I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, Vol. 11

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 read this volume immediately after a volume of The Saga of Tanya the Evil, and I highly recommend it, because it probably made the book feel better than it actually is. That said, there are other reasons this is a very solid book in the series. First of all, the stories are slightly longer, which allows for a bit more depth to a series for which depth is eternally absent. Secondly, the side stories at the end move to focus on Laika, and I am far happier to read about Laika at Lillian Girls’ Academy (or whatever its name is here, MariMite is clearly what it’s supposed to be, though) than I ever was with Halkara. Seeing Laika wound up so tightly is both nostalgic and also a bit bittersweet – at least we know she has a peaceful future ahead of her. As for Azusa, well, she’s discovering that just because she’s resolved to take it easy and relax in her next life doesn’t mean she has to do that all the time.

Stories in this volume: our main cast has a moonlight picnic, which unfortunately leads to an existential crisis for the newest cast member Canimeow caused by our other newest cast member, Wynona; Azusa learns that, in fact, this world does have actual physical laws that she cannot break, so a trip to the moon is not happening soon; The cast take a day off by visiting the demon world’s main town, and help Fighsly raise a slime child… pet… whatever; after Azusa is paying too much attention to an injured Sandra, Falfa and Shalsha decide to run away from home; Halkara wondering what it would be like to eat a slime leads to a jellyfish that feeds off negative emotions; the aftermath of that, as Halkara, freed from her base desires, is super annoying; and the entire cast run a relay race.

The most interesting story was probably the relay race. Pecora has been reading yuri romances again, and declares that Azusa and Beelzebub have been “taking their friendship for granted” and not bonding the way that true friends do. Which Azusa is not going to be bonding with anyone anytime soon, she does come to a realization that she can occasionally try her hardest. Her past life doesn’t get a mention in this book specifically, but it’s clearly what has been driving her to sort of half-ass everything in this new life. She literally worked herself to death before. So of course she’s not going to want to do anything that goes near that. But at the end of the race, when she has to run faster and harder than she ever has before, she discovers that sometimes it’s OK. Sometimes you can try your hardest. Hopefully this is something that she can continue to teach her extended family in future volumes.

All this plus Laika at school, where we see her desperately trying to get out from under her sister’s shadow, and only partially succeeding. Despite the excitement of the race at the end, this is still a book for those who enjoy relaxed fare.

I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, Vol. 10

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.

It’s the 10th volume of Killing Slimes for 300 Years, and that means that big, earth-shattering changes are in store. OK, no, that’s not what it means. This book is exactly the same as the previous nine. Anyone reading this to see characters change or grow is a glutton for punishment. Despite that, this is a very good volume, avoiding some of the series’ usual pitfalls. Azusa doesn’t even have to point out that she’s not gay! Instead, you get a lot of cute, fun stuff happening and the cast either causing it or reacting to it. Heck, even the Halkara side stories, which I have ragged on the last two books, are better than usual. The one thing that does happen in these books is the addition of new cast members, and we see that here, as we get a fortune-telling Moon Spirit. We also see Azusa’s estranged slime daughter Wynona, who pops up several times in this book and, despite her best efforts, ends up being part of the extended family.

Stories in this volume: they all go to a sweets fair, where Falfa and Shalsha try to sell the edible slimes as sweets; they see a fortune teller who is surprisingly blunt, and she reveals she’s yet another spirit, though she’s not really sure what she should be doing; Wynona asks Azusa and Laika to party with her for a competition in a dungeon, and shows off her seemingly aloof self (and her obsession with the color white); everyone goes to a peach festival, with Momotaro references galore, an 18+ exhibit Azusa has to stop everyone from going to, and so many peaches; Muu from the ancient civilization requests the help of Flatorte to help with an encroaching plant problem; after this, due to what happened, Flatorte is suddenly extremely calm and efficient; and Beelzubub shows off her new demonic credit card… though there’s still a few bugs in the system. Meanwhile, Halkara and Flatorte struggle with local cuisine, and Halkara gets sent by the goddess to Japan, where she runs into Azusa pre-death.

I mentioned that no one expects character development, though that isn’t strictly true here; by the end of her stories, Wynona is decidedly less tsun and more dere towards her “step” mother. That said, the highlight of the book is definitely Flatorte. She hasn’t been able to fight or blow off steam in a long time, and has been getting even more eccentric as a result. The solution to Muu’s problem, which involves using her freezing breath more than she ever has before, also leads to her suddenly being polite, calm, and competent; Azusa even compares her to a butler! That said, We Want Our Jerk Back, so it doesn’t stick. There is also an amusing Lovecraft pastiche towards the end, describing events we’ve already seen as if they were the most terrible things imaginable. Halkara’s stories aren’t great, and I wish she’d actually interacted with Japanese Azusa, but they didn’t bore or irritate me. Plus, they’re the last of that spinoff – next time Laika gets the side stories.

So yes, cute fluffy, relaxing, nothing earth-shaking happens. A good book to read after you’ve read something dark and brooding.

I Was a Bottom-Tier Bureaucrat for 1,500 Years, and the Demon King Made Me a Minister

By Kisetsu Morita and Benio. Released in Japan as “Hira Yakunin Yatte 1500-nen, Maō no Chikara de Daijin ni Sarechaimashita” by GA Novels. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jasmine Bernhardt and Sarah Neufeld.

Theoretically this is a Vol. 1, but I’ll be honest, I suspect this is a one-off. Those reading along with the parent series, I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, will know of demon administrator Beelzebub and her assistants, as well as the Demon Lord Pecora. Three of the volumes featured side stories that talked about Beelzebub’s past and how she ended up where she is today. This volume collects those stories, as well as adding six others. So yes, you’ve read some of this before. That said, reading the stories in order does help to give Beelzebub’s transformation from office schlub to the grandiose demon we know a bit more impact. There are added cameos from most of the rest of the cast, though they have to be carefully done given most of the cast “meet” for the first time in the main series. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect in a spinoff.

In the six stories we’ve read previously, we see how Beelzebub got promoted about 11 steps up by a mischievous Pecora; how she copes with her aides, one of whom is less of an aide than she’s really like; how she gets to grips with audits and is here to show that the days of bribery and corruption are over; how she beats up her predecessor (who has tried to kill her multiple times), thus showing her strength; how she first meets Laika on a hot spring trip with her staff; and how Pecora leads her all around the area on a “date”, where she meets a certain witch, though neither will remember it. New stories have Beelzebub’s parents showing up; Pecora showing Beelzebub the wonder of travel the hard way; Vania shows that when it comes to food she becomes an entirely different character; Beelzebub meets Flatorte, who is exactly like you’d expect; Pecora stays over at Beelzebub’s place despite having a bad cold; and we learn the dangers of too many office plants.

Like its parent series, this is basically fun and fluffy. The only conflict in the entire book is when Beelzebub faces off against the now disgraced noble who was in line to be the next Minister, and there’s never any sense there’s danger to her or the others. The stories help to further develop Beelzebub’s character, with the most amusing ones being her amazingly embarrassing parents (where we essentially lean about Beelzebub’s redneck past) and the story about the ministry’s pathetic cafeteria, which upsets Vania so much that she goes on a veritable crusade to make it better in every possible way. The addition of Flatorte also helps to round out the “I actually met the entire cast years ago and have simply forgotten” gag we’ve seen in previous stories. And the relationship between Beelzebub and Pecora is amusing but also sweet.

In the end, this is pretty inessential, especially if you have Killing Smiles Vol. 5-7 already. But if you really love the universe, this is a decent volume to read more about it.