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.

I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, Vol. 8

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.

There are many times during my reading of the Killing Slimes for 300 Years series that I realize that not only are the characters treating this world as an excuse to relax and do inconsequential things, but so is the author. The author has many, many light novel series under their belt, some of them running simultaneously via different publishers, and you get the sense that this series is the one where the author can just kick back and not have to worry too hard about plot or characterization. It’s essentially a short story collection. The biggest thing that happens in this book is that Beelzebub has finally gotten the side stories that appeared in Books 5-7 farmed out to her own official spinoff (which has already been licensed over here for the spring) and so the last sixth of the book or so is devoted to Halkara, who gets a spinoff, seemingly set before the main series, where she… reviews restaurants. Don’t expect this to get spinoff novels anytime soon.

A breakdown of this book: Sandra goes through a Flowers for Algernon-style transformation after some super fertilizer turns her into a teenager with a high IQ (that said, there’s zero angst here); Pondeli invites the cast to the new Demon Arcade that she’s opening, whose games are hit-or-miss; the hippie pine spirit who does weddings finds that the flaky God who brought Azusa over is muscling in on her territory; that same God tries to reason with a fellow, more traditional God in order not to lose followers (and Azusa ends up leveling up EVEN MORE); they return to the ghost nation’s temple and tell ghost stories, most of which have a familiar bent; Azusa gets stranded on a desert island and meets what she thinks is a native tribe; a strange butterfly woman insists of staying with Azusa a week for no reason whatsoever and not because The Crane repays A Debt or anything; and Pecora starts a Youtube stream service from the demon world.

That last one may drive home the point that, aside from having elves, dragons, and slimes, this series is absolutely uninterested in building its own world, but would much rather leech off of Japan’s own past and present. The ghost stories Azusa tries to tell, common ones from Japan, are also very well known here. the cuisine Halkara samples is essentially variations on what you can get in any mid-sized town, complete with a conveyor belt sushi place. It’s… very low bar, to be honest, but it’s also relaxing for the reader, who might get a bit annoyed at streamers being a thing in this land of Gods and demons, but will likely quickly get over it. The stories are all basically about the same – cute – though I might have critiqued the desert island one more had it not ended how it did. (At least the natives did not go “unga bunga bunga’ a la Bugs Bunny.)

It’s cute, it’s fuzzy, and you will forget about it the moment that you finish it. And sorry, yuri fans, Azusa still insists that her house is home to family, and not, and I quote, “a special, gay dimension”.

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.