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.

I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, Vol. 9

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.

One of the main reasons to read this series, aside from the fact that it’s a relaxing read where you can be reasonably assured that nothing terrible will be happening to anyone ever, is the push-pull characterization of the lead character, Azusa was an OL in Japan, and she’s subsequently been living for… well, over 300 years by now… in a fantasy world. And yet, of course, for the most part she does not remotely act her age, because her mental state has remained in as much of an unchanging mode as her physical one. This allows for plots where she can be a bit doofy and cute, as well as the main role that she normally fills in the series, which is being a tsukkomi to everyone else. The best parts of this book are where we got to see an Azusa who’s not constantly making comebacks. That said, for those who love that, no fear, the book is still littered with examples.

Stories we see here: Azusa and company help Nintan to help get her followers back by figuring out what’s really driving the current mood; everyone goes to another world created by Godly Goddess and finds out what it’s like to be a slime in a world of slimes; Azusa gets a haircut that ends up being too short, and takes the opportunity to be “big sis” rather than “mom” with her daughters; she and the gang go to a “meat festival” which is basically a barbecue, then watch a bullfight with minotaurs which is EXACTLY like sumo; Azusa and her daughters visit the Great Slime and learn that a 3rd slime similar to them has been born… but she’s reluctant to make Azusa her new mom; and Sandra grows a mushroom hat after a big storm and learns the value of not getting too greedy. Meanwhile, Halkara’s spinoff exists.

The weak point of the book, as you may have guessed, is the Halkara spinoff chapters, which show no signs of getting a series like Beelzebub anytime soon. I like Halkara, but these prequel chapters simply aren’t very good. I’m also a little tired of Azusa having to say that she’s not gay at least once per volume – I get the sense the author knows there’s a large yuri fandom that follows this series and is unhappy about it. (Given the series has only women in it, I’m not sure what they expected.) Other than that, though, this is a pleasant enough book. Azusa’s reaction to her new “daughter” was quite amusing, and the constant comebacks in the bullfight were quite appropriate. The book does seem to really be leaning hard into Japanese culture once more – see the sumo, but also earlier, where a kanji pun has to be explained with the actual kanji for it to work. The translation is excellent, but the original makes for headaches, I expect.

It’s hard to write reviews for series like this, because there’s never going to be anything ever happening beyond the addition of new eccentric characters. But if you want something akin to Nisekoi or Laid-Back Camp, this fits the bill very well.