The Magic in This Other World Is Too Far Behind!, Vol. 9

By Gamei Hitsuji and Yuunagi. Released in Japan by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

This was, for the most part (I’ll get to the one really annoying bit at the end) a solid volume that gave fans what they wanted: Suimei back on Earth and reconnecting with everyone, and the three main heroines marveling at life in a science-based world and eating lots of delicious sweets. I will admit that those who like the battle scenes in Too Far Behind might find it wanting – the only battle here is about 3/4 of the way through, and it’s a one-way curbstomping. But honestly this is meant to be a pure fanservicey break before we go back to confront the Big Bad, and as such it functions fine. It also introduces us to a new heroine, though it doesn’t appear as if she’s going to be a love interest. Hydemary, Suimei’s disciple, is the girl on the cover art (with the series’ third artist, by the way, which may be why it was so late in coming), and she’s both more and less complex than I was expecting.

I mentioned three main heroines – Hatsumi does return with the rest of them, but spends the entire book essentially recuperating with her family, so is not participating. Her family being a set of terrifying swordsmen who work with Suimei’s family, the whole “we went to a parallel world” explanation is accepted very rapidly. (Reiji and Mizuki stayed behind, and we briefly hear about Suimei mind controlling their parents and the school to smooth things over, which ergh.) As for the other three, Liliana gets her cursed eye fixed at last, though given that it’s fixed by a mad scientist otaku it apparently got a few bells and whistles added to it. Also, she’s still wearing the eyepatch, because of course she is. Lefille learns that the best thing for her swordplay right now is to take a break and not obsess over winning, two very good pieces of advice. And Felmenia basically gets to immerse herself in books and sweets, but that’s good enough for her.

The main plotline involves Suimei, after telling the Magician’s Society sending Suimei (after he briefly explains where he was – they don’t really care) to stop a group who are trying to revive a God somewhere in Germany. Suimei keeps putting this off, much to the irritation of Hydemary, who has had to deal with a) him being gone for 6 months or so, b) him returning with a bunch of other girls; and c) her own self-worth issues, as she’s a homunculus, and thus while she has all the knowledge of the world her experience is minimal. Honestly, I was expecting this to be bigger than it was – I expected her to turn evil for a bit, whereas a pep talk was all it took to cheer her up. It helps that she’s about seven years old in actual years, and thus not a romantic partner – at least not that we can tell. Suimei treats her like a wayward but loved child.

The book ends with a side story showing how Suimei and Hydemary first meet, which was fine except when it turns out her creator was once pals with Hitler before he went bad. Keerist. The whole “Hitler was under the control of other magical forces” plot is very hard to do without being offensive, and it’s impossible when it’s done as a brief dash of backstory before it’s dropped. I really didn’t need to know Hyudemary’s creator was an ex-Nazi. That aside, though, we nearly wrap up the Earth arc and are set to return to Felmenia and company’s home – this time with Hydemary, as well as someone else who is evil and appears to be hitching a ride. When will we see it? Will it have a 4th artist? Who knows? But this was a pretty good entry in the series.

The Magic in This Other World Is Too Far Behind!, Vol. 8

By Gamei Hitsuji and Ao Nekonabe. Released in Japan by Overlap. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

I feel this is a decent improvement on the last book, which I felt was overbalanced towards the back half. You could argue the same thing here, but honestly the front half was so amusing that I think its strengths outweigh the fact that it’s per fanservice and comedy. The start of the book has Felmenia, deciding that Suimei’s party needs a break, creating a pool in the middle of their backyard. Naturally we get swimsuit illustrations, but more importantly the girls all take this as an opportunity to have a giant water battle with each other using their powers. Suimei’s reactions are what make this, as he was expecting a nice quiet swim session and instead gets Armageddon. If you guessed someone’s top comes off, you’d be right. If you guessed everyone teams up to beat up Suimei, you’d also be right. But the whole thing is handled so well that I genuinely found it extremely funny rather than cliched.

Most of the rest of the volume involves our heroes storming Duke Hadorious’ castle in order to rescue Elliot from his infernal clutches… no, wait, that’s a massive fakeout. That said, it does allow the group to get into the castle and do battle with the Duke himself, who proves that actual sword training trumps Goddess Sword powers, for the most part. Hatsumi gets to face off against Liliana’s adoptive father, though he’s hiding his identity from her at the moment (likely so that Hatsumi does not tell Liliana about this), and they have a decent sword battle. And Reiji gets the standard “time stops and I enter a dream world to talk with a past hero who gives me power up suggestions”, plot, which may have repercussions down the road, but does also allow him to defeat the monster. That said, Hadorious succeeds in sowing doubt in his mind, which might be trouble later.

The best scene in the book, hands down, is the fight with the golem. For some reason or other Io Kuzami decides to stop possessing Mizuki in the middle of the battle, leaving a very confused but excited teenager behind. Suimei’s frustrated reactions and Mizuki’s overenthusiastic bubbling are a beautiful counterpoint, especially when joined by Reiji’s blithe asides. As they face off against the golem (which involves a lot of discussion of Nietzsche, Christianity, and Leibniz as one of the biggest magicians of our age, but honestly that’s beside the point) we finally see what the three teens must have been like all the time back on Earth, and it’s glorious fun. They bump off each other well, come up with ideas that are shot down just as fast, and we finally get the sense they are best friends. Though Mizuki, as you can imagine, reacts poorly when she finally hears Suimei is a magician and hid it from her.

The book ends with Suimei succeeding in creating a magic circle to get them back to Earth… but of course he’s just going back to briefly check on things with his main party. They’re not cutting and running. This sets things up for what promises to be a great “reverse isekai” volume with Book 9. Sadly, Book 8 came out 18 months ago, and there’s no word on future volumes. So… maybe someday? At least it’s going out on a high note.

The Magic in This Other World Is Too Far Behind!, Vol. 7

By Gamei Hitsuji and Ao Nekonabe. Released in Japan by Overlap. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Hikoki.

Well, clearly someone did have a talk with the illustrator since my last review, as there is now a new illustrator, and there are lots of interstitial art pieces, which is good, as I’d honestly forgotten that Lefille wears that hat. That hat is not something that should be easily forgotten. On the prose side, this is perhaps a book that is overbalanced towards the back half. The start of the book features a lot of magic lectures, even for this series that seems to be almost entirely magic lectures. The middle third deals with our heroes having to prove themselves to the Elite Guard who will be fighting with them, and needless to say by the end of it the Elite Guard is not so elite. Even Mizuki’s alter ego hands them their asses (actually, her final power move may be the funniest moment in the book). Things end on a more serious note, though,l as the “this is somehow connected with Suimei’s home world” plotline that’s been suggested comes into full flower.

There is a sense in this volume that the author is starting to settle in for the long haul, and thus starting to do something about the supporting cast. I’ve mentioned before that I appreciate that Reiji, the nominal hero, is not written out of the book or made jealous of Suimei, but that does mean that he’s been a bit bland. That doesn’t change here, but he does try to double down on his heroic qualities, realizing that he has to get stronger in order to keep up with everyone else – “rely on others” only feels like good advice if you can rely on yourself sometimes too. Likewise, Felmenia is starting to feel left out, being the defense expert among a group of attackers, and wants to learn how to have a mana furnace like Suimei does – and if that means becoming “inhuman”, so be it. Unfortunately, the actual scenes of her doing this aren’t in the book itself, but we do at least see the results, and she kicks much ass.

Though the author is trying to think ahead and develop characters, there are still a few problems. While this book *is* meant to have a cliffhanger – the mastermind helping the demons and what their relation to Suimei is – I don’t think it’s meant to feel quite as open-ended as it does. For one thing, the Lefille fight with the demon who cursed her is completely abandoned, and I’m not even sure if she made it back to be with the others. Speaking of that fight and the others like it, seeing our dragonewt antagonist and his party show up and announce “we’re helping you, don’t ask why” begs to be followed by “because the author couldn’t think of a good reason”. Oh well, at least the fights are decently written, particularly the duels midway through, and Lefille is no longer a little girl size, though I’m sure that won’t last. As for where we go from here… who knows? The next volume is the last one in Japan to date.