Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 10

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.

As the author says in the afterword, technically this could have been Volume 9.5. That said, I am happy that it kept itself in the main series, as for the most part it had a larger scope than the chapters with Koutarou and Clan back in ancient history did. This particular volume shows that, even as Koutarou adn the reader thinks that his troubles began when all the girls tried to move into his apartment on the same day, they actually have a bond that extends back a lot longer. We already know about Koutarou’s relationship with Theia and Ruth’s planet, and of course Harumi seemingly being the reincarnation of Alaia. Now we see how he was Kiriha’s knight in shining armor all along, and he also had a major role to play in the past of both Yurika and Sanae, though neither of them technically show up here. It all ties together, and not in a teeth-grinding way either.

Adult Kiriha is on the cover, but child Kii-chan is who we get for 4/5 of the book, having run away from home due to latent grief over the death of her mother. She runs into Koutarou and Clan, who are time-traveling back but have to recalibrate. Naturally, Koutarou doesn’t recognize her till halfway through the book… and even then he promptly forgets about it because of an even bigger revelation – the day they’ve arrived is the day his own mother was killed in a car accident. Now he has to choose between saving his mother or protecting the future he’s fought for with everyone. There are, of course, a few problems. Kii-chan is a target for assassination. The assassin is actually a dark magical girl. Which means that Nana, Yurika’s predecessor and mentor, is also trying to stop her… as in a young woman who is an archer, desperately trying to save her daughter, whose spiritual energy is being bled out to power EVIL RITUALS. There’s a lot going on.

I’ll be honest, I was expecting the “save mom or save the timeline” decision to be less of an issue than it ended up being, but I probably shouldn’t have been. Each of the characters has shown themselves to be deeply lonely in a way they can only fix by being around each other, and therefore it should be no surprise that Koutarou’s first reaction is “forget about the timeline, I have to do this”. You can likely guess what the outcome is, but on the bright side, we get another cool battle that shows off Koutarou’s ridiculous endurance even as it shows us that he’s getting less pwoerful the longer he’s away from the others. Probably the best scene in the book is the final one, back in the present, as Kiriha has realized who her “oniichan” really is and is, unsurprisingly, ecstatic. The author really excels at drawing deeply emotional, sappy scenes without making the reader roll their eyes or feel uncomfortable.

Shizuka may have gotten the last cover, but she wasn’t in this one (though her ridiculous strength was mentioned). It seems unlikely she’ll be in the next one either, as we get another cliffhanger that tells us that next time around is Sanae-focused. If you’ve been reading Rokujouma from J-Novel Club, and you enjoy supporting the author by actually buying it (please support the author!), you’ll definitely enjoy this new volume.

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 9

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.

There are many things that I greatly enjoy Rokujouma for, but it has to be said that surprises and plot twists are not one of them. This is not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but it does need to be said: if you’re reading Rokujouma and wondering what is going to happen next, “the most obvious thing” will be the correct answer. In this book we see Ruth getting an arranged marriage visit – given she’s the princess’s attendant and closest friend, she’s a bit of a hot commodity. We meet her theoretical fiancee, who is handsome, turned his father’s business around, donates to so many charities it’s ridiculous, and no doubt spends his spare time petting kittens. There is no reason to refuse this marriage except, of course for two things: 1) she’s in love with Koutarou, something that she finally accepts by the end of this book, and 2) he turns out to be… well, let’s save the gripping suspense for the next paragraph.

If you guessed “turns out to be secretly EVIL!”, congratulations, you can now write an anime series. In fact, not only is he secretly evil, but he turns out to look exactly like the sneering evil guy that Koutarou fought in the past in the previous mini-arc, something Koutarou lampshades. Actually, that arc is becoming the kick off for a lot of new plots – Koutarou is teaching Ruth sword fighting now because he wants her to fight like her ancestor did. More importantly, Ruth figures out the truth of what happened, that Koutarou is in fact the Blue Knight. She almost kneels before him in worship, to be honest, which made me a little uncomfortable, but given who Ruth is and the appearance of their biggest legend before her as the man she loves, it’s very much in character. Actually, given this book is almost all Ruth’s book, it’s pretty well characterized. Which isn’t surprising, as likeable characterization and development is the strongest point of this author.

As for the rest of the cast, it’s Valentine’s Day, and we are briefly reminded that Koutarou was supposed to, at the start of the series, be one of the “unpopular” guys that never got valentines. The very idea is laughable now, of course, so instead we’re treated to a comedic series of his love interests handing out chocolate one by one to an increasingly baffled Koutarou. Harumi is satisfied just saying it’s “obligation chocolate” when she knows it’s not. Theia gets the prize, however, as she says it’s definitely love chocolate, leaving Koutarou poleaxed. (She also implies that she’d be perfectly happy sharing Koutarou with Ruth, making me wonder if this is another series that’s going to have a harem ending of some sort.) The other girls also do well for themselves, apart from poor Yurika, who’s stuck in comedy relief mode this book, so is totally useless.

So now we have a new enemy, and I’m pretty sure he’ll be back, but probably not next book. Shizuka’s on the cover of this one, and of the main heroines she’s the least developed – in fact, is she a heroine? Perhaps she’s the best developed of the supporting roles. I wonder if she’ll get more focus next time. That said, the cliffhanger for this book implies Kiriha will get the bulk of the next one. Rokujouma remains a delight, even if it’s a very predictable delight.

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 8.5: The Silver Princess and the Blue Knight, Part Two

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.

A lot of the things I said about Vol. 7.5 apply here as well, with the conclusion of Koutarou in the past. There’s a lot less humor in this book than in the regular series, as for the most part our heroes are in a desperate battle to save their lives and the kingdom, not in that order. Koutarou eventually comes clean with Alaia about who he is and where he’s from, which helps towards the end as they’re actually allowed to bring out Clan’s futuristic lightsabers and nuclear weapons without the rest of the heroic cast boggling too much. And Koutarou’s armor gets beaten to hell and back, which ties in nicely with Ruth discovering its condition in Book 8. It is, as always, a very enjoyable volume in a well-written series, but there are thankfully one or two other points I can expand on to fill up a review.

The first is the surprising reappearance of the ancient temple from Vol. 1, which I admit I had 100% forgotten about (as had Koutarou, but my memories haven’t been deliberately wiped). I’m not sure how it ended up as an ancient Earth ruin, but hey. The temple, of course, was the basis for the start of all the chaos in his life, as it’s only after falling into its ruins that he can see Sanae and we set off the mad dash to get control of the room. Here we see that it’s essentially home of a mythical sacred sword, which given it’s a myth in Alaia’s time makes it a super-old myth by the time we get to Theia’s present. The sword essentially is imbued with Alaia’s life force, which causes a few problems for her (I hope that she does not die too young, as the text hints – then again, Harumi is basically her reincarnation, so…) but also allows her and Koutarou to bring out its full potential. Rokujouma is not based on a webnovel, and it’s times like this you can tell – the series feels planned in advance in ways webnovel series do not.

The other interesting point is Koutarou’s acceptance of the fact that he, by himself, is not powerful at all, and that every awesome thing he does is through borrowed power – Sanae’s spiritual sense, Yurika’s magical protection, Theia and Ruth’s powered armor, etc. He accepts this, and keeps his humility. This contrasts him with the power-mad villain of the story, who is desperate to get power and will use any means necessary, and what’s more sees Alaia’s sword as a symbol of the power, to the degree that if he gets the sword he doesn’t actually need the princess or the kingdom. This is, of course, what makes him the villain. As for Koutarou, one could argue his natural charm, which allows the girls to fall for him and thus give him their strength, is his true power, but given the sort of series this is, I don’t expect him to realize that anytime soon. He never even realized he was the historical Blue Knight.

So another good Rokujouma, though I am definitely looking forward to returning to the present for the next few books. I do wonder if we’ll see the giant dragon that Koutarou and Clan befriended at the end of the book – it’s certainly set up that we will. In the meantime, Shizuka is on the cover of Book 9, meaning presumably that Book 10 will develop her, under the Rokujouma cover art rules. Despite its length, Rokujouma remains one of J-Novel Club’s best series to date.