Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 25

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.

Well, I guess I’m going to be dealing with the villain I don’t like for a bit longer. Vandarion is mostly absent from this volume, which sees Elexis and Darkness Rainbow making their big move. It relies on trying to win Koutarou over to their side in some way, shape or form, his identity as the (seeming) Blue Knight, and appointing a Regent who an be manipulated and controlled, but is also sweet as pie and likeable. All these things happen, and yet our heroes prove to be one step ahead of the villains once more, leading to a giant battle in, of all places, a cemetery for the the finale. This despite the fact that Koutarou is minus his main weapon as using it is slowly killing Harumi, and also despite the fact that he has to abandon half his group and run off with “the smart girl” of the harem to solve things. This doesn’t go over well when he returns…

There’s a lot of very clever plotting in this volume, as Elexis’ plan depends on Koutarou being the Blue Knight, but not THE Blue Knight. He (and most everyone else) had been running on the assumption that Koutarou was a descendant or merely taking up the name. The clever bit (you can tell Kiriha was behind this) is that Koutarou reveals not only that he’s the Blue Knight, but also tells everyone about the time travel accident. This means he is the real, honest to god Blue Knight. And, thanks to the second and even more clever plot twist, which I won’t spoil as it’s so clever, he now has Forthothe completely over a barrel. As expected, this means that Elexis has no choice but to kill him NOW – they may respect each other, but Elexis is still a villain. This leads to the final battle, where Koutarou and company try to silently escape but are caught anyway.

The location of the battle is interesting, as it’s in an ancient cemetery that has some of the graves of Koutarou’s lost allies from back two thousand years ago. This means that when the chips are down, as Koutarou can’t use his cool sword, the other girls are mostly tactical rather than battle geniuses, and the arrival of the rest of the girls does not help quite as much as they would like, he manages to literally get help from ghosts of the past, rallying to save Alaia and the Blue Knight. I will admit I am not a monarchist, but seeing the fervor that everyone shows Alaia reminds the reader just what it must have been like back in the days when Kings and Queens were revered and loved. Indeed, Harumi is seriously feeling that pressure now, as she thinks that if she can’t take on Alaia’s aspect to help Koutarou, she’s worthless – something everyone tries to convince her isn’t true, but they don’t quite manage it.

We’re in the home stretch here, and it’s noted once again that there’s going to be a lot more lives lost as this fight keeps going. Will the author dare to kill off some of the harem? Probably not, but you never know. In any case, another strong volume in this series. Go support the Kickstarter and get it all in print!

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 24

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 majority of this volume concerns itself with the ins and outs of ground forces combat, as the rebels, under Elfaria and Theia, are growing more popular as people are seeing more of their end strategy (“try not to kill people”), and contrasting this with the military under Vandarion, who has a goal that’s pretty much the opposite (“make casualties as high as possible”). We don’t really learn anything we didn’t already know here, but there are lots of cool battle moments, and I liked the stalemate that ensues when it turns out that the main commanders have their families taken captive, so that they literally cannot surrender without seeing those families killed. That said, we do have subtler villains as well – Elexis, Maya, and Darkness Rainbow, who continue to sit around and wait for Vandarion to go too far. Indeed, for those who enjoy BL tease that’s going absolutely nowhere, there are worse ships that Koutarou/Elelix (which sadly does not QUITE work out to ‘Kotex’ as a ship name).

We’re also seeing the past catching up to the present, in many ways. Much of Vandarion’s “kill a lot of people” attitude seems to be due to his past incarnation taking control of him at times (not that he minds). Meanwhile, past incarnations taking over is how Harumi fights, and she gets several really awesome moments here, possibly as she’s not going to be able to do much in the near future – her collapse is the cliffhanger of this volume. The reader has pretty much figured out that her lifelong illness and her reincarnation as the powerful Alaia are connected, and throwing around that much power in this book will no doubt have consequences. And then there’s Koutarou, who at some point is just going to have to come clean and admit he’s the Blue Knight both past and present, but I think is holding off just to have a “normal” life for a little longer.

With a cast this large it’s inevitable that some folks are going to get more attention than others. Yurika is mainly absent here, and Sanae just shows up near the end to save the day with spiritual power. Shizuka gets the bulk of the last battle, as she and her “uncle” face off against their obvious enemy, a giant robot dragon powered with magic. (You can tell that the author is still having a lot of fun pulling stuff out of his hat.) Theia also gets some battles, which she excels in, and press conferences, where she does less well. Reporters have, I suspect, figured out that she has a crush on her “Blue Knight” at the very least, and she can’t dodge the question forever. But mostly what we get here is the fact that not only is Koutarou’s “harem” all in love with him, but they also manage to function well as battle-hardened soldiers. Which is very convenient given what needs to be achieved.

Will Harumi die? (Probably not, though she may be MIA for a bit.) Will Vandarion finally destroy himself so we can move on to more nuanced villains? (God, I hope so.) And when the heck is the next volume out? (It’s out already.)

Invaders of the Rokujouma!?, Vol. 23

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 we are at a particularly dramatic point in the main storyline, clearly it is time for another short story collection that takes place before everyone went off into space. These stories all seem to take place at some vague point between Vols. 14-20, and once again three of them were serialized online and one is original for this book. You can probably guess that the best of the four is the exclusive one, and you’d be correct, but they’re all pretty decent, showing off these characters we’ve come to enjoy. The first story continues a theme of Harumi being rather annoyed at Koutarou treating her like the sweet, fragile girl, so she asks Kiriha for advice on how to be a “bad girl”. This goes about as well as you’d expect, as Harumi is as sweet as pie. Likewise, Clan is noted for her awkward tsundere attitude around Koutarou, and that’s not going to change either, even if she does start working out with him and Shizuka.

Elfaria gets the cover art for once, as well as the third story, where she explains why she looks so young (genetics, she’s an alien) and allows Yurika, Maki and Sanae to give her a makeover to make her look even younger, at least for a time. This also allows Koutarou to see Elfaria as she was when he first met her, which throws him for a loop – no doubt her intention. This all leads to the final story, where the class goes on a trip to… well, the text if careful not to say where they go, except they have to fly, but it’s not Kyoto. A rather lonely Harumi and Clan end up tagging along, but the big plot point of this story is another girl in the class, Shiori, who has known Koutarou since he was little, has made up her mind to confess to him. (His basic standoffishness is why she put it off for so long.) Suddenly the girls are all worried – sure, they’re all close to Koutarou, but will this girl pass them all?

The answer isn’t surprising (no), but the key point comes when Kiriha realizes what’s been bugging her about this whole situation: the girls are feeling jealous of Shiori, but not of each other. No one in the group resents anyone else for being in love with Koutarou. It’s important setup given that this ISN’T one of those fantasy isekai worlds where polygamy is legal to solve everything. Kenji also helps underline this point by telling Koutarou he has to buckle down and pick one of the girls to date formally, and Koutarou absolutely cannot so it as he can’t imagine living without any of them. The feeling of family has to come first – they all love each other, but “romantic love” is still down the road. The story also helps to remind everyone how much the girls – and Koutarou – have grown sine the start of the series.

So overall a good short-story collection. That said, I’ll be glad to be back in the main action with Vol. 24. Good thing it’s already out.