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.

I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, Vol. 4

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.

In general, when you have a series that runs on “slow life”, a light novel subgenre where the characters in another world decide that they’re going to take it easy and do things at their own pace (whether this succeeds or not is, of course, a question for the author to decide), the book rises and falls on the narrative voice of its main character. Slow Life protagonists tends to be relaxed and easygoing to begin with, but it’s dangerous to make them too bland, as you risk the reader wandering off. Fortunately, that’s not going to be a problem with Azusa, whose internal tsukkomi is stronger than ever in this volume. As her bond with her extended family grows stronger, she’s becoming more “mom-like”, but that doesn’t mean that she’s above screaming at people Osaka-style, and that happens a lot here. As for the plot itself, well, we spend most of the book outside the house, believe it or not.

As with previous volumes, we get a lot of interconnected short stories here. Azusa eats a mushroom that turns her into a child, and struggles against everyone wanting her to act like one as well. The solution to this involves climbing to the top of a 108-story tree, which ends up being a hilarious parody of tourist traps. Then they meet a death metal bunny-girl musician (not making this up) who is down on her luck, possibly as her death metal is terrible. Azusa and company convince her that changing her genre would not be the end of the world, and it turns out that when she calms down and gets more introspective, she’s actually really fantastic. Azusa then finds a rice field, which inspires her to make manju and mochi for the locals, something that might get her rebranded as a sweets maker rather than a witch. Finally, she and her slime daughters go to a convention and meet… Azusa’s mother?

For the most part this volume hit all the right buttons. There were a few things I didn’t care for (the mom chapter felt a bit odd to me, though it fits in with the “found family” concept of the series in general), but for the most part we get to see a) Azusa snarking at everyone and everything around her, and b) Azusa also helping everyone and everything around her. She’s still the strongest in the land (at one point she has to fight the entire Blue Dragon tribe, who she compares to a group of high school delinquents, and mops the floor with them), so growth has to come from other directions. I was particularly pleased with the translation this time around – it’s a new translator, but the narrative voice seems unchanged, and there was a joke involving a hashtag that made me grin from ear to ear.

Yen Press has recently licensed two other series by this author for the fall, and you can see why – Killing Slimes for 300 Years is a fun, breezy read, and makes trying to do nothing interesting.