I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, Vol. 7

By Kisetsu Morita and Benio. Released in Japan as “Slime Taoshite 300 Nen, Shiranai Uchi ni Level MAX ni Nattemashita” by GA Novels. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jasmine Bernhardt.

I’ve gradually gotten used to this being the isekai version of K-On! (the illustrations helping along, as they get more and more ‘moe’ with every volume), and this volume in particular reminds me that Azusa’s laid-back style works so well here because the entire world is laid-back. The idea of someone being killed off or an evil villain trying to take over the world feels so foreign to everything we’ve read here to date, and the result is that you have a reader who is completely relaxed in reading this book. There’s never any serious conflict, and that’s good! The characters are all various varieties of “cute girls doing cute things’, and that’s good too! There are no stories in this series that run longer than about a quarter of the book, so you don’t have to pay too much attention, and if a character returns, you’re helpfully reminded where they showed up before. On the downside, reading this may make you fall asleep.

Things that happen in this book: At Pecora’s birthday party, she changes Azusa into a fox girl, which ends up backfiring when Azusa starts beating up everyone in the demon kingdom in an effort to eat abura-age, which reminds you how Japanese this series is and also likely makes you turn to Google. Azusa and company then go to see one of the goddesses in this world speaking at what amounts to a business convention, and she is startled to find this is the goddess who first sent her to this world… who has since been demoted, as she refused to deal with anything but cute girls. There’s a battle to see who the next Dragon Lord is, which turns out to be a typical beauty contest. We get Around the World in 80 Days, Killing Slimes style, which is to say it’s pretty boring. And in the longest story in the book, the cast discover an ancient civilization, now inhabited by stuffy ghosts and a very unstuffy ruler who is annoyed no tsukkomis exist here.

This is fun and insubstantial as always. The ancient ghost queen is amusing as she talks in a broad accent, and also seems content to treat her temple like it’s a dungeon raid. Azusa is less grumpy than usual here, having fully accepted everyone’s eccentricities. That may, in fact, be the biggest negative in the book – everyone’s gotten too used to each other. No one fights anymore, no one gets upset. Conflicts are resolved almost immediately. It’s definitely a series that you should read after you’ve read a volume of something serious, bulky and filled with plot – it acts as a dessert or a palette cleanser. That said, this is absolutely the worst kind of series to marathon. If you read all seven books at once, you’ll give up. One book every few months is just the right pace.

I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, Vol. 6

By Kisetsu Morita and Benio. Released in Japan as “Slime Taoshite 300 Nen, Shiranai Uchi ni Level MAX ni Nattemashita” by GA Novels. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jasmine Bernhardt and Taylor Engel.

There is a literary device known as lampshade hanging, wherein the author, knowing that a plot point is ridiculous or obvious, points this out in the narrative, thus taking the curse off it a bit. A classic example is Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2 bemoaning that he’s having the same bad Christmas as Die Hard 1. Readers of Killing Slimes for 300 Years, therefore, should be ready for a number of instances in this book, even more than the usual, where our heroine just straight up says “wow, it’s just like we have in Japan”. The temple visits, the way that weddings happen, various types of spirits… boy, it seems really familiar somehow. This, of course, is because the author is Japanese and doesn’t want to spend too much of a slice-of-life book developing a world when she can have the cast go to the beach instead. Even the Beelzebub side story (which makes a welcome return) has as the central gag Japanese office politics, only with demons.

As with previous volumes, it’s a grab bag of what are basically short stories with Azusa and the gang. While visiting her “mother”, she eats something that turns her small, allowing her a few days to be treated like a real child. She goes to a “singles event” that turns out to be filled with much older men than expected, then meets the local spirit, who tries to officiate weddings but has had bad luck with no one coming by lately. No one in the cast is ready to get married, so they do a “sister’s wedding” between Falfa and Shalsha, inviting most of the regulars. After an injury causes her to revert to her slime form, Fighsly enters a fighting tournament anyway. The cast, as I said above, go to a jellyfish-filled beach, and then we see Halkara’s hometown, and find she’s the responsible one. Then we get more of Beelzebub’s origin story, as she has to deal with crooked administrators and murderous former colleagues.

There’s nothing really to analyze here – it’s not as if people have character development in a series like this – so the goal is to see how cute and fluffy everything is. The answer is very. The wedding may be between two sisters, but features all the things you’d expect, and will put a smile on your face. Halkara’s family were funny and also helped make a character who can grate on a reader fairly easily more sympathetic. There’s more wacky spirits – one talks like a dazed hippie a lot of the time, and another is interested in painting portraits… but the portraits may not come out the way others like. And the Beelzebub chapters are great, showing how even when she’s unsure of herself she still kicks eleven kinds of ass.

Anyone wanting depth and ongoing plot should run far away from this series. But if you like “cute girls doing cute things”, it’s right up your alley.

I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, Vol. 5

By Kisetsu Morita and Benio. Released in Japan as “Slime Taoshite 300 Nen, Shiranai Uchi ni Level MAX ni Nattemashita” by Softbank Creative. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jasmine Bernhardt.

I tend to enjoy this series, and so I will try to be charitable about some of its… quirks. A lot of the series involves revisiting plots and characters that we’ve seen before, and this gets turned up to eleven in this book, which starts with a dungeon crawl that turns out to be a tourist trap… much like the tourist trap we saw in the previous book. There’s also another festival, which gives our heroes the opportunity to run another cafe, only this time they have more people on their side, which is good as the cafe has a LOT more visitors. The festival itself is a cavalcade of “oh, that’s where they got to” reunions. It might be annoying if it weren’t for the matter-of-fact, blase tone of our heroine, whose tendency towards lack of surprise helps ground the reader as well. Even when she does react, it sounds more like tsukkomi than anything else. This series “chugs along”, in the best and worst sense of the term.

There’s a new character introduced here, who ticks off a few more boxes. She’s an intelligent mandragora, one that’s been around for a century or two but still tends to act exactly like a child who’s intellectually mature but emotionally stunted. Sandra quickly moves in with the others and becomes the tsundere they never knew they needed, as well as giving Azusa a child who is not essentially perfect. In fact, her other two slime children may be a bit TOO perfect, as we find when they attempt to go to a local elementary school and blow away the competition… and the teacher. Speaking of imperfections, Sandra, being a walking plant, is quick to point out what a horrible garden Azusa has, and this may be why no one likes to eat their veggies in this hourse. With the addition of some really good soil, we briefly get a nice foodie manga scene.

The highlight of the book, though, is the spinoff at the end, giving an origin story for Beelzebub, who (no surprises here) turns out to have been a LOT like Azusa, to the point of being a low-level officer worker for 1500 years as she didn’t really want more responsibility or trouble. Unfortunately, the new Demon Lord takes notice of her and immediately appoints her Minister, thereby upending her entire life. There’s lots of fantastic scenes in these two chapter, including Beelzebub trying to perfect her new over the top haughty personality, and dealing for the first time with the Leviathan Sisters and their complete opposite personalities. It also makes you realize why she’s always dropping in on Azusa, and why she keeps asking the slime kids to come live with her: after 1500 years on her own, she’s discovered what friendship is, and wants more.

If you’re looking for surprises or emotional depth, these books must be like Kryptonite for you. If, on the other hand, you want a relaxing book that goes at its own pace and does what it likes (even if it’s the same things it’s done before), this is another good volume.