The Magic in This Other World Is Too Far Behind!, Vol. 6

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

Last time I said that it wasn’t all that surprising that another hero came from Japan, and now after this volume we find that there’s actually a close connection between this fantasy world and Suimei’s own. Given the sheer amount of backstory we’ve gotten on Suimei and his own magic studies, this isn’t too surprising. It’s not good news for anyone who isn’t as powerful as Suimei, though, and there’s some genuine concern at the end of the volume over his splitting with Hatsumi and heading off to once again research a way to return to his own world. Fortunately, through the magic power of trauma, Hatsumi has finally regained her old memories, and so now she recalls enough awesome sword experience… to know that she can run away if need be. Not win. These new enemies are tough. The old enemies are pretty tough too, actually, and the book itself is essentially devoted to three huge fights and an epilogue.

The most interesting of the three fights, though not necessarily the most enjoyable, is the one on Reiji’s side. Reiji is a fairly dull hero, but he’s also pretty pure and noble and cliched as a hero as well. This is why the bad guys seem to think that he, rather than Hatsumi, is going to be the one they make their “main hero” to save the world – he’ll inspire the little people more. Of course, that assumes he’s actually doing heroic things, rather than yelling at Mizuki. Mizuki has been a flat character for a while now, and I wanted her to develop and be able to do more. But not like this. Weaponizing her chuuni tendencies makes her just as annoying as it sounds, and I fear we may have to deal with this version of her for some time. (Combining this with Lefille becoming a little girl again, it’s like the author was asking what things I dislike the most in Too Far Behind and then leaving heavily on them.)

Suimei does get a bit more complicated in this volume, not always for the better. Seeing him terrified of fighting the dragonewt because of past trauma involving his father was interesting, but in the end it didn’t really seem to hamper his battle abilities. More interesting was the discussion at the end with whatever entity is possessing Mizuki and making her fantasies reality. We get a glimpse of a Suimei who did something very nasty, and I’m fairly certain that it’s going to come out in the next book or two and have horrible consequences. Mostly, through this book, Suimei has been a pretty nice guy despite pretending that he isn’t. But he’s not perfect, and he’s a teenager. That said, it’s sort of hard to square this backstory with him and Mizuki and the “dur hur, I don’t know why all these girls are mad at me” harem idiot except “convenience of the plot”.

Overall, this is a good volume of Too Far Behind! if you like fights, and there’s some good plot-related stuff as well. It just had a couple of issues that kept niggling at me through the book. It also had no interstitial illustrations, the second volume to be missing them. Someone should have a chat with the illustrator.

The Magic in This Other World Is Too Far Behind!, Vol. 5

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

It stands to reason that, given this fantasy world is looking for strong heroes, and they’ve gathered three of them from Suimei’s “home” universe (albeit two of them by accident), that there would be other heroes here who hail from Japan. That said, having the hero be Suimei’s childhood friend is asking a bit much of the reader’s suspension of disbelief, methinks. She also has amnesia, which ends up helping the book to pad out its length, because a great deal of time is spent with Suimei trying to get her to trust him and also fending off attacks from her allies, who think that he’s some sort of villain. She is… an OK character, I suppose, but I have to be honest, an overly earnest swordswoman is not really something we need to add to Suimei’s party given that we already have Lefille. Given Hatsumi has her own party, much like Reiji, I’m hoping that when this arc ends she will head off on her own.

We also get a bit more information on our villains, if not their purpose just yet, and honestly I’m wondering if they’re more antagonists than villains. There is a sense that the religion in this world may be what’s actually holding it back, and while Suimei doesn’t dwell on it too much, given that he has some highly religious people in his party, I suspect it’s not something that will go away. This is also not too surprising for a Japanese fantasy light novel, where the Church has a tendency to be evil by default, but given this author’s habit of going deeply into magical theory, I’ll be interested to see if he also goes deeply into this in a way that’s not just “God bad. Grr!”. We also get a whole cadre of demons introduced, and they seem far more villainous – the one behind the battle at the end is a typical smug jerk who needs to get what’s coming to him. (Speaking of which, once again Suimei saves the girl multiple times but the author allows Hatsumi to get in the final blow. I’ll take what I can get, I suppose.)

I mentioned last time that Liliana’s depth suffered as she was essentially the victim in her introductory books. She does much better here, adding to Suimei’s party of white mage and swordswoman by being a top class spy. The scene where everyone comes up with no information whatsoever and she mentions she found “a little bit” and then rattles off every secret in the town is almost hilarious, and as Suimei notes speaks very well of her. Admittedly, you still get the sense that the girls are all doing this to get him to like them more, but given the nature of the genre I can’t really avoid that. This book ends with a cliffhanger, so it looks like another two-parter is in the works. I do wonder if Hatsumi will get her memory back in the next book or not – there’s good plot reasons why it may be best for her to stay amnesiac. Also, will Reiji and company (who have an unwanted addition now in the form of Evil Olivier Armstrong) find the ultimate weapon they’re seeking? Too Far Behind continues to stay just on the good side of “overpowered guy with harem” titles.

The Magic in This Other World Is Too Far Behind!, Vol. 4

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

You get the sense that this is the book where the author and publisher realized that it was enough of a success to start planning larger plots in the future. This isn’t as easy to assume these days since most of the light novels put out lately tend to be based on webnovels that are already 7-8 volumes ahead of publication, but it does have that feel. Suimei finally reunites with Reiji and Mizuki here, if only temporarily. We resolve the plots from the previous book, and gain a new “harem” member. And we get introduced to a whole buttload of villains at the end of the book, including one who had seemingly been an ally before. Yes, if Suimei is able to take care of villains with ease, and if Reiji’s party is hiding a secret master swordsman, then you also need to step up on the villain game. In the meantime, though, this gives the reader what they want: Suimei being cool, lots of fighting, and Lefille not being a loli anymore. Well, at least *I* wanted that.

The book can be fairly simply divided into its good and bad points. As usual, I like to start with the bad and work towards the good. So it has to be said, Liliana really loses out here. On the run, getting the crap beaten out of her by mooks, and finally rescued by Suimei, she’s not allowed to help out in clearing her name because of the nature of dark magic and how she’s essentially been brainwashed by the villain into using it. Understandable, but it does make her an absolute damsel in distress. Also, unless you’re a hardcore gamer or fantasy buff, the endless lectures on magic theory are going to numb your mind fast. They may be coached in different terms, but this is absolutely the equivalent of those isekai books where the heroes talk about leveling up their XP in morbid detail. So I’m a Magician, So What?

On the bright side, where Liliana falters Felmenia shines. She too got a bit of a raw deal in the first book, and has mostly been following Suimei out of a bit of lovestruck crushing. But she’s clever and very quick to learn, and is also a magic powerhouse, something that Suimei is well aware of. I didn’t like his endless lectures, but I very much did like his trusting her to hold off the cavalry (Graziella, who reminds me a bit of an evil Olivier Armstrong, and the other hero Elliot, who is much less of a womanizing creep here). And as I indicated, we get the return of regular-sized Lefille, kicking ass and taking names. Not sure if she’s still cursed (I suspect yes), but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I also liked the poignant relationship between Liliana and her adopted father.

There’s more I could get into (the idea that no one bothers to search Suimei’s place for Liliana for several days beggars belief, and I didn’t even mention Little Miss “I’m hiding my super awesome fighting skills so I can seem more girly and attractive”), but you get the idea. I’m less wild about Too Far Behind than I was when it first came out, but it’s still pretty solid, and the books are also fairly lengthy, so you get bang for your buck. Light novel fans will enjoy this.

(Note: the lack of illustrations beyond the color pages was apparently a feature of the Japanese version as well, in case you were wondering.)