort of providing color commentary on the dream world, which works because it’s her but I was relieved when the afterword said it would not continue after this.

The “Harumi wins” world is very similar to this one, oddly – it takes place over about the first 8-9 books, and the rest of the cast still arrive and are trying to get control of Room 106. They’re barely in the story, though, as here Koutarou is all about Harumi. Amusingly, it’s because their initial meeting went worse than in canon – when trying to pull away from the dude harassing her, she sprains her wrist and Koutarou has to give first aid. This allows two very hands-off people to touch earlier than usual, and everything springboards from there – Koutarou opens up to her faster, she realizes she’s in love faster, and they confess rapidly. That said, which that world’s Koutarou and Harumi are blissfully happy, OUR Harumi is dissatisfied. A life without the rest of the cast just isn’t the same, even if their real-life romance isn’t resolved. Another reminder that found family story beats sappy romance story.

In Vol. 33 we’ll apparently get Clan’s “what if” story next, but before that it’s back to the ongoing plot. Till then, enjoy this what if that also reminds you that the main plot is best.

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 30

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.

I’ve been trying to catch up with Rokujouma, which threw me off my schedule by coming out in packs of 3 for a while. This is the first of the “post-finale” volumes, except of course it isn’t post-finale at all, there’s still stuff to be done. Forthorthe has “come out” to Earth, and now all sort of treaty negotiations have to take place, which will involve not screwing things up on either end. Third parties are trying to “fix” things on either side, they still can’t quite admit the presence of the magical world and the underground dwellers as well just yet, and even the yakuza is getting involved, thanks to finding a well-meaning chump – you can probably guess who that chump is. It’s also the start of a new school year. Mackenzie’s sister is now a first year, and is horrified to find her brother dates around. And we also meet a new transfer student from Forthorthe, seemingly the sister of a reporter who’s there as part of an initial exchange program, but boy, she sure seems familiar…

This book was not quite as solid as the last few have been – three’s a sense of “your series is too popular to end, please write more” to a degree. The bad guy is nephew of the bad guy from Forthorthe, and is there to be a bad guy and not much more – likewise the big battle near the end, while it is nice to see all the girls joining together to fight, felt like nothing we hadn’t seen before. And much as I love Yurika no matter what, I’m not as much a fan of her when she’s in Big Stupid mode, so seeing her happily running drugs and weapons for the yakuza, having not bothered to ask what’s in the suspicious boxes, made me feel a bit annoyed. That said, I did really like the bit where it’s pointed out to a despairing Yurika that Koutarou is being mean to her, meaning he’s not actually worried she’s in real trouble with the law here.

More interesting are the two new students. Nalfa Laren is, of course, the goddess whose plot we resolved in 29. She erased everyone’s memories, including her own (with an escape hatch for Kiriha in case of an emergency) and is living the life of a happy-go-lucky student – perhaps a bit TOO happy-go-lucky, given her clumsy tendencies which even make Yurika worry. We also get to meet McKinley, who idolized her brother till she found out he dares to date multiple women and is now furious with him. Alas, her adoration of Koutarou is fully justified, because Koutarou really IS that awesome – after all, he may have 9 (10?) women in love with him, but that doesn’t mean he’s dating any of them. Yet. She is basically a little sister character who is overly romantic, and that’s fine.

The next volume is another “half short-stories, half book” one, only in this case the half-book is the promised alternate universe, this first one being “Koutarou chooses to date Harumi”. We’ll see how that goes. Till then, enjoy Rokujouma 30, which is dancing a bit too fast to justify the ongoing plot, but is still decent.

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 29

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.

I’ve been saying for a while now that the “harem total” in this series is not going to get larger or smaller, and in this volume I am proved wrong. That said, if you’re going to add someone to a pile of girls who are as much a found family as romantic rivals, go big or go home. God joins the party here, in the presence of the being who greeted Koutarou in Volume 1. For a while it was thought to be Harumi/Alaia in some way, but now we know that that wasn’t thinking quite grandiose enough. Before we get to that point, though, we continue the theme of the previous books, as one by one the cast vanish from Koutarou’s life, essentially his worst fear, and he has to deal with it. He doesn’t deal with it very well. Fortunately, the dwindling group of women in his life are able to figure out what is going on long enough for him to go back to the place it all began… and also set up some intriguing alternate universes.

The cover art… and the plot… and every single thing about the book, really… might make you assume this is the last book in the series. It’s certainly the final part of the “main” plot that the author originally came up with – this is where he envisioned it ending, no matter how many books it turned out to be. But the cast are becoming third-years (except for the graduated Harumi), and we’re going to be seeing what happens next starting with Vol. 30. As for this book, there’s not much to it aside from emotional beats. They’re very good emotional beats, don’t get me wrong, but I do wish Koutarou had sort of figured out that when he is standing next to a girl and reminiscing about all the good times they’ve had since book 1, she’s going to be the next to go. There is a bit of a “memory reset” at the end, but it’s entirely voluntary, and you understand why they did it.

The interesting thing, to me, was the concept of the alternate universes brought up by Nalfalaren. The one we’ve been reading is the only one in like 5 billion or so where Koutarou revives her with all nine girls who are “part of her” at his side. In other words, this is the only harem end universe. We see one of the alternate universes towards the end of this book, as Koutarou has to deal with a world where none of the cast ever showed up in Room 106 and he ended up dating Shiori Kashiwagi, who readers may recall as having a crush on him a few books back, and is entirely a normal girl. It’s good to know someone is there to help Koutarou get over the tragedies in his life regardless, but it’s still nice to see the ending I think readers wanted, which is ambiguous but also feels right.

Next time we’re getting a continuation, but we’re also going to start to see some of those “alternate universes” where Koutarou was able to settle on one of the girls. Either way, you don’t have to worry about the cast vanishing from your lives anytime soon.