Incaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 8

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.

Just as Volume 7 had a focus on Theia’s evil counterpart while also starting to make plans to soften her up and add her to the harem, so this 8th volume does the same for Yurika, with Maki’s determination to destroy Koutarou undone by his basic goodness and niceness. The book is well-written enough that I’m all right with the repetition, but I do hope that we aren’t adding too many more girls to the pile. This isn’t Little Apocalypse. Of course, one could argue that Yurika isn’t really a member of the harem group yet either, as she still hasn’t quite had the “oh, I’m in love with him” moment that several of the others have. As for Maki, she’s spent her entire life being unable to trust anyone and constantly betrayed, so it’s no wonder that she’s going to fall for a guy who doesn’t actually do that. Whether that sticks, we shall have to see.

I found the first half of the book stronger than the second, mostly due to its focus on Yurika. She is absolutely the butt monkey of this series, and as a normal girl may be almost too whining and pathetic to bear. We see, over and over again, how she fails at some of the most basic things. And yet give her a chance to actually do her magical girl job and she becomes amazing. I’d suggest that it’s like Sailor Moon, but Usagi was never this competent when powered up. She gains a second staff from Koutarou’s trip to the past (we haven’t gotten Vol. 8.5 yet, but it’s hinted it’s from Yurika’s past counterpart) which is essentially a spell wikipedia, and combining it with her own magic staff she’s suddenly far more dangerous, much to Maki’s surprise. Of course, Koutarou gives her the staff saying “look, now you can do REAL magic”, which hurts, but you can’t have everything.

After a badass fight showing Yurika at her best, alas, she has to be frozen in ice for the second half so that Koutarou can bond with Maki as they battle a sort of demonic Abominable Snowman. Koutarou is in many ways your typical harem protagonist, but he lacks many of the traits that set many fans’ teeth on edge – there is little to no falling into boobs or walking in on girls changing, he doesn’t realize that the girls like him but not in a “you lost me” Shirou Emiya sort of way. And he’s a good strategist, but needs a hand when it comes to the physical stuff most of the time, which is why Theia’s powered armor is so useful. Basically, while you know he’s going to get all the girls as the’s the protagonist of a harem series, there’s no real sense he hasn’t earned it. I do sometimes wish he’d be a bit more quirky, as he can fall into the generic trap, but for the most part I just like him.

So we’ve resolved the dark magical girls for now, though I’ve no doubt that plot will return. Next time we go back in time with Vol. 8.5 and finish Koutarou and Clan’s Excellent Adventure. Till then, a very good Rokujouma for fans of the series, and an excellent one for Yurika fans.

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 7.5: The Silver Princess and the Blue Knight, Part One

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.

The first of a two-part side story devoted to Koutarou and Clan’s adventures during the climax of Book Seven, Rokujouma 7.5 is solid but does suffer from the fact that throughout the book, the reader knows far more about what’s going on than the main characters. From the moment that Koutarou, dressed in his Blue Knight armor, rescued the princess it was clear that he was going to be making history rather than changing it, adnd that he was the Blue Knight. But Clan doesn’t see it that way (understandably, perhaps, as this is such a touchstone) and they spend a frustrating amount of time searching for the “real” Blue Knight. Of course, another major goal of this book is to get us to like Clan, who I suspect may end up part of the harem; she’s still not as likeable as the rest of the cast, but she’s getting there.

There’s a bit less humor in this volume than prior ones, mostly due to the main plotline, but there are moments that made me smile. The princess’ female companions on her journey all seem to remind Koutarou of his companions from the future… and they tend to act like said companions as well, with Charl, Alaia’s younger sister, behaving exactly as you’d expect a younger Theia to do. As for the Yurika analogue… I don’t want to spoil, but it may be the best joke in the book (unless it’s the food torture, which also involves the Yurika analogue). Koutarou and Clan discuss how much of this is just coincidence. The Rokujouma reader knows that not all of it is, and that Harumi certainly seems to be Alaia’s reincarnation, but it’s not clear how much this applies to the others.

The main plot is more serious, with the Kingdom already being ruled by the enemy Grand Viziers (so to speak) and Alaia fleeing for her life through the countryside. This serves to show off what a good Princess she is, as well as show the brutality of those currently in power – she actually debates just giving in and letting them rule if it means the people are safe and happy, but it rapidly becomes clear that no, the people are sacrifices they will use to destroy Alaia. And of course you see Koutarou and Alaia growing closer, but as the play says (Koutarou is trying to do things as the play laid out, but it didn’t cover everything). Their flirting is top notch, and while time and distance are likely going to ensure they can’t be together, I suspect Harumi will get more and more of Alaia’s memories as time goes on.

So this isn’t the best Rokujouma out there, but it’s decent, and reads very quickly. Fans who haven’t already read all 20-odd volumes should pick it up. Next time we’ll be back in the present for Book 8, but after that 8.5 should conclude this side story.

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 7

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.

For the most part this book is just a straight up sequel to the fourth volume, with the drama club getting together with our heroes to put on a second play featuring the Blue Knight and the Silver Princess. Like the fourth book, there’s a lot of focus on Theia and Harumi, who compare and contrast even more with each other. And like the fourth book, everything gets derailed by Theia’s rival Clan, who’s out for revenge and has a better gun now. Oh yes, and can fly. That said, for about 4/5 of this book there’s not really all that much happening, and it seems to be content to be a Christmas-themed book showing how well everyone gets along now while seeding possible things for future books, such as Ruth pointing out that serving Theia as her Knight would involve Koutarou moving off-planet.

Ruth is on the cover of this volume, so you might expect to see her get a story in Vol. 8. That said, she does get plenty to do here, mostly acting as support for Theia and trying to nudge Koutarou in the right direction, though there is an amusing side plot of her wanting to get stronger so she can defeat the sentai warrior from last book – who was, of course, Shizuka, who feels uncomfortable about all this. That said, neither Ruth or Shizuka are part of the harem (yet), and so the bulk of the development goes to Harumi and Theia. Harumi is still trying to get Koutarou to treat her as less of a sempai and more of a friend – i.e., the way he treats Theia, which she explicitly is jealous of. Theia does not think about Harumi that much, but that’s likely because she’s unaware of the plot twist we all saw coming: Harumi is in some way possessed by or a reincarnation of the Silver Princess from Theia’s past, and as the end of the book makes clear, Koutarou is literally the Blue Knight.

The climax of the book involves the performance of the 2nd play, complete with Yurika as the most pathetic dragon ever (she’s back to being useless here, though smartens up when actual danger arrives, and the fact that she hasn’t realized her feelings for Koutarou yet helps her keep it together more). The play is, as I said above, interrupted by Clan, who remains petty, spiteful, and very easy to dislike. And then comes the climax of the book, which was a big surprise. Not the actual events, those were the least surprising thing ever. No, I was surprised that the book kept going past where I expected it to. Let’s just say there was a really obvious place for a cliffhanger, but the book chose to go a few more pages and actually resolve most of its built-up tension. It actually worked quite well.

I’m enjoying reading each volume of this series as it really puts an effort into showing how each of the characters is slowly maturing and gaining confidence and strength, as well as bonding with each other. Technically it’s a harem comedy, but the harem all get along, and there’s no real rush to confess, mostly as few of them have even admitted their feelings to themselves. It works very well as an ongoing series, doing the #1 thing such series should do: make you want to read more. That said, I’m pretty sure the next volume won’t feature Ruth, as it’s Vol. 7.5, and tells the story of what happened to Koutarou and Clan during the climax of this book. Be careful when searching Amazon to get the right order.